Since its inception in 2014, a cheeky friend of mine has regularly criticized the FFA Cup.
Season 2013/14 of the A-League is now underway, and what first round it was.
As predicted, the round one attendance record and overall record were beaten convincingly, though even greater news was the television ratings SBS2 and Fox Sports achieved on the Friday night.
Sydney FC (2) versus Newcastle Jets (0)
The opening fixture of 2013/14 season did not disappoint, but only if you were a Sydney FC fan.
Despite an average viewing audience of 358,000 tuning in to both SBS2/Fox Sports and 495,000 overall based on a five minute consecutive reach of viewing.
The standard of football played throughout the majority of the match was sloppy to say the least.
Both teams could be forgiven for it was the opening fixture of the season, but with football being broadcast to a larger audience, the least we expected was to watch a gripping contest.
As the majority of the 20,103 in attendance at Allianz stadium went home satisfied with the result, question marks still remain as to each sides potential to give this season a shake up.
Sydney got off to their best start to a season since 2009/10, whereas for the Jets, it was a poor performance given the decent pre-season the team had.
Some may believe pre-season form is a good indication of what the season may serve up but Sydney and the Jets proved that once again pre-season form counts for nothing heading into Round 1.
Central Coast Mariners (1) versus Western Sydney Wanderers (1)
Dubbed the grand final rematch, despite vastly different sides to the championship match, the 17,134 in attendance were once again treated to a terrific match.
Prior to commencing, most fans were surprised to see the likes of Shinji Ono and Tommy Juric starting on the bench.
Their lack of experience and exuberance proved telling in the first 60 minutes.
When these two came on, the likes of Hersi, Mooy and Beauchamp stood up for what seemed destined a 1-nil loss.
Momentum had swung the way of the Wanderers and their hard work eventually paid off as they were able to find that elusive goal through Juric.
Liam Reddy may find himself warming the bench for some time if Round 1 performances are any indication as Justin Pasfield played superbly.
When momentum swung the way of the wanderers, Pasfield to his credit prevented the wanderers from walking away with three points.
It was a fair result given the dominance of the Mariners in the first 60 minutes as either side could have won.
Much talk was made of Marcos Flores and whether his arrival at the Mariners would spark the Flores of old. He didn’t disappoint and kept himself busy all night, even setting up young gun Mitch Duke to score the opener.
This match didn’t let down and both teams and fans can walk away proud of their performance and knowing they have a good chance at top four prospects.
Melbourne Victory (0) versus Melbourne Heart (0)
I’ve attended entertaining football matches having resulted in a scoreless draw, but this match was painful to watch.
The first half performance from both teams was promising, but upon restarting proceedings, the urgency and commitment didn’t seem there.
Given it was Round 1, the ill-discipline was surprising in what was a bizarre clash.
For only the second time in 10 meetings between the two teams the score finished scoreless.
Unfortunately, the record crowd of 45,202 would have been bitterly disappointed with what they saw.
If either coach could walk away from that result having gained something, it would be Aloisi given the horrid time they’ve had heading into the season.
Both teams looked lost throughout the majority of the match and will be grateful they weren’t going home without a point.
Victory will look forward to regaining the services of their now club captain Mark Milligan, but their job doesn’t get any easier having to face rivals Adelaide united in Round 2.
Heart on the other hand will grateful they’re at home for they face another tough match against the Central Coast Mariners.
Wellington Phoenix (1) versus Brisbane Roar (2)
With seven players missing through injury, and international commitments, Phoenix had nothing to lose whereas this match was Brisbane Roar’s to lose.
Phoenix had other ideas and got off to the perfect start with a goal in the 22nd minute to Stein Huysegems.
The Roar, who had been phenomenal in pre-season, headed into this match clear favourites and having been labelled one of the more fancied teams to press for a title unfortunately did not assert themselves until the second half was underway.
Roar got off to a flying start in the second half, scoring in the 47th minute through none other than Besart Berisha, provided by a Ivan Franjic assist.
Franjic, who was instrumental all game, would have the last say on proceedings as he scored a late winner to seal all three points in what was a great contest.
The 8,239 in attendance at Westpac stadium were once again left asking themselves what does the team have to do to win.
Under Ernie Merrick, the change in playing style was evident and it shouldn’t be forgotten seven players were missing. If Round 1s performance is anything to go by then the fans should stick by their team as they look likely to cause some headaches – just as they did today.
It doesn’t get any easier though as next week Brisbane Roar face Sydney FC while Wellington face the Wanderers at what could be a packed Parramatta Stadium.
Adelaide United (3) versus Perth Glory (1)
This match left me flabbergasted! Twelve yellow cards, two reds and four goals, this match had everything.
From the outset these teams were keen to demonstrate their attacking intent and two goals eventuated inside the first 11 minutes of play.
As the match wore on, the wild weather must have gotten to their heads for bodies started crashing to the floor.
I thought the derby was full of ill-discipline but this match took the cake.
In a very dominant display from Adelaide United, the Reds showed they mean business and are looking to evolve under Josep Gombau.
As for Perth Glory, it didn’t matter what they did, they were never destined to score another goal despite the continuous barrage that came the Reds way.
Glorys Jamie MacLaren proved very useful in the final third of the pitch and could be a surprise packet for the season ahead.
As for Adelaide, despite going down to nine men they in some kind of bizarre way, remained composed enough to win on the day.
In front of 10,320, the Reds faithful would have gone home happy but perplexed and will look forward to facing rivals Melbourne Victory in round 2.
As for Perth, they will travel to Newcastle feeling fairly confident given the display the jets coughed up against Sydney.
Season 2013/14 of the A-League season is off to a flying start and its great to have football we love, back playing week in, week out.