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Seoul E-Land FC, on the Cusp of A Special Season

In the grand scheme of things, Seoul E-Land are relatively still the new boys in the K League. Having played their first season back in 2015. Seoul E-Land are now in their sixth season as a professional outfit. The Leopards had high expectations of themselves when they first burst onto the scene. Expectations that did not come to fruition. The side had a very dark 2018 and 2019, finishing last in both seasons. Michael Redmond looks at how the next three games for Seoul E-Land could bring a special season for the capital club.

A dreary past

Their actual best season was back in their inaugural year. A respectable 4th place finish, losing out to Suwon FC in a thrilling playoff game ending 3-3. As Suwon was the home team that evening, they advanced and eventually won promotion that season. I suppose there is no shame in being bowed out by the eventual victors.

The reason for this brief history lesson is due to that fact they are almost on the edge of repeating such a feat. Seoul E-Land now has only three games left of the season. Ansan Greeners who are desperate to not end up with the wooden spoon this year. Jeju United who are riding high at the top, with Suwon breathing down their neck. The last game brings a home fixture against fellow playoff contenders Jeonnam Dragons. After two years of hardship and dark, dark time for the Leopards. They may just be able to prove their worth once again in the K League 2.

How did this come about?

The winter for Seoul E-Land was clean out time for the club. Only a handful of players in the 2019 season were kept in the side. Some noticeable players who remained include Kim Min-kyun, the club's 2020 captain. Won Ki-jong, who is a fan favourite for many. As well as stand-in keeper Kang Jeong-mook, who has stepped up to the plate since the injury to Kim Hyung-geun several weeks back. Seoul appointed U-20 Korea manager Chung Jung-yong who lead the young Korean side to the U-20 world cup final back in the summer of 2019.

Chung Jung-yong had a vision in Seoul. He wanted to recreate his U-20 side of sorts, bringing in up and coming players into the side. Most of the players in the side now are between the age of 21-24. There are also only four players in the team who are over 30. Some very noticeable names come in. Lee Sang-min and Kim Tae-hyeon who play for the Korean Olympic side are now fundamental players for the Leopards. The boss is giving these young players valuable game time and letting the K League see what they are made of.
Kim Min-kyun ebraces Leandro, as Seoul E-Land continue to charge up the K League 2 table.

Chung Jung-yong also looked to add some foreign flair into the team. Leandro came in initially on loan. However, his brilliance for the Capital club lead to a three-year contract being signed. There is also Sukuta-Pasu, who has experience and credibility to his game. The blend of some older and experienced footballers, with the mix of young and eager players, has created special chemistry within this Seoul E-Land team.

How are things being done now in Seoul?

The boss is adamant that Seoul will play with three at the back, with two wingers helping out when necessary. Lee Sang Min is the centre back that controls the backline and leads the defence. We have seen four at the back sometimes throughout the game. However, this is dependent on how the team are performing throughout the 90. Chung Jung-yong is not afraid to experiment and change positions throughout the team. We have seen Kim Tae-hyeon play both at the back and on the wing. Kim Min-kyun has been in the centre of the park, as well as upfront.

Seoul plays with a very quick tempo. Counterattack football is also normally in play, but this doesn't mean they are always playing the long ball. They like to pass and move. They like to give each other support and quick short passes, bringing the ball up the pitch. There have also been many times throughout the season where Leandro finds himself charging down the field with the ball at his feet. Just him and a couple of defenders to beat. Seoul tries to use skill and beat their man, rather than just drill the ball upfront and hope for the best. The Leopards are starting to think about their football. They are starting to work together and play an exciting style of ball that fans will appreciate.

Have they been here before?

In the past, Seoul have recorded more wins and more points than what they have in this 2020 Season. However, it is important to point out that back in 2015 and 2016, there were 11 teams in the league and 40 games were played. This year due to the way of the world there are only 27 games to prove their worth. The Leopards currently sit on 10 wins. For a side that recorded only five wins in 2019, that is something special.

Some may ask, have Seoul tried to fight for promotion again after their 2015 season? The answer in short is yes. They lost out by two points back in 2016. A league which had Daegu, Gangwon, and also Busan IPark. Busan also missed out that year. 2016 saw Seoul record 17 wins, the most in a single season for the side. Who knows what could have happened with this year's Seoul side this year if they had an extra 13 games to play?

Where does that bring us now?

Seoul simply have to beat Ansan Greeners on Sunday. They have two tough games against Jeju United and Jeonnam Dragons the next two weekends after. Seoul have dropped points a lot this year and have been saved by other teams around them also not winning. Daejeon Hana Citizen are currently in freefall. However, there are only three games left and Daejeon still have an opportunity to claw back up there. Jeonnam were heroic against Suwon, dinting their automatic promotion push with a late winner. Gyeongnam are also only a win away from being back in the playoffs. It's tight and it will go down to the wire.
Seoul E-Land will welcome Jeonnam Dragons to Jamsil on the last game of the 2020 K League 2 season.

Seoul needs to concentrate and focus on their own football now. They sit in fourth at the time of this publication. They need to take every single game now like it is a cup final. They have had too good of a season to let it all slip now. The lowest Seoul can fall now is 6th place, which is an achievement in itself given the last two years. But Knowing Seoul and the team's character, they will not be settled on that. As said in the title, Seoul are on the cusps of something special this year. They were the whipping boys of the K League two for the last two seasons. Now this year everyone has sat up and paid attention to them. There has been countless memories made this year for the fans. The 2-0 down game to Bucheon, which resulted in a 3-2 win for Seoul. The dismantling of Daejeon Hana Citizen in the first and last time of meeting each other this year. There has been late goals and heroic defending which has left the fans proud.

Could Seoul have been better this year? Of course, they could have. The Leopards have dropped too many points against teams farther down the table. Although they have claimed some big wins this year both home and away. Seoul will now look for more of them big wins come the next few weeks. Especially with Jeju United on the island and Jeonnam Dragons coming up to Jamsil. It has been a roller-coaster for Seoul E-Land fans throughout the last six years. It is getting close enough to taste, it just depends now on what the fans of Seoul will be tasting. The crisp taste of celebratory champagne, or the bitter taste of defeat.

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