Saturday, May 30, 2009

FC Seoul 2 - Gwangju 1

Subway platform pillars with FC Seoul players on them
When you get off the No. 2 train at World Cup Stadium Station in Sangam, you immediately know you're in soccer country. If you head out Exit 2 on game day, you find a really pleasant atmosphere around the stadium:

... with public spaces like the water fountain ...

... the Cheonggyechun ...

... the pedestrian bridge over the Cheonggyechun ...

... the "World Cup Museumtion" ...

... and the GS 25 convenience store next to Exit 2 where I waited for Gavin to arrive while [gasp] drinking a beer in public. Like everybody else in Korea.

We shared a table with a Korean couple for some conversation and a maekchu or two (the girl, Seong Ah, speaks decent English) before heading inside to have dinner in the massive food court of the mall. It was so packed before the game, we chose virtually the only seats available, at an Italian restaurant called Rimini. Well, the less said there, the better.

We made it into the arena just before kick-off.

Alas, Gwangju Sangmu Phoenix scored just a few minutes into the game--Big Five, anybody? The first half flew by, at least for me--Gavin thought Gwangju dominated, I thought they split control, at least after the goal.

The second half was a different story, with FC Seoul drawing even in the fifth minute of the half (Hmmm) and taking the lead on a direct free kick into the far corner. The momentum had turned and Sangmu Phoenix, though they struggled valiantly, never really mounted another solid offensive foray.

Soccer is The Great Game because of this melding of the physical demands and the constant mental calculus that is required as players adjust to each sudden movement of the ball. In soccer, unlike other sports, play is continuous, a team is instantly offensive or defensive depending on circumstances, and there are few predetermined "plays"--mostly there are patterns.

Anyway, the above is a slice of video I took, mainly to show how empty the stadium is during soccer games here--of course, they play in a stadium that holds 70,000; if this were Mok-dong baseball stadium, it would be SRO. Attendance may not set records, but the fans of the game support it intensely. Gav was impressed by the volume and persistence of the fan cheering section.

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