Saturday, December 23, 2006

A-League team of the week, round 17

A LITTLE late, but given that the Chrissy shopping had to be done, kids Santa photos had to be taken, parties had to be attended, drinks had to be drunk, and the fact there's no football of the local variety this weekend, hope the round 17 team of the week still maintains some relavance and interest. It was a brilliant round, 15 goals in total, the highest aggregate of the season, and two brilliant games, on Friday night in Adelaide and the following night on the NSW Central Coast, not to mention the most incredible atmosphere at Olympic Park on Sunday evening. Half my luck that the game I attended, the Thursday night Sydney v Perth clash, was the least enthralling, one for the defenders. No surprise then that two defenders from that game end up in this week's 4-4-2 formation;

Danny Vukovic, CCM, keeper; let in three and possibly may have done better in coming out to meet the corner for the second goal (Vidosic free header), but it could have been so many more for the Roar had it not been for his usual solid work. Two seasons of consistency and this bloke is fast taking ground off Bolton and Covic in the race to be no. 2 behind Schwarzer. Not many games to go this season, but will be interesting to compare his work to Covic between now and the Asia Cup.

Mark Milligan, SFC, right back; while he continued his good form in central defence, versatility gets him a spot here on the right. After a shaky start, looked a natural in the central spot of a back three also comprising Fyfe and Ceccoli. Handled the physical stuff with Harnwell and Young quite comfortably.

Adrian Leijer, MV, central defender; while the 4-0 scoreline might suggest a comfortable night at the back for the Victory, Alen Marcina created his fair share of work for Melbourne's defence, and Leijer was up to it, tackling strongly, following his man tightly and covering the ground well.

David Tarka, PG, central defender; before he was taken off with 15 or so minutes left, was an absolute monster at the back for Perth, looking after Brosque whenever he ventured over into his zone. Not surprisingly, when he did come off, Sydney's Corica found an avenue in the area Tarka had been defending, and the winning goal came from it.

Matt Thompson, NJ, left back; on a losing side, but didn't deserve to be after another impressive performance driving up and down the left flank, setting up the first for Bridge and getting the second himself with a terrific run, one-two and finish. While Spagnuolo got alot of change down the other side, there was less room for Owens. Indeed, so far forward was Thompson that his direct opponent was often Alagich, and he had his measure most of the night. Special mention to Buess, who looked far more comfortable on the left than he did in the central role a week earlier, the best A-League game I remember him having, and Ceccoli, who did his defensive work with the usual lack of fuss.

Dario Vidosic, QR, right midfield; After coming on so impressively in the middle last week against the Jets, started on the right here, drifting all over the place and generally causing Damien Brown a constant headache. After a comfortable header for his first, he used his chest to bring down a wonderful McKay ball and had the composure to side-foot past Vukovic, albeit at the second attempt. Might have had a hat-trick thanks to an acrobatic volley, another bit of sound technique from a player seemingly brought up with the right fundamentals. Take a bow Dad Rado.

Hyuk-Su Seo, QR, defensive central midfield; playing in his rightful place as a holding midfielder, this was the Seo of last season, all over the place, dominating the likes of Gumprecht, Jedinak and McMaster. Combined well with McKay, himself unlucky not to make this team after some excellent drive and distribution.

Mark Bridge, NJ, attacking central midfield; keeping McKay out with another excellent performance to go with his wonderful display up top last week. Playing in the Carle role, in the hole behind Rodriguez, there was a fair bit of pressure for Bridge, but he lapped it up, demanding the ball and running and distributing intelligently. When Griffiths limped off at the break, Bridge went to the right and gave Kemp a torrid time.

Jason Spagnuolo, AU, left midfield; hot to trot, Spagnuolo wasn't content to work over Eagleton, he also wanted a piece of North. So every time he got the ball, he backed himself, dribbling, jinking and dropping the shoulder. For the first goal he left Eagleton and Kohler for dead, before gliding past North. He also beat Eagleton and North physically for the second goal, showing he isn't afraid of the contest, another eye-catching display.

Danny Allsopp, MV, striker; it wasn't just the two goals, the second especially impressive, but his overall workrate, as good as any player in the league this year. If a Socceroos squad was picked now, Allsopp would be high up the pecking order of strikers, alongside Thompson and behind only Viduka and Aloisi (with Kennedy not back to full fitness). Such a pity he won't get to sample Asian Champions League action this season as it is a long time without top-line football between February (end of A-League) and July (start of Asian Cup).

Romario, AU, striker; finally moved one step closer to 1000, albeit with some conjecture, but his overall performance in his final guest stint was top shelf. Dropping off the front line, knowing where to find space, demanding the ball to feet, he used it perfectly almost every time. Might have had himself a second after an excellent late thunderbolt, using limited backlift, that was well blocked by Covic. One over the shoulder flick to and unmarked Burns will live in the memory.

There you have it, the final TRBA team of the week for 2006. Hope you all have a lovely and safe Christmas and hope to touch base again before the year is out. Time to get on with wrapping gifts.


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