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Season Review: Seoul E-Land

It seems as if every season is an eventful one for Seoul E-Land and 2021 was no different. After a heartbreaking ending to the 2020 season, the Leopards had a point to prove this year. Seoul brought in new players and a new point to prove to take themselves to the next level. However, in a season full of highs and lows, the opposite was achieved. 

Michael Redmond previews what was the 2021 season for Seoul E-Land here. 

Bolting Out Of The Traps

It all started so well for Seoul E-Land. They were tasked with an away fixture against Busan IPark on the opening game of the season. A team who Seoul have only beaten once before on the road. They pulled off an impressive 3-0 victory and sat top of the tree after round one. Something the team has never done before. 

Things only got better for Seoul as they then dismantled eventual champions Gimcheon Sangmu 4-0 in Leoul Park. The army team were well and truly shell shocked and Seoul continued to impress. Two draws then followed and then another 4-0 win when Bucheon Fc came to town. Fans actually started to believe that this was their year. They believed that they could finally make that jump to at least a playoff spot. But then, then it happened. 


Seoul beat eventual K League 2 champions Gimcheon Sangmu earlier in the year.

Chungnam Asan at home. Seoul completely dominated the game, pressing hard and having chance after chance to no avail. It took a 90th minute over the top ball for young player of the year, Kim In-gyun to score and give Seoul their first loss. Many fans think this was the moment that sunk the ship. 

Four days removed from their first loss. Seoul had the small task of the first Seoul Derby for the club on their hands. Wednesday, April 14th 2021 will go down in history for Seoul E-Land. The day itself is important in the club’s history, as it was the day they were announced by E-Land to be a team entering into the K League. 

Seoul also put four goals behind Bucheon earlier on in the season 

On a chilly evening in the Seoul World Cup stadium, a team from the south side of the river came and shocked the other capital club. Leandro was the hero that day. An 85th-minute header was what it took and Seoul booked their way into the next round. It was a magical day for Seoul E-Land and its fans. Many a tear was cried on that evening. I should know, I provided some. 

The Slide Down The Mountain

The Leopards should have savoured the derby day win, as that was really the last great memory Seoul had for the year. Things rapidly went downhill from there. The club then went on a run of 13 games with only one win. That includes a 2-0 loss to Gangwon Fc away from home to remove them from the FA Cup. 

To further add insult to injury, Seoul went eight games without a goal. When Benegas opened the scoring against Daejeon Hana Citizen in July, it was 734 minutes without a goal. That is 12 hours and 14 minutes. No one ever said supporting Seoul would be easy. 

A lot was left to be desired in the second half of the season for Seoul 

Seoul actually went on to win that game, keeping up their ethos of beating the top teams and squandering their chances against the other teams around them. Seoul went another seven without a win then before back to back victories against Bucheon FC and Daejeon Hana Citizen. 

Seoul’s season was filled with draws and losses, with some wins scattered here and there. A race for the title soon became the fight for a playoff spot. That then turned into a race to not have the wooden spoon and finish last, again. Seoul managed to hold on though and 9th place was the final result. A truly awful season compared to what fans were promised at the start. However, this is the Seoul that most remember.


Most Impressive Player

Kim In-sung 
Kim In-sung scored in his debut for Seoul E-Land 

It’s really upsetting to say this as he only joined in the summer. However, Kim In-sung was hands down the best player in that Seoul set up this year. He looked out of place in this Seoul team in the means that he was just that good. In-sung just knew where the back of the net was. It only took him two minutes to score in his Seoul debut and he was relied upon to boost the goal tally for the team. 

He ended the season joint goal scorer with Benegas and Han Eui-gwon, although it should be noted that Kim In-sung only had half a season to grab these goals. Fans are looking forward to seeing In-sung next year, he was one of the positives that came out of this season.


Who Could Have Done More?

Yuki Kobayashi

Yuki Kobayashi featured in only eight Seoul E-Land games in 2021
It’s easy to say that Yuki Kobayashi failed to impress in a Seoul E-Land shirt this year. The Japanese midfielder joined in the summer and he got many a fan excited. Yuki managed to only play eight times for the Leopards and even two of them came off the bench. Seoul never actually won a game when he played. 


Kobayashi looked a little out of place when he was in the Seoul team. His passing and shooting were off. Many a chance was ended once he got hold of the ball. It is believed that we have already seen the last of Yuki in a Seoul E-Land shirt. Some may believe that the Japanese player should have been given some more time. However, some are more than happy to see him leave. 


Young Player Of The Year

To pick a young player of the year is difficult this time around as the team is certainly a lot older now than the season prior. Honourable mentions have to go to Go Jae-hyun, who is a very talented player that a lot of Seoul fans like. However the boss normally used him as a substitute and he was not really given a fair amount of game time, given his talent. 

Go Jae-hyun impressed when he came off the bench for Seoul E-Land this year

Lee Jae-ik also needs to be mentioned, he was another summer signing for Chung Jung-yong and had 15 appearances in the season. If Seoul can keep hold of these two players, then a good foundation can be built. However, this seems unlikely for Go Jea-hyun as a player of his talent could not expect to sit on the bench. It is also important to note the news that under 18 captain Park Jun-yong will also be part of the first team next season. So Seoul could have another young side in their squad. 

Realistically, Park Jun-young will probably not see much game time and he’s been brought up to familiarize himself with the Seoul set-up. However, he is defiantly one for the future and eyes defiantly need to be kept on him. 


FNR

Final Thoughts And Grade

Next year is going to be a tough one for Chung Jung-young. A man who set the bar so high for the team in 2020, then set it so low for the season after. Chung Jung-young is a manager who has his critics for 2022 and he probably hasn’t even started to think about the next season yet. 

Fans want better, fans expect better with the team that Seoul have. The boss has shown no signs of stepping down as manager for Seoul. He stated that he has a ‘Plan B’ throughout the year. However, fans did not see that. Maybe, he will execute it in 2022. 


Chung Jung-yong will be in the third year of his three year Seoul E-Land contract in 2022
It will be another strange and out of place year for Seoul next year. The move the Mokdong is set in place, moving them from their home stadium of Leoul Park once again. This happened once before in 2019, although back then, the stadium was Cheonan stadium. A place a two-hour bus ride from Seoul. 


The alternative venue this time around is a lot better. The Leopards only have to move from east to west of Seoul, deep in Fc Seoul and Bucheon Fc territory. The only thing stopping me from giving Seoul a terrible grade this year is their impressive start to the campaign and their derby day win. Apart from those magical couple of months in March and April, it was another frustrating year for Seoul. 

The ship was slightly steadied in the second half of the year due to the new signings. However, Seoul finished a long way away from what they promised at the start of the season. Maybe now that the pressure is off the team again now, Seoul might impress once more. 

Seoul could not improve on its 2020 season

If you follow trends well, this normally happens with E-Land. One good year is then followed by multiple years in decline. With the chapter now closed on what was the 2021 season. They were not shocking this year, but they were far from fantastic. Fans will just be happy at the chance to hopefully see their team in the stadium once more, come next year. Both home and away. 

Grade: E




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