Sunday, August 12, 2018

Weekend Recap - Aug 11th

Not too much to recap but Suk Hyun Jun rejoins the blog lineup.

Ki Sung Yueng -- An unused sub. We'll see how Ki's delayed start impacts his minutes going forward.

Son Heung Min -- It looks like Poch wanted to get his first XI while Son is at Asian Games going, despite that meaning using an off-pace Kane. The gamble paid off as Tottenham got three points, Son stays healthy ahead of Asian Games and the WC players got some minutes under their belts. Son heads out to join AG squad.

Ji Dong Won -- Started up front in final friendly.

Koo Ja Cheol -- Still out injured.

Suk Hyun Jun -- Joins Reims on a four year deal but too early for him to be in weekend squad. We'll see if SHJ has found a way around military duty or if thats just an optimistic number in the case that he finds one later. Kinda cool to see both French KPAs play in cities I've spent some time at and hopefully SHJ gets off to a good start.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Weekend Preview - August 10th

A new season is about to start but sadly there's a reduction in the number of Korean players in a high enough tier of European football to be on US TV.

That said, it seems Suk Hyun Jun is on the verge of moving back to L1 with Reims but I'll wait until confirmation on that front. I have KCH on here as a reminder to myself about status but I'm not going to dig around on BeIn's terrible website to see if Dijon will be televised.

As for moves, I don't foresee anything right now. The PL window is relatively moot for Korean players given difficulty in getting a permit. Ji is probably the highest probability to move but even there I don't see him moving in this window.

And as usual, its very difficult to know how these teams will line up in the first match, and doubly so after WC where players have not had the usual integration time.

Saturday7:30 AMKi Sung YuengNewcastleTottenhamNBCSN
Saturday7:30 AMSon Heung MinTottenham@NewcastleNCBSN
Saturday2:00 PMKwon Chang HoonDijon@Montpelier
Summer BreakJi Dong WonAugsburg
Summer BreakKoo Ja CheolAugsburg

Ki Sung Yueng-- A bit surprising to see Ki Sung Yueng move to an at-risk club like Newcastle which is in limbo with its owner, struggled to survive last season and has a variety of DM/CM players. Of course, Ki's in a different phase of his career so the desire to play for Rafa Benitez may have been a factor as might have been worse offers otherwise. He's been very slow in his recovery from WC and the injury he suffered. He did play a lot in the final friendly when Diame got hurt and looked pretty good except for a continued lack of mobility. Was it enough to start? I don't know but Ki should be in the squad.

Son Heung Min-- Son should start given limited alternatives though he may have to play up front with Kane only just returning. Son's had a mixed start to his preseason after a good WC. He'll only have a match or two before he goes and plays for his freedom from military duty so hopefully he makes them count.

Kwon Chang Hoon-- Out with torn achilles and to keep myself from getting sad, I won't post this repetitively until he seems nearer to a return.

Ji Dong Won-- He started the last friendly and played a half with a baby born and an arm injury in between  the two. In the half, he played well and did ok in the latest as well, though Augsburg really struggled in general to get any offensive players involved. With lots of injuries, Ji could have a big role to start this season... except he picked up a knock of his own in the final minutes of the latest friendly. We'll see where he's at in the coming weeks.

Koo Ja Cheol-- He was late to arrive after WC and picked up some sorta injury in between so I'm not sure where he's at in his preparation.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Season Recap and brief WC closing thoughts

It's been a while but back at the computer with some free time. I got too tied up with work travel and then vacation to do this sooner, so apologies for all the hazy memories.

I was gonna put in a longer WC post at the end but I'm running out of willpower, so I'll say something brief. The squad worked really hard and it was disappointing that they started off so tentatively. While the unpredictability of the WC was unforeseeable, the mistakes by Shin Tae Yong were obvious going in and frustrating given the actual opportunity to progress. The lack of forward options, either in a physical presence like Suk, or a playmaker like Ji, evidenced itself with desperate subs in final two matches and KSW's terrible showing. The back three which has looked prone to failure as they barely understood their responsibilities blew apart. JHS who has never looked like a legit CB was an epic disaster. Korean defenders tendencies to slide tackle excessively bit them in the rear over and over again. Koo's rust from injury really created a hole that was hard to fill.

