There’s not a lot of news going around due to the international break, however there were still some games played in Europe and Asia, in addition to a full round here. Before that however, a bit of news on Michael Zullo, who is back in training after six months out with a knee injury. Hopefully he can get himself fit and play in a couple of Utrecht’s remaining games this season.
Over the course of the season we’ll keep tabs on the yellow and red card situation for both Brisbane and the rest of the league. It all adds up to the ‘Fair play Award’ on the A-League’s annual awards night, and Brisbane Roar won both the A-League and Youth League fair play award. In fact Brisbane have won the award for four successive seasons, and five times in six years all up.
For those unaware of how the points are tallied up- here’s a reminder:
Yellow Card – 1 point
2nd Caution Red Card – 2 points
Direct Red Card – 3 points
Over the past month, two of the three catch-up games in the competition have been played, with the two games postponed due to the Wanderers Club World Cup campaign -R10- Wanderers vs. City and R11-Roar vs. Wanderers- being caught up.
The only game left to be caught up is the R18 game between Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, a game which was postponed due to the threat of TC Marcia in late February. With that in mind here’s how the table sits currently, with a month of the season to be played.
Central Coast’s twelve cautions in the last month has seemingly removed them from the equation in terms of winning the competition, while Perth’s ill-disciplined display against Melbourne Victory which saw them picking up 7 yellows and a red has seen them move towards the foot of the table.
At the top it’s become a two way contest between Wellington and Brisbane (unless Victory win due to being the only team without a red card), with the Phoenix in the box seat due to 1 less red card, while the Roar have an extra game to play.
So far this season North and Brattan have served a suspension for accumulating five yellow cards, while Corey Brown figures to be the only player to be walking the suspension tightrope through the final five games of this season.
In Asia, were at the halfway mark with three important games to be played to determine if Brisbane can get to the last 16. In the group stage, any player who picks up two cautions would receive an automatic one match ban. Those cards do get wiped at some stage of the competition, although im not sure if that’s after the group stage or the round of 16.
This is the final update of the season, with the results of the A-League fair play award to be announced at the A-League awards night in the build up to the Grand Final.
Brisbane Roar have this evening confirmed they have agreed a deal with young attacker Shannon Brady, with the 18 year old committing to Brisbane on a four year contract through the 2018-19 season.
Shannon has been one of the standout players in the NYL this season as part of the side that finished equal top of the league, with one of the younger squads in the competition.
His form in the Young Roar squad was good enough for him to be handed a debut by former coach Mike Mulvey in his final game in charge, against the victory. Since that debut in round 7, he has made another two appearances off the bench, coming off the bench in the recent home games against Wellington and Western Sydney.
The signing continues Brisbane’s tradition of promoting youngsters into the first team from the youth ranks, with Brady following the path recently taken by Kwame Yeboah and Devante Clut amongst others. Brandon Borrello, who is currently on a FT NYL deal is likely to be the next to be apart of the first team squad.
Brady’s signature takes Brisbane’s squad to 18 first team contracted players for next season, with three FT NYL players in addition. There are just the three visa players however so there’s room to recruit in that direction.
Confirmed Brisbane Roar players for 2014-15 and beyond
Goalkeepers: Michael Theo, Jamie Young.
Defenders: Jerome Polenz (Fgn), Corey Brown, Luke DeVere, Jade North, Daniel Bowles, James Donachie, Jack Hingert.
Midfielders: Matt McKay (Marquee), Steven Lustica, Devante Clut, Luke Brattan, Thomas Broich (Fgn) (Marquee), Ben Litfin (FT NYL), Patrick Theodore (FT NYL).
Forwards: Henrique, Dimitri Petratos, Jean Carlos Solórzano (Fgn), Shannon Brady, Brandon Borrello (FT NYL).
Out of contract: Shane Stefanutto, Adam Sarota (loan return), George Lambadaridis, Kofi Danning, Andrija Kaluderovic (Fgn).
The afternoon started out with the club representatives pre-empting a question on the clubs Philosophy and the departure of Mike Mulvey, with Dobson re-stating what he said in the press conference back in November.
He talked in detail about the training sessions being not what was expected, and also alluded to Mulvey not being the best leader of the football department. Dobson also stressed the importance of Luciano Trani to last seasons success, saying he was a bigger loss than people realised, with his behind the scenes analytical work – some of which was against Mulvey’s wishes- was invaluable.
While admitting that this season hasn’t gone according to plan, Sean said that he was ‘proud’ of the way the players have kept on fighting through some difficult circumstances. He cited the elevation of Brandon Borrello and the improvement of some other players as positives to take from the season.
