A-League

A-League: Sydney FC And Melbourne Victory Reign Supreme

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 28: Besart Berisha of the Victory celebrates a goal during the round 12 A-League match between Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on December 28, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
A-League: Sydney FC And Melbourne Victory Reign Supreme

We are 12 rounds into the 2016-17 Hyundai A-League season, and Graham Arnold’s Sydney FC remain in control of the competition with a seven-point lead heading into the new year. However, an old rival is slowly finding its form after a mediocre 2015-16 campaign: Kevin Muscat’s Melbourne Victory, who are finding their winning edge. Let’s give you a report card on how each team is doing so far as it will be a glorious summer for a few clubs and a cruel summer for others. Bananarama send help.

1. Sydney FC
Take a bow, Graham Arnold’s Sydney FC. 12 games in, and still no defeats. A strong defense (only five goals allowed) and the best offense in the competition (29 goals forward) is the reason why despite not being in as much form as Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC remain the team to beat in the A-League. In fact, their only loss all year came in the FFA Cup Final. They haven’t lost since, going unbeaten the next four games in all competitions, winning three of those four. In addition, Sydney have a balanced scoring attack. Alex Brosque has seven goals and three other players have five: Milos Ninkovic, newcomer Bobo and Filip Holosko.
Record: 9-3-0 (30 points)
Grade: A+

2. Melbourne Victory
Kevin Muscat’s Melbourne Victory are finding their form in the A-League with three straight victories to go with four wins in their last five games. They are the hottest team in the league right now and have succeeded in moving on from Michael Essien’s short-sighted snub of the club. Victory are powered by the in-form duo of Besart Berisha (nine goals) and Marco Rojas (eight goals), with Mitch Austin also pitching in with three goals to his name.
Record: 7-2-2- (23 points)
Grade A

3. Brisbane Roar
John Aloisi’s Brisbane Roar have been holding steady this season in the A-League, only losing once this season. But if the Roar want to push for the Premiership Plate, those draws need to turn to wins for the Roar to roar back in contention. Jamie MacLaren leads the Roar in goals scored with six to his name, while Danish dynamo Thomas Kristensen has four goals.
Record: 5-6-1 (21 points)
Grade: B+

4. Melbourne City
Success in the FFA Cup has not necessarily translated to success in the A-League. John van’t Schip’s Melbourne City are on a four-game winless streak, including a 2-1 loss to rivals Melbourne Victory on Dec. 17. However, their main producer, Bruno Fornaroli, remains in form as with last season, with nine goals this year. The arrival of Tim Cahill has also been useful, and in his first year with City, he has four goals. Fernando Brandan provides another spark plug in terms of production with three goals this season.
Record: 5-4-3 (19 points)
Grade: B

5. Newcastle Jets
In Mark Jones’s first season in charge of the Newcastle Jets, the club finds itself in a fight for the Finals Series. Three wins won’t be enough, though. It will need a strong January to lift and ensure that it will play some finals footy, and they can do that by taking down the team that eliminated them in the FFA Cup, Melbourne Victory. The two Andrews, Andrew Hoole and Andrew Nabbout, lead all goalscorers with three goals apiece. One thing working in the Jets’ favor is that they are on a three-game unbeaten streak and have also won two of their last three games.
Record: 3-4-5 (13 points)
Grade: C

6. Perth Glory
The major slumper this season has been Kenny Lowe’s Perth Glory, who are winless in their last five games (two draws, three defeats). The pressure is on Lowe to turn this ship around before a managerial change is in order. Andy Keogh (seven goals) and Diego Castro (four goals) can’t do it alone. Perth’s defense will need to get their act together moving forward after hemorraghing 26 goals, tied for the worst in the league with Central Coast.
Record: 3-4-5 (13 points)
Grade: C

7. Western Sydney Wanderers
So Wanderers, what DO you sing for? Home field advantage, you say? Better sing a different tune then. Playing in the home of the Greater Western Sydney Giants of the Australia Football League hasn’t proven to be advantageous for Tony Popovic’s Western Sydney Wanderers, who have one win in their last five games and are winless in their last three. Brendon Santalab is the Wanderers’ top goalscorer with six goals to his credit. Three other players have two goals.
Record: 2-7-3 (13 points)
Grade: C-

8. Wellington Phoenix
A telling sign of another tough year for New Zealand’s entry in the 2016-17 Hyundai A-League is the resignation of its manager. Ernie Merrick resigned as manager after Wellington became the first and currently only team to lose to Adelaide United on Dec. 4. Since then, Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre have been filling in on a caretaker basis, with one win and two draws in their last three games. Roy Krishna leads the team in goals scored with seven on the year.
Record: 3-2-6 (11 points)
Grade: D

9. Central Coast Mariners
New manager, same old Central Coast Mariners. One of the league’s doormats in recent times has fallen on hard times yet again and are currently riding a three-game losing streak, the most recent being a 4-1 beatdown away to the Melbourne Victory. If things don’t improve for Paul Okon’s Mariners and their Masterfoods sauce bottles, they will be feeling the squeeze by season’s end. Roy O’Donovan is the club’s top producer with five goals for the season.
Record: 2-3-7 (nine points)
Grade: D-

10. Adelaide United
How the mighty have fallen! Once again, how the mighty have fallen! As with last year, a disappointing start to the season has put Guillermo Amor in hot water over at the Adelaide United Football Club, with just one single win to his name: a 2-0 shutout victory at home to Wellington Phoenix on Dec. 4. United are on a three-game losing streak and need to do a massive shakeup to get a chance to defend their trophies or this season will be a wash. Henrique and Sergi Guardiola are the main producers but they only have three goals to their name.
Record: 1-3-8 (six points)
Grade: F

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@joryansalazar

Jo-Ryan Salazar is a writer for The Stoppage Time, a soccer blog powered by Azteca Soccer. A supporter of the Los Angeles Galaxy since 1996 and a committed supporter since 2002, Jo-Ryan also follows Chelsea FC, Melbourne Victory, FC Tokyo and Paris Saint-Germain. Apart from soccer, Jo-Ryan is an administrative assistant for a local nonprofit in Long Beach, California and also does photography, photo-editing and fictional writing.

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