Professional Footballers Australia (the PFA) has revealed the Austraffic A-League Men Team of the Season, with the squad bursting with Socceroos talent and dominated by players gearing up for the 2023 Isuzu UTE A-League Men Grand Final.
Six players in the player-voted Starting XI, and 11 players in the squad, are from Premiers Melbourne City FC and runners-up Central Coast Mariners – the two teams set to face off in the Championship decider this Saturday night.
Of the 18-man squad, 11 have represented the Socceroos, with the squad highlighting a strong mix of established and emerging talent in the A-Leagues. Five clubs – City, Mariners, Western Sydney Wanderers, Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar – have players represented in the 2022/23 squad.
PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said: “The Austraffic A-League Team of the Season reflects everything that is great about the A-League: the emergence of brilliant young players, international players who have strengthened the competition, and A-League regulars who have been huge contributors to their clubs and the growth of the competition.”
The team comprises a Starting XI in a 3-4-3 diamond formation, with seven substitutes, as voted by A-League members at the end of the regular season.
After a standout season in which he helped to steer Melbourne City to a third consecutive Premiers Plate, emerging star Jordan Bos received the most votes from his peers to be named Captain of the 2022/23 Team of the Season.
Bos, an academy product at Melbourne City, was a standout throughout the 2022/23 campaign, demonstrating his work ethic, technical ability and impact in defence and attack. The 20-year was rewarded for his recent form with a Socceroos debut in March and secured a move to Belgian club KVC Westerlo for a record Australian outbound transfer fee.
Reacting to earning the most votes from players across the A-League Men, Bos said: “It’s obviously a big honour, especially since we [play with and against] each other. For them to vote for me is pretty cool, I wasn’t expecting it.
“I’m definitely proud. I’m happy with the season I have had so far but we’ve still got one more game, and it’s only the start of my career, so one season means nothing if you can’t back it up season after season.”
Another emerging star, Adelaide United Joe Gauci, earned the vote of his peers after a solid campaign between the posts. In total, Gauci stopped 146 efforts on goal, including three penalties for a save percentage of 73%. Similarly, to Bos, Gauci was rewarded for his form this season in the A-League Men with a Socceroos call up in an international friendly against Ecuador in March.
Joining Bos in defence is Western Sydney Wanderers’ Brazilian captain Marcelo and the Mariners’ Vanuatuan, Brian Kaltak. Marcelo was central to the Wanderers stingy defence (27 goals conceded), with the towering 191cm centre-back leading the line for Mark Rudan’s outfit. Kaltak, Vanuatu’s national team captain, became a cult hero on the Central Coast this season with his athleticism, aerial ability and goal contributions and has been critical to the Mariners’ journey to the Grand Final.
While traditionally employed on the left wing, Melbourne City’s Matthew Leckie’s position in the team reflects the weight of votes for attacking players. Leckie contributed eight goals and five assists for the Premiers, returning to career-best form in the A-League and for the Socceroos at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Joining Leckie are two of the A-League’s workhorses, Western Sydney Wanderers’ Calem Nieuwenhof and the effervescent Marnier Josh Nisbet. City’s Aiden O’Neill rounds out the diamond four in midfield after a stellar campaign for the Premiers. O’Neill contributed two goals and two assists, but it was his effectiveness with the ball, with 90% passing accuracy throughout the season, that no doubt earned votes from his peers.
In an all-Socceroos front three, the A-League Men’s Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren is joined by the Socceroos’ World Cup star, Adelaide United’s Craig Goodwin, and Western Sydney’s Brandon Borrello. Goodwin delivered 14 goals and 11 assists this season and proved a constant threat from Adelaide’s left. Borrello meanwhile contributed 13 goals and five assists in an impactful return to the A-Leagues.
Maclaren’s inclusion in the Team of the Season is the striker’s fourth consecutive appearance. After a record-breaking campaign with the Premiers, Maclaren scored 24 times during the regular season and in the process became the most prolific scorer in A-League history, breaking the A-League scoring record of 142 goals. Maclaren secured the A-League Men’s Golden Boot award for the 2022/23 campaign – his fourth consecutive competition Golden Boot, and fifth in total.
Western Sydney’s Lawrence Thomas earned the second-highest number of votes across the A-League Men goalkeepers, while the Mariners’ had three more representatives on the bench – Jason Cummings, Marco Túlio and Nectarios Triantis and Melbourne City two – Marco Tilio and Curtis Good. Rounding out the squad is Brisbane Roar’s midfielder Jay O’Shea.
Fans and Stadium of the Season
Following weekly assessments of the atmosphere at A-League games by players from both the home and away teams throughout the season, Adelaide United’s fans, led by the boisterous Red Army, provided the best atmosphere at Coopers Stadium during the 2022/23 season, with a 4.75 star rating out of 5 for atmosphere.
Coopers Stadium was also voted the best quality pitch in the league by players, earning a 4.5 out of 5 rating. Stadium ratings are based on pitch hardness, smoothness, pace and overall quality, with a separate rating provided by players for stadium atmosphere.
About the Austraffic PFA Team of the Season
The inaugural PFA A-League Team of the Season was announced in 2009 and has been revealed annually in A-League Grand Final week for the past 14 seasons. Based on peer recognition, selection in the PFA Team of the Season remains one of the highest accolades a professional footballer can receive in Australia. At the end of each season, PFA members from the A-Leagues are asked to vote on their best XI. The composition of the team is based on the number of votes tallied for each player in each position, with the substitutes bench comprising those players who finished below those in the starting XI positions. The player with the most votes is determined the Team of the Season’s captain.
Austraffic is proud to support the PFA A-League Men Team of the Season and A-Leage Women Team of the Season.
This article first appeared on https://pfa.net.au/news/pfa-reveals-player-voted-austraffic-a-league-men-team-of-the-season/