Goodwin Masterclass, and where are the crowds?

It was another exciting week of football action, with plenty of goals scored at the Mudgee on Saturday afternoon and the Hunter later in the evening, and the struggling Brisbane Roar gave Premiers-elect Melbourne City a scare earlier today.

Here are your A-League Round 20 talking points.

How far can Goodwin take the Reds?

I mentioned last week that it has been almost seven years since Adelaide United won their first – and only – league. But after a masterclass from Craig Goodwin in a 4-2 win over Newcastle, it looks like the Reds could be the best-placed side to challenge Melbourne City for the 2022-23 crown. If Goodwin stays fit, they’re better than the fickle Mariners and Western Sydney, who can’t buy a goal most weeks.

Speaking of inconsistency, you can draw a line through any side outside of the top four. They won’t make any noise in the final.

Carl Veart also has a pretty exciting ace up his sleeve in Nestor Irankunda. The 17-year-old’s cameos from the bench become more enticing by the week – he showed his pace again before firing a rocket past Jack Duncan for a fourth time for Adelaide and had to hit the keeper late only to disappoint the woodwork .

Nestory Irankunda of Adelaide United and Scott Robert Galloway of Melbourne City during the A-League Men's 19th round match between Adelaide United and Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium on March 03, 2023 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

Veart dampened the excitement in the post-game press conference, but I’m sure he knows how little opposing sides will look forward to Nestor coming on at half-time or in the last third to terrorize their defence. He’s got incredible pace and athleticism – if he adds consistent goals to the mix, he’ll earn a move overseas sooner rather than later.

where are the crowds

Ask the average A-League fan if they think the level of play has been good this season and you’re unlikely to hear a negative answer. Just look at this weekend’s five games and the quality of the goals, the defense and the heroics of the goalkeepers on the field. That’s why it’s so puzzling that the crowds are nowhere to be seen.

In a week without home games between Wanderers’ big three, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, one would expect an unflattering league attendance, but 5888 is quite discouraging.

It should be noted that the Central Coast Macarthur ‘hosted’ at Mudgee, with the dreadful attendance of 1408 skewing the average, but even a Gosford crowd wouldn’t have moved the needle much.

The season average is 7351, which is actually probably higher than I expected, but it’s still nothing special. There are outliers on both sides of the ledger, but it’s just impossible to overlook just how absurd some of Western United’s and Macarthur’s crowds were.

Of course, at this point in the season any clear air the league might have had in columns and airtime has now been swallowed up by the NRL and AFL giants, with even Super Rugby attracting some media attention.

The stench of Melbourne derby disgrace will linger for some time

Earlier this week, a Sydney Morning Herald Columnist took a look at our great game and drew a comparison between the murderous Saudi Arabian regime and the A-League fans. Aside from the journalist’s pathetic attempt to pass it off as “humor” on Twitter, it was another unfortunate reminder that reporters from other codes — and even those not focused on sports — will jump at any opportunity to kick the boot to put in.

It’s difficult to quantify the damage done by about 100 criminals that fateful night at AAMI Park, but it’s safe to say the effects will be felt for quite some time to come. Some fans will be so disenchanted they may never come back; Parents might understandably be afraid of taking young children to football.

The only thing law-abiding fans — 99.9 percent of A-League supporters — can do is keep supporting their team. Hopefully this will serve as a reminder to the general public that we have players worth paying for and that there is nothing for viewers to fear. Goodwin Masterclass, and where are the crowds?

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