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scouting

At a Critical Juncture: Three Takeaways

There were several different storylines that stood out in the weekend's action, including the emergence of some new young talent, a heated surge for the top six, and a playoff race in the second division that is starting to look a bit more defined after Chungnam Asan's victory over Gyeongnam FC.  KLU's Branko Belan looks back at the weekend's action.


Young Talent Emerging in K League 1

Han Jong-mu scored his first professional goal for Jeju United against Pohang Steelers. 
The name on the minds of many in recent days and weeks has been Gangwon FC's Yang Hyun-jun, who scored a pair of goals in his side's 4-2 win over Suwon FC on the weekend.  The impressive youngster has been making a case for himself lately for potential inclusion into the national team picture, at least at the U-23 level for now.  He has moved his season scoring totals to four goals and four assists in twenty total appearances thus far and has been a regular first eleven player for the majority of the season.

He turned more than a few heads for his excellent performance in the K League All Stars match against Tottenham Hotspur in Seoul, assisting on Team K League's second goal scored by Suwon FC's Lars Veldwijk.  His confidence has grown by leaps and bounds lately and providing he manages to stay healthy, should not encounter any major setbacks otherwise as he continues his upward development.

Jeju United have been known to produce some fine young talent through their youth system for years now.  Kim Bong-su was last year's big revelation, impressing with his ability to play in several different positions on the pitch as well as scoring some important goals for the club as well.  This season, they may have found a new attacking threat of their own in Han Jong-mu, who scored his first professional goal in the 1-1 draw with Pohang Steelers on Saturday night.  After spending much of the season not being selected in the squad, his minutes have increased recently and should he continue to get opportunities in the future, his production should increase as well.  Joo Min-kyu cut off a clearance in the box and found Han in a good shooting position, finding him with a pass that the nineteen year old finished confidently with a single touch.  He was highly touted in the youth ranks and is now getting his chance to show what he can do at the professional level.  Should he pan out well, the islanders will have a scoring threat on their hands for years to come. 

Fierce Competition for the Top Half

Gangwon were once again big winners on the weekend.
There will be little margin for error in the coming matchdays as spots sixth through ninth are separated by just two points after the latest round, which saw FC Seoul get back into the thick of things with a 2-1 win over Daegu FC, while Gangwon FC continued their stellar play of late with a convincing victory over Suwon FC.  Of the teams in question, Gangwon is currently on their best form of the campaign with four wins in their past five matches, thanks to strong play from Kim Dae-won, the aforementioned Yang Hyun-jun, and Lee Jeong-hyeop.

Suwon FC's next three matches see them in direct contact with Daegu FC this coming weekend in what will be a critical fixture for both clubs, after which they travel to Incheon United before gearing up for the next Suwon Derby at home on August 6th.

Gangwon FC face a much stiffer test over the same period, with Ulsan Hyundai up next, followed by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Pohang Steelers, so this could well be a defining moment in their season that will give observers a better idea of whether they have emerged as a team that the rest of the division should be concerned about.

The Sky Blues' best chance for points will come against Suwon Bluewings on August 3rd, while FC Seoul have to contend with the likes of Pohang, Ulsan, and Jeju in order over their next three matches, so it is safe to say that the summer portion of the league schedule may determine where a lot of teams will finish at the end of the season.

FNR

Playoff Picture Clearing Up in Division Two

Lee Hak-min was the match winner for Chungnam Asan against Gyeongnam FC.
With their victory over Gyeongnam FC, Chungnam Asan widened the gap with their rivals for the final playoff spot to seven points thanks to Lee Hak-min's winning goal in the 68th minute.  Daejeon Hana Citizen made it back to back wins with a 3-1 win over Seoul E-Land, who continue to struggle after a promising start.  In other action, Gwangju FC and FC Anyang battled to a goalless draw, Gimpo Citizen edged out Jeonnam Dragons, and Ansan Greeners won the battle of the bottom-dwellers against Busan IPark, who now sit in last place.

Momentum has been a key factor in recent weeks, and with only four matches this coming weekend, it could be a chance for some teams to either create more separation in the standings or close the gap on teams in front of them.  In the key match, it will be fourth versus fifth as Bucheon FC 1995 host Chungnam Asan.  A win for either side would mean progress up the table, but matches between the two have been quite difficult to call, and that should be the case once again this time around.  Gyeongnam FC have two favorable matches in front of them with an away trip to Seoul E-Land coming up, followed by a visit from Ansan Greeners, so they should not be discounted from the playoff picture just yet.

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