As there should have been, there was a lot of hoopla about this being the 10th season for the A-League last week.
Memories, good and bad re-visited, lists of greatests and worsts debated and general recollections of where the competition has been and where it might end up in the near future.
The standard of football covered the last point sufficiently, but if there was one detail to illustrate how far the A-League has come, it was the performances of the imports.
Not your big stars like David Villa. They’ll always get attention, and hopefully, always live up to the hype.
It’s the regular, inside the salary cap import I’m talking about.
It was one of the great struggles of the first decade of the A-League, getting those type of players to these shores, hoping they settle and enjoy their surrounds.
Some worked, some misfired badly – a wrong decision made worse by the expense involved, the emotional distraction created and that player taking up real estate on the pitch that could easily have gone to a young Australian kid. Not to get all xenophobic about it, but given the rules – five imports allowed per club – if one was a dud, what a waste.
Week one of season 10 showed how far recruitment has come.
Andy Keogh at Perth had a shot with very little chance, but took one instinctively. After that display, I would be shocked if the Irishman doesn’t score 10-plus goals this season.
Roly Bonevacia, schooled at Ajax in Holland, was a ball of creative energy for Wellington.
Damien Duff was the best player on the pitch for Melbourne Heart. Okay, his deal may seem cheap in the salary cap, but that’s what he’s taken due to a life after football arrangement as part of his agreement with the club’s owners.
Malik Mane will be a handful for any central defender, especially the ones that can’t run quickly, or as quick as the Senegalese flyer.
Edson Montano for the Jets looked a likely proposition who will benefit from a fit Marcos Flores starting.
Pablo Sanchez was an important part of Adelaide’s win at the home of the champions, Brisbane.
All of the above aren’t household names apart from your regular football anorak.
The fact that there’s so many of them worthy of mention, when in the past it’s been one or two to catch the eye after one week, speaks volumes for the direction the A-League is heading.
As for the Wanderers, Vitor Saba and Romeo Castelan didn’t get much of a chance to grasp their moment, given the deficit when they entered Etihad Stadium. They’ll be okay, they’ll provide, they’ll shine.
More’s the better.
Meanwhile, Western Sydney Wanderers have announced the signing of Socceroo Nikita Rukavytsya from Bundesliga club 1.FSV Mainz 05.
Signed on a one year deal Rukavytsya joins the Club to add strike power to the Wanderers attack. With the ability to play anywhere across the front third, the speedy 27-year-old is sure to excite fans of the Wanderers.