Halfway through a hectic A-League season, it’s time to pause and reflect on the season which has been as the Football Sack critiques your sides progress so far.

Semester Summary: Adelaide are perhaps one of the more interesting sides in the top six. They feel a lot like a B-grade Hollywood film, there is potential there but whether they realise it is another matter entirely.  After 14 games, they sit in sixth with six wins, four draws and four losses to be a point behind Wellington in fifth but over two games clear of Newcastle in seventh which is a fair reflection of where they are at.

United seem capable of brilliance like when they stunned Melbourne Victory at home in round 12 in what was their best first-half of the season, but their brilliance is diluted with poor performances like the draw against a ten-man Wellington Phoenix despite having all the momentum in the final minutes.

Area of excellence: Adelaide have been strong defensively this season, only conceding 16 goals in the league. Thanks is large part to the defensive partnership of Michael Jakobsen, who would be in the running for Player of the Year honours, and Jordan Elsey, United have a mobile defence which is capable in the air and not afraid to get stuck-in with their tackles. Paul Izzo is having a break-out year, making 46 saves (fourth best in the league) which has seen Adelaide able to keep three clean-sheets (fourth best in the league) and allowed them to grind out results.

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Need improvement: Adelaide need to figure out how to score more often and get reward for effort. The Reds have taken the third most shots in the league yet sit equal seventh for conversion rate and their total goals (19) is almost doubled by fellow finals-aspirant Melbourne Victory (34). Admittedly, the injuries to George Blackwood, Baba Diawara or Apostolos Stamatelopoulos haven’t helped Adelaide’s lack of potency but the ‘Ben Halloran as a centre-forward’ experiment hasn’t worked as hoped. Whether Adelaide need to be more patient on the ball to create better scoring opportunities or search the transfer market for a better finisher, the current situation harms the Reds chances of going deep in finals which should be the aim from here.

Top Student: Craig Goodwin was something as a coup when he landed back in Adelaide in pre-season and he has done everything to live up to the billing. While honourable mentions should go to Paul Izzo and Michael Jakobsen, Goodwin provides a spark in attack which Adelaide sorely lack, especially with no quality up forward. Goodwin sits seventh for goals scored and adds value by being equal third for assists and second overall for creating chances. The simple fact is at the moment if Goodwin isn’t on-song, Adelaide tend to struggle which highlights his value to the Reds.

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Class Clown:  Ken Ilsø looks like the sort of player who should be making a mark on the A-League: he’s a solid build, dynamic, blessed with a solid turn of pace and can play up top as a striker which Adelaide is craving. Halfway through, Ilsø has failed to deliver on the hype or look anything like his hype video, having been subbed-off 10 times which is the most for United, for three goals. It appears as though Adelaide cannot settle on whether Ilsø best serves the team as a midfielder or lone striker, having played both positions at varying times. That being said, Ilsø hasn’t stood-out in either position which makes the conundrum a tough one for Marco Kurz. Questions are lingering about his fitness but given Ilsø is only on a one-year deal time is running out for him to make his mark for the Reds.

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Grade: B

Overall Outlook: Adelaide look a class below their top-six contemporaries in the upper-echelon like Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory but the lead they have over Newcastle and the chasing-pack should see them make finals barring a disaster.

With Taylor Regan venturing overseas and captain Isaias achieving Australian citizenship, there is room for Adelaide to make improvements in the transfer window which may help them close the gap. They need a striker which paves the way for George Blackwood, building back from his injury, to deliver on his potential and may improve their conversion rate, turning those 50-50 games like against Wellington into three points. Otherwise Adelaide look settled into sixth, but a strong run could see them aim for fourth which is likely their ceiling.

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A student at University of South Australia who hopes his writing disguises his lack of sporting prowess and a fan who masquerades his choice in mediocre teams as being hipster