Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Weekend Preview July 24

Will be brief as I don't have a ton of clue even on what ESPN's plans are with 2. Bundesliga this season. It could be one of these matches (Werder's most likely) gets streamed but not holding my breath yet. Those guys could fall off the schedule if they don't end up streamed. I forgot Seo Jong Min so mini recap for him.

I also realized that ESPN is showing Belgian football so I'll re-introduce Lee Seung Woo into this schedule. Normally I'm excited to have another option available but I have pretty low expectations at this time for him so its mostly a lot of work.

Saturday7:30 AMSeo Jong MinDynamo DresdenIngolstadtNone
Saturday7:30 AMChoi Kyoung RokKarlsruher@Hansa RostockNone
Saturday2:30 PMPark Kyu HyunWerder BremenHannoverNone
Sunday3:00 PMLee Seung WooSTVVKAA GentNone

Seo Jong Min-- Seo Jong Min makes the leap from Eintracht Frankfurt's U19 side to BL2. Given his age and abbreviated nature of last season, I don't have a lot of time watching him, but apparently injuries really slowed his progress at Eintracht Frankfurt and is now hoping to make the more moderate leap to the 2nd tier. Given last season's COVID shutdown, I have low initial expectations given that lack of play for the start but he did have a decent sized showing in first friendly so should have a role.

Choi Kyoung Rok-- Should start as he's been starting all the friendlies despite his long layoff with the injury at the end of last season.

Park Kyu Hyun-- Had a long look in preseason as Werder evaluated him for first team role but seems to have settled into a backup LB role so expecting him on the bench.

Lee Seung Woo-- LSWs season started off with anew manager well relatively speaking as he soon was playing 90 minutes and even scoring a brace in one match. The season soon went suddenly south and LSW was again unused, mostly out of the squad. He made a loan out to Portimonense where he appeared on the periphery of the squad, with small cameos near end of matches but no major run of minutes. He finds himself back at STVV... a late start supposedly due to an administration error sets him back a bit but with yet another new manager, has a clean slate to try to salvage his career. As of now, still looks like a bench player at most.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Summer Recap

I think I totally missed the window to do a season recap with my recollection being a bit hazy now. But the blog is still technically alive and I'll do what I can from dodgy memory and provide a micro-preview of the upcoming season as well mostly as I'm off back to the grind shortly. 

My coverage deeper down the list is a bit thinner. Some was COVID related as many youth+reserve team seasons were shutdown. Others were due to limited info as some clubs are quieter than others. And of course, the marginal guys are a function of my time and energy and have been trying to manage that a bit better this season. Not helping things is the fact that with said interruptions, I don't think I've done a full recap 

Kwon Chang Hoon -- Going to start with the end with Kwon Chang Hoon returning to K league ahead of mandatory military service and that looks to have impaired the end of his Freiburg career with Streich increasing his focus on the next season. It was doubly frustrating as he had started to earn Streich's trust over the first half of the season, earning minutes and starts until he injured himself. With a different set of circumstances, Kwon Chan Hoon might have been able to carve out a role in this squad but health and military duty brings a quiet end to his European career barring an Olympic miracle.

Jeong Woo Yeong -- A tough season start but Jeong started to show flashes of the skill that had made him a Bayern prospect and started to earn increasing minutes over the second half of the season. His defensive work rate improved and started to mature in his movement and decision making. That said, he still turns over the ball too often with excess risk taking and he now has the mental burden of not making the Olympic team. And he's lacking a bit of danger in the box which makes tolerating these shortcomings more painful. The silver lining is that Jeong will have a full preseason to earn a bigger role and looks like he should get those chances to impress.

