One of the most interesting matches on paper last weekend was FC Seoul v Incheon, even though both teams occupy slots in the relegation group it had all the potential to be a cracking match. Incheon had hit a purple patch and after only one win in 15 had managed three in a row. They had been deserving in their wins and were beginning to make a march up the table. Seoul, on the other hand, were still having an unpredictable season. Victories against Pohang in the FA Cup and a quarter-final looming in the ACL (also against Pohang) had been diluted with a defeat against Ulsan at home in a match that would’ve seen them leapfrog them into the top group. Both teams, it was safe to say, had a lot to play for and to prove.
It was a beautiful day in Seoul so I decided to head to the World Cup Stadium earlier than usual for a ‘cold one or two’ before the game. When I arrived in the subway station I was surprised and disappointed to see that the freezer had been practically cleared of beer! I’m guessing more than just me had the idea of getting there early. I bought some of the few remaining Cass (no Dry Finish left) and headed to an area behind the merchandising tents to ‘relax’ before kick-off.
A couple of Cass later I made my way to the ticket booth to get a ticket and find a seat. I had thought before kick-off that the match might be pretty busy but upon entering I realized that was folly. It wasn’t a bad crowd but for a Saturday evening kick-off in summer it was a little disappointing. I’m guessing either the baseball was luring fans away or some had been ‘persuaded’ to entertain Chicken and Beer in Banpo Park instead. Ah Korea!
Incheon, although buoyed by recent performances, hadn’t managed to bring as many fans as I had expected. It was kind of ironic that in the last 7 days or so both sets of fans had had protests against the running of their club. Seoul fans were protesting at the closure of the East Stand to allow a stage to be erected for a ‘Dream Concert’ followed by a Maroon 5 concert. Incheon were complaining about the Chairman and his lack of interest and investment and I believe some comment about the Mafia, though not entirely sure about the last one. But despite the passionate protests neither set of fans seemed willing to come out in numbers for this.
In the end just over 24,000 turned up to watch what ended up being one of the most one-sided matches of the season. The surprising news was that Seoul rested Cha, Molina, Everton and Escudero all from the starting line-up, Choi Yong Soo obviously having one eye on the ACL. The opening exchanges were, as to be expected, pretty even.These teams were in the bottom half for a reason. Then on 30 mins the game exploded into life. Yun Il Rok picked the ball up on the edge of the box, turned his man brilliantly and curled it into the top corner, keeper had no chance. 1-0 Seoul and Incheon looked rattled. It took all of 6 mins for Seoul to add a second as this time another well worked move down the left was finished with the easiest of side-foots by Ko Yo Han. 2-0 and the writing was all on the wall already for Incheon. Things were only going to go from bad to worse and with 2 mins to play before half-time Seoul added a third. This time Kim Chi Woo emulating Yun Il Rok as he cut in from the left, turned his man and buried it beyond Kwan in goals. It was almost half-time and the match was over. A lot of Seoul’s good play this season has come from Cha down the right wing so it was good to see that they have options on the left also.
We went into half-time with the score 3-0 and the Incheon fans treating us to the Korean version of “we’ll support you ever more!”, or something like that as they bounced around the away end as if 3-0 up. Seoul decided to despatch with their usual half-time entertainment of choosing a red devil to help promote sponsors GS. This time they brought out a a large red sheet of plastic, soaked it in water and had fans run up and slide down it to see who got the furthest. Fun Indeed! There were two guys and two girls, tho the girls would’ve been as well staying in the stands. One of the guys was actually good and managed a good distance, at this point I realized I was actually analyzing the skill of someone sliding down a plastic sheet and sank deep in my seat and opened another Cass.
As the second half started I wondered if Incheon were capable of a comeback or if indeed Seoul would even try a leg second half. The answers were NO to Incheon and YES to Seoul. Seoul continued to basically pummel Incheon who looked like they just wanted to pack up and leave, the fans still bouncing around to their credit. Coach Choi decided to freshen things up and brought Molina on in 69 mins, he was to have an almost immediate impact. With just under 15 mins left he made it 4-0. It was another great strike, this one coming from the right hand side of the box and driven low into the corner of the net. Four goals so far and three of them being goal of the month contenders. It was an emphatic scoreline now and nothing less than Seoul had deserved as they had completely dominated Incheon. Seoul though weren’t finished and kept the best to last. A ball into the box broke back to midfield and the ball was fed to Lee Sang Hyub about 25+ yards out. He took a touch and let rip with probably the sweetest strike of his career, the keeper yet again left helpless. 5-0 Seoul with about 8 mins left. There was still time for Incheon to grab a consolation goal as Jin Sung Wook headed in from a corner which proved to be the last touch of the ball.
It was a great match and a pretty unexpected scoreline. Incheon will have been devastated to see their good run halted in such embarrassing fashion, Seoul on the other hand can take a real confidence boost down to the Steelyard for the all important ACL match. As I left the stadium the Seoul fans were partying and singing under the North Stand, I doubt anyone would deny them their moment of joy after such an indifferent season.