The coaching search was also mentioned, with the recent reports on Aurelio Vidmar being wide of the mark. Dobson did acknowledge that they did touch base with him to gauge his interest, but he declined and there was never an offer made to him. He went on to say that they have come up with a short list of candidates has been established, with Football Director Ken Stead set to begin discussions this week. No timetable for an appointment or announcement were made.
Youth was a big topic of the forum, with Dobson flatly denying the recent reports linking the club to pulling out of the National Youth League next season. He went on to say that there has been a real emphasis on youth this season, citing the NYL sides’ second placed finish –with the second youngest team- and their growing participation in the NPL Queensland.
Dobson also outlined the clubs plans to promote two youth players a season into the A-League squad per year, with two to three players to hopefully be promoted into the W-League side as well. There was also an explanation that the club prefers the youth team to be active 12 months of the year, as it allows them to rest players at the appropriate time, with players requiring rest if they are going through a growth spurt.
Suncorp Stadium was another big topic of the afternoon, with the club acknowledging the poor playing surface, while also revealing there will be three concerts in the November- December period coming up at the end of the season. They have however negotiated for a full re-surfacing at the conclusion of that.
That morphed into a discussion around the Champions League and moving games to the Gold Coast with Dobson detailing the process the club went through in order to try and get the matchday 3 game moved back 24 hours.It took them almost three months and multiple submissions required to be sent in, with approval from FFA and Suwon amongst others required.
It was however confirmed that a potential round of 16 encounter would be played here in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium- as wound any further games in the competition.
Perry Park was mentioned, however the idea of re-developing the ground as an A-League venue wasn’t discussed, with the answer more relating to the work that is required to bring the playing surfaces and other facilities up to standard.
There was an admission that the club has been ‘shit’ this season at getting news and information out to supporters in a timely manner. Other factors outside the clubs control were also mentioned as part of the reason for this, regardless there was an admission that they have been poor in that area recently.
Crowds and long term growth was also a topic with questions from the crowd about how they are getting the message out to the general public. It was explained that TV and radio don’t provide the best return of investment, with the current approach to focus on advertising through social media.
It was also mentioned that the inconsistency of game dates and venues have been a factor in the lower crowds this season, with this Thursday’s game against CCM making it a season where Brisbane will have played on each day of the week. It was also acknowledged that recent results and performances on the pitch have affected the crowds.
Overall it was a decent 90 minute discussion on where the club is at, with some interesting stuff coming out of it. The next one is apparently planned for April, so there will be another chance for people to ask questions before the end of the season.
Melbourne City (1) Germano 5’
Brisbane Roar (0)
9,561 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
Brisbane Roar: Young, Bowles, North, Stefanutto, Hingert, Clut, Brattan, Lustica, Borrello, Petratos, Solórzano.
Unused Substitutes: Chalmers, Polenz, Jackson, Sarota, Kaluderovic.
Yellow Cards: Nil.
Red Cards: Nil.
Melbourne City: Velaphi, Retre, Kisnorbo, Jaliens, Clisby, Germano, Paartalu, Koren, Brown, Dugandzic, Kennedy.
Substitutions: Novillo for Brown (30’), Williams for Dugandzic (50’), Murdocca for Kennedy (56’). Unused Substitutes: Redmayne, Ramsay.
Yellow Cards: Brown, Paartalu, Clisby, Novillo.
Red Cards: Nil.
Brisbane’s finals chances have taken a massive hit after a third successive defeat in the league has left them eight points behind sixth placed Melbourne City, with just four rounds remaining.
An early goal from Jonatan Germano was enough to ensure a win for the home side which could result in their second ever finals berth, and Brisbane’s first missed finals series since 2009-10.
The goal came early in the piece with a cross from the left hand side met by Kennedy, and his header came back off the post to Germano who tapped in from close range.
Despite the early set back, Brisbane controlled the majority of the game having large spells in possession throughout the game, they just didn’t make any of them count.
The best chance the Roar had in the game fell to youngster Brandon Borrello having his shot saved at the near post after some good work on the right hand side.
Outside of that however there was very little to write home about for the Roar, who looked toothless in the front third and are clearly missing injured duo Henrique and Thomas Broich.
Injury has been a theme of recent weeks and things got worse in the warm up with Jerome Polenz withdrawing from the game at the last minute, resulting in Jade North- who hasn’t trained in almost a month- being thrown in and forced to play 90 minutes.
Substitutions have been a topic in recent weeks and once again Frans showed an unwillingness to utilise them, instead opting to leave the XI who started the game on for the whole time, citing that they were playing well.
This isn’t the first time Brisbane has failed to use a substitute in the league, with none used in the Round 19 clash of the 2006-07 season against Adelaide United.
