Monday, February 05, 2007


Hollow Reds - update

Just as Sydney FC deserved to lose the minor semi-final after an inept display on Friday, Adelaide United emphatically deserved their major semi-final loss at Telstra Dome, even if the eventual circumstances were heart-breaking.

After Travis Dodd’s early goal, the game became strangely reminiscent of Australia’s game against Croatia at the World Cup; one side scores the early goal they’ve been hoping for, and then sits back and completely cedes the initiative to the opposition. Croatia were punished for their passivity, and so were John Kosmina’s side.

It was unfortunate for Kosmina that he was denied good options on the left wing due to the absence of both Jason Spagnuolo and Bobby Petta. But to shift Nathan Burns out to a wide position, where he has never looked effective or comfortable, defied common sense.

Even very early in the game, Fox’s commentators had perceived the obvious problem, from which Adelaide have suffered so often this season: a hollow core in midfield. Ross Aloisi was plainly incapable of coping on his own with Melbourne’s thrusts through the centre. Diego Walsh, nominally Aloisi’s companion in the middle, gave him scant help, particularly in the second half.

But worse still was the fact that, by sitting back uncharacteristically deep in defence, Adelaide allowed Melbourne a hectare of space in which to operate behind the forward line. Add to that the fact that they utterly failed to pressure the Melbourne back four in the second half, and it’s easy to see why the final forty-five minutes of the game were so one-sided.

With Spagnuolo and Petta out, this was surely the time for Kosmina to compress the midfield, keeping Travis Dodd as a genuine winger and allowing the speedy Matthew Kemp to provide width on the left (especially given Fred’s propensity to drift inside), while bringing another body into the centre to counter Melbourne’s strength in that area.

Yet Nathan Burns stayed near the touchline for most of the game, and Adelaide were simply overwhelmed in the middle of the park.

John Kosmina and his team will have to do much, much better against a confident Newcastle side next week.

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