By Dylan Butler
Juan Arboleda didn’t think Han Soo Jun would be much of a soccer player when the two met three years ago. And then Jun walked stepped onto the field.
For the past three years, Arboleda and his teammates on the Flushing soccer team have reaped the benefits of playing with Jun, one of the top players in the city. Not only has Jun been instrumental in several Flushing wins, like Monday’s season-opening 6-1 victory over Franklin K. Lane, the native of Korea has also been a key reason several other Koreans have decided to play for the Red Devils.
Two of those players, Hye-Joo Seo and Yoon-Ku Chong, along with Jun led Flushing to the 6-1 win. Chong scored two goals and had one assist and Seo and Jun had a goal and an assist each.
“They are fast players,” Jun said. “It’s easier to play when you know each other.”
The most impressive thing about the Korean players, Flushing head coach Terry McLaughlin said, is their quickness. They run quickly, they past quickly and most importantly, they think quickly. McLaughlin credits the Flushing-based Korean Men’s Soccer Association, especially James Ju and David Cho, with the development of the Korean players.
“They share the same mentality, the team mentality,” he said. “They are technical players. The Spanish and the Afghan players are also technical players, but the Koreans are quicker.”
Seo and Chong combined for Flushing’s first goal, as the two broke in on a two-man breakaway. Seo’s shot was stopped by Lane keeper Cristian Gomez, who made an amazing kick save from 10 yards out, but Chong collected the rebound and headed it into the open net to put the Red Devils ahead 1-0 in the 13th minute.
Some swift passing set up the Red Devils second strike, as Jun found Chong open at the top of the box. Chong took a pair of touches and beat Garcia low to the far post from 16 yards out to give Flushing a two-goal lead in the 20th minute.
“The first 15 to 20 minutes we really pushed the ball around well,” McLaughlin said. “We were making them chase us. Later on we created some chances, but we didn’t finish.”
One of the reasons Flushing didn’t score four or five first half goals was the play of Gomez, who was superb between the pipes, and senior defender Junior Sullivan. Midfielder Hector Serrano and forward Juan P. Aiello also played well for the Knights.
“Cristian did a great job, excellent,” said Lane head coach Luis Villada. “Those players are good, but they need some support.”
Aiello brought Lane to within one goal five minutes into the second half when he controlled a shanked clearance by the Flushing defense and beat keeper Luis Pedraza low from 16 yards out.
But Flushing took over the game in the 63rd minute, scoring three goals in a three-minute span, as Rahimul Mashriqi, Jun and Christo Rojas capped the scoring for the Red Devils.
“We did really good,” said Arboleda. “We need to practice more on keeping the ball on the ground and passing more. But it was good for the first game.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.