But so many positives despite STY's attempts to ruin the tournament. First was Son who worked so industriously even when misused as a  partial wingback and really stepped up to carry an offense on his back impressively. And Cho Hyun Woo showed us that a quality GK can hide a lot of defensive problems and inspire a whole team to defend confidently. And of course beating Germany who needed a win so badly hopefully shows future managers that we aren't so far off that we don't need to play scared. Despite not having out best guys available, and particularly losing our captain in Ki and then Koo mid-match, we beat the world champions. And that sorta ending is really all I had hoped for.

Onto the season recaps...

Son Heung Min -- After a slow start recovering from broken arm, Son really established himself at a high level. On top of scoring great goals, Son has improved his movement so much, both alone and in combination with his teammates. He also appears to have improved mentally where he no longer had the complete losses of confidence that have plagued his career. It was unfortunate for Son to pick up an ankle injury at the end and for Tottenham to again come slightly short on trophies but a good season for both.

Soon joining the team for preseason, he'll be first looking to the Asian Games to free himself from military duty. We'll see how that impacts his role at Tottenham where an absence could open the door for someone else.

Ki Sung Yueng -- The first major transfer already for Ki who quickly signs with Newcastle after World Cup. A fairly surprising move where I thought he'd go for location or a club challenging higher but perhaps the allure of playing for Rafa to live up to his earlier Kirrard nickname played a part. Then again, perhaps some of the reported top tier interest like Milan wasn't concrete enough.

And a lack of that interest would reflect on a so-so season from Ki who struggled to consistently control matches on a team that looked headed to relegation for much of the season. Playing in a deeper role for most, it accentuated his defensive shortcomings and shackled Ki offensively and it seems the upcoming WC and transfer window seemed to weigh on him towards the end. That said, I thought his knee was done for last season and he stepped up and did have more than a few quality matches where I have hope that Ki can still be a solid contributor to a PL team.

Lee Seung Woo -- A move to a just promoted side is always risky as the fight for survival often leads to young players being ignored for "experienced" veterans. And when he did get his chances, LSW looked like a square peg in a round hole, where his lack of size and desire to pass were not a good fit for a direct playing side. Health didn't help as he picked up an injury in second half that prevented him from even being in the deep matchday squad. Yet when LSW did get some minutes, he did flash some of the skills that made him a touted kid with some great ball skills, quickness and aggression but also some big flaws such as a fairly inaccurate pass and uncertain shot.

It's unclear where LSW goes from here. He'll probably want to play more and may be a poor fit for Verona in Serie B, and he showed promise but lack of polish that might scare potential buyers. We'll see where he ends up but there's still hope in LSW turning good even if it looks a harder path than he thought.

Kwon Chang Hoon -- A breakout season for KCH and probably the best one of all the KPAs, KCH helped Dijon rise up from relegation battler to dangerous mid-table team. KCH showed off his knack for scoring and also added plenty of midfield quality too even if he spent his minutes in a less natural winger or less frequently a second forward role. While he did show his lack of top tier experience often, particularly playing too eagerly and making silly mistakes, KCH played so well that a potential summer move up wouldn't be impossible. But on the final match of the season, KCH tore his achilles ruining his WC chance and importantly for his career, his Asian Games spot. A terrible end to a great season and we'll have to see how soon and how well he can come back from a major injury. He still looks a long way from playing as he showed up to camp in a hard cast which means he's not even started rehab yet.

Suk Hyun Jun -- Suk started off well after a surprise transfer to L1, scoring some good scrappy goals when he got his chance but a midseason injury put a hard brake onto his play. He struggled for minutes after and when he did get his chance at the end of the season, couldn't do enough to save Troyes from relegation. Suk stayed to true to what I've seen of his career so far: a hard worker with some good skills but also a bit incomplete that impairs his ability to create danger besides scoring. Then again, a big guy who can score and head is good enough for many and Troyes bought out his option knowing that he has potential buyers, including Angers where a deal appears to be imminent.

Of course, his pending military duty means the end of his European career seems imminent, and that uncertainty could play into a summer move, either with his exclusion from AG squad or time away at AG. I imagine Suk would be ok with playing out the season with Troyes in the worst case but military service feels like a sad ending for a guy who has worked so, so very hard to get where he is now.

