Suwon Samsung is quietly preparing for a rebound. Kim Byung-soo’s Suwon Samsung had a “hot” time last month. The team played unbeaten matches against Daegu FC (1-1 draw), Daejeon Hana Citizens (2-2 draw), and Pohang Steelers (1-1 draw). With the momentum going their way, Suwon defeated Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 at home and followed it up with a 2-1 win on the road against Gangwon FC. With its first back-to-back wins of the season, Suwon (4W, 6D, 14L) has managed to ‘break the deadlock’ for the first time since falling to the bottom of the table on April 9.
At the center of the rebound was the grit of the youngest players. Kim Joo-chan, the youngest player born in 2004, scored in two consecutive games to lead Suwon to its first back-to-back wins. Kim also helped ease Suwon’s U-22 card woes. Another ‘semi-professional’, 2004-born Lee Sang-min, also helped the Suwon side with his aggressive moves. Jeon Jin-woo of the Wonju Matan Boys’ Club, who returned from injury, also scored against Ulsan to set the tone for the second half.
The performance of foreign players was also encouraging. After returning from injury, Mulich showed off his ‘one-shot, one-kill’ scoring instincts. He found the back of the net in three consecutive games against Daejeon, Pohang, and Ulsan. Kazuki, a Japanese summer signing, was also applauded for his high level of play. He started four of the five matches in July and helped the team to a point. Kazuki was voted the Suwon fans’ favorite player of July. Kazuki said, “I’m happy to receive such a good award even though I haven’t played many games yet. My teammates helped me a lot, 꽁머니 and I think I made some good plays,” said Kazuki. Suwon also has another “secret weapon” in its arsenal. The team brought in striker Weric Popo on loan from Red Bull Bragançinho in the Brazilian top flight. The 1.90-meter striker is said to have both flexibility and speed.
Suwon will start the second half of the season with the ‘Suwon Derby’ against Suwon FC on the 5th. “The players are training calmly,” said a Suwon club official. The ‘Suwon Derby’ is at stake. Suwon FC (20 points) is in 10th place. Depending on the outcome of this match, their position could change. The 12th-place team in K League 1 is automatically relegated to K League 2 (2nd Division) next season. The 10th and 11th place teams will play a relegation playoff (PO) against K League 2 teams to determine who will stay in the top flight. Suwon bowed out of their first meeting with Suwon FC this year with a 1-2 loss. This time, they will be out for revenge.