It’s the time of the year when clubs look towards the home stretch of the season and The Football Sack critiques each club’s progress so far.

Do you agree with our assessments made in the return of our January report cards?

Semester Summary: After going winless in their first three games Sydney’s season came to life with a five game winning streak which saw them climb to third on the table. That run ended with their draw against Newcastle Jets last week but Sydney’s final ambitions look well and truly back on track.

Sydney sit in 3rd place with 16 points after three losses, five wins, and just one draw with not a lot of breathing room ahead 4th placed Melbourne City (also on 16 points) and 5th placed Perth (13 points).

Areas of Excellence: Much like their A-League equivalents Sydney FC boast an explosive and potent attacking front. Kylie Ledbrook and Lisa De Vanna lead the scoring and have been aided by excellent play from Matilda Princess Ibini and teenager Remy Siemsen. The addition of Matilda Caitlin Foord makes this unit one of the best in the country and definitely a strength for the Harbour City side.

Areas in need of improvement: Sydney have managed just two clean sheets this season, one against lowly Melbourne Victory and one against a dipping Canberra United. A good strike force sells tickets, but a great defence wins champions. Sydney have proven that they have the former but there’s a lot that needs to be cleaned for them to get the latter. In the first half of the season head coach Ante Juric has tinkered and toyed with his backline trying to find the recipe for success but a combination of form and injury issues has prevented a settled back line from forming. Juric’s team will likely make the finals but if they’re to do damage once there he’s going to need to find an answer at the back.

Top student: Lisa De Vanna’s addition to the squad was met with excitement and anticipation before the season. The Matilda has delivered on that and has been a pain for opposition defenses for much of the season. She trails teammate Kylie Ledbrook four to five in the goals tally but her versatility, experience and drive have benefited the Sky Blues in other ways.

When she’s not scoring goals the Australian international is creating them with assists or by commanding attention from defenders to open up space for the likes of Ledbrook, Ibini, and Siemsen. In perhaps Sydney’s most complete performance of the season against Canberra United De Vanna had a hand in all three goals – scoring two and forcing an own goal for the third.

De Vanna is held in such high regard by her teammates and opposition that when she scored this amazing goal versus Melbourne Victory at Cromer Park no one was surprised.

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Class clowns: It’s hard to pick a clown for a team that will have gone two whole months without a defeat by the time they play Glory on Sunday. Yet, the lack of clean sheets and the fact that Aubrey Bledsoe was brought in on loan from the Orlando Pride suggests that head coach Ante Juric has some questions at goalkeeper.

It’s unfair to place the earlier losses on custodian Sham Khamis alone, especially when they seemed to be a product of team chemistry more than any individual blunders. However, since the start of Sydney’s turnaround Khamis has been forced to split the starts with her American colleague. If they’re to have title ambitions they need to solidify the position because when they face the likes of Sam Kerr the keeper is going to be tested.

Grade: B+

Outlook: The Sky Blues are on route to the finals but with just three games left in the season the Sky Blues don’t have much room for error. Their biggest challenge comes on Sunday when they face 5th placed Perth Glory who sit just three points behind them on the ladder. If they avoid defeat in Perth the Sky Blues should have their spot locked up as their rewarded with a final two games against both Melbourne Victory and the Western Sydney Wanderers.

To aid them in the final stretch the Sky Blues managed to bolster their ranks with the return of Foord to the squad which adds to an embarrassment of riches in the attacking third. Her input will be needed if they’re going to navigate the finals successfully and not get knocked out in the first round for the second year running.

 

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Football fan, writer, and post-grad journalism student at the University of Technology Sydney. Joined the team in 2017 to cover Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners.