The Ulsan Hyundai Motor Company has been hit by a wind of change ahead of the 2022 season. Lee Dong-kyung (26), Lee Dong-joon (26), and Oh Se-hoon (24), three of Ulsan’s future stars, left at once. Lee and Oh were outright transfers, while Lee Dong-kyung was a loan.메이저놀이터
Lee Dong-kyung is a typical ‘holy grail’ who came up through the Ulsan youth system. He played for Hyundai Joongbu and Hyundai Go. He made his K League debut in 2018 and had his best year in 2021. He competed in the Tokyo Olympics and made 28 appearances in the K League 1, scoring six goals and providing three assists. His ‘crazy left foot’ was his trademark. However, Ulsan cried ‘second best in a million years’ and he chose a new challenge.
Lee’s journey, as well as Lee’s, was a thorny one, however. Lee’s first taste of European football came with Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga and then with Hanseatic Rostock. It was a valuable experience, but not an easy one. He was hampered by a fractured instep bone shortly after his move. He made just one appearance for Schalke 04 and was unable to complete the move. He tried to make a comeback at Rostock, but only made two starts and 10 substitute appearances. His total playing time was 313 minutes.
Hertha Berlin’s Lee Dong-joon also failed to land. He returned to Jeonbuk Hyundai rather than Ulsan this season. Oh has been playing in J-League 2 this season after Shimizu were relegated.
Ulsan, on the other hand, broke new ground last year, winning the coveted K League 1 title. It was their first K League 1 title in 17 years. This year, the club is on track to win its first back-to-back K League 1 titles since its inception. Along the way, Lee Dong-kyung, Ulsan’s only constant, has made a comeback.
Ulsan had a tumultuous summer, including the departure of Park Yong-woo. Lee made his comeback as a 32nd-minute substitute on the 12th, but the 1-0 defeat to Incheon was his first in four years and 10 months. I could feel the traces of a long absence. He was not in his normal form. On the 15th, Ulsan suffered their first back-to-back defeats since Hong Myung-bo took over as head coach, losing 1-3 to Suwon Samsung.
Desperate for a turnaround, Hong took a gamble against Jeju on the 21st. He started Lee Dong-kyung. Before the Jeju match, Hong had trained Lee on set pieces using his left foot, but he was not as good as before. “You don’t even have a left foot anymore,” Hong laughed. Still, she kept her faith. He experimented with Lee, hoping to improve his performance through playing time.
The ‘pinpoint mercenary trick’ worked, and Lee’s ‘crazy left foot’ showed no signs of rust. He assisted Kim Min-hyuk’s opening goal with a left-footed free kick in the 29th minute. Five minutes later, from a corner set-piece, he connected with Lee Myung-jae’s pass with a picturesque left-footed shot that split the net. The trajectory of the ball was a work of art. Ulsan escaped the shock of back-to-back defeats with a 2-1 win thanks to a one-man show from Lee Dong-kyung.
A smile spread across Hong’s face as he said, “We knew we had to improve Lee Dong-kyung’s form through the game. I was under pressure, but I kept monitoring his form and checked his physicality. I scored from a set-piece that I had prepared, which was a big boost. It was a good goal for me to improve my form,” he said.
Although he was not able to give away his first drink, Lee was also relieved of the pressure. “I came back with only one goal, to win the championship,” he said, “and I see that the players are putting in a lot of effort to defend their title. If we work together until the end, we will definitely have good results.” ‘Absolute number one’ Ulsan gains new momentum