The Korean national football team concluded their three-week training in the Americas with a 2-0 loss to world No. 14 the U.S. in Carson, California on Saturday.
Korea, ranked 53rd by FIFA, had three friendly matches during the period. It beat Costa Rica 1-0 in Los Angeles on Jan. 25 but suffered an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Mexico in San Antonio, Texas last Wednesday.
Expectations were not overly high to begin with as the squad consisted of 20 players drawn from Korea's top domestic league and two from Japan's J-League. Korea’s European exports were not available as the leagues are still in mid-season.
The players only had three or four days to rest and acclimatize between the tune-ups in three cities with different climates, but their overall level of play came as a disappointment and was considered subpar.
At the end of last year, manager Hong Myung-bo said he had confirmed 80 percent of the squad for the World Cup in Brazil this summer. This made the latest period of overseas training an opportunity for him to find substitutes in the case of injuries or if first-team members fail to hit their stride during the tournament.
Hong hinted that he may summon players from Europe for an upcoming friendly against Greece on March 5 in Athens. As this will be Korea's last international match before the World Cup, it will be interesting to see if Park Chu-young will be included in the squad. The striker has been struggling recently and was loaned to Watford in England's second-tier Championship from Arsenal on Saturday.
Hong will stay in Los Angeles for a few more days before leaving for Europe to check on Bundesliga players Koo Ja-cheol (Mainz 05) and Ji Dong-won (Augsburg). He also plans to meet with Park Ji-sung of PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie.