After a strong summer transfer window, many K League 1 teams are smiling on a second-half rebound. Teams that brought in proven resources from the past or filled in the gaps in their teams are doing well. Changes are also expected in the second half of the season.
Incheon, who are aiming for a top-split finish, have benefited from the return of goalkeeper Mugosa from the J-League. In his second game back in the K League, Mugosa scored a goal and added an assist in a Round 26 home match against Daegu FC on Nov. 13.
Mugosa, who made the midseason switch to Incheon after struggling to find playing time with J-League side Vissel Kobe, has been dubbed Incheon’s guardian spirit. Playing for Incheon since 2018, he has scored 68 goals in 129 league games. He was responsible for about 40% of Incheon’s total goals (174) in that period. He scored 14 goals in 18 games last season before moving to Vissel Kobe, where he helped the team secure a top-six finish.
Mugosa was the final piece of Incheon’s puzzle. Incheon has pacey strikers like Gerso, Lee Myung-joo, and Shin Shin-ho, a midfield that has the ability to make plays, and a quality defensive midfielder in Moon Ji-hwan.
With Mugosa filling the void of a target-type striker, the scoring exploded in Daegu, especially the third goal, which was the result of Mugosa’s ball retention and Jerso’s quick penetration and interchange of passes, which set the stage for Incheon’s rebound in the second half. Incheon, who were once as low as ninth place, climbed to seventh place, on the verge of entering the top split. They have 26 points, the same as sixth-place Daejeon Hana Citizen, so their position could change depending on the outcome of their next match.
Last-place Suwon Samsung will look to avoid the relegation zone in the second half of the season thanks to the play of midfielder Kazuki, whom they acquired from J-League Kawasaki Frontale. Since his arrival, Kazuki has established himself as Suwon’s midfield commander, excelling at delivering kill passes that lead to crucial scoring chances and pushing the tempo of the attack.
Kim suffered from a lack of playmakers to facilitate the high ball possession, mobility-based passing game that he used to run at Gangwon FC. Since Kim’s midseason arrival, Suwon has struggled to win a game in the league, but since Kazuki’s arrival, they have caught league leaders Ulsan Hyundai and relegation battle rivals Gangwon FC, and even climbed out of the bottom two before a 1-1 draw at Jeonbuk Hyundai on Dec. 12.
Gangwon, the league’s lowest-scoring team and criticized for its anemic offense, signed three Brazilian strikers in Yago, Gabriel and Wellington last month in a bid to escape the relegation zone. 꽁머니지급 Yago and Gabriel are strikers who utilize their height to create goals. Wellington can play on the left or right flank and as a second striker.
The move to fill the void left by winger Yang Hyun-joon’s departure to Celtic (Scotland) and target man Lee Jung-hyeop, who is still dealing with the aftermath of a knee injury, worked immediately. Gangwon got back on track with a 2-0 win at home against leaders Ulsan on Dec. 12, thanks to Yago’s goal. Much depends on how well the Brazilian trio performs.