We’re past the halfway point in the 2013/14 A-League season, and there are several players staking claims for the team of the season.
There has been plenty of #IndividualBrillance (credit to Ned Zelic for that trend), such as hat-tricks from Adam Taggart and Dimi Petratos, but one game does not ensure you a spot in this team … and nor does the reputation that comes with being a marquee player.
To comply with Football Federation Australia’s national curriculum, we’ve put together our own 4-3-3 team of the season so far. So here it is … and who knows? This may well be the team facing Juventus next August in the A-League All Stars showpiece.
Goalkeeper: Danny Vukovic
If it wasn’t for Vukovic, Perth Glory could well be out of the top six.
The glove-man has been the league’s best goalkeeper this season, keeping six clean sheets in 14 games and leaving the Glory with a positive goal differential.
Right back: Ivan Franjic
Franjic, 26, has been superb for the league-leading Brisbane Roar all season, his dashing runs down the right flank terrorising defences.
Having only scored five goals prior to this season, Franjic has found the back of the net four times while also leading the league with five assists.
With Ange Postecoglou handing Franjic a full game for the Socceroos against Costa Rica and the player continuing to impress in the league, expect the Brisbane star to be on the plane to Brazil later this year.
Centre back: Nikolai Topor-Stanley
Once again at the core of Western Sydney’s defence, Topor-Stanley has played alongside both Michael Beauchamp and Matthew Spiranovic this season in the A-League’s best defence, which has conceded just 11 goals.
With Beauchamp in and out of the squad, Topor-Stanley has stepped up his role in the Wanderers’ squad having been handed the captain’s armband.
Centre back: Matt Smith (captain)
With Brisbane chasing their first A-League title since 2011/12, Smith has been at his individual best alongside Jade North.
The central defender has added goalscoring to his skillset this campaign, finding the back of the net three times.
Smith is also our captain of the season so far, his leadership crucial as the Roar have endured an injury-plagued season.
Left back: Adama Traore
If you have seen even just one Melbourne Victory game this season, you’d agree that Traore is a standout for the left back position.
His forward dashing runs and willingness to attack is to be admired, along with his terrific workrate tracking back.
It’s just a shame that he cannot represent the Socceroos due to FIFA regulations. While he’s previously stated his desire to represent Australia, he’s unable to do so because he represented his native Ivory Coast at youth level.
Central midfield: Luke Brattan
After losing Eric Paartalu to Tianjin Teda 12 months ago, Mike Mulvey handed Brattan the opportunity to step into the influential central midfield role — and he hasn’t disappointed.
Brattan has been the fulcrum for almost all of Brisbane’s attacks, seeing the midfielder near the top of the league’s competed pass lists.
With Graham Arnold being interested in luring the 23-year-old to Japan, it may not be too long until we seem him make a move overseas.
Right midfield: Thomas Broich
The former Johnny Warren Medallist is back to his best this season and shows no signs of slowing down.
Possibly the best foreigner in the A-League — no disrespect to Alessandro Del Piero — Broich’s ability to find gaps in defences has allowed Brisbane to score the most goals this season.
If Brisbane are to go all the way this campaign, they will need Broich to be fully fit and firing come finals.
Left midfield: Mitch Nichols
There is possibly no player who works harder than Mitch Nichols.
The Victory midfielder’s effort across the field is to be admired and has caught the eye of Japan’s Cerezo Osaka.
With a close relationship to Postecoglou, who managed him at both Brisbane and Victory, Nichols could also earn a spot in Brazil if his form continues.
Right forward: James Troisi
One of three Melbourne Victory players in the team, Troisi is the A-League’s top goalscorer with seven goals.
The on-loan Atalanta attacker has been able to find the net with wonderful grace and blitzing speed, cracking through defences weekly.
Troisi’s ominous form may send a message to other Australians struggling for game time in Europe to head back home as he has now found himself once again in Socceroos calculations.
Striker: Besart Berisha
It may be an injury-plagued season for the Albanian striker but it hasn’t stopped him being near the top of the goalscoring charts.
Berisha has only made eight appearances but has registered six goals, a sign of just how lethal he is in front of goal.
With continuing speculation regarding his future at the Brisbane Roar, Berisha has not let that affect his on-field performance as he continues to be the most feared striker in the competition.
Left forward: Adam Taggart
Although currently in a dry spell in front of goal, the Newcastle Jets striker’s start to the season saw him receive plaudits from football experts and fans across the country.
Taggart scored six goals in his first seven games, including a marvellous hat-trick against Melbourne Heart in round 7.
His speed and eye for goal is something to watch for later in the season once he returns from Australian U22 duty — especially with marquee man Emile Heskey back from injury and ready to partner him in attack.
• Agree? Disagree? Did we leave someone out who deserves to be in the squad? Leave a comment below.