Although it is rumoured that Siem de Jong will not sign an extended deal with Sydney FC, he has most definitely left his mark on the A-League.
The 14th A-League season is coming to a close, with plenty of players who delivered and some players who didn’t.
Here’s a squad of the top performers, fulfilling the A-League requirements of 20-23 players, including at least two goalkeepers and three Australian players aged under 20, with no more than five international players.
Goalkeeper: Filip Kurto
Kurto made the most saves in the A-League this season (93). With Wellington’s defence looking vulnerable at times, he has kept them in matches.
Next season, he joins Mark Rudan at Western United. His departure will be a huge blow for Wellington.
Right back: Matthew Millar
Millar is joint second in the league for assists, which is an incredible feat given the Mariners scored the fewest goals this season with only 30.
He is an excellent crosser, and can also feature higher up the pitch or in central defence. There is also talk of him being a future Socceroo.
Centre backs: Ritchie De Laet and Shane Lowry
Having a player like Ritchie De Laet in a team is simply a luxury. Regardless of where he plays – whether in defence, midfield or attack – he is reliable, experienced and threatening.
Despite only featuring in a few games in Melbourne City’s attack, he is the joint-highest goalscorer for the club.
Lowry is one of the best centre halves in the A-League. He featured regularly in Perth Glory’s defence, which conceded only 22 goals.
He won 28 tackles, made 21 interceptions and tallied 18 blocks.
Left back: Scott Galloway
Scott Galloway is a surprise inclusion for the left back position, but he was sensational from the moment he put on an Adelaide United shirt.
He scored the first goal of the A-League season, a beautiful chip from outside the box. He is also versatile and set up his team-mates four times.
Midfielders: Diego Castro (captain), Brandon O’Neill, Neil Kilkenny and Craig Goodwin
Castro was a deserved winner of the Alex Tobin Medal at the age of 36 and is the only player to have won two of them.
Despite only playing 20 games (13 of which were starts), he won Perth Glory’s MVP award and has seven goals and five assists. He recently signed a two-year contract extension at the Glory, keeping him at the club until 2021.
O’Neill has taken it up another level this season and is pivotal to Steve Corica’s Sydney FC.
He is Sydney FC’s main distributor, creating 44 chances, crossing 140 times and making 1813 passes, the highest in the league.
Not only does he have the most assists for his club, but he also helps his team win the ball back, with 53 interceptions. Both Ireland and Australia are interested in capping him.
Kilkenny was also pivotal to his team’s success, pulling the strings in Perth’s midfield.
He created 56 chances, crossed the ball 132 times and made 1684 passes. He also contributed on the scoreboard with six goals and six assists.
Despite being 33, there are rumours of Graham Arnold capping him for the Socceroos.
Goodwin is such an influential player even if he is inconsistent at times. He has the most assists in the league with nine, created 70 chances and scored ten goals.
He was directly involved in more than half of Adelaide United’s goals and is a handful for any defender. Graham Arnold also called him up for the Socceroos in November.
Strikers: Roy Krishna and Ola Toivonen
Krishna is the favourite for the Johnny Warren Medal after having an astounding season.
He won the A-League golden boot and is also currently Wellington’s highest ever goalscorer after overtaking Paul Ifill’s record of 34 goals.
Toivonen struggled with injury this A-League season and also played an unfamiliar role as a striker.
Despite this, he managed to come fifth in the race for the golden boot, scoring 13 goals.
Due to injury, Toivonen made just 21 appearances, 18 of which were starts.
Substitutes: Eugene Galekovic, Jason Davidson, Alex Wilkinson, Isaias and Chris Ikonomidis
Galekovic managed to regain the favour of Warren Joyce ahead of Mark Birighitti at the beginning of the season. He had some wonderful performances and looks to extend his contract with City despite his old age.
Davidson looks as if he could potentially be back in Socceroos contention after having a great season. He linked up well with players such as Ikonomidis and even has two goals and four assists to his name.
Wilkinson still looks as solid as ever in a Sydney FC shirt and is still one of the meanest defenders in the league. He made 130 clearances, so he’s saved the day for Sydney many times.
Isaias was Adelaide United’s player of the year for the third consecutive time. He received his Australian citizenship recently, making him eligible to play for the Socceroos.
Ikonomidis missed some of the A-League due to the Asian Cup in January. He scored nine goals and had three assists in just 18 appearances. He is versatile and can take players on. Surely a European club would be snapping him up?
Reserves: Liam Reddy, Matthew Spiranovic, Keanu Baccus, Aiden O’Neill, Mitchell Duke, Riley McGree and Jamie Maclaren
Reddy has the most clean sheets of any goalkeeper this season (12). His discipline improved this season under Tony Popovic, although he still made quite a few blunders that went unpunished.
Spiranovic missed quite a few games due to injury but he looks very solid. He is also another player who could soon be back into Socceroos contention.
Baccus featured regularly in Western Sydney’s midfield. He is another nominee for the A-League young footballer of the year and was Western Sydney’s best player.
O’Neill chipped in with a few goals and did his best to help a struggling Mariners side.
Duke’s arrival helped turn the Wanderers’ season around. He scored four goals in just 11 matches and created a deadly forward partnership with Oriol Riera, Alexander Baumjohann and Roly Bonevacia.
Riley McGree is unfortunate not to be playing more under Warren Joyce. He won a nomination for the A-League young footballer of the year in April and is the joint highest goalscorer for the club.
Jamie Maclaren scored five goals in his first four games for Melbourne City before going another four games without scoring. He threatens often and gets into good positions.