The result now means that Brisbane face a minor miracle to make the top six, with some tough games still to play and time running out. The focus now surely turns to Asia, with three games on the continent to salvage something out of this season which has gone well and truly pear shaped.
Elsewhere yesterday in the NPL Queensland Brisbane Roar played their first home game of the season and handed out a 12-0 drubbing to Western Pride.
Six goals from midfielder Mitchell Hore was more than enough for the Roar to win the game, with additional goals from Patrick Theodore, Abraham Yango, Jesse Daley, Conor O’Neill (x2) and Shannon Brady icing on the cake.
I wasn’t able to get down to the game due to it crossing over with the fans forum on Saturday afternoon, but the result makes it two draws and a win for the Roar in three games in this years competition, with two games in hand on the rest of the comp.
Brisbane Roar (12) Hore (15’, 31’, 33’, 40’, 48’, 58-p.k), C. O’Neill (69, 86- p.k), Theodore (24’), Daley (42-p.k), Yango (45+1’), Brady (89-p.k).
Western Pride (0)
At Perry Park, Brisbane
The finals start a month early for these two sides as sixth plays seventh for the final spot in the finals series, and going into the game it’s the home side with the advantage.
Currently City lead Brisbane by five points (and a better goal dif), while Brisbane have a game in hand against the Victory in May, so a win here for Brisbane will put their finals destiny back in their own hands. A loss however and the finals are almost out of reach for Frans Thijssen’s side.
Brisbane finals run in: Melb. City ( A ), Central Coast ( H ), Adelaide ( A ), Melb Victory ( H ), Melb. Victory ( H ), Newcastle ( H ). *
Melbourne finals run in: Brisbane ( H ), Western Sydney ( A ), Wellington ( H ), Perth ( A ) and Adelaide ( A ).
*Not including ACL games
On this game specifically however Brisbane will be looking for their first points of the season against City, after the home side ran out comprehensive winners in both previous meetings this season.
Brisbane will be looking for a morale boost after a disappointing performance midweek against the Wanderers, one which has put their finals hopes in serious jeopardy.
City meanwhile are flying currently with three wins in their last five and will be desperate for the points tomorrow night, points which will in their mind likely secure just their second finals appearance in their five year history.
Selection wise Frans Thijssen said it would be the same group as the midweek game against the Wanderers, however today it emerged that defensive re-enforcements had arrived with Jade North and Daniel Bowles fit to play.
North is expected to slot into the back four alongside Shane Stefanutto, with Brattan reverting to his midfield role, while Bowles is likely to take the defensive cover role on the bench.
Further forward, it will be interesting to see which of Clut, Sarota and Lustica are left out for this one, it probably should be Sarota, however I wouldn’t be overly surprised if Clut was dropped to the bench in this game due to Frans not wanting to play him three times in a week.
Upfront Solórzano will likely return to the starting side in place of Kaluderovic, while youngsters George Lambadaridis and Lachlan Jackson are the most likely to be left out of the squad.
Expected Brisbane XI: Young, Polenz, North, Stefanutto, Hingert, Sarota, Brattan, Lustica, Borrello, Henrique, Solórzano.
Substitutes: Chalmers, Bowles, Clut, Brady, Kaluderovic.
Omitted: Jackson, Lambadaridis.
City coach John van’t Schip has an interesting dilemma to face, with a side unbeaten in their last two, and having his top strike force of Novillo, Williams and Kennedy available again. It’s likely that Kennedy will start, while the other two will likely start on the bench.
City will also have to replace Socceroo call-up Aaron Mooy in the middle of the park, with former Brisbane midfielder Massimo Murdocca the likely replacement.
Expected Melbourne City XI: Velaphi, Retre, Jaliens, Kisnorbo, Clisby, Murdocca, Paartalu, Germano, Dugandzic, Koren, Kennedy.
Substitutes: Redmayne, Ramsay, Brown, Novillo, Williams.
Omitted: Hoffman, Marino.
Melbourne: Aaron Mooy (4)
Brisbane: Henrique (8)
This season against Melbourne City:
Brisbane Roar (1) Borrello 67’
Melbourne City (3) Williams 8’, Dugandzic 10’, Marino 83’
Melbourne City (1) Mooy 49’ (p.k)
Brisbane Roar (0)
Two wins from two this season for the Melbourne side, with a comprehensive counter attacking display against a ragged Brisbane side up here in round four, which saw Jamie Young and Shane Stefanutto have an argument on the pitch postgame. City then backed that up in round 9 with a deserved home win, handing Frans Thijssen his first loss as Brisbane manager.
All-time record against Melbourne City:
Brisbane’s finals hopes go on the line tomorrow night against City in what is something of a winner takes all clash. A win for Brisbane would see them back in control of their finals destiny, while a City win would all but end their chance to defend their Championship.
Brisbane Roar (1) Aspropotamitis 40’ (o.g)
Western Sydney Wanderers (4) Rukavystya 20′, Bulut 44′, 89′, Castelen 58′
6,813 at Lang Park, Brisbane
Brisbane Roar: Young, Polenz, Brattan, Stefanutto, Hingert, Sarota, Clut, Lustica, Borrello, Petratos, Kaluderovic.
Substitutions: Brady for Petratos (46’), Solórzano for Kaluderovic (70’), Lambadaridis for Clut (70’).
Unused Substitutes: Chalmers, Jackson.
Yellow Cards: Lustica
Red Cards: Nil.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Covic, Tanaka, Aspropotamitis, Topor-Stanley, Golec, Takahagi, La Rocca, Castelen, Haliti, Rukavystya, Bulut.
Substitutions: Gallaway for Golec (27’), Trifiro for Haliti (74’), Kuzmanovski for Bulut (90’).
Unused Substitutes: Bouzanis, Kalmar.
Yellow Cards: Topor-Stanley.
Red Cards: Nil.
Western Sydney have put a severe dent into Brisbane’s finals chances, running away with a comprehensive and convincing 4-1 victory last night. First half goals to Nikita Rukavystya and Kerem Bulut, along with second half goals to Romeo Castelen and a second for Bulut were more than enough to cancel out an own goal by youngster Jonathan Aspropotamitis.
Brisbane started the game with Luke Brattan playing in an unusual central defensive role, partnering regular left back Shane Stefanutto in the heart of defence, while Jack Hingert returned to the side at left back. Further forward Adam Sarota and Steven Lustica returned to the side. The decision to play Brattan at CB didn’t really work, but more on that later.
The Wanderers opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Nikita Rukavystya made a good run forward on the counter attack and beat Young on his near post.
Despite having little more than set pieces and long range efforts in the first half, Brisbane did get an equaliser in the 40th minute from a corner. Brattan’s corner was a good to the edge of the six yard box and young defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis turned the ball into his own goal under close attention from Adam Sarota.
The Wanderers however would take a deserved lead to half time with Kerem Bulut restoring their lead in the 44th minute. Haliti’s cross field pass found Castelen goal side of Hingert, and the Dutch winger drew Young off his line before cutting it back to the unmarked striker who couldn’t miss from six yards.
Western Sydney made the points safe just before the hour when Romeo Castelen blasted the ball into the top of the net after being left free inside the box.
The goal scoring was rounded out in the 89th minute, with Kerem Bulut getting in behind the Roar defence. Hingert was caught up field and Bulut had too much pace for Stefanutto before easily beating Young on the near post again.
Brisbane’s best chance of the second half aside from a couple of set pieces fell to Steven Lustica, whose shot from the edge of the box went just wide of Covic’s goal. In truth however they never looked like getting back into the game, with the Wanderers running away deserved winners on the night.
Last night also makes it 14 goals conceded in the last four games, going back to the Sydney away game a couple of weeks ago. The loss was Brisbane’s worst at home since a 4-2 loss to Perth Glory in Round 7 of the 2009-10 season (Sept 20, 2009).
Thijssen’s descion to move Brattan into defence for mine was the trigger that cost the Roar the points last night, with Brattan’s defensive positioning not the best, and he was also sorely missed in the midfield.
At the back, while he scrambled back once or twice to prevent even more goals, his positioning was often poor and the Wanderers exploited that all night. To be fair to him, Jack Hingert and Shane Stefanutto didn’t cover themselves in glory last night either, while Young put in another sub-standard goalkeeping performance.
His presence was also missed in midfield, with Lustica and Sarota failing to replace him and captain Matt McKay. La Rocca, Takahagi and Haliti completely overrun Brisbane’s trio which also included Devante Clut, with Brattan’s ball winning and counter attack breaking up missing last night.
Thijssen may need to reconsider his option of Brattan at CB as it both failed to plug the gap at the back, and also created ever bigger problems in the midfield. Lachlan Jackson coming into the back four, with Brattan returning to his usual CM role would be the best alternative, however it seems that Thijssen doesn’t believe the youngster is ready.
Up next: Brisbane travel to Melbourne City on Saturday night and will need to win in order to keep their finals hopes alive. Last nights missed opportunity to close the gap leaves City five points clear in sixth, with Brisbane having one game in hand. They will still be missing a host of key players, but they will need to turn in a much better performance than last night.