End of 2021/22 season report card: Adelaide United

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It was a surprising, yet sensational season for Adelaide United, as they went agonisingly close to a fourth grand final appearance.  

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Season summary 

Not many pundits had Adelaide United making the finals, and even Adelaide’s most faithful – the Red Army themselves – thought this might be an okay season, but nothing spectacular. 

After one win from their first eight matches, those pundits were looking correct.  

And things went from bad to worse as club captain Stefan Mauk and star Ben Halloran departed the club, whilst first-choice goalkeeper James Delianov and the Reds’ number nine Kusini Yengi suffered long-term injuries. 

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But then something clicked for the Reds, and their season turned around. 

Claiming 11 wins and two draws (including wins over Melbourne City and Western United) from their remaining 18 games shot the Reds back into finals contention to finish in fourth place on 43 points. 

Areas of excellence: Substitution masters 

Adelaide’s head coach Carl Veart knew how to make a substitution or two this year. 

Time and time again the Reds came back from being down to rescue a point or three thanks to Veart’s substitution calls. 

Nestory Irankunda and Mohamed Toure were the spearheads off the bench, both netting three goals each this season. Whilst Bernardo Oliveira and Hiroshi Ibusuki chipped in two each themselves. 

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Without Veart’s substitution masterclasses, this United team would not have made finals.   

Areas of improvement: Number nine 

Adelaide’s number nine was a talking point before the season started, it chopped and changed all season long and now it will need massive improvement. 

First-choice number nine Yengi went down with a long-term injury early in the season, forcing Adelaide to splash some cash and bring in Japanese import Ibusuki. 

From that moment onwards, the number nine position became a carousel for United as Ibusuki, George Blackwood, Toure, Yengi and Zach Clough started as Adelaide’s main striker. 

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And now with recent news that Yengi will not return to the club for their next season, the Reds must find a permanent number nine.  

Top student: Craig Goodwin 

Who else could be top student other than Craig Goodwin? 

After a slow start to the season, Goodwin picked up his form and was the catalyst for the Reds’ success in the second half of the year. 

A 10-goal haul and seven assists rewarded him with his second Aurelio Vidmar Club Champion medal and a top-three finish in the Johnny Warren Medal.

A super season for a superstar of the league.

Class clown: Javi Lopez 

There was no clear under-performer in this side, as every player contributed to a successful season. 

But one player that could be considered a class clown – purely due to his infectious love for the game – is Javi Lopez. 

When is this man not smiling?  

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Whether he was out there dominating his opposing player, scoring screamers from outside the box or whipping in picture perfect crosses to his strikers, Lopez always had a smile on his face and was one of United’s outstanding players this season. 

Grade: A  

Outlook 

The Reds surprised the Aussie footballing world this year, as time and time again they came from the brink of death to find a way to win.  

But was it a fluke of a year?  

It very well could’ve been, and going into next season without Yengi, Mauk or Halloran means the Reds have holes to fill all over the pitch. 

But take nothing away from a tremendous, yet turbulent season that was only minutes away from ending with a grand final appearance.  

Featured image credit: Jordan Trombetta

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Cameron Ottenhoff
Sport, media and communications student at Flinders University in Adelaide. I was forced to hang the boots up at a young age after discovering I'm no good at sport, so now I just talk about it instead.

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