19/05/2024

Archie Goodwin celebrates a goal. (Photo: A-League Men)

As we approach the upcoming A-League Men season, it can be hard to find out exactly which players you should keep an eye on throughout the season, so we've done the hard work for you.

As we approach the upcoming A-League Men season, it can be hard to find out exactly which players you should keep an eye on throughout the season, so we’ve done the hard work for you.

We’ve looked at one youth player and one veteran player who will have the largest impact on their teams’ chance to contend for the Premiers Plate, finals series, and the Championship.

For the purposes of this article, youth player will refer to players aged 23 or younger.

Adelaide United

Youth Player – James Delianov and Joe Gauci

While technically two players, both players were so good for the Reds last season between the posts that it was almost impossible to separate them as players to keep an eye on as they advance in their development.

With both keepers being needed at various times throughout last season, having two strong keepers carry on this year will help Adelaide make the finals again, and bring a league trophy back to the City of Churches.

Veteran – Isaias

“Si! Senor, Si!” – An immortal line of commentary from Simon Hill as Isaias proved instrumental in United’s 2016 Grand Final victory over the Western Sydney Wanderers.

He returns to the club after a two-year stint at Al-Wakrah Sport Club in the Qatar Stars League. Having the veteran presence of Isaias should prove useful to Adelaide to help guide all the young talent Adelaide have, such as Kusini Yengi, Mohammad Toure, and Joe Caletti as they all progress in their development.

Brisbane Roar

Youth Player – Luke Ivanovic

Brisbane has had a bit of turnover this last off-season. Losing a key player on the attacking front to Western United, the absence of Dylan Wenzel-Halls could hurt the Roar.

This is where Luke Ivanovic comes into the equation. A young pacey attacker with plenty to prove after requesting a release from Sydney FC before signing with Brisbane Roar a few weeks later, Ivanovic could prove to be a key part of the front line.

He has already scored for the club in his competitive debut as part of their FFA Cup Round of 32 victory against Peninsula Power.

Veteran – Jay O’Shea

One of Robbie Fowler’s recruits, Irish veteran Jay O’Shea stayed on with Brisbane after Fowler’s departure and has been an integral part of their midfield over the last two seasons, having played almost every minute of every game since his arrival.

O’Shea will look to keep this up in his third season with the Roar, as they aim to make their way into the finals for a third successive season.

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Central Coast Mariners

Youth Player – Josh Nisbet

After becoming a regular part of the Mariners squad last season, Josh Nisbet will be looking to step up and become a key cog in the middle of the park as they aim to return to the finals under new coach Nick Montgomery.

Whilst not getting on the scoresheet, and only garnering three assists, Nisbet was able to help the Mariners in other areas advancing the ball up the park to the likes of Marco Urena and Matt Simon. A repeat of these performances will go a long way to helping the Mariners continue the success of last season.

Matt Simon. Photo Credit: A-League website

Veteran – Matt Simon

The Wizard of Woy Woy has been on fire since his return to the Coast in in the 2018-19 season and was an integral part of the squad last season.

Scoring 10 goals with three assists, as well as not being afraid to get a little greasy when required, amassing six yellow cards and one torn jersey, Simon will be looking to maintain that form into this upcoming season, and be a good compliment to Marco Urena as part of a front two for the Mariners.

Macarthur FC

Youth Player – Lachlan Rose

After a much-lauded start last season, Lachlan Rose faded a little bit and didn’t have much success for the remainder of the season, ending up with only one goal and one assist in 1116 minutes of match time, despite playing in 24 games.

With his first campaign behind him, those first season nerves should be out the window and Macarthur fans will hopefully get to see the best of Lachlan Rose.

Veteran – Ulises Davila

Making the shift across the ditch from Wellington to Macarthur, last season’s joint Johnny Warren medallist (with Milos Ninkovic) will be aiming to maintain that high level of play at his new team.

Scoring 20 goals with 12 assists throughout his two seasons with the Nix, Macarthur is getting a goal-scoring playmaker who can create magic with just a single touch, and hopefully elevate the club further up the ladder in its second season.

Ulises Davila. Photo Credit: A-League website

Melbourne City

Youth Player – Connor Metcalfe

After a couple of seasons looking to break into the City squad before being in and out of the side in the 2019-20 campaign, Metcalfe came roaring into the squad last season, amassing 2080 minutes of game play in 24 games, starting in all of them.

A strong presence in the middle of the park, Metcalfe will prove to be a key to this City side as it aims to win back-to-back League titles.

Veteran – Scott Jameison

The captain of the reigning Champions, Scott Jameison is entering his fifth season with City, scoring his first league goals last season since the 2014-15 season with Perth Glory.

A strong defensive presence who can go about his job without giving away a severe number of cards, and only having one red card in his entire career (which was a second yellow) in what can best be described as a captain’s sacrifice to save a potential goal, ‘Jamo’ will be a crucial piece to City being able to go back-to-back.

Scott Jamieson lifting the Championship trophy. (Photo: Melbourne City FC/Twitter)

Melbourne Victory

Youth Player – Nicholas D’Agostino

After a few injury setbacks, D’Agostino will be hoping to turn things around under Tony Popovic at the Victory over the upcoming season.

An integral part of the Olyroos squad to qualify for the 2020 Olympics, a strong season at Melbourne with a return to the finals could put him firmly in line for a Socceroos call-up as they aim for the 2022 World Cup if he can impress this season.

Nick D’Agostino in action for the Australian U-23’s. (Photo: Socceroos)

Veteran – Tony Popovic

Hear us out, but we’re going to cheat, and there’s a reason for it.

As a veteran coach in the league, Tony Popovic is no stranger to building a squad from scratch or going through a re-build. In other words, starting fresh.

That is exactly what is required at the Victory from the ex-Wanderers and Glory coach. No one veteran player will have as much impact on the success of Melbourne this season as the man at the helm will.

‘Popa’ demands discipline and success, otherwise he will have no hesitancy in calling it out and making players sit on the sidelines until he gets what he wants out of them.

If Victory are to turn around their form from last season, it all starts (and ends) with Tony Popovic.

Newcastle Jets

Youth Player – Archie Goodwin

The young 16-year-old on a scholarship contract made his league debut last season for the Newcastle Jets, being one of the bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season.

He will be looking to impress new coach Arthur Papas to continue his role as part of the first team squad. A few players in front of him could see this be hard to do, but if he can make that breakthrough, that experience in the latter half of last season will prove invaluable for the young striker.

Veteran – Matt Jurman

After a stint at Xanthi as part of the Tony Popovic era, Matt Jurman makes his return to the league, and will debut for his fourth club in the Newcastle Jets, after two previous league stints at Sydney FC, and one each at Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney.

A solid centre-back, Jurman will be integral to the Newcastle defence as they look to turn around their form from last season.

Based on prior form, expect Jurman to make a lot of interceptions and force some turnovers in Newcastle’s defensive half to prevent his side from leaking goals at the back.

Matt Jurman talks a little about signing for Newcastle. (Photo: Newcastle Jets)

Perth Glory

Youth Player – Carlo Armiento

Breaking into the Glory squad after a few sparse appearances in the 2019-20 season, Armiento scored three goals with four assists in 994 minutes of game time.

A good crosser of the ball, making 57 crosses last season, he also won 29 fouls for the Glory while giving away only 12.

Expect Armiento to be given plenty of opportunities to continue in his development this season for the Glory as they aim to return to the finals after a COVID interrupted season due to border closures.

Carlo Armiento in action. (Photo: Carlo Armiento/Twitter)

Veteran – Daniel Sturridge

While there were many viable choices as the Glory veteran player, such as Bruno Fornaroli and Liam Reddy, we have chosen Daniel Sturridge because, well, it is Daniel Sturridge.

A long-standing veteran who has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, Sturridge has signed a one-year contract with Perth to try and get his career back on track after only having played 11 games since departing Liverpool at the end of the 2018/19 season through a combination of injury and bans for gambling.

A win for the entire A-League Men competition, Sturridge could have a Del Piero-esque impact if he can stay fit and score some of his trademark stunning goals and bust out the Sturridge dance.

Sydney FC

Youth Player – Calem Nieuwenhof

A strong debut season for ‘The Hof’ saw him make his professional debut in the Asian Champions League against Shanghai SIPG and did not look out of place at all.

His debut season was hampered by an ongoing back injury, but with a full recovery, expect Nieuwenhof will pick up right where he left off and become a key part of the two number sixes with Luke Brattan under Steve Corica.

Calem Nieuwenhof dribbles the ball for Sydney FC U-23’s. (Photo: Sydney FC)

Veteran – Alex Wilkinson

A man who does not get as much attention because he goes about his job without much fanfare, the Sydney FC captain will go around again this year as a key part of the Sky Blues defence.

Only accruing 24 yellow cards (with zero reds) in a 340-match career is incredibly impressive and shows exactly how good Wilkinson is at going about his job. That strong veteran presence will prove instrumental to Sydney’s success as it aims to get back to top of the league after going trophy-less last season.

Wellington Phoenix

Youth Player – Reno Piscopo

Another midfielder joining this list, expect Reno Piscopo to maintain the form from his last two seasons with Wellington and become an even more integral part of the Nix’s midfield with the departure of Cameron Devlin.

There is a huge opportunity for Piscopo to show himself as one of the league’s better players, and potentially put himself in line for a Socceroos call-up as preparations for the World Cup ramp up, or perhaps even a move overseas.

Veteran – David Ball

The retiring Steven Taylor was our initial selection before he announced his retirement at the end of September, expected to be an integral part to Wellington’s success with the departure of the likes of Tomer Hemed and Cameron Devlin.

But with Taylor also departing, that will now rest on the shoulders of David Ball. With an average of 0.45 goals and assists per 90 minutes over his career (0.29 goals and 0.16 assists), he will need to try and increase on that to help replace the goals.

David Ball. (Photo: A-League Men)

Western Sydney Wanderers

Youth Player – Daniel Margush

A solid goalkeeper for the Wanderers after the departure of Daniel Lopar, Margush played every game for the Wanderers last season, conceding 43 goals as the Wanderers finished eighth on the ladder.

A number of those goals were not the fault of Margush, who was very solid and could blame some of those on the defence in front of him, as the team struggled heavily with set pieces last season.

Veteran – Tomer Hemed

Transferring in from the Wellington Phoenix where he scored 11 goals in 21 appearances, expect the Israeli to pick up where he left off last season and become an integral part of the Wanderers front-line, who will all need to be incredibly productive this season as Carl Robinson will be fighting for his job.

A similar production from Hemed will go a long way to helping Robinson keep his job at Wanderland.

Western United

Youth Player – Dylan Wenzel-Halls

Transferring in from Brisbane Roar after a strong 2020-21 campaign which saw him in the conversation for an Olyroos call-up, Wenzel-Halls will look to carry his form into the 2021-22 season.

A pacey forward, Wenzel-Halls found himself offside 22 times last season, so he will need to time his runs a little bit better to increase his goal-scoring and assist output as Western United look to turn around under John Aloisi.

Veteran – Alessandro Diamanti

A little bit of a cop-out to finish, but Diamanti will be key to Western United’s success in its first season under John Aloisi.

Being able to create something out of nothing, and create amazing plays out of something, Diamanti (and Western United as a whole) didn’t have the best of seasons last year under Mark Rudan, who found himself sacked.

Expect Diamanti to bounce back to his 2019-20 form where he impressed everyone when he made his debut for the club, especially with a young gun like Wenzel-Halls up front to link up with.

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