Koo Ja Cheol -- A tough season for Koo who showed his flexibility and played well on a talent-poor Augsburg side but also felt was always just shy from his best. Starting the season at DM, Koo showed his great passing but also his worst flaw which is his defensive discipline. For a defensive minded coach like Baum, that meant that Koo lost his spot mid-fall and felt a move in the winter window could be possible. Koo took advantage of his opportunities however and earned not only a role for rest of season but also an extension on his contract and even wearing the captain's armband once. Disappointing for Koo must have been his lack of goals and really grabbing persistent hold on any position. And also disappointing for Koo was an injury that ended his season early and also really looked to have negatively impacted his WC.

We will see how Koo is used this upcoming season but a veteran who can play almost anywhere ahead of the back line on a team with minimal resources like Augsburg will find plenty of use.

Lee Chung Yong -- It's sad when the biggest moment for LCY was getting his manager canned with a terrible backpass that was stolen for a goal. Bad luck also impacted LCY as well, where the hiring of his former manager who likes LCY made a move harder and then impossible when injuries at the end of the January window piled up. When he did play, he didn't do much with his chances and looked a bit lost. And so with no surprise his contract ended after a wasted season. While LCY has expressed a desire to stay in Europe, UK will be a difficult place to get a work permit and for a guy who stuck around in England rather than seek better opportunities elsewhere in the continent, desire to go and demand for his skills may be in short supply. It will be sad to see the potential end of his European career on such a meek note.

Other guys I don't track as well

Hwang Hee Chan (Salzburg) -- A great season for HHC where his industry, pace and physicality were a great asset was derailed by injury where he struggled to have the same impact and made his flaws more visible. His lack of basic technical skills are at times astonishingly poor, with poor touch, errant passing and inefficient finishing all being huge problems. Then again, he's such a physical presence that he can contribute especially against overmatched Austrian teams and also when Salzburg are overmatched and need someone to keep opposition teams from sending all ten men in attack. He signed an extension which seems a bit of a stalling tactic for both HHC and Salzburg... the extension means he's unlikely to figure into Leipzig (Salzburg's parent club) plans soon but his EL showings have to have some teams still intrigued by such a raw jewel.

Lee Jin Hyun (Austria Wien) -- It started off so excitingly for LJH who scored on his debut and featured regularly in the heavy matchload for Austria Wien. But in the second half of the season, he soon fell out of disfavor and soon not even making matchday squads and Austria Wien not exercising his buy option. I didn't get to watch much of his play but it does feel a bit disappointing given the level of play that he couldn't quite do a bit more.

Park Yi Young/Lee Seung Won (St Pauli/St Pauli II) -- Both appeared to do well for the reserve side in similar roles as DMs and soon PYY earned a spot filling in for the first team squad. Unfortunately a good first showing was soon followed up with a terrible one and his permanent first team move took a while to happen. But hard work from PYY and he's now a first teamer, though without a specific position as he's played in DM, CB and FB positions. He's bought himself some more time and hopefully his industry is rewarded. LSW has also trained at times with the first team so we will see what this season holds.

Choi Kyoung Rok (St Pauli II) -- Injury and lack of play caused a wasted season for CKR who falls from potential BL move to now transfering to Karlsruher. Hopefully he gets his career back on track at the BL3 side.

Seo Young Jae (Hamburg II) -- He seemed so close to making the first team, training with them at various times, especially when HSV II's manager moved to first team but he never quite got there. Then again he was recovering from a bad knee injury. Like CKR, he's looking to rebuild his career at Duisburg.

Paik Seung Ho (Peralada) -- A great showing in a preseason friendly resulted in a move to Peralada, Girona's B team. It probably didn't hurt that he's probably well thought of in the Guardiola hierarchy that runs Girona as a feeder team. It feels a bit odd to figure out how well he's done, as he was frequently subbed off first and sometimes even benched but also trained with first team at various points of the season as well. I'm hoping the latter is the true story with the former being reflective of lack of minutes the season before last.

Kim Young Kiu (Academica) -- A good season for him apparently at Merida and earned player of the season, but he couldn't keep them from relegation and we'll see what happens so many levels down.

Jang Gyeol Hee -- A weird move to Greece ended up not so good as he was playing for their reserve team and posting Shawshank Redemption pictures as the season ended. I imagine he'll have to restart his career in Korea or Japan for a club willing to gamble on a kid who looked so good not so long ago.

Hwang Mun Ki -- Ki looked at times like a regular but by the end of the season was rarely making the squad. Not sure if he was injured as he's featured already in the preseason.

