Maccarone brace completes second half comeback

Brisbane Roar (4) Skapetis 30’, D’Agostino 69’, Maccarone 75’ (p.k), 88’
Peninsula Power (2) Briggs 2’, Strickland 38’
At A.J. Kelly Park, Redcliffe.

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Brisbane Roar have made it two wins from two in their 2017 pre-season campaign after a second half fight back saw the Roar defeat Peninsula Power 4-2 in Redcliffe on Saturday afternoon. A second half brace from new marquee Massimo Maccarone on his debut, with Nick D’Agostino and trialist Peter Skapetis also getting on the scoreboard.

Goals
0-1 (3’) It was a dream start for the home side with Dean Briggs free-kick from 35 yards beating Tomislav Bilic on the near post to give the home side an early lead.

1-1 (30’) Brisbane got themselves back into the game on the half hour mark through trialist Peter Skapetis after a defensive mix-up from the Peninsula defenders.

2-1 (38’) Peninsula restored their goal advantage minutes before the half time interval after some good work down the right hand side saw Thomas Strickland strike home from the edge of the box.

2-2 (69’) With Massimo Maccarone waiting to make his entrance on the bench, Nick D’Agostino levelled the scores from close range after a Matt McKay cross.

2-3 (75’) After a handball from a Corey Brown cross, Brisbane’s marquee man stepped up to the spot to score his first goal in Brisbane’s colours, sending Jake Reesby the wrong way in the Power goal.

2-4 (88’) Massimo Maccarone scored a late goal for the Roar as he rounded the substitute keeper in goal for Power as he finished off a well worked move.

First half youngsters
Brisbane fielded two distinctly different sides with the first half featuring a large number of players from the Young Roar side getting an opportunity to impress John Aloisi ahead of the new season. Amongst that group were first team duo Luke Devere and Mitch Oxborrow, in addition to former QPR and Stoke City attacker Peter Skapetis who is currently trialling with the squad.

The 22 year old attacker player the first half of the game, floating around the front third of the pitch for the Roar and looked lively enough to suggest he has something to offer. Of the Young Roar players who got the chance to start the game, Emilio Martinez looked the sharpest, while Rahmat Akbari played an unfamiliar deep lying midfield role after spending the NPL season playing in a no.10 role behind Nathan Yoon.

Second half changes
John Aloisi made 11 changes at the half-time break and in doing so reverted back to a more familiar looking line-up as the first team players got their chance to tune up ahead of Wednesday’s FFA Cup tie against Melbourne Victory.

Similarly to the Lions game, Brisbane played a 3-6-1 formation once again, although this week there was a slight change on the right hand side with Jack Hingert spending the second half on the right side of the back three while Dane Ingham played the more advanced wing backs role. Joining Hingert and Jade North in the back three was Thomas Kristensen, with the central midfielder looking at home in the heart of defence.

Going forward Brisbane looked more dangerous in the second half, with Nick D’Agostino looking sharp upfront with a handful of chances before he ultimately found the net seconds before being replaced.

The departure of D’Agostino paved the way for Brisbane’s new marquee man Massimo Maccarone to enter the fray, and it took the former Italian international just five minutes to open his goalscoring account in what was a lively cameo.

Peninsula pressure
In one of the biggest weeks in Peninsula’s history, the Power got off to a flying start thanks to a Dean Briggs free-kick and the home side caused the Young Roar side all sorts of problems in the first half with their midfield intensity a feature.

After a busy week which saw Peninsula make their FFA Cup debut on Tuesday, the home side found things more difficult in the second half against a stronger Brisbane side, although the attacking duo of Charles Mendy and Dean Briggs still carved out a couple of chances, although a free-kick past the near post is as close as they came.

Brisbane Roar XI (First half) – Bilic, Wellsmore, DeVere, Harris, Leck, Oxborrow, Akbari, O’Toole, Martinez, Skapetis, Yoon.
Second half XI– Freke, Hingert, Kristensen, North, Ingham, Caletti, McKay, Brown, Holman, D’Agostino (70’), Brady.
Substitutes– Maccarone (70’).
Unused substitutes– Sawyer, Beakhurst.

Peninsula Power XI- Reesby, Carseldine, Boyd, Spiandorrello, Cunha, Hurlin, Bonotto, Basson, Strickland, Briggs, Mendy.

Up next
After a pair of pre-season hit-outs against Brisbane Premier League opposition, competitive football is back with Melbourne Victory making the trip north to take on Brisbane in the FFA Cup Round of 32 on Wednesday night at Perry Park.


2016-17 Free Agency- Part one

The 2016-17 free agency window opened on December first which means that out of contract players can now negotiate with rival clubs to secure their futures. In part two we’ll take a look at players from the nine rival clubs, but today we’ll focus in on Brisbane’s group of upcoming free agents.

Brisbane had 13 players set to test the market as of December first however Tuesday’s news of club captain Matt McKay brings that number down to 12. All of that means that Manager John Aloisi and Football Operations Manager Craig Moore will be busy over the coming weeks as they shape the 2017-18 Brisbane Roar line-up.

Brisbane’s list of free agents includes a wide ranging group of players, who’ve both played a big part in the squad over the past seasons and are about to enter their prime years. It’s a substantial group of players out of contract, and there’s no doubt that more than a few of them will be highly sought after by rival clubs in the coming months which will make it tough to retain them.

The coaching situation
Before we get into the free agent players we need to address the coaching situation, with both Head Coach John Aloisi and his assistant and brother Ross both coming to the end of their two year contracts.

Given everything that the duo have been confronted with off the field, the results have been strong which has made the duo a popular pair with Brisbane supporters.

Unsurprisingly reports of interest from rival clubs has began to emerge, with Adelaide reportedly looking at bringing one or both of the brothers back to their hometown should Guillermo Amor move on at the end of the season.

The ageing veterans
Thomas Broich
Since arriving in Brisbane having admitted to falling out of love with Football, Broich has gone on to become the best player in the history of the A-League with five major honours to his name.

Having amassed the second most appearances in club history -182 in all competitions- time is beginning to wind down for the 35 year old, although over the first third of the season Thomas has shown that he’s still got a bit left in the locker and remains an important part of the Brisbane attack.

The big complication surrounding Thomas is that similarly to the recently re-signed Matt McKay he will need to downgrade from his current marquee position to fit within the salary cap.

There’s no doubt that it’s entirely possible to find room for Broich within the salary cap going forward, however this decision is likely to –and absolutely should- be solely one for Thomas to decide if he wishes to continue his career or transition into his post playing days.

If Thomas Broich decides he wants to play on, there absolutely should be a spot on the roster for him, while if he does decide to retire it will no doubt be a sad day, but his legacy as the best player in the history of the A-League is already entrenched.

Jade North
As the leader of the backline, Jade provides a great degree of experience amongst what is a youthful group of central defenders around him. In addition to the vast experience North brings to the table, the now 34 year old is still near the top of his game and has formed a solid pairing with Luke DeVere over the first third of the season.

Similarly to Thomas Broich the decision will likely come down to if he wishes to continue on, although if he does play on there’s a good chance that he remains with the Roar.

Michael Theo
Having made just 15 appearances in the past two seasons, this was always going to be a big season for Michael who’s seen his place as first choice goalkeeper challenged by Jamie Young.

Theo has gone a long way to re-establishing himself in goals this season, with a string of impressive saves ensuring that he’s played in all nine games so far.

Given that Theo has regained his first choice status it’s likely that a new deal will be agreed at some point, particularly given that he seems to be settled in Brisbane, running an academy for children through the school holidays.

The prime year players
Luke DeVere
After missing the entire 2015-16 season with a serious thigh injury, Luke has returned to the side and barely missed a beat in the opening nine rounds. Having formed a strong partnership with Jade North, DeVere has become one of the most important players on the current roster.

Looking ahead it seems unlikely that DeVere would depart Brisbane for a rival club in the league, although if Luke still has ambitions of playing overseas in either Asia or Europe this could be a good time for him to try his luck once again.

Further complicating the decision for Luke is a potential appearance at the 2018 World Cup, with Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou a noted fan of the central defender.

Given all of his injury concerns however, and the loyalty that Brisbane Roar and John Aloisi have shown him, the desire to repay that faith and the regular playing time on offer will likely be enough to see him re-sign.

Jamie Maclaren
The free agency of Jamie has already been in the headlines for the past few weeks and it’s likely that we’ll see plenty more headlines before the Socceroos striker makes his decision.

Two weeks ago Brisbane made their first offer to the striker, with his representatives declaring the offer as insulting and there have seemingly been no further negotiations since.

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A lot depends on this man’s decision

With 24 goals in 35 appearances for Brisbane, interest in the striker has unsurprisingly been considerable, with contract offers from both rival A-League and overseas clubs reportedly coming in. The fact that Brisbane have already filled their two allocated marquee positions for next seasons further complicates the situation.

It goes without saying that re-signing Jamie is – and should be- amongst the highest priorities in terms of the players off contract, although the decision is one that could drag on until January as the Maclaren camp seeks overseas offers.

At this stage, it’s unclear yet which way this will end up, though the implications of this decision will shape Brisbane’s 2016-17 side, and the remainder of the free agency decision making processes.

Dimitri Petratos
There’s very few players who’ve divided people’s opinions more than Dimi, although over the past 18 months or so he’s shown signs of adding consistency to his already obvious talent.

Given that he’s approaching the prime years of his career, it’s likely that Petratos will attract a fair amount of interest on the open market, both in the A-League and potentially overseas.

With the demographics of Brisbane’s roster consisting mostly of players either under the age of 23 or over 30, it’s important to keep the few players who fall within those two windows, and Petratos is one of the few who does.

The foreign imports
Manuel Arana
Having arrived late in the pre-season, Arana spent the first part of the season gaining his fitness before making his debut it round 5 against Melbourne City.

While Arana hasn’t seen a great deal of game time yet, in his limited game time he’s shown a direct style and the ability to run in behind defences which is something that has been missing in wider areas.

Any potential negotiations for next season are likely to be put on hold until later in the season until he’s got more minutes under his belt and a more accurate decision can be made. With the likes of Shannon Brady already in the A-League squad, in addition to Joseph Champness and Jayden Prasad in the youth squad as winger options, there could be an internal replacement in place.

Thomas Kristensen
Thomas arrived from Denmark as a replacement for Miguel Corona who returned to his former club in Spain halfway through his two year contract and has fitted in well to the Brisbane way of play.

The role is different to that of Corona given the change of style this season under Aloisi, however in that more defensive minded midfielders role Kristensen has provided good cover for the back four while getting forward and contributing at the other end of the park with two goals so far.

Given how well that Kristensen has fitted in, it would be a boost going forward if Brisbane could secure the 33 year old for an extra season although as is always the case with imports, off-field factors and settling in is an important consideration.
The youngsters
Nicholas D’Agostino
Having shone for the Young Roar side in both the NPL Queensland and the NYL, D’Agostino was rewarded with a one year deal as a Scholarship player.

While D’Agostino has only the one unused substitute appearance to his name this season, his form in the National Youth League has indicated that his game is continuing to improve.

Due to the age of both D’Agostino and Joey Katebian comparisons are easily drawn, and it could well come down to a case of one or the other. Of the two I would suggest that D’Agostino is a little better all-around player and should be the priority, particularly given he’s a player whose grown and developed through the Brisbane youth system.

Joey Katebian
Perhaps a surprise signing after being released from Melbourne Victory at the end of last season, Joey has provided additional depth upfront behind star striker Jamie Maclaren.

So far we haven’t seen a great deal of Katebian in the A-League side with limited minutes off the bench so far, although a hat-trick in the NYL showed his talent.

With Katebian –and also D’Agostino- it could be a case of one or the other as it’s likely that there will only be room on the roster for one up and coming striker, particularly if D’Agostino is no longer a scholarship player.

Nathan Konstandopoulos
After getting a taste of the A-League at his hometown club Adelaide United, Konstandopoulos moved to Brisbane as part of the Young Roar side in the NPL season before being upgraded to a scholarship deal ahead of the new season.

So far this season Nathan has been on the periphery of the side, but in his limited playing time has shown enough to suggest that there’s a role for him on the roster going forward.

Jacob Pepper
Pepper was signed to be a stopgap for a younger player to earn his place in the side while providing depth to the first team roster as we’ve seen with the likes of Diogo Ferreira in years gone by.

With that in mind it’s likely that Jacob’s stay in Brisbane will be a short one, but with the constructs of the league you need players with versatility are important and while an extension shouldn’t be excluded from consideration it’s unlikely.

In an ideal world, Brisbane would re-sign the majority of their free agents here with the likes of DeVere, Petratos and Maclaren are likely to be at the top of their list, while hopefully keeping a couple of veterans around the locker room.

Due to the number of players Brisbane have out of contract currently, it’s likely the side will look very different at the start of the next season.


2016-17 Season Preview- Strikers

With the new season set to get underway in just 6 days time, our annual season preview series is here and over the next two weeks we’ll take an in depth look at the 2016-17 team. Previously we’ve covered the Goalkeepers, the right backs, the left- backs, central defenders, central midfielders, Attacking Midfielders right wingers, and the left wingers, today we preview the finial position in the team; the strikers.

Last season was a breakout year for Jamie Maclaren, who went from super sub with Perth Glory to the most prolific Australian striker in the history of the A-League before earning his National Team debut. This year figures to be more of the same for Jamie, although there’s a couple of talented youngsters’ waiting in the wings for a chance.

Jamie Maclaren
Jamie’s importance on the 2016-17 side cannot be underestimated with Maclaren scoring 20 of the teams 52 goals last season, becoming just the second Brisbane player after Besart Berisha to score that many in a season for the Roar.

Last seasons stellar form earned praise from experts and fellow players alike with calls for a Socceroos debut a constant over the second half of the season, with Ange Postecoglou giving him the chance in the post-season friendly against England. It was a tough first test for Jamie on the international stage but there’s plenty more to come, and should the goal scoring for of last year translate to this it could be sooner rather than later.

Should those goals continue to flow this season, the question regarding the future of Maclaren is likely to crop up once again, with the strike in significant demand from various suitors towards the end of last season. Maclaren chose to stay with Brisbane for the second year of his two year deal, however with that due to expire at seasons end, and the likelihood of further overseas interest he won’t be short of options for his next contract. For now though the focus will be on performing here once again with Brisbane, and allowing National Team and contractual matters to sort themselves out.

Joey Katebian
2015 was a good one for Katebian, scoring 33 goals for Melbourne Victory in NPL 2 Victoria helping his former side win promotion. That run in front of goals saw Katebian score make his debut for the Victory in their FFA Cup run, going on to make two appearances for the club before being released at the end of the season.

Appearances have been rather thin in the pre-season for Katebian, which probably means that the majority of his football will be in the National Youth League, although a substitute’s appearance or two over the course of the season can’t be ruled out.

For Melbourne Katebian mostly played upfront, including in a game last season against the Young Roar in the NYL down at the Cleveland Showgrounds. On that day Katebian was the standout for the Victory despite Brisbane’s 3-1 win.

Nicholas D’Agostino
D’Agostino was on fire in the NPL Queensland this season, scoring 10 goals in 11 matches before being withdrawn to prepare for pre-season with the A-League side where the young striker has made a couple of substitutes appearances in the games.

Those goals in the NPL however were enough to secure a one year deal with Brisbane and the a trial with Belgian side Genk, which despite falling through shows that he’s on the radar of clubs in Europe.

While there’s no doubt D’Agostino would do a job in the A-League if given the opportunity, it’s unlikely that he will get more than a handful of in the first team this season so the majority of his playing time will likely be in the National Youth League.
Last season Jamie Maclaren was one of the biggest success stories for both Brisbane and the league as a whole becoming one of the league’s best strikers, and with just young duo Joey Katebian and Nicholas D’Agostino in reserve to Maclaren, the form of Brisbane’s #9 will be pivotal to the sides’ success this season.


D’Agostino signs, jets off to Belgium

Young Roar striker Nicholas D’Agostino has been rewarded for a stellar season in the NPL Queensland with a two year deal in Brisbane’s A-League squad.

D’Agostino, 18, has been part of the youth set-up with the Roar for the past two seasons and made his debut for the first team in Round 6 of the 2015-16 season against Perth Glory.

This season has seen D’Agostino net an impressive 10 goals in 11 games in the NPL for the Young Roar ranking him as one of the most lethal finishers in the competition.

The news gets better for D’Agostino, who has been invited to train with Belgian side KRC Genk with the view to potentially joining the club on loan for the new season which got underway at the Weekend.

Should that move fall through, D’Agostino would provide depth upfront and competition for Jamie Maclaren.

The signing of D’Agostino takes the first team squad to 21 players, however should the move to Belgium occur there would still be three spaces available in the squad for further additions. As things stand accounting for D’Agostino, there are a maximum of two spots remaining, and with two visa spots available it’s likely any remaining recruits would be from overseas.

Current Brisbane Roar squad as at August 4th 2016
Goalkeepers (2)- Jamie Young, Michael Theo.
Defenders (8)- Jack Hingert, Jerome Polenz (fgn), Corey Brown, Connor O’Toole, Kye Rowles, Jade North, Luke DeVere, Daniel Bowles.
Midfielders (5) – Thomas Kristensen, Jacob Pepper, Matt McKay, Dimitri Petratos, Joe Caletti.
Forwards (6) – Jamie Maclaren, Tommy Oar, Shannon Brady, Thomas Broich, Nicholas D’Agostino, Brandon Borrello.

Here’s some thoughts I have on the D’Agostino signing.

1) Having seen Nick play in the youth side for the past 18 months or so, this signing is a good one. It’s always good to see talented youngster emerge from the youth side into the first team and D’Agostino form in the NPL Queensland since becoming a regular starter in the side has been impressive. 10 goals in 11 this season in addition to his all-round performances shows he’s got something to offer in the first team.

2) The Belgium trial is an interesting one. It could work out really well for him if they bring him in with a view to being part of their first team squad. It’s more likely however that he would be joining the youth set-up which while still a good opportunity, the argument about whether first team football would be a better option at this point is an interesting one.

3) The squad for the upcoming season is beginning to take shape with the squad now having 21 players contracted. For the remaining two spots I think the squad could do with a 6th midfielder and the maybe another versatile attacking option to add some experience to what is a young group of attackers. If you look at the midfielders it appears that young Caletti is the back-up to Kristensen, Pepper is the back-up to McKay which would indicate that somebody to back-up/provide competition to Petratos could be the option here. Perhaps this is where the Holman links come into play, although im still unconvinced he’ll be joining the squad. Youngster Joey Katebian could be another option he as someone who can play both as a #10 and as a striker.

4) For the other spot in the squad, an experienced attacking option to provide a spark off the bench would be a good addition to the squad. That obviously describes the role that Henrique filled last season, it could also be filled by the naturalised Australian again this season if recent reports are to be believed. Former Victory attacker Joey Katebian could also fit into this slot, however he would be more likely to fill the role currently occupied by D’Agostino should the loan move to Genk occur or the role as the 6th midfielder.


Season Review Part 6- Youth & Womens

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Previously we’ve looked at the first team squad, today we’ll look at the both the W-League and Youth sides.

W-League
After the W-League side missed the finals for the first time in the seven seasons of the competition and Belinda Wilson’ side was desperate to return to the top four in 2015-16.

In order to achieve that goal, the team underwent a major overhaul with a number of high profile players departing the team as a bunch of exciting youngsters were coupled with a couple of experienced recruits.

The likes of Matildas Kim Carroll, Larissa Crummer, Elise Kellond-Knight and Laura Alleway all moved on, and were replaced by a number of players from the NPL Queensland such as Gabe Marzano, Ruth Blackburn, Angela Beard and Sofie Persson who become important members of the side as the season went on. International recruits Haley Kopmeyer, the American goalkeeper on loan from Seattle, and New Zealand international Kristy Yallop added some experience to the mix.

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The season for Brisbane began with a bang at Suncorp Stadium, as two early goals from Tameka Butt and Ruth Blackburn gave the Roar a 2-1 win over Canberra. Another win in round two against the Wanderers was followed up by a five game losing streak, which culminated with a 2-0 loss once again against Canberra left their finals hopes looking unlikely. From there however, the Roar ladies hit a strong run of form to round out the regular season with three wins from four, before a 0-0 draw away to Newcastle was enough to see Brisbane return to the finals.

That finals campaign began in Melbourne against unbeaten Premiership winner Melbourne City, who in their first season had emerged as the leading force in the W-League. On the day however they were lucky to get past the Roar, who fought gallantly over 90, and then 120 minutes as they forced a penalty shootout to decide who would advance to the Grand Final. With the shootout delicately poised at 4-4, Angela Beard unfortunately missed, which left Lisa de Vanna the chance to win the game.

One of best parts of the W-League season was the two games played at Suncorp Stadium as part of a double header with the A-League side, and plans are reportedly in place for another game or two at the venue for next season.

On the whole, it was an impressive bounce back season for Belinda Wilson’s side, with the team once again lead by the likes of Clare Polkinghorne, Katrina Gorry, Tameka Butt and Emily Gielnik, who were all rewarded for a stellar season with inclusion in the Matildas squad which secured a berth at this years Olympic Games. The real emerging star of the season however was left-back Angela Beard, who was a finalist in the W-League young player of the year award and is now on the fringe of national team selection.

Looking to next season, things appear to be heading in the right direction for the Roar who will have a more stable squad entering the new season and with more experience with a lot of the younger players entering their second year at W-League level.

Youth
The Young Roar side entered the new looked National Youth League as a new looked side following the release of a number of key players following the conclusion of the 2015 NPL Queensland campaign where they finished in a respectable 6th place.

Following the conclusion of that season however, the likes of Abrahim Yango, Lachlan Jackson, Luke Pavlou and Patrick Theodore, who all made A-League cameos late in the previous season all departed, as did impressive youngsters Fraser Chalmers, Shelford Dais, Austin Ludwik and both Conor and Stephen O’Neil.

Replacing them in the squad were a number of players stepping up from the u-18’s such defender Tom Jarrad, midfielder Adam Sawyer and winger Dane Ingham while the likes of goalkeeper Andre Jannese –Melbourne Victory-, defender Mark Rodic –Blacktown-, wingers Joseph Champness –Moreton Bay- and Jayden Prasad –Redlands-, and striker Harrison Sawyer –Western Pride- supplemented the group of youngsters.

Despite being a much younger side than in 2014-15, the Young Roar attacked the new looked NYL competition which saw them play home and away games with Perth, Adelaide and both Melbourne sides with vigour.

The season began in the west with a 2-0 win over the Glory, before a follow up home win over the Victory set the side up in a position to top the group. Two straight losses to Adelaide and Melbourne City however seemingly put paid to that, before the performance of the season in round 5 against Adelaide, where the Roar put 10 past the Reds, with Harrison Sawyer who stole the headlines with five goals on the day.

The next week however was the day where Brisbane ultimately cost themselves a spot in the Grand Final, where they controlled the game against Perth but went down 1-0 to the classic sucker punch goal midway through the second half. That put the group surprisingly in Adelaide’s hands, who would win their final two games to secure their spot in the Grand Final. Brisbane would also win their last two games, firstly at home against City before a 5-1 dismantling of the Victory in Melbourne rounded out the season in style.

Despite narrowly missing the out on the Youth League prize once again, it was a promising sign that the side was able to gel together quickly, with the likes of Dane Ingham, Jesse Daley and Nicholas D’Agostino excelling.

Ahead of the 2016 NPL season –which began just weeks after the conclusion of the NYL, team captain Mitch Hore and striker Harrison Sawyer both moved on from the squad, with first team signing Joe Caletti left back Connor O’Toole –who would go on to sign a first team deal-  and former Adelaide United midfielder Nathan Konstandopoulos added to the squad.

So far in the 2016 NPL, the Young Roar sit in 8th position, with 18 points from 13 games, and have a game in hand against SWQ Thunder to be played next week. The standout results so far in 2016 for the Young Roar arrived recently, when they beat both Redlands and Moreton Bay at home in the same week.

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Performances and player development is what really matters however, and the star of the 2016 side is striker Nicholas D’Agostino, who is amongst the race for the Golden Boot with 10 goals from 11 games this season.

Others who’ve excelled include winger Joseph Champness, whose contributed 4 goals in 12 games from the left and has been a pacy and direct option for Josh McCloughan’s side, captain Jesse Daley whose provided energy and quality in midfield and defender Cameron Crestani, whose been a part of the Young Roar setup for two years.

Earlier this week, seven members of the squad – Joe Caletti, Joseph Champness, Nicholas D’Agostino, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Conor O’Toole, Jayden Prasad and Mark Rodic- were rewarded for their performances with call ups to the A-League side’s pre-season campaign when it kicks off next month.

After the somewhat controversial decision to release a bunch of young players who seemed to be on the cusp of breaking into the A-League squad, the Young Roar squad is once again in a position where it has the potential to provide some fringe A-League squad players and quality back-up options as we progress through the season. More on that in the coming days when the focus switches towards 2016-17.


Seven Roar youngsters to join pre-season

Seven of Brisbane’s best young players will take part in pre-season when it kicks off next month as a reward for stellar form in the opening half of the 2016 NPL Queensland season. Joe Caletti, Joseph Champness, Nicholas D’Agostino, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Connor O’Toole, Jayden Prasad and Mark Rodic.

Caletti, 17, joined Brisbane in January as an understudy for Spanish midfielder Corona, although he’s been used sparingly since his arrival with just the three games in the NPL so far this season with his passing range suggesting he has plenty to offer moving forward.

Champness has been one of the best players in the youth side this season since his transfer from Moreton Bay United, with his dynamic performances on the left side of the front three leading to four goals in twelve games so far this season.

D’Agostino has been the standout player of this years youth side, with his goalscoring exploits amongst the best in the NPL. After making his first team debut against Perth in round 5 last season, has scored 10 goals in 11 games so far this season and figures to play a part in the A-League squad this upcoming season.

Konstandopoulos, 19, joined the Brisbane youth setup in March for this seasons NPL campaign where he’s made 10 appearances this season in the midfield. Prior to his time here in Brisbane, Nathan spent time with his hometown side Adelaide United, where he made two appearances back in the 2013-14 season, including one against Brisbane where the Reds scored a late winner.

O’Toole, 19, has made five appearances for the Young Roar at left full-back this season in the NPL following his signing with the first team squad after arriving for a trial period following stints with Adelaide’s youth side and Japanese Football Academy Seiritsu. Given his first team contract which kicks in for the next A-League season, it was a given that he would be apart of the pre-season program.

Prasad, another new signing this season after transferring from Redlands, has been a solid contributor in the attacking third in his first season with the Roar, with four goals in eleven games so far despite spending equal amount of time in both in the starting side and on the bench.

Finally, Rodic, who arrived midway through the last pre-season as a trialist, has been a solid if unspectular member of the backline, with twelve appearances in the NPL this term along with a full season in the National Youth League.

Of the seven players, Champness and D’Agostino have been the best performing players so far this season in the NPL of those selected, however the brief glimpses we’ve seen of Caletti have indicated he has the potential to be a very solid #6.

As always with things like this there are players who are unlucky to be left out, and in this case defender Cameron Crestani and midfielder Jesse Daley are those players in this case. Crestani has been the best defender in the side, while skipper Daley is an all action midfielder whose put in a string of impressive performances this season.

With the seven players mentioned above switching their focus towards the first team’s pre-season space has opened up in the youth squad, with Western Pride midfielder Hayden McHenery joining the side.

While a lot will be made of this, im not sure how much it really means for Brisbane’s 2016-17 A-League squad. This time last season, four players- Luke Pavlou, Mitchell Hore, Abrahim Yango and D’Agostino- were given a similar opportunity, however two of those departed at the conclusion of the pre-season while Hore moved on after the NYL campaign.

Regardless of that however, it’s always promising to see so many good young players get their chance in the pre-season and most likely the FFA Cup campaign which kicks off in August.


Season Review part 4 (squad players)

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Previously we’ve looked at the season as a whole and the players who were regulars, today we’ll look at a bunch of younger players who rose to prominence in 2015-16.

Shannon Brady
Games– 0 (2)
Goals– 0

Starting with the young winger, who found himself with limited playing time this season at all levels. Brady, 19, and in his first season as a professional footballer has been starved of playing time this season with just the two substitute appearances in the first team -21 total minutes- and just a handful of youth team games. That however goes to a greater point in the apparent breakdown of youth development, something I’ll get to in future weeks.

Looking ahead to next season it’s tough to see how things improve for the natural wide player, with the likes of Thomas Broich, Brandon Borrello and Tommy Oar all established in the matchday squad. The youngster has plenty of potential but he needs game time in some form if he is to realise that in the coming years.

Luke Brattan
Games– 1
Goals– 0

It’s easy to forget, but Luke Brattan did play an –albeit small- part in Brisbane’s 2015-16 campaign, as he played the full 90 minutes in Brisbane’s FFA Cup Round of 32 loss against Western Sydney back in August.

That game would prove to be the home-grown midfielders 112th and final for the Roar, as he exercised his right to void his contract due to the off-field financial dramas which saw player payments fall behind schedule. At the time it appeared that Brattan’s career was on the up, with a National Team call-up resulting in a shock transfer to Premier League side Manchester City. Things didn’t pan out however and Brattan spent the year either training with City’s u-21 side or out on loan at second division side Bolton Wanderers, and as a result he’s fallen down the Socceroos pecking order.

Devante Clut
Games– 0 (9)
Goals– 0

After a breakout season which saw Devante breakthrough as a regular player in the first team, including scoring some key goals late in the season, the 2015-16 season shaped up as a big one for the 20 year old attacking midfielder. Things didn’t pan out that way however, with Clut making just the nine substitute appearances off the bench of 93 minutes of game-time which just isn’t enough for a young player looking to develop his game.

The other big problem for Devante was that because of the new truncated NYL format, his opportunities were limited in that competition as well, with the midfielder playing in only half of the clubs 10 youth games for the season due to his bench duties in the first team.

Due to that lack of first team action, Devante decided to end his two and a half season stint in Brisbane at the conclusion of his contract, opting instead to sign a two year deal with Newcastle Jets. Devante departs Brisbane having scored four goals in 21 appearances.

Nick D’Agostino
Games– 1
Goals– 0

After some solid form in the 2015 NPL Queensland campaign, young striker Nick D’Agostino was given his debut in the round six clash at home to Perth Glory. While the youngster didn’t have any real impact on his starting debut –one shot-, he didn’t look out of place and did enough to suggest with more experience he has something to offer.

Back in the youth team he’s excelled in the past year, with a strong National Youth League campaign being followed up in the current NPL campaign, where he ranks amongst the league’s leading strikers with 10 goals to his name at the halfway mark. With a lack of striking options in the squad currently beyond Jamie Maclaren, D’Agostino figures to be somewhere in the plans for 2016-17, what part he ends up playing is likely to be determined on the recruitment

Luke DeVere
Games– 0
Goals– 0

2016-17 was a write off for the central defender, who made just two appearances in the National Youth League before further injury setbacks brought an early end to his season. The season for DeVere began with a long term quad injury sustained in the post-season game with Villarreal which caused him to miss the first 10 games of the A-League season.

Due to that, DeVere returned to action via the clubs NYL side making two appearances before he was shut down and limited to training duty only, despite the first teams defensive struggles over the second part of the season.

The big question for next season is just what will DeVere be able to bring to the side. At his best, Luke is one of the league’s best defenders and as evidenced by his March 2015 call-up, a fringe National team member. All of the injuries however have to have had a big impact on him as a player however, and it could take time for Luke to return to that level of play. John Aloisi will no doubt be hoping for the best with limited experience in the centre of defence outside of Jade North.

Henrique
Games– 7 (17)
Goals– 8

After ending the previous season with a serious knee injury, Henrique made his return to action in the round five clash with Perth, scoring an emotional winner in what would become one of the best moments of the season.

All up it was another typical Henrique season, where the Brazilian provided a genuine spark off the bench when it was needed with 8 goals and 3 assists created this season. While Henrique doesn’t enjoy the super sub tag, it’s a role that he’s filled exceptionally for the Roar over the last few seasons and this season was no exception with all of his goals coming off the bench helping win 17 points for Brisbane this past season.

After reports first emerged late in the season of a move to South-East Asia to Thailand, Henrique ultimately departed Brisbane to take up a contract in Malaysia with second division side Negri Sembilan.

Javier Hervas
Games – 2 (15)
Goals – 0

After arriving in the week of the season opener against Western Sydney, Javi spent the first six weeks of the new season building up fitness having been without a club over the pre-season, eventually making his debut off the bench in round 6 against Perth.

It was then that Hervas made his most memorable contribution of his time here in Brisbane, with an assist for Henrique with his first touch of the game just seconds after coming on. That lead to some high hopes as Javi continued to build fitness, but it wasn’t until the round 14 trip to Melbourne that he would make his first start.

In that game, Hervas made some early mistakes which resulted in an early lead in Victory’s big win. Following another sub par starting performances the next week against Adelaide, Hervas returned to the bench the next week, and following the late arrival of Tommy Oar, he finished the season outside the matchday squad. Following the end of the season, Javi returned to Europe, signing a deal with Bosnian side FK Zeljeznicar.

George Lambadaridis
Games– 0 (1)
Goals– 0
Having originally departed Brisbane at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season after his contract expired, George returned to Brisbane on an injury replacement contract as cover for Henrique to start the season and despite being in the squad through the early weeks of the season he made just the one appearance, a last minute time wasting substitute against Western Sydney in the opening round.

Once Henrique returned from injury ahead of the round six clash with Perth Glory, Lambadaridis departed Brisbane for a second time and is now playing back in Victoria with Green Gully.

Steven Lustica
Games– 6 (16)
Goals– 1

While being a regular in the matchday squad once again this season, 2015-16 was another season where Lustica was cast in the role of impact sub off the bench, with 16 of his 22 appearances coming via the substitutes bench.

In that role, Lustica was once again solid, bringing extra energy to the midfield late in games to either maintain the result of help chase the game – most notably in the round 10 clash with Wellington-. Ultimately, the lack of regular starting time lead to Steven deciding to depart Brisbane for a second time, opting to take up a one year contract with Western Sydney.

Tommy Oar
Games– 2 (4)
Goals– 0

The 2015-16 season began in the English Championship with Ipswich Town for Tommy after a free transfer move from FC Utrecht in the European summer, however things didn’t work out in the UK with Oar making just nine appearances before agreeing to a mutual termination late in the January transfer window.

After rumours of a move to China and the Middle East, Tommy made a somewhat surprising return to Brisbane on a two and a half year deal as the A-League moved towards the business end of the season.

After a couple of weeks to regain some fitness following period of not playing, Oar made his return to the domestic game in the round 24 away game to Melbourne City. In just a handful of appearances late in the season, Tommy looked lively but failed to have the impact desired on the right hand side in place of Brandon Borrello.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see where Tommy plays in the front third, with John Aloisi having some solid options to choose from in the wide areas. Which two of Borrello, Oar and Broich are the starters, and which side they start on, but that looms as one of the positions to watch when the pre-season campaign begins.

Jerome Polenz
Games– 1
Goals– 0

Due to the form this season of Jack Hingert, Polenz found himself on the outer this season with just the one appearance against Wellington in round three. Brisbane had a reshuffled defence that week due to injuries and international call-ups, and when Shane Stefanutto returned the next week, Polenz found himself out of the side once again.

For the rest of the season, the closest Jerome would get to first team action was a handful of unused substitute appearances, with his only game time coming in a handful of National Youth League appearances.

Going forward, it’s hard to see where Polenz fits into the plans for 2016-17 and beyond due to the emergence of Jack Hingert as a regular in the starting line-up, opportunities figure to be limited once again. With his contract up at the conclusion of next season, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Jean Carlos Solórzano
Games– 2 (5)
Goals– 0

Since returning to Brisbane in January 2014, the one constant which has inhibited Solórzano and last season was no different. A combination of hamstring, foot and thigh injuries saw him miss 17 games due to the trio of injuries, all of which limited him to just the seven appearances in 2015-16.

Following the season, Jean Carlos announced his departure from Brisbane after 62 appearances -18 goals- joining Brisbane Premier League side Rochedale Rovers for the rest of the season to gain some match sharpness in the hopes of attracting a deal elsewhere in the league.

Michael Theo
Games– 9
Clean Sheets– 1

After missing almost the entire 2014-15 season due to injury, the new season continued on in the same vein for Theo, who missed eight games due to his ongoing quad injury. After a pair of games in the Youth League to gain some match sharpness, Theo returned to the first team in the round 16 loss at home to Adelaide.

In the nine games in which Theo played, Brisbane won just the three, conceding 18 goals –including a 4 game stretch with 13 goals conceded- with just the clean sheet. Following a penalty conceded against Western Sydney in round 22, Theo was dropped in favour of Jamie Young for the next weeks clash with Melbourne, and remained on the outer for the remainder of the season.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Theo is able to regain his place in goals for Brisbane over the course of the pre-season. With his contract up at the end of the season, and with Jamie Young having just re-signed for two years, it will be interesting to see who John Aloisi opts to go with. Given the improvements this season from Jamie Young, it could well come down to the form and fitness of the current #1.

Abrahim Yango
Games– 0 (1)
Goals– 0

Another player who played a minimal part in the 2015-16 season, Yango came off the bench for a late cameo in the FFA Cup Round of 32 loss to Western Sydney back in August. That was the third and final appearance for Yango here in Brisbane, with the young forward released following the conclusion of the 2015 NPL Queensland season.  Following his departure from the Roar, Abrahim made the move to NPL Victoria joining Avondale for the 2016 season.