Western United 2019/20 season preview

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Western United FC are the new boys on the block and are ready for their maiden A-League season.

With pre-season friendlies helping the club gain momentum, will they be able to climb the A-League ladder? Or will they buckle under the pressure of their first professional season?

Last season…

A-League: Western United join the A-League roster for their inaugural season after an FFA expansion earlier this year. They will play their first match against Wellington Phoenix on October 13.

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They’ll win the league because…

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Western United may be a new addition to the A-League roster but their key signings this year could drive the club towards a win.

Andrew Durante, Alessandro Diamanti, Besart Berisha and Panagiotis Kone have boundless experience and together they form the fundamental pieces to ensuring the squad’s success.

Head coach Mark Rudan is no stranger to the A-League either. Rudan steered Wellington Phoenix towards finals during his coaching stint with the club last year and seems confident in his squad’s capabilities to fight for A-League supremacy this season.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

There are obvious question marks on how the competition’s newcomers will fare in their maiden season.

The issue for United this season is the pressure of forming a cohesive, united team. They have only had a few months to bring together and prepare a completely new squad of players and their cohesion to create chances will be the ultimate test.

While preseason friendlies have been a promising start for the Green and Blacks, the demand of their first professional season could see them have a less than ideal start.

Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.

Forward Valentino Yuel scored Western United’s first-ever goal in a friendly against Caroline Springs George Cross FC on August 21.

The off-season brought…

An impressive assembly of new players to Western United. The notable roster of experienced players and young guns will prove crucial to United’s inaugural season. Key players joining the squad include Durante, Josh Risdon, Alessandro Diamanti and Kone.

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The most recent signing sees the A-League’s all-time goal scorer Besart Berisha join the club. After a previous spell with Melbourne Victory and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Berisha is bound to bring the club success. With 116 goals already under his belt, there could be a Green and Black goal-fest on the horizon.

Key player…

Diamanti may prove to be the vital piece in United’s attacking force with his accurate left foot. The creative midfielder is known for his ability to score from long range and can also slot into the wing or the number nine position when needed.

Throughout his 20-year career he has played for a number of European clubs, including 17 caps for Azzurri as part of their 2012 European Championship squad and for West Ham in the English Premier League.

The Italian playmaker has had long stints in Serie A, playing with notably Palermo and Fiorentina and is coming off an exceptional season with Livorno in Serie B, scoring 10 goals and providing seven assists to prevent the club’s relegation.

One to watch…

The club’s first-ever goal scorer, Yuel, is a powerful winger with pace and accuracy to allow him to deliver precise crosses into the box.

Rudan identified this and subsequently, the 24-year-old was the first NPL Victoria player to sign for Western United earlier this year from Bentleigh Greens.

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The South Australian transitioned from the SA league to NPL Vic before he was recruited to the A-League this season.

Yuel will also reunite with his former Bentleigh coach John Anastasiadis, now Western’s assistant coach.

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: James Delianov, Filip Kurto

Defenders: Johathan Aspropotamitis, Aaron Calver, Andrew Durante, Ersan Gülüm, Brendan Hamill, Dylan Pierias, Josh Risdon, Ivan Vujica

Midfielders: Max Burgess, Joshua Cavallo, Connor Chapman, Alessandro Diamanti, Thiel Iradukunda, Dario Jertec, Panagiotis Kone, Sebastian Pasquali

Forwards: Besart Berisha, Scott McDonald, Connor Pain, Apostolos Stamatelopoulous, Valentino Yuel

Feature image credit: Western United

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Suzanna Telai
Football enthusiast and student journalist, covering Western United for the 2019/20 A-League season