When Sydney FC limped off the field last Wednesday night in Japan, it was utter embarrassment for the best team in Australia.
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.
It was evident from his very first touch that he was going to be a stunning player for Sydney throughout the season and, although his time at the club was disrupted by injuries, there is no doubt that he has had some amazing moments in the A-League and FFA Cup.
He had that stunning game against Western Sydney Wanderers, where he first put Trent Buhagiar through on goal for his first goal contribution in Australia, before scoring a stunning free-kick, which summed up his brilliance perfectly.
Unfortunately, he suffered an injury against that very same side a few weeks later and was unavailable for the FFA Cup final. Another beautiful moment was his free kick against Adelaide United, which (almost) made up for his grand final absence. There was then the goal I will be talking about, which was his cheeky strike against Brisbane Roar.
It was on the 29th of March, and it was a beautiful night at Suncorp Stadium. Sydney took the league via Aaron Calver in just the 40th second of play, but Brisbane Roar finally equalised in the 68th minute.
Steve Corica then let the quality of his bench run wild. Adam Le Fondre scored a tap in on the 77th minute, and De Jong sealed the deal with a luscious goal. Brandon O’Neill played a through ball and De Jong strolled in behind the Brisbane Roar defence with a diagonal run from his usual right-hand side. He then looked up to find a teammate, and to everyone’s surprise, just tapped it in.
It might not have been Eric Bautheac’s bicycle kick against the Central Coast Mariners or Dimi Petratos’ weak foot drive against Melbourne Victory, but it was certainly something different.
Before that, Sydney hadn’t seemed to find the goal with that much ease. But that goal gave Sydney FC fans something else. Before that, they were in a war for second place with Melbourne Victory, and it was looking like only Perth Glory were going to win the premiers, and maybe even the grand-final, too.
But with that goal, it gave them a different sense of creativity and something that looks impossible to stop. Ever since that very goal, Sydney have possessed more swagger to their game, and although their goal drought problem didn’t clear up, they made it look easy to get to goal-scoring positions and that was worrying for their rivals, especially Perth Glory.
Although Sydney FC ended up losing to Perth Glory by eight points, they still looked competitive going into the finals. And then, of course, there was that already famous 6-1 triumph over their biggest rivals Melbourne Victory, and their grand final win over Perth Glory.
De Jong didn’t play amazingly well in either of these games, except for contributing an ‘assist’ to Leigh Broxham’s own goal, but you could see that his presence was known. Every time he was on the ball, two or three players converged on him, especially against Perth Glory.
I am not suggesting that he won Sydney the championship with that goal, but before that most Sydney FC fans were knowing that coming second on the table and getting to the grand final were pretty much all they could manage, and although that is still a good achievement, a club like Sydney FC will their demanding fans should always be aspiring to win the league.
With that goal. De Jong registered more confidence into his teammates, there was a little more swagger and you could see that they all felt completely comfortable when he was on the ball and that they could trust him, that very same recognition that the fans and players only reserve for players with the quality of Milos Ninkovic and others.
Overall, Siem De Jong is a truly great player, who maybe didn’t live up to his full expectation this season but still produced some jaw-dropping moments. But was his classy finish the turning point in Sydney’s season?