A-League Women mid-season report card: Melbourne City

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At the halfway point of the 2022/23 season here is the midseason report card on how Melbourne City have performed.

Semester Summary: Quick start that’s become bumpy.

Melbourne City were quick to get off to a good start in the 2022/23 A-League Women’s season. Winning their first three fixtures by three goals or more saw Dario Vidosic’s squad sit firmly upon the top of the table.

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Then the speed bumps appeared. A 3-1 loss to undefeated Western United and a shock 2-0 loss to bottom of the table Western Sydney Wanderers, has seen the team drop to second on the table. But when all is said and done, Vidosic has had a lot to be proud of at the halfway mark of the season.

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Area of Excellence: Possession-based football.

Like most teams under the ownership of the City Football Group, Melbourne City have committed to playing a technical and possession-based brand of football. This system allows Vidosic’s squad to really grind out games and wear down their opponents by forcing them to constantly press to try to win the ball back. This has led to Melbourne City leading the league in average accurate passes per match with a grand total of 406.7, which is 57 more passes than the next best team.

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Melbourne City’s ability to pass the ball and dominate possession has enabled the team to constantly get the ball into good areas for their technically gifted attacking players who often capitalise. Because of this Melbourne City lead the league in goals scored this season, something to hang their hat on.

Players such as María Rojas, Emina Ekic and Rhianna Pollicina have all benefited the most under Vidosic’s system having all scored four goals so far this season. However, with Ekic having broken her leg in the victory over Perth Glory, Vidosic will be looking for another one of his attacking threats to step up in the latter half of the season. The most likely candidate would be Bryleeh Henry who currently has three goals to her name so far.

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Area in need of improvement: Stop leaking goals

Whilst Melbourne City have been one of the stronger attacking teams in the league, defensively they still need to improve. So far this season they have only managed to keep four clean sheets.

Even though this hasn’t come back to bite them, they need to focus on eliminating their propensity of conceding cheap goals. When teams are solid defensively, they are still able to get results when their attacking players have dropped off in form.

If Melbourne City are to be serious title contenders, Vidosic, his staff and athletes must make a stance in the second half of the season and commit to making defense a priority.

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Top student: María Rojas

Initially signing on as an injury replacement player for Hannah Wilkinson, Rojas has been lighting up the league having scored four goals while also providing two assists for Melbourne City.

The 35-year-old Chilean international had to have her time at the club cut short when Wilkinson returned sooner than expected from injury and has since left the country to join the Chilean international team at a training camp prior to their world cup qualifiers.

However now with Ekic out for the season, Melbourne City now have a free roster spot which they are rumoured to be using as a way to keep Rojas at the club. Whilst Ekic’s injury was demoralising for everyone, spirits will be lifted throughout the locker room with the possible return of the talented Chilean.

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Class Clown: Sally James

It’s been a rough start to the season for James, she has struggled with injuries having to be substituted twice this season due to picking up knocks during games. Vidosic has opted to rotate the goalkeeper position with back-up and assistant coach Melissa Barbieri, who has performed much better than James in her limited time on the pitch.

James is all the way down in eighth position with a save percentage of 73.9%. However, it is not all doom and gloom for the 20-year-old, she still has a lot of time to develop her craft while at a club that is famous for developing young players.

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Grade: A-

Outlook: Still sunny despite the clouds.

Ultimately, Vidosic would be happy with how Melbourne City are performing so far as they look on track to make finals football once again. With a young squad getting access to a lot of minutes these players are going to make mistakes, you can live with that.

The flip side to this is that the progress being made on the training pitch will help the squad reap great rewards in the long run as they progress throughout the 2022-23 season.

Featured Image Credit: Melbourne City FC

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Caydn Foley
Football Fanatic. Journalism student hoping to make this a career. Covering Melbourne City for the 22/23 A-Leagues season.

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