Park Jung Bin -- A long time off recovering from an ACL injury but I have to admit to being impressed watching him rehab on his Instagram feed. So far so good on his recovery as he came back into starting XI.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Weekend Recap May 19th and a note on World Cup

Obviously I've been avoiding writing this post because the news is so depressing with Kwon Chang Hoon suffering a severe injury that will not only knock him out of the WC, but most likely the Asian Games and the start of the season.

I did want to put a note out there that my coverage of the WC is a bit undecided at this point. I have fairly low expectations, and even more so after KCH, and this year overlaps with a bigger anniversary trip, where I'll be somewhere in Italy for matches 2+3. As such, I've tempered my own enthusiasm for this tournament especially against a harder real life workload and as a result, not been keeping close eye on things as I have previous years. When things get real, of course I'll get caught up in it again here and there on Twitter, but did want to clarify the lack of WC related output this year.

I'll get a season wrap-up posted soonish maybe.

Kwon Chang Hoon -- What a terrible injury with a ruptured Achilles tendon. It's unclear the severity of the injury but it's a really tough break for a kid really starting to excel. Add in heartbreak for the World Cup, and its impact on Asian Games chances not only for KCH but also Son, and its just a bitter pill to swallow on last match of the season. Hopefully he works hard and carefully and comes back healthy.

Suk Hyun Jun -- Watched him slave away in tough conditions in my first watch in a while. His off the ball movement was a real improvement over earlier in season / his career in general, and he had a few good chances but also didn't score and Troyes are now relegated. We will see how he plots out his career with his ending contract with Porto, nearing military duty and uncertainty as to Asian Games participation.

Lee Seung Woo -- Was out "injured" in Korea getting ready for WC.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Weekend Recap May 12th and Weekend Preview May 19th

I’ll be honest, I thought all the leagues were done with the BL and PL.  It was a pretty poor watching weekend for me between Mother’s Day and lack of minutes.  I don’t know if much better this weekend given LSW “injury” and no stakes for KCH.

Saturday9:00 AMLee Seung WooHellas Verona@JuventusBeIN
Saturday3:00 PMKwon Chang HoonDijonAngersNone
Saturday3:00 PMSuk Hyun JunTroyesMonacoBeIN Play
Summer BreakKoo Ja CheolAugsburg
Summer BreakLee Chung YongCrystal Palace
Summer BreakKi Sung YuengSwansea
Summer BreakSon Heung MinTottenham

Lee Seung Woo-- Got a full 90 and looked on touch video similar to previous showings: a bit over eager, a bit soft but also some flashes of something. He’s out this weekend due to “injury”. As to just something that allows him to join KNT training early or something minor that makes sense for him to go join KNT anyway is unclear and not that important. He will want to do well to escape Serie B and I imagine Verona might be interested in helping him along if that brings in funds for a more B appropriate player.

Kwon Chang Hoon-- Scored again as he was rewarded for his hustle as he pressed GK and fortuitous bounce allowed him an easy goal. He will be looking to top the team in goals which would be an impressive showing for a guy who’s not been a regular starter and not a true forward either.

Suk Hyun Jun-- Got the start, played 70 and had a hand in goal I think based in reports IIRC. But Troyes still remain in relegation zone and a draw isn’t enough.

Koo Ja Cheol-- Out injures.

Lee Chung Yong-- He got a five minute cameo to say farewell. His first touch was atrocious as he went tentatively for the ball, but was good given the low tempo and pressure.

Ki Sung Yueng-- Left out of side, and unclear if Ki checked out early, Swansea let him go early, or Carvahal looking to shuffle things in an attempt to end season on a good note.

Son Heung Min-- Came on with eight minutes or so left as he revealed he’s been playing with an ankle injury for a while which explains Poch’s careful use of his minutes and his drop off in form. Not much to say about his showing except that Lucas and Lamela looked pretty good and he will have a tough challenge when he comes back from WC/AG

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Midweek Recap May 8th and Weekend Preview May 12th

Really disappointing to see Swansea relegated and becoming the second KPA one down this season and the only drama left in this final season is if Troyes can escape with a win and some luck. The lack of drama means I will probably have limited real time engagement this weekend.

