The best of the A-League

The A-League has it’s heroes, and here is the best team from the 2010/2011 season.

Premiers Brisbane Roar will be out to transfer their on-field A-League dominance to the awards stage, and they have the greatest number of players on the short-list for the PFA Team Of The Year. The announcement will be made at Crown in Melbourne on Friday.

But the premiers aren’t the only players who deserve recognition. Several players on less-heralded rosters have put up their hands, demanding inclusion.

In fact, we can find room only for four of the double-chasing Roar side in our final XI.

In a 4-3-3 formation, with goal-scoring the focus, Adelaide United, Central Coast Mariners, Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory all are represented.

North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United players can consider themselves unlucky .

Goalkeeper

Matthew Nash: His shocker against Melbourne Heart last weekend aside, Ryan has impressed behind one of the league’s stingiest defences. Called into action in round four after the season-ending injury to Jess Vanstrattan, the 18-year-old has kept 11 clean sheets – equal with Brisbane Roar’s Michael Theoklitos and Gold Coast United’s Glenn Moss for the most in the league – and conceded only 27 goals. Shows plenty of authority in both the air and on the ground.

Defence

Left-back

Josh Rose: The 29-year-old returned to Australia after four seasons in Romania, and he has made a huge impression with his club. Not only is he a vital cog in a solid defensive unit, but he has also contributed three crucial goals – including two in a ground-breaking win in Wellington.

Centre-backs

Matt Smith:

An unsung hero of Brisbane’s defence who can offer plenty of attacking intent as well. Despite being on the smaller side for a central defender, the former North Queensland Fury player has been a commanding presence in a defensive unit that has conceded only 26 goals. He also formed great partnership with now-departed Luke Devere. Five yellow cards is testament to his timing and confidence.

Patrick Zwaanswijk: The stand-out defender, the veteran Dutchman has been a great signing for Graham Arnold. The 35-year-old provides a formidable presence in front of Matthew Nash while also menacing opposition defenders with his bulk at set pieces. Both imposing in the air and comfortable on the ground, he has scored three goals this season – two against Fury and one against Perth Glory.

Right-back:

Tarek Elrich: Perhaps the most controversial addition to the squad, but his sheer consistency over the past few seasons demands his selection here. A shining light in a disappointing season for the Jets, Elrich’s marauding runs down the right set up many attacking raids. Adaptable and resilