A-League Season Preview 2020/21

Sydney FC will be defending its title this year. Picture: Sydney FC Twitter.

How will Sydney FC go again? How will Macarthur FC go in its maiden season? All these questions and more in our A-League season preview for 2020/21.

Adelaide United

Last Season’s Result: 7th

What to Expect This Season: 

There’s no question that the departure of Riley McGree is a massive blow for United who will be looking to build on an up and down 2019/20 campaign. The Reds must also wave goodbye to veteran goalkeeper Paul Izzo who has been a mainstay between the posts since Eugene Galekovic left the club in 2017. Despite these two devastating departures, as well as Socceroo James Troisi switching allegiances to Western Sydney Wanderers, the feeling around Coopers Stadium leading into the 2020/21 season is undeniably a positive one. 

Head coach Carl Veart has put his stamp on the team already, promoting a number of homegrown youth players as well as bringing in some talented youngsters from across the league. Former red Tomi Juric returns to the A-League after an extended stint at CSKA Sofia and will be keen to hit the ground running in an attempt to revive his Socceroos career. Javi Lopez has come across after playing the last 11 years of his career in the Spanish top flight with Espanyol. Although he has played primarily in the fullback position for Espanyol, the word is that he will be deployed in a holding midfield role. This should allow newly appointed club captain Stefan Mauk to move into a more creative midfield position which would be reminiscent of the 2015/16 title winning campaign. 

With Veart at the helm for the first time and a new focus on youth and development, this season may not be full to the brim with on-field success, however capturing the imagination of the Hindmarsh faithful and building for the future are at the top of the to-do list. 

Departures: George Blackwood (Oldham Athletic), Lachlan Brook (Brentford), Taras Gomulka (Melbourne City), Paul Izzo (Xanthi), Riley McGree (Charlotte FC), Nikola Mileusnic (Randers), Kristian Opseth (Bengaluru), James Troisi (Western Sydney Wanderers).

New Arrivals: Joe Caletti (Floro), Domenic Costanzo (Croydon Kings), James Delianov (Western United), Yaya Dukuly (Melbourne City), Joe Gauci (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (CSKA Sofia), Javi Lopez (Espanyol), George Timotheou (Zulte Waregem).

Final Team:

James Delianov, Dakota Ochsenham, Joe Gauci, Jordan Elsey, Michael Jakobsen, George Timotheuou, Michael Marrone, Cooper Nunn, Yared Abetew, Noah Smith, Javi Lopez, Ryan Strain, Louis D’Arrigo, Stefan Mauk, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Joe Caletti, Domenic Costanzo, Ryan Kitto, Mohamed Touré, Ben Halloran, Pacifique Niyongabire, Kusini Yengi, Yaya Dukuly, Tomi Juric, Al Hassan Touré.

Ben Lennon

Brisbane Roar

Last Season’s Result: 4th (Lost to Western United in Elimination Final)

What to Expect This Season: Coach Warren Moon has crafted a nice little squad packed with Queensland talent. The Roar saw improved defensive stability under Moon towards the end of the season, but with the loss of Daniel Bowles and Scott Neville, their defensive woes look set to return.

A-League clubs are finally luring in more Asian players to the league, with the Roar adding Japanese imports Masato Kudo and Riku Danzaki. Brisbane’s season could rest on how fast they can adapt to the A-League. If these two can hit the ground running, then the Roar are primed for another final’s appearance.

Departures: Aaron Amadi-Holloway (East Bengal), Daniel Bowles (Retired), Max Crocombe (Melbourne Victory), Brad Inman (ATK Mohun Bagan), Jake McGing (Macarthur), Mirza Muratovic (Wellington Phoenix), Aaron Reardon (Gold Coast Knights), Scott Neville (East Bengal), Matthew Ridenton (Wellington Phoenix)

New Arrivals: Josh Brindell-South (Lions FC), Joey Champness (Newcastle Jets), Jesse Daley (Tacoma Defiance), Riku Danzaki (Consadole Sapporo), Danny Kim (Lions FC), Masato Kudo (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)

Final Team: Macklin Freke, Corey Brown, Tom Aldred (captain), Macaulay Gillesphey, Jai Ingham, Danny Kim, Masato Kudo, Riku Danzaki, Joe Champness, George Mells, Jesse Daley, Josh Brindell-South, Jack Hingert, Jamie Young, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Rahmat Akbari, Jay O’Shea, Kai Trewin, Izaack Powell, Jordan Courtney-Perkins, Scott McDonald.

Tom Lusk

Central Coast Mariners

Last Season’s Result: 11th. 

What to Expect This Season: Central Coast fans may not expect too much again for the upcoming season. With little changes to their defence, a fourth wooden spoon in a row may be in the works. 

Oliver Bozanic can be named as one of the clubs best signings for the season, but will have to fight amongst Michal Janota, Stefan Jankovic and Danny De Silva for the creative midfield role – is there enough room for them all?

Departures: Milan Duric (FK Rad), Dylan Fox (NorthEast United), Ziggy Gordon (Western Sydney Wanderers), Chris Harold (Retired), Jair (Released), Michael McGlinchey (Queen’s Park), Jacob Melling (Released), Jordan Murray (Kerala Blasters), Tommy Oar (Macarthur), Samuel Silvera (Pacos de Ferreira), Marco Urena (Gwangju FC). 

New Arrivals: Daniel Bouman (SC Cambuur), Oliver Bozanic (Hearts), Jaden Casella (Rockdale City Suns), Stefan Jankovic (OAK Beograd), Michal Janota (Al-Fateh), Stefan Nigro (Green Gully). 

Final Team: Mark Birighitti, Daniel Bouman, Oliver Bozanic, Jaden Casella, Jack Clisby, Danny De Silva, Matthew Hatch, Stefan Jankovic, Michal Janota, Alou Kuol, Lewis Miller, Stefan Nigro, Joshua Nisbet, Adam Pearce, Kye Rowles, Gianni Stensness, Ruon Tongyik. 

Tricia Mifsud

Macarthur FC

Last Season’s Result: N/A (Joining competition this season)

What to Expect This Season:

A pandemic is certainly not the preparation you want as you try and start a new club in the A-League, but that’s just what Macarthur FC was dealt with.

However, Bulls fans can be optimistic heading into its maiden season in the competition.

The arrivals of Spanish midfielder Benat and attacker Markel Susaeta are a huge coup for the new boys.

Benat spent seven years at La Liga side Athletic Bilbao and has represented Spain four times, while Susaeta also spent 12 years at the same club before joining Gamba Osaka and then Melbourne City.

Experienced Aussies such as Adam Federici, Tommy Oar, James Meredith, Ivan Franjic and captain Mark Milligan will assemble a strong spine, while Englishman Matt Derbyshire will provide significant fire power up top.

The Bulls have had respectable results in their pre-season hitouts, defeating Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United 1-0 and 3-1 respectively.

Other results included a 1-2 loss to Sydney FC and a 3-3 draw with Newcastle Jets.

With results like that, a finals appearance in season one is definitely on the cards.

Departures: N/A

New Arrivals: Tommy Oar, Charles M’Mombwa (Central Coast), Denis Genreau, Moudi Najjar (Loan), Markel Susaeta (Melbourne City), Ivan Franjic, James Meredith (Perth Glory), Nicholas Suman (Western Sydney Wanderers), Jake Hollman (Sydney FC), Liam Rose, Michael Ruhs (Sydney United), Adam Federici (Stoke City), Mark Milligan (Southend United), Matt Derbyshire (Omonia), Milislav Popovic (Lafnitz), Aleksandar Susnjar (Busan IPark), Aleksandar Jovanovic (Zeljeznicar), Loic Puyo (Red Star), Jake McGing (Brisbane Roar), Benat (Athletic Bilbao), Walter Scott (Wellington Phoenix), Antony Golec (Perak FA), Yianni Nicolaou, Lachlan Rose (Unattached), Antonis Martis (loan – Midtylland).

Final Team:

Adam Federici, Jake McGing, Antony Golec, Lachlan Rose, Mark Milligan (captain), Aleksandar Jovanovic, Ivan Franjic, Denis Genreau, Loic Puyo, Tommy Oar, Moudi Najjar, Aleksandar Susnjar, Nicholas Suman, Michael Ruhs, Jake Hollman, Liam Rose, Charles M’Mombwa, Matt Derbyshire, Antonis Martis, Benat, James Meredith, Yianni Nicolaou, Walter Scott, Markel Susaeta, Milislav Popovic

Jack Hudson

Melbourne City

Last Season’s Result: 2nd (Lost Grand Final to Sydney FC)

What to Expect This Season: 

City has the best chance to go one better in season 2020/21 after going down in its maiden Grand Final appearance to Sydney FC last season. 

They have retained most of their firepower from last year and have snatched deadly striker Andrew Nabbout from Melbourne Victory to compliment the dangerous Jamie Mclaren.

The loss of Josh Brillante through the midfield is a big loss but City’s depth has proven to be a strength in recent years and they have good cover with O’Neill and Gomulka to fill that hole. Expect City to challenge once again.

Departures: Joshua Brillante (Xanthi), Yaya Dukuly (Adelaide United), Joe Gauci (Adelaide United), Denis Genreau (Macarthur), Gianluca Iannucci (Melbourne Victory), Moudi Najjar (Macarthur), Ramy Najjarine (Newcastle Jets), Markel Susaeta (Macarthur), Lachlan Wales (Western United), Richard Windbichler (Released)

New Arrivals: Ben Garuccio (Hearts), Taras Gomulka (Adelaide United), Andrew Nabbout (Melbourne Victory), Aiden O’Neill (Burnley), Matt Sutton (Melbourne Victory), Marco Tilio (Sydney FC), Naoki Tsubaki (Yokohama F. Marinos)

Final team: Tom Glover, Scott Galloway, Scott Jamieson, Rostyn Griffiths, Aiden O’Neill, Jamie Maclaren, Florin Berenguer, Craig Noone, Nathaniel Atkinson, Taras Gomulka, Stefan Colakovski, Connor Metcalfe, Ben Garrucio, Adrian Luna, Curtis Good, Marco Tilio, Matt Sutton, Raphael Borges, Rodrigues, Kerrin Stokes, Bernardo Oliveria, Idrus Abdulahi, Naoki Tsubaki, Andrew Nabbout

James Strebinos

Melbourne Victory

Last Season’s Result: 10th. 

What to Expect This Season: With the arrival of new Head Coach Grant Brebner, Melbourne Victory underwent what fans would say was a much needed rebuild through the off-season. 

With the inclusions of Rudy Gestede, Ben Folami, Callum McManaman and Jacob Butterfield in the midfield, Brebner looks to be creating a side similar to an attacking and scoring EPL side – makes sense when they all have EPL experience on their resumes. 

The predicted starting XI for 2020/21 is arguably one of the best when down on paper as the side still have the likes of Marco Rojas and Robbie Kruse on their list. Victory’s main concern will be the health and availability of these players who were not available for the entirety of last season due to injuries. 

Departures: Kenny Athiu (Released), Migjen Basha (NE Xamax), Benjamin Carrigan (Bentleigh Greens), James Donachie (FC Goa), Giancarlo Gallifuoco (Released), Josh Hope (Terminated contract mutually), Anthony Lesiotis (Western Sydney Wanderers), Andrew Nabbout (Melbourne City), Lawrence Thomas (Denmark), Matt Sutton (Melbourne City). 

New Arrivals: Nick Ansell (Gyeongnam), Jake Brimmer (Perth Glory), Jacob Butterfield (Luton Town), Max Crocombe (Brisbane Roar), Ben Folami (Ipswich Town), Rudy Gestede (Middlesbrough), Callum McManaman (Luton Town), Gianluca Iannuci (Melbourne City), Dylan Ryan (Willem II), Ryan Shotton (Leek Town). 

Final Team: Matt Acton, Aaron Anderson, Nick Ansell, Jay Barnett, Jake Brimmer, Lleyton Brooks, Leigh Broxham, Jacob Butterfield, Ben Folami, Rudy Gestede, Gianluca Iannuci, Elvis Kamsoba, Birkam Kirdar, Robbie Kruse, Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio, Brandon Lauton, So Nishikawa, Marco Rojas, Storm Roux, Dylan Ryan, Ryan Shotton, Adama Traore, Joshua Varga. 

Tricia Mifsud

Newcastle Jets

Last Season’s Result: 8th

What to Expect This Season: It looks as if it will be another season of battling for the Newcastle Jets after a tumultuous off-season.

Manager Carl Robinson was given permission to speak with the Western Sydney Wanderers and he made the departure across to the former Asian Champions League winners.

Bernie Ibini would follow his manager across to the Wanderers after he bought out his contract, just four months after signing a contract extension.

Dimi Petratos is a significant loss to Al-Wehda, as is James Donachie, who after signing a three-year deal with the club, departed on a season-long loan.

The only additions are Ramy Najjarine on loan from Melbourne City, Valentino Yuel from Western United and Jack Duncan, back after two years in Saudi Arabia.

The pre-season has been tough for the Jets, with losses to Central Coast and Wellington and draws with Macarthur, Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar.

The Jets’ only win came against semi-professional club Edgeworth.

Departures: Dimi Petratos (Al-Wehda), James Donachie (Goa – loan), Matthew Millar (Shrewsbury Town – loan), Michael Neill (Rockdale City), Nick Fitzgerald (Jamshedpur), Joe Champness (Brisbane Roar – loan), Bernie Ibini (Contract termination).

New Arrivals: Ramy Najjarine (Melbourne City – loan), Valentino Yuel (Western United), Jack Duncan (Al-Qadsiah).

Final Team: Jack Duncan, Jason Hoffman, Nigel Boogard (captain), Ben Kantarovski, Steven Ugarkovic, Roy O’Donovan, Ramy Najjarine, Lucas Mauragis, Joe Ledley, John Koutroumbis, Kosta Petratos, Lewis Italiano, Lachlan Jackson, Jack Simmons, Patrick Langlois, Connor O’Toole, Maki Petratos, Angus Thurgate, Noah James, Valentino Yuel, Nikolai Topor-Stanley.

Jack Hudson

Perth Glory

Last Season’s Result: 6th (Lost Semi-Final to Sydney FC) 

What to Expect This Season: Perhaps the most important piece of business Perth Glory managed to get done in the off-season was retaining the services of club captain Diego Castro. The marquee man sat out the remainder of the season following the restart and rumours of his departure were growing by the day. 

Glory will head into season 2020/21 with club legend Richard Garcia at the helm after the departure of Tony Popovic at the conclusion of last season. Andy Keogh returns to the club which sees Glory boast one of the most potent front lines in recent memory with Bruno Fornaroli fully fit and ready to go for the new campaign. 

Success for the Westerners this season will likely come down to how well their inexperienced defence holds up over the course of the season. The departure of experienced campaigners Ivan Franjic and Alex Grant has left a hole in the Glory back-line. The signings of Jonathan Aspro and former Japanese international Kosuke Ota will certainly help the cause however whether that will be enough to keep the ball out of the Glory net remains to be seen. Regardless, Perth pack enough of a punch going forward to worry any A-League back-line and between Castro, Keogh and Fornaroli, goals are all but guaranteed. 

Departures: Jake Brimmer (Melbourne Victory), Joel Chianese (Hyderabad), Dino Djulbic (Released), Tarek Elrich (Released), Ivan Franjic (Macarthur), Alex Grant (Pohang Steelers), Juande (Released), Vince Lia (Altona Magic), Daniel Margush (Western Sydney Wanderers), James Meredith (Macarthur), Tomislav Mrcela (Released), Yianni Perkatis (Sydney United), Gabriel Popovic (Xanthi), Kristian Popovic (Xanthi), Jacob Tratt (Odisha)

New Arrivals: Jonathan Aspropotamitis (Western United), Andy Keogh (NorthEast United), Darryl Lachman (Hapoel Ra’anana), Kosuke Ota (Nagoya Grampus), Nick Sullivan (Western Sydney Wanderers), Brandon Wilson (Wellington Phoenix)

Final Team:

Liam Reddy, Tando Velaphi, Cameron Cook, Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Luke Bodnar, Dane Ingham, Darryl Lachman, Kosuke Ota, Mason Tatafu, Daniel Walsh, Nick Walsh, Carlos Armiento, Giordano Colli, Diego Castro, Declan Hughes, Chris Ikonomidis, Neil Kilkenny, Osama Malik, Joshua Rawlins, Daniel Stynes, Nick Sullivan, Brandon Wilson, Bryce Bafford, Nicholas D’Agostino, Bruno Fornaroli, Andy Keogh.

Ben Lennon

Sydney FC

Last Season’s Result: Premiers & Champions.

What to Expect This Season: Anything less than another double will be deemed as a failure for Sydney this season. Expect them to line up in their familiar 4-2-2-2 shape, with two holding midfielders, two attacking midfielders and a front pairing of Trent Buhagair and Kosta Barabrouses. In the Asian Champions League, they attempted to play out from the back off goal kicks, something we didn’t see last season and looked to keep the ball moving quickly. 

In the first half of their semi-final as well as for most of their grand final, they executed an extremely intense press, something which we could see on and off throughout this season. Look forward to another season of Milos Ninkovic’s intelligence and incisiveness on the left, Rhyan Grant’s reliability and engine in defence and Luke Brattan dropping into the defensive line to break down the opposition.

Sydney FC’s biggest departure comes in the form of Adam Le Fondre. The Englishmen notched twenty-one goals in twenty-eight games for the Sky blues last season, a tally which saw him finish second in the golden boot race. His clinical ability, tactical intelligence and leadership will be missed, with all three coming on show during the semi-final against Perth Glory, where he triggered a pressing trap before dispossessing Liam Reddy which led to his sides second goal. During the season, Sydney also lost young guns Ryan Teague, Marco Tilio, Cameron Peupion and Jake Hollman. Peupion is already off to a stunning start at Brighton, while Marco Tilio is a big loss for the Sky Blues. 

Sydney hasn’t announced any new arrivals as of yet, with Steve Corica confirming that Trent Buhagair will be given the chance to replace Adam Le Fondre upfront. There have been rumours circulating that the sky blues are close to signing former striker Bobo as a replacement, but at the moment Steve Corica will stick with the squad in front of him.

Sydney FC possesses great depth all over the field. Andrew Redmayne is clear number one in goals but Thomas Heward-Belle and Adam Pavlesic will be looking to battle out the number two spot after a mixed Asian Champions League campaign. Joel King and Michael Zullo will likely share the left-back spot to start the season, assuming Zullo holds up after a substantial period off the field last season due to different injuries. Ryan McGowan and Alex Wilkinson will likely start at centre-back while youngsters Patrick Flottman and Ben Warland will compete for game time. Rhyan Grant is the clear first choice at right-back with Harry Van Der Saag as backup. In midfield Luke Brattan and Paulo Retre will probably start but youngster Calem Nieuwenhof has done enough in my opinion to warrant a push into the starting eleven. Milos Ninkovic will keep his left sided position while there will be an interesting battle on the right between Alex Baumjohann and Anthony Caceres. Kosta Barbarouses will partner Trent Buhagiar up top with Luke Ivanovic, Patrick Wood and Jordi Swibel competing for game time.

Departures: Adam Le Fondre, Marco Tilio, Ryan Teague, Cameron Peupion, Jake Hollman.

Arrivals: None

Final team: Andrew Redmayne (GK), Thomas Heward Belle (GK), Adam Pavlesic (GK), Joel King, Michael Zullo, Alex Wilkinson, Ryan McGowan, Patrick Flottman, Ben Warland, Rhyan Grant, Harry Van Der Saag, Luke Brattan, Paulo Retre, Chris Zuvela, Calem Nieuwenhof, Milos Ninkovic, Anthony Caceres, Alex Baumjohann, Kosta Barbarouses, Trent Buhagiar, Patrick Wood, Luke Ivanovic, Jordi Swibel

Jack George

Wellington Phoenix

Last Season’s Result: 3rd (Lost in Elimination Final to Perth Glory)

What to Expect This Season:

The Nix were the feel good story of last season, finishing 3rd on the table in what was it’s best season to date.

Now into his second year of coach for the Nix, Ufuk Talay has a challenge on his hand with the NZ based side will be forced to relocate to Wollongong for the season until border restrictions are loosened. 

The Nix have lost some key talent in Liberato Cacace, Gary Hooper and Steven Taylor but held onto the reliable Ulises Davila and Reno Piscopo who will look to continue their good form and help Wellington prove to its fans that last season was no fluke for the men in black and gold.

Departures: Liberato Cacace (Sint-Truidense), Callan Elliot (Xanthi), Gary Hooper (Kerala Blasters), Callum McCowatt (Helsingor), Walter Scott (Macarthur) Matti Steinmann (East Bengal), Steven Taylor (Odisha), Brandon Wilson (Perth Glory).

New Arrivals: Tomer Hemed (Charlton Athletic), Joshua Laws (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Clayton Lewis (Auckland City), James McGarry (Willem II), Mirza Muratovic (Brisbane Roar), Matthew Ridenton (Brisbane Roar).

Squad: Clayton Lewis, James McGarry, Joshua Laws, Matt Ridenton, Clayton Lewis, Mirza Muratovic, Tomer Hemed, Sam Sutton, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, Stefan Marinovic, Oliver Sail, Louis Fenton, Cameron Devlin, Reno Piscopo, Ben Waine, Alex Rufer, Jaushua Sotirio, Tim Payne, David Ball, Ulises Davila, Liam McGing, Luke DeVere.

James Strebinos

Western Sydney Wanderers

Last season’s result: 9th

What to Expect This Season: Looking ahead, it’s difficult to see what the future brings for the Wanderers. It’s looking up, but Robinson only had six months at Newcastle and can’t yet be regarded as the man that will steer the Wanderers to the finals. It’s likely he will be but remember that we have seen this before at the club.

However, I believe that with the squad they have, the Wanderers will be back in the top six once again. Robinson will likely deploy a three at the back system, similar to Newcastle. It will focus on ball retention, intensity and movement in attack.

Western Sydney Wanders have lost a substantial chunk of their squad. Their starting goalkeeper Daniel Lopar has left the club, and is a big loss due to his outstanding performances in goal in the first half of last season, often keeping the Wanderers in games they should truly be out of.

Matthew Jurman, Mitch Duke and Pirmin Schwegler are the other three main departures. Jurman was solid in the Wanderers’ defensive line last season and will be missed after moving to Greece. Schwegler pulled the strings throughout his campaign, and his class in midfield is hard to replace. But perhaps their biggest blow comes with club captain Mitch Duke moving on. Duke was often single handed carrying the Wanderers through their campaign last season, and his quality, work rate and understanding of the club is impossible to replace.

The way Western Sydney Wanderers have gone about their recruitment this season is nothing short of controversial. New coach Carl Robinson caused controversy when moving from Newcastle Jets to the west despite having three years remaining on his deal. He then signed Bernie Ibini, James Troisi and Ziggy Gordon who were all on contract.

Ziggy Gordon is a very good signing and perhaps his best position is on the right of a back three after interchanging between right-back and centre-back last season. I actually didn’t see too much I liked from Bernie Ibini, but we’ve seen his quality before and he is a good signing to partner Simon Cox up front.

James Troisi is perhaps the most interesting signing. He played in a deep lying playmaker position last season for Adelaide where I thought he was quite poor. He lacked the understanding and vision to split the lines with passes and his long balls were often useless and unnecessary. But if he is to revert to an attacking midfield position, behind Cox and Ibini we could see his glory days once more.

Graham Dorrans also joins the Wanderers with a good pedigree, while Anthony Lesiotis, Daniel Margush and Phillip Cancar wrap up their signings.

Departures: Matthew Jurman, Mitchell Duke, Pirmin Schwegler, Nick Suman, Radi Majewski, Mathieu Cordier, Nick Sullivan.

Arrivals: Anthony Lesiotis, Graham Dorrans, Daniel Margush, Phillip Cancar, James Troisi, Ziggy Gordon, Bernie Ibini

Final team: Vedran Janjetovic (GK), Daniel Margush, Dylan McGowan, Patrick Ziegler, Anthony Lesiotis, Graham Dorrans, Phillip Cancar, James Troisi, Ziggy Gordon, Bernie Ibini, Kwame Yeboah, Simon Cox, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Tate Russel, Daniel Georgievski, Jordan O’Doherty, Keanu Baccus, Kosta Grozos, Noah Pagden, Jarrod Carluccio, Alessandro Lopane, Mark Natta, Stefan Nikolic, Nicolai Muller, Fabian Monge, Daniel Wilmering, Mohamed Adam, Bruce Kamau, Thomas Aquilina

Jack George

Western United

Last Season’s Result: 5th (Lost Semi-Final to Melbourne City)

What to Expect This Season: One of the most exciting and watchable sides towards the tail end of last season, partly due to Johnny Warren medallist Allesandro Diamanti. United have maintained a largely stable squad, but a quiet transfer market from coach Mark Ruden means that United won’t have added depth to the team. One key addition Ruden made is adding La Liga winner Victor Sanchez to his ranks. The central midfielder made 25 appearances for Espanyol in the La Liga last season and could prove to be the difference come finals.

It’s going to be difficult for United to replicate last season’s success, but they will be ready to go one step further from last season’s semi-final appearance. 

Departures: Patrick Antelmi (Sydney United), James Aspropotamitis (Perth Glory), James Delianov (Adelaide United), Oskar Dillon (Gold Coast Knights), Thiel Iradukunda (Bentleigh Greens), Valentino Yuel (Newcastle Jets)

New Arrivals: Ayom Majok (Cumberland United), Victor Sanchez (Espanyol), Lachlan Wales (Melbourne City)

Final Team: Filip Kurto, Aaron Calver, Brendan Hamill, Andrew Durante, Dylan Pierias, Tomoki Imai, Besart Berisha, Lachlan Wales, Steven Lustica, Connor Pain, Ivan Vujica, Max Burgess, Joshua Cavallo, Josh Risdon, Victor Sanchez, Sebastian Pasquali, Tomislav Uskok, Alessandro Diamanti, Luke Duzel, Nicolas Milanovic, Jerry Skotadis, Ayom Majok, Ryan Scott, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, Stefan Zinni.

Tom Lusk

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