Saturday9:30 AMKoo Ja CheolAugsburg@FreiburgFox Match Pass
Saturday3:00 PMKwon Chang HoonDijon@LilleBeIN Play
Saturday3:00 PMSuk Hyun JunTroyes@MontpelierBeIN Play
Sunday9:00 AMLee Seung WooHellas VeronaUdineseBeIN Play
Sunday10:00 AMLee Chung YongCrystal PalaceWest BromNBCSN
Sunday10:00 AMKi Sung YuengSwanseaStokeE!
Sunday10:00 AMSon Heung MinTottenhamLeicester CityOxygen

Koo Ja Cheol-- Out injured

Kwon Chang Hoon-- Like most KPAs at this time of year you are hoping for health first and confidence second. I think he has plenty of latter now so he will have to avoid former on final day.

Suk Hyun Jun-- Things are bad for both Suk and Troyes. Since he was a late sub last weekend, I expect him to be in bench in a must win.

Lee Seung Woo-- Perhaps he gets a start as Verona plan for next season in Serie B.

Lee Chung Yong-- Since Crystal Palace is safe, one would hope that LCY would get some sub minutes in exchange for damaging his WC chances by rejecting his winter move.

Ki Sung Yueng-- A frustrating showing from Ki who looked to be pressing a bit and had quite a few uncharacteristic mistakes. He ran hard but couldn’t get a grip on a match where any bit of class could have dramatically changed the outcome. As it stands, Swansea are relegated and would need a miracle to survive. It has been quite amazing to see a club make the same mistakes every year, with spending the most at a decently stocked position (DM/CM), yet having no quality out wide or in a 10 role, and poor and rushed manager decisions. A mess which shows how luck can sometimes be perceived as skill (Jenkins) and what greed can do to a club. With Carvahal likely to get sacked we will see who he lines up.  I imagine Ki wants a rest but otherwise I’d expect him to start.

Son Heung Min-- Had the assist for the winning goal that ensured CL for next season but like Ki was a bit ragged ruining good opportunities with some weak and sloppy play. Yes, the referee was allowing too much contact but it wasn’t excessive and he should have done better. It was surprisingly poor again from Tottenham and Son did create a lot of danger when he wasn’t making mistakes but he was subbed off first looking pretty fatigued. I think Son will want to start to add to his goal tally which has stalled out recently but perhaps Poch will wat to start planning for life without Son in the fall when Son is at the Asian Games.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Weekend Recap May 5th and Midweek Preview May 8th

A fairly sad Saturday with Swansea and Tottenham both blowing opportunities was followed by a better Sunday, particularly outside the regular guys on this list, with Ji Dong Won having a huge game to boost Darmstadt out of the relegation zone, Park Yi Young scoring to guarantee safety for St Pauli, and Lee Kang In scoring for Valencia's B team.


Ki Sung Yueng -- Swansea host Southampton at 2:45 PM ET on NBCSN. Obviously this match is critical to their survival, but Swansea played incredibly flatly in a winnable match on the weekend and now find themselves in the relegation zone. Fortunately, Swansea have their fates in their hands still and a reasonable final two opponents. But it was bad on Saturday and Ki was only ok as he struggled to find openings to create attacks. He was subbed off in final few minutes but that was only reflective of other players doing even worse. Because of that, Ki should start but perhaps with so little offense, Carvahal shakes it up to get goals.


Son Heung Min -- Tottenham host Newcastle at 2:45 PM on NBC Gold. Son was a bench as Tottenham really messed up vs. lowly West Brom. Son eventually got on and his directness resulted in a half decent chance when he cut in and shot well. But he didn't get too many quality touches with Kane looking poor on top, and things generally a disjointed mess overall. Lucas played well so perhaps we'll see one or two of Son and Lucas come into the starting XI but they need to step up to keep their top four position.


Lee Chung Yong -- While it was great to see Bolton escape relegation by scoring two goals in final minutes and Crystal Palace assure safety with a win, LCY himself did nothing besides warm the bench. Perhaps Hodgson throws him some bench minutes now to apologize for keeping him and not using him ahead of WC.

Lee Seung Woo -- Came on as a sub and scored his first Serie A goal and it was a well taken volley from the top of the box. Unfortunately it came on a loss that relegated Verona. On the one hand, perhaps LSW might get a bigger role down there, but on the other, second tier tends to be more physical which is not his strong suit. Will be interesting to see what happens.

Suk Hyun Jun -- Troyes lost again, and now have very thin chances of survival. Suk came on as the third sub so he's still struggling for opportunities despite goal last weekend.

Kwon Chang Hoon -- A well timed run and blast meant a tenth goal for KCH and it sounded like he played a great game again.

Koo Ja Cheol -- Injured.