Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A-League team of the season, up till round 7

James Brown, on Confessions of an A-League Junkie, came up with an excellent team of the year to mark the end of the first phase of games. As I commented on his blog, mine is almost identical, with just a couple of personnel and formation changes. In truth, Greg Owens could easily slot in at right back, a job he's being doing so admirably, making it a 4-4-2, but I've decided to go for the slighty more adventurous 3-5-2, which I've adapted to reward some of the stand-out players from Melbourne and Queensland;

Michael Theoklitos, MV, keeper; while he hasn't had as many saves to make as some of the other keepers, along with Bajic he has been the most improved keeper of the lot. Last season he was choppped and changed with Galekovic, but this year his work as a sweeper, behind a solid back four, has been excellent. While he still looks shaky on crosses at times, four clean sheets in seven gets him in ahead of Bajic, Vukovic and Reddy at this stage. Vrteski caught the eye in the opening month and is one to keep an eye out for.

Sasa Ognenovski, QR, right stopper; like Owens, a former NSL and state league player stepping up and grabbing his opportunity with some typically fiesty perfomances at the heart of the Roar defence. Sticking to the strikers like glue, strong in the air, deceptively quick on the ground and decent on the ball, he is one of the most intimidating stoppers going around.

Rodrigo Vargas, MV, central defender/sweeper; like Owens and Ognenovski, also stepping up after being allowed by Ernie Merrick to get over a major injury last season. Along with his twin markers, Leijer and Piorkowski, has done a brilliant job in absorbing opposition attacks, providing the platform for the attackers to flourish. As comfortable on the ball as any defender going around, his experience makes him cool in a crisis.

Josh McCloughan, QR, left stopper; while he's been shifted into the centre of defence the past couple of games, for the most part he has played on the left. Not far behind Ognenovski, he has carried on from some impressive work last year with some more consistent matter-of-fact work. Clean in the challenge, has replaced Gibson as Bleiberg's skipper, and gets in ahead of Ceccoli for his better discipline.

Leo Bertos, PG, right midfield; another master-stroke signing, the Kiwi has caught the eye with his silky smooth combation of pace and quick feet, and while he is yet to get on the score-sheet, has racked up an impressive set of assists. Helping out as a striker while Despotovski was recovering from injury, has proved he is adaptable, also playing on the left when needed. So dangerous has he been that managers, after only a month, were already talking openly about the need to shut him down to shut Perth down.

Greg Owens, AU, right central midfield; after coming on board late last season, has really stepped up to become one of the most adaptable players going around. While he started the season in midfield, soon enough an injury to Alagich saw him moved to right back, and what a revelation he has been. Driving forward with his great combination of pace and ability on the ball, Owens has been as eye-catching as any player. If he keeps it up, a Socceroos call-up beckons.

Kevin Musact, MV, defensive central midfield; has answered all the doubts about his move to central midfield with some totally dominant perfomances alongside Brebner and in front of Vargas-Leijer-Piorkowski. Cajouling and demanding total focus from his teammates, has been like having a manager out on the pitch, and his calm and restraint has been a revelation, not to mention his spot-taking.

Matt McKay, QR, left central midfield; while he's played wide left on a couple of ocassions, he showed in a third of a season just has much he continues to mature. Already a Socceroo, he combines a brilliant workrate with incredible mobility and quick movement of the ball. This year he has added an impressive knack of drifting into the box and getting on the end of things, such a key ingredient for any complete midfielder. Gets in ahead of Fred and Rech, who haven't had enough games.

Stan Lazaridis, PG, left midfield; like Muscat, there were doubts he mightn't be able to reproduce some of his best stuff, but Stan the Man has shown he still packs an attacking threat down the left, having at least three decent perfomances in the opening part of the season. Behind on fitness at the start of the season, he has got better by the game, and Perth certainly have looked more complete with him in the side.

Danny Allsopp, MV, striker; much ridiculed last year, he has put his head down and worked hard, and has been reaping the rewards, five goals in the first seven rounds almost doubling his return from season one. Demonstrating an incredible workrate, strength and deceptive pace, he has caused most defenders in the league problems. Those that can compete physically, he burns on the ground, those with pace, he out-muscles.

Archie Thompson, MV, striker; while he started off reasonably slow as Allsopp took all the glory, Thompson has been the most electric player going around for the past month or so. While we've always known about Thompson's quick feet and willingness to take on players, his hunger has been incredible, helping Allsopp defend from the front. One memorable run off the ball against Queensland, dragging defenders and creating space for Fred, was a perfect example. Gets in ahead of the likes of Lynch and Reinaldo.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice team - looks well balanced and would certainly be good to watch, all of them in great form.

I notice there are no Sydney players and I think thats just about right. Maybe Ceccoli, but your right in your earlier piece that their position is too high for the way they've been playing.

Thu. Oct. 19, 05:10:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...


I certainly gave plenty of thought to accomodating Ceccoli in a back four, or even as the left stopper in a back three, but in the end I rewarded the consistency of McCloughan and better all-round performances of the Roar.

Sat. Oct. 21, 09:20:00 am AEST  

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