Yang Hyun-joon of Gangwon FC in the K League 1 is having a tough season. He won the Young Player of the Year award last season, but has struggled to get going this season.

Gangwon went down 0-1 away to FC Seoul in the 15th round of the Hana One Q K League 2023 at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on the 28th. They were unable to overcome a 28th-minute goal from Willian. As a result, Gangwon failed to pick up a point and remained in 11th place, failing to close the gap on bottom-placed Suwon Samseong.안전놀이터

Yang started the match as a left wing-forward in a 3-4-3 formation. He was active on the flanks and in the centre of the pitch, but was unable to pick up any attacking points. He tried to link up with his teammate Park Sang-hyuk up front, but it didn’t work out. He was blocked by Seoul’s central defenders Lee Han-beom and Kim Joo-sung. On the other side, Kim Dae-woo was able to take advantage of the gaps in the defence to get two shots on target.

With the silence of the offence, Gangwon once again suffered a goalless defeat. This extends their goal drought to five games without a win.

Last season, Gangwon benefited from a lively flank attack led by Yang Hyun-joon on the left and Kim Dae-won on the right. The pair combined for 20 goals and 17 assists in the league alone. Their goals accounted for 40 per cent of Gangwon’s total of 50 goals in the league last season. Gangwon reached the Final A and finished sixth, the highest finish in the club’s history.

This season, however, it hasn’t been the same. Kim Dae-won hasn’t been able to improve his form and has seen his playing time decrease. Yang Hyun-joon has played in 14 matches (13 starts) with one goal and one assist. In particular, he hasn’t been able to utilise his quick feet to penetrate and break down the flanks. When he does get the ball up front, he rarely finds himself in situations where he can utilise his teammates. He ends up isolated, surrounded by the opposition defence and losing the ball.

The biggest difference in Gangwon’s attack from last season is their frontline strikers. This season, Gangwon used foreign striker Dino in the absence of Lee Jeong-gyeop. The team was hoping to see the decisiveness he showed at the start of last season before his long-term injury. However, Dino failed to integrate into the team after his return. In eight games, he didn’t score a single goal. Worse, he lacked the link-up ability that Choi was looking for. He was expected to hold up his end of the bargain in front of the defence and link up with flankers such as Yang Hyun-joon, but he was unable to do so easily. He also failed to pass the ball in the air, which simplified the team’s attacking pattern, despite being 190cm tall. Dino’s name was nowhere to be found in the matchday roster as Choi Yong-soo reached his breaking point.

In a pre-match interview, Choi expressed his frustration, saying, “If the front line can do their job, (Yang) Hyun-joon and (Kim) Dae-won will be able to come to life. If (Lee) Jung-hyeop’s form improves, I think (the side) will come alive.”

Meanwhile, striker Lee Jung-hyeop played nearly 60 minutes in the match, including extra time, after coming on as a substitute in the 36th minute. Choi Yong-soo hopes that Lee Jung-hyeop can quickly improve his form, as it will help the lone striker, Yang Hyun-joon, who has been struggling.

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