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Grading Guoan: Handing out grades for 2012

The 2012  season has come to an end and most Beijing Guoan fans have to be happy with the team’s results, despite struggling in the Asian Champions League and the CFA Cup, the club finished third and will be back in Asia next year. goes down the roster and hands out report cards to the squad.

Hou Sen – 7
18 appearances (all starts); 1.1 goals per game
Adjusting to the speed of the CSL was always going to be hard for Hou, whose first match was an away Asian Champions League clash this season. While he struggled at first, he found his footing as the season went on. It didn’t help that it took some time for the defense to work out its kinks. By the end he was looking good and some may have even wanted to pick him over Yang, especially considering Yang’s first few matches back. He’s probably too good to be kept as a backup in Beijing for very long.

Yang Zhi – 7.5
12 appearances (all starts); 1.25 goals per game
Yang’s off-season shoulder injury in an exhibition match in Guangzhou was very frustrating for Guoan fans, especially because it kept him out of the lineup until the final days of July and yet it didn’t prevent rumors of his leaving the club during the summer transfer window. He looked unprepared at first, though some of the fault is with Pacheco, who called him into the starting lineup too quickly, but as the season went on, he looked like himself again. However, at times it seems he’s bored of playing keeper and roams too far from his box.

Yu Yang – 8
26 appearances (25 starts)
Lacking much previous CSL experience, Yu Yang was thrown into the mix after Francois went down in the first match. He did surprisingly well and turned out to be a revelation, helping answer some of the questions about what will happen after Xu Yunlong retires and earning himself a spot on the national team.

Zhou Ting – 8
28 appearances (all starts); 2 assists
At 33, Zhou made the third most apperances of any Guoan player and was a force on the pitch. With the exception of one match where he was suspended for yellow card accumulation and the last match of the year, he played every match this season, often shutting down wingers who were much younger.

Xu Yunlong – 9
29 appearances (all starts); 1 goal, 1 assist
Much like Zhou, he’s the ageless wonder, doing it all for the team despite his best years being well behind him. He played in almost every match Guoan had this season, in any competition, and memorably re-enacted the days of his youth, playing with urgency almost as a striker against FC Tokyo in the ACL. Who knows how much longer he’ll go on for, but its a treat to watch him.

Lang Zheng – 6
12 appearances (5 starts)
Lang fell out of favor last season and Pacheco packed him off to Nanchang on loan and while this year he didn’t get used much, toward the second half of the season he was given a few opportunities and looked okay. He’s a great option when Guoan needs a bit of height, but if he wants to be a regular in the starting XI, he’s going to have to work on his game a lot more.

Zhang Xinxin – 7.5
24 appearances (all starts)
He played well, but was out injured for awhile and was regularly who Pacheco would take off when he wanted another attacking player on the pitch. Not much memorable from him this season, but for your left back, that’s not exactly a bad thing.

Darko Matic – 9
29 appearances (all starts); 1 assist
He’s the heart and soul of the defense, at times it seems like he loves the team more than a lifer like Xu Yunlong. At times he showed his age and at times he was forced to drop back into central defense where he didn’t exactly excel, but if I was building a team for the 2013 season, he’d be the first man I chose.

Xu Liang – 8
28 appearances (23 starts); 7 goals, 3 assists
Xu’s equal parts loved and hated by the fans. At times he was utterly maddening, but he was the club’s leading scorer and there were his amazing free kicks and passes.

Wang Changqing – 7
7 appearances (all starts); 1 goal, 1 assist
It’s hard not to like Wang, but he’s not quite good enough to be a starter for a top CSL club. It seems he played his last game at Guoan, too bad, but hopefully he’ll end up at greener pastures.

Manu – 5.5
7 appearances (6 starts); 1 goal
I don’t think Pacheco ever gave him a fair shot, he had a few decent performances when he first arrived, but he was quickly dismissed as one of Guoan’s trouble spots and let go at the midseason.

Zhang Xizhe – 7.5
26 appearances (16 stars); 4 goals, 2 assists
He’s probably the Guoan player I’ve been hardest on the past few seasons. He regularly drove me crazy with his stupid decisions and wild shots, but if you watched him over the last few matches, he honestly looked pretty good.

Zhang Xiaobin – 6.5
7 appearances (5 starts); 1 assist
The pickup that was supposed to help out when Darko couldn’t (though Darko was always out there), Zhang was decent when he played, but didn’t get on the pitch much.

Wang Xiaolong – 8
28 appearances (21 starts); 3 goals, 2 assists
Wang had a solid season this year, sort of a break out for the 25 year old who was a regular in Pacheco’s lineup and whose mix of speed and power on the wing makes it seem like Guoan has a player they can count on for years to come.

Zhu Yifan – 6.5
9 appearances (6 starts)
What to say about Zhu? This is what not living up to expectations looks like. Piao Cheng, Zhang Xizhe, take a good look, you don’t want this to be you.

Shao Jiayi – 7
20 appearances (11 starts); 3 goals, 1 assist
Major props to Shao for following through on his promise and returning to Guoan, though on the pitch it would have been nice to see a little more from him.

Joffre Guerron – 6.5
12 appearances (10 starts); 1 goal, 1 assist
Pacheco, you want to know why you were fired? This is one of the reasons.

Mao Jianqing – 6.5
14 appearances (3 starts); 1 goal
Here’s another. A wasted signing, the only reason he gets graded this highly is due to the goal against Shenhua on matchday one.

Piao Cheng – 7
26 appearances (24 starts); 3 goals, 3 assists
A personal favorite, but he failed to follow through on the promise he showed in the first half of the season. If he works hard in the offseason, he could be great, he has the skills, but whether he’s going to be able to achieve it or just be like Zhu is still to be seen.

Freddie Kanoute – 5.5
9 appearances (6 starts); 1 goal
Yet another reason why Pacheco was fired. A total waste of space on the pitch who at times showed he still may have what it takes, but the vast majority of time he was just collecting a paycheck.

AK – 6.5
11 appearances (4 starts); 2 goals 1 assist
Hard to understand what happened with him. From the start he rarely got played, rumors were Pacheco was unhappy with his fitness, but when given the chance he looked good and when he went to Spain, he started scoring again. If Guoan ends up with a Serbian manager, he may be back in the capital next year.

Reinaldo – 7
17 appearances (15 starts); 5 goals
I wasn’t going to grade him this high, but he really did score five freaking goals without that many appearances. Kinda hard to be too angry at the big donkey.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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