Hwang Hee Chan -- After an extremely bright start to his Leipzig career, things slowed down quickly as Hwang took a bit longer to adapt to Nagelsmann's system and had some niggling injuries, and then stopped completely due to COVID infection that ended his first half of the season. While there were some rumors that HHC might leave in the winter window, HHC was convinced to stay so that he could get a fair chance without those health issues. Unfortunately, those chances took a long time. It was a bit frustrating as Sorloth was only marginally convincing in patches and HHC offered the pace and physicality when he did come on that was lacking in the Leipzig attack. But things turned around for the better with a superheroic cup appearance and while HHC wasn't exactly shining, he had carved out a decent sub role. Now with his old Salzburg manager taking the helm, HHC will be looking to re-find the form that took him to the Bundesliga. Its hard to judge after one friendly, but HHC looked ready to fight (including a hilarious yellow card arguing over a throw in) and comfortable in Marsch's system.

Lee Kang In -- I'm having a hard time remembering the positives at it felt like such a long season and looking at my recaps, I did not recall that he had started off well, with regular starts, albeit out of position. Unfortunately, conflict with senior players and a derailment due to COVID infection due to KNT duty were additional factors that made it start to feel like groundhog day. LKI had many great moments during the season but lacked any consistency with frequent banishments to the bench and a team in general discord. LKI was at fault in a few ways as well, particularly with his defensive work which really limited how he could be used but also finding ways to influence the match when he's not getting the ball every buildup. Now off to the Olympics, a move seems unlikely with Valencia unlikely to earn enough to offset financial issues and/or make it worthwhile, so LKI will have to either hope to excel there and earn a last minute move or more likely, use it as a warm up for a new season with a new manager. 

Ji Dong Won -- Ji's season was almost a complete repeat of past few seasons with a decent preseason ending in injury and a long road back to fitness and form. When he was loaned out to Eintracht Braunschweig after a fall with little role, he looked like he might repeat the heroics of his loan to Darmstadt with large contributions early on. Unfortunately, his fitness started to fail again until his season ended with a foot injury. A meek ending to Ji's European career as he moves to FC Seoul. Ji was never a great player but he was often a very good player but injuries continued to flare up at the worst times. That said, he had more than a few highlights including a Europa League stretch and saving multiple clubs from relegation. I'll a bit sad to no longer see Ji in Europe.

Lee Jae Sung -- For a long portion of the season, LJS was the best player in BL2, able to score, create and battle and Kiel was able to ride his form to the top of the table and a deep run in the cup, with the highlight being an upset of Bayern. The only shortcoming over this time was the fact that there weren't multiples of him to play all the various positions he played at one time due to the inconsistent play of his teammates. Often starting as a false 9, LJS could migrate back to become a CM or play out wide as tactics dictated. But all the minutes and running caused LJS to tail off at the worst possible time as Kiel somehow dropped out of automatic promotion, got blown out in the cup semis and lose badly in the second leg of the promotion playoff. While LJS wasn't awful during this stretch, it spoke to his importance to Kiel and the drop off in his play. While rumors late in the season had LJS moving to Hoffenheim, LJS chose Mainz as a free agent this summer. Given comments from Mainz thinking the deal to Hoffenheim was done, one wonders if Hoffenheim had second thoughts after that drop off in play or if LJS was more intruigued by Mainz' improved play under new coach Svensson. LJS' gamble paid off even if it ends disappointingly for Kiel who misses out on LJS and promotion. LJS' start to this season is starting off slow with an injury suffered in KNT duty but it sounds minor so hoping to see how he fits in soon.

Choi Kyoung Rok -- A really happy season for CKR who recovered from ACL injury and a marginal role over the prior two seasons to earning a new contract and becoming one of the regulars in the XI. While he isn't lighting it up on the stats, he provides some quality in their attack and his workrate helps both in the press and in filling in the holes of their midfield. CKR picked up yet another injury after signing his new contract, so that remains a concern but based on preseason, looks to have retained his role.

Son Heung Min -- My concerns with Mourinho's hire reached peak realization with Tottenham playing some miserable football but in an unexpected twist, Son benefitted from the simple play with a blazing hot 2/3 of a season. Son also matured a lot as a player, able to contribute when not scoring and better maintain energy levels despite an incredibly high workload. While his performances match-to-match stayed positive, the sheer number of minutes across EL qualification and a deep run in the league cup did eventually catch up, with Son's second half of the season more up and down and even picked up a hamstring injury. A lot of questions remain with a possible new contract for Son weighed up against a Tottenham side in disarray, with a new manager, major missing pieces in defense, and the uncertainty of Kane. I'd prefer than Son find a new challenge on a stronger team but he has comfort here and a WCQ cycle to manage so one can see why he'd stay. Either way, Son remains the top watch each week.

Hwang Ui Jo -- Has a player led his team in scoring so uninspiringly? In a club with greater concerns that came to a head with a credit default type event, Sousa's sudden departure and uninspiring replacement, and a battle against relegation, maybe HUJ's contributions were overshadowed by all the negativity. Part can also be attributed to many of the goals being PKs. But HUJ also was a bit of tweener, not playing great out wide but also not being strong enough to be a CF. That said, he carried the burden as well as he could, despite often being isolated up top and avoided relegation. Olympics is a bit of a distraction for HUJ but with Bordeaux having modest goals, perhaps wouldn't have the detriment it might to a player needing to earn his club role more. As it stands, HUJ will be needed this season whether as a LW or as a forward.

Yun Il Lok -- A really strange season for Yun who worked hard, got positive compliments from his manager and earned a bigger role by the week... and then fell completely out of the squad and his contract wasn't renewed and headed back to K League. Maybe he never fully adapted culturally, especially given COVID circumstances, but he never looked out of place on the pitch and the quiet second half of the season was disappointing.

Suk Hyun Jun -- Suk's early COVID infection appeared to be of the longer term variety as his start to his season was delayed and he had a marginal start to his season. Then he missed more time with what was implied to be more coronavirus complications and then a calf injury. Overhanging all of this was Suk's attempt to avoid military duty in Korea ending with him officially entering "draft dodging" status. I won't opine on the last point, but despite this Suk had a hand in Troyes earning promotion even if Suk's role had been reduced quite a bit from last season. Despite City group's involvement, Troyes has been fairly quiet this window so Suk should keep that role barring a late window dump of talent from their parent clubs. 

Park Kyu Hyun -- Despite an abbreviated season with Werder Bremen's B team, PKH seemed to be ever close to a role with the first team, at times rumored to be possibly in the squad and training throughout the B team hiatus. Perhaps these factors resulted in Werder Bremen able to buy him for far less than the option on his loan and he looks to be in the first team this season, even if Werder is disappointingly relegated and down to BL2. Currently he stands as a backup LB but hopefully he can earn a larger role over the season.

Paik Seung Ho -- Paik continued to struggle to adapt to Darmstadt even if his football playing seemed to be doing ok. He struggled a bit to find a position, especially given his defensive shortcomings and inconsistent final ball contributions. After a slow start to the season, Paik looked like he had finally gotten things going as the season turned colder with some good assists and play. But soon enough his role got reduced and it seemed Paik had a change of heart about fighting for his spot and though the move took a long time to complete, ended up going to the K League. Disappointing as Paik flashed some good skills that some more adaptation to physical 2nd tier play might result in really having an impact, but on the other hand, lingering on the bench in that 2nd tier isn't a way to progress one's career.

To come: I'll try to add more of the young guys when I find some time but I'm finding this blog post a bit fatiguing and time consuming haha!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Week Preview May 26 and May 29

 I don't have much to review as I wasn't able to watch much football this weekend and been a bit busy with work to catch up on what little is available on demand. So likely I'll just write a season recap next week.

But there's a bit more football to watch this week with Lee Jae Sung and Kiel going into promotion playoff vs. Cologne. Lee Jae Sung should start both matches.

Wednesday - 12:30 PM on ESPN+ - Away

Saturday - 12 PM on ESPN+ - Home

Friday, May 21, 2021

Weekend Preview May 22 and Midweek Recap May 19

Sadly may have to end the season with trouble watching much this weekend between lack of legal streams and other commitments.

Saturday9:30 AMJeong Woo YeongFreiburg@Eintracht FrankfurtESPN+
Saturday9:30 AMKwon Chang HoonFreiburg@Eintracht FrankfurtESPN+
Saturday9:30 AMHwang Hee ChanLeipzig@Union BerlinESPN+
Saturday12:00 PMLee Kang InValencia@HuescaBeIN Xtra
Sunday9:30 AMJi Dong WonEintracht Braunschweig@HamburgNone
Sunday9:30 AMLee Jae SungHolstein KielDarmstadtNone
Sunday9:30 AMChoi Kyoung RokKarlsruher@HeidenheimNone
Sunday11:00 AMSon Heung MinTottenham@Leicester CityNBCSN
Sunday3:00 PMHwang Ui JoBordeaux@ReimsNone
Sunday3:00 PMYun Il LokMontpellier@NantesNone
Summer BreakSuk Hyun JunTroyes

Jeong Woo Yeong-- Likely on the bench to start but we'll see how Streich uses his minutes to say farewell vs. plan for next year.

Kwon Chang Hoon-- Streich took a moment to note that KCH is gone this summer in advance of military duty. Given away match and no fans, we'll see if he gets a cameo at the end or not.

Hwang Hee Chan-- Seems to be earning a bigger role but likely still from the bench.

Lee Kang In-- With a week of rest, could start again in one last ditch effort to convince LKI to stay. 

Ji Dong Won-- Out with a red card.

Lee Jae Sung-- Should start. Critical match where they'll be going for a win though disappointing not on US streams.

Choi Kyoung Rok-- I haven't heard if he's fit yet so suspect he may be protected given little to play for.

Son Heung Min-- Should start. I watched the second half and it was not good with Tottenham trying to play one way but not having any structure around it. Son's touches were ok but Son neither took control nor took good chances when the ball did find his way. Very disappointing both in team and individual play.

Hwang Ui Jo-- Should start in the other important match of the weekend. I can't even figure out what needs to happen for Bordeaux to survive but a win would certainly do it.

Yun Il Lok-- Unlikely to play whether he's in the squad or not.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Midweek Preview May 19 and Weekend Recap May 15

Unfortunately, Ji So Yun and Chelsea's run came to an abrupt end as they struggled to handle Barcelona's press and also failed to convert their own chances when they did get into attack. Ji seemed to do better as she pushed up later in the match but it wasn't a great showcase on the day. Disappointing end to a great run but a good season otherwise, with a title, a league cup and still in the hunt for the FA Cup.

Wednesday1:00 PMSon Heung MinTottenhamAston VillaPeacock

Son Heung Min-- Looked pretty sharp when he got the ball though the flow of the match didn't go his way too much. Son did help ice the match when he found Bale on the break who couldn't score but had a rebound for Hojbjerg to knock in. Son looked confident despite the inconsistency of the team and we will see if off-pitch drama around a potential transfer for Kane impact Son as he starts thinking about his own future. Son should start midweek.


Hwang Ui Jo-- Hwang and co needed a win when other relegation candidates won and Bordeaux was able to deliver. The match started off pretty poorly with many mistakes in possession and defending. Hwang looked better when he was in a playmaking mode, particularly in the second half when he setup a golden chance for his teammate. He struggled more to create in isolation, being overpowered physically at times and not tricky enough to offset a lack of explosiveness. Hwang did create a good moment but his shot was deflected just wide and he equaled Park Chu Young's record for season goals by a Korean in L1 by scoring a PK. Unfortunately, he appeared to have pulled something as he was subbed off a bit past the hour. It didn't look major as he tried to play through and walked off on his own power but its not a welcome turn with the final match looking so critical.

Ji Dong Won-- Came on as a sub and had a positive impact with an assist, and a large negative one with a red card that leaves him out of the finale and the first leg of a possible relegation playoff.

