Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you are gearing up for an enjoyable (if socially distant) weekend.
This week we have some good news—football is back!*
*Depending on when you’re willing to wake up
The K League kicked off Friday morning with Samsung Suwon Bluewings traveling to face defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (subtle ad placement, eh?). As you’ll recall Suwon was the destination for Doneil Henry, giving an easy entree for Caps fans into one of the first leagues to restart post-COVID-19.
Now, I woke up a bit early to watch the second half of the match and have to say it was quite enjoyable. Enjoyable enough to wake up at 3 AM for you west coast residents? Well, I’ll leave that up to you.
But both teams are some of the better ones in the K League, with Jeonbuk perhaps the biggest heavyweight in the league and a regular Asian Champions League contender. Both sides had an attacking flair, playing like a slightly over-confident 15-year-old in FIFA: attempting bold flicks, aggressive passes and confident dribbles, even if they didn’t always come off right. A lot of the teams in the league, apparently, like an open, attacking style, meaning you’ll frequently get your money’s worth if you do decide to get up in the middle of the night.
This particular match, however, was lower scoring. Suwon faced an uphill battle all match and had an even taller mountain to climb after Terry Adonis was sent off midway through the second half. Jeonbuk finally put them to the sword after Lee Dong-gook headed home off a corner, leaving his marker in the dust to secure a 1-0 win.
The man defending him? Uh ... well ... that was Henry, who fell asleep at a pretty crucial juncture despite performing admirally for the 82 minutes previously. You have to wonder if perhaps a communication error was at fault because it was a decidedly un-Henry mistake for him to make. The big man is perhaps still trying to get settled, after only starting a couple Suwon matches in the ACL prior to Friday.
Still, it was good fun to see a familiar face running around and I think, long term, Henry’s physical presence will be a real asset in the league and help stabalize Suwon’s evidently shaky back line (they had the Golden Boot winner last season ... and still finished with a negative goal differential). It also is handy to have an easy team to root for (and play as on FIFA/Football Manager).
Apparently I’m not alone in checking out the K League—1.8 million people watched the live, English language stream on Twitter. Presumably the league will continue with those, although the hope is one of the North American-based media companies will pick up rights (stares intently at ESPN).
If you want a good primer/news source for K League before you drag your ass out of bed to watch, K League United is one of the best English-language outlets for a foreign league anywhere and will have you an expert on the ins and outs of the various teams (and the shortened competition they’re playing in) in no time. You can catch their season preview here.
We even did our own K League preview, so to speak, here at 86 Forever. Remember Lee Dong-gook, who scored the winner this morning? Well at 41 he’s a Korean football legend, the recod scorer in the K League and plyed his trade in Europe for Werder Bremen and Middlesborough. He also has his own reality TV show.
Yes, you read that right. Our own Caleb Wilkins watched the highlights to give you a closer look at Korean football and Korean culture. Well worth a read.
Shameless Self Promotion
You probably heard about the stupidity of Yordy Reyna and Jasser Khmiri, who played pickup in defiance of the stay-at-home order, earning them a fine and two-week quarantine. If you missed the sordid details, we have em
Best of the Rest
Hear directly from Doneil Henry on his adventures in Korea
The Bundesliga will join the K League in returning to action, with a debut scheduled in one week’s time
There is more optimism for MLS returning, according to Commissioner Don Garber
A galaxy brain take that MLS’ byzantine roster rules could be looked at by other leagues in a post-COVID world