Jeong Woo Yeong-- Came on with 20 to go and almost had an instant impact, taking a tricky ball and feeding it to Haberer who almost beat the GK. Jeong did well to play within himself in a potential emotional match vs. his old club and desire to impress. He had a good defensive moment and made good decisions. Not a great showing but stable and good is progress maturity-wise.

Kwon Chang Hoon-- An unused sub and we'll see if Kwon plays for Freiburg ever again.

Lee Jae Sung-- A real disappointing match as Kiel failed to secure promotion and will now need to win on the final matchday. LJS had a lot of energy but still looked far from his best either in a deeper role to start or when he was pushed up later. It wasn't all bad as he flashed a bit of quality here and there but wasn't consistently dangerous as he can be.

Choi Kyoung Rok-- Still out with injury.

Hwang Hee Chan-- HHC came on with twenty minutes left in a possible sign that he's moved up past Sorloth on the depth chart albeit overdue and too late. Hwang provided good energy and looked to be more integrated with his team. Although he wasn't a major part in Leipzig coming back to earn a draw, it was a good showing given circumstances.

Yun Il Lok-- Was in squad apparently due to some missing players but didn't play.

Suk Hyun Jun-- Came on as a sub and apparently had a few moments... but not much on the line and they can celebrate being L2 champions with their win.

Lee Kang In-- A start and played 80 which is a decent sign. Couldn't watch as wasn't aired in favor of a live highlights show, but the run of Valencia winning when he starts continues.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Weekend Preview May 15 and Midweek Recap May 12

The most important preview this weekend is the Women's CL Final with Ji So Yun's Chelsea facing Barcelona on Sunday at 3PM ET. I believe Paramount+ owns the rights but the listing on the app looks weird so might have to do some last minute searching. 

A wild semis vs Bayern and a WSL title all lead to this. Ji should start in a CM role.

As for the rest, things will get tricky in terms of previews as managers may use different lineups for a variety of reasons. The next most important match is Kiel's possible promotion clinching this Sunday morning on ESPN+.

Saturday9:30 AMJeong Woo YeongFreiburgBayern MunichESPN+
Saturday9:30 AMKwon Chang HoonFreiburgBayern MunichESPN+
Saturday2:00 PMSuk Hyun JunTroyes@Le HavreNone
Sunday9:05 AMSon Heung MinTottenhamWolverhamptonNBCSN
Sunday9:30 AMJi Dong WonEintracht BraunschweigWurzburgerNone
Sunday9:30 AMLee Jae SungHolstein Kiel@KarslruherESPN+
Sunday9:30 AMChoi Kyoung RokKarlsruherHolstein KielESPN+
Sunday12:30 PMLee Kang InValenciaEibarTBD
Sunday2:30 PMHwang Hee ChanLeipzigWolfsburgESPN+
Sunday3:00 PMHwang Ui JoBordeauxLensBeIN Play
Sunday3:00 PMYun Il LokMontpellierBrestNone

Jeong Woo Yeong-- Perhaps a cameo vs. his former club but not expecting much right now.

Kwon Chang Hoon-- I don't expect a major change for Kwon tomorrow either.

Suk Hyun Jun-- With promotion set, perhaps there will be changes in the final match of the season but Suk is likely to play whether at the start or as a sub.

Son Heung Min-- Should start.

Ji Dong Won-- Not sure about his health and given time off, seems unlikely to start even if healthy as he regains fitness.

Lee Jae Sung-- Played most of the match and had an assist in the comeback which leaves Kiel on the cusp of automatic promotion. He'll have to step up Sunday as their in-form scorer, Bartels, might miss after coming off at HT. A win in one of their final two would be enough.

Choi Kyoung Rok-- No update on his health. I don't expect him to start unless he's 100%.

Lee Kang In-- After the optimism of Sunday, LKI was an unused sub midweek so I remain uncertain as to his role this weekend. Should be in the squad at least.

Hwang Hee Chan-- Hwang got another surprise start, this time in a front pair with Sorloth. Unfortunately, after a bright start from Leipzig's offense, things looked quite jumbled and Dortmund took advantage and ran away with the match. Hwang had a hand in the second goal as his pass back from a throw in went to a Dortmund player which started a goal scoring sequence. Things were not in sync with the change in shape and Hwang looked a bit lost and was no surprise when he was taken off at HT. I don't expect a start but we'll see if he gets a sub showing this weekend.

Hwang Ui Jo-- Should start but things are very dicey in terms of team behind and their relegation battle.

Yun Il Lok-- Didn't make squad which doesn't bode well for the weekend.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Midweek Preview May 12 and Weekend Recap May 7th

A bit off on my dates last week and even missed Holstein Kiel catching up on COVID postponements on Monday. Nearing summer break when I can look forward to easing off the blog pedal.

Wednesday1:00 PMLee Kang InValencia@SevillaBeIN
Wednesday3:00 PMYun Il LokMontpellierPSG (Cup)BeIN Play
Thursday9:30 AMLee Jae SungHolstein KielJahn RegensburgNone
Thursday2:45 PMHwang Hee ChanLeipzigDortmund (Cup)ESPN2

Lee Kang In-- A surprise start and a win to avoid any risk of relegation was a good start in the interim manager era. LKI was only ok though playing out wide and didn't get too many touches on the ball, especially in the first half when Valencia had far less possession. When he did get touches, he showed a bit of rust and over-eagerness with his play, though it did improve as the match wore on. His defensive work was ok when he tracked back, though it was unclear if it was tactical, fatigue or lack of work rate when he didn't. Its a short week and hard to gauge what Valencia's intent is here but I'm leaning to a possible start in an attempt to either convince LKI to stay or to increase his value if he does go. And Valencia somehow keeps winning when he starts which won't hurt.

Yun Il Lok-- An unused sub and he didn't even make the squad for the midweek fixture.

Lee Jae Sung-- I guess Kiel's manager saw how tired LJS looked as he gave LJS a rest... ahead of the match that I didn't put on the schedule. LJS had a goal overturned by VAR due to handball in the buildup. Still didn't sound like LJS played great but at least Kiel are now in second with a match in hand. I think LJS starts.

Hwang Hee Chan-- HHC's cup heroics earned HHC a start in a low-risk match with short rest ahead of cup final. Though Leipzig did not play well, HHC did as he did cause problems for Dortmund's backline and Hummels in particularly who could not match HHC for pace or strength. Hwang had a chance early from exploiting just that but GK came and had a nice save. Unfortunately, Leipzig couldn't get the ball advanced enough to take advantage often, but Hwang was able to capitalize on one chance when he ran away from Hummels and found Olmo for an equalizing goal. I'd not read too much into HHC's 90 minutes ahead of a much more important cup final, but his showing has to give Nagelsmann second thoughts at least about a bigger sub role.

Hwang Ui Jo-- Back to more of the same with Bordeaux completely outplayed by a side in the relegation zone and HUJ missing in his rare chances to score or assist. At least he seemed to care which was more than can be said of his teammates who looked checked out.

Ji Dong Won-- Missed out with injury.

Jeong Woo Yeong-- An eventual big win but the match was too close until late for Jeong to come on.

Kwon Chang Hoon-- Kwon did make the squad which is an improvement but not the prep for Olympics he'd be looking for.

Choi Kyoung Rok-- Still out with injury.

Son Heung Min-- The downside to a new manager and an attacking style as Tottenham's poor defense was exposed and also struggled against Leeds' press. But Son found a way to have an impact nonetheless, with a nice give-and-go with Alli leaving Son with just the GK to beat which he did with ease. He had a few other chances but Tottenham's struggles in defense reduced Son's ability to create chances. The result was bad as Tottenham look all but out of top four chase, but at least the attacking was watchable even if the defense was groan-worthy.

Suk Hyun Jun-- Suk came on as a sub and Troyes did enough to win promotion! It will be interesting to see the summer play out between City Football Group's ownership likely spending to get Troyes competitive at higher level, Suk's contributing but secondary role, and Suk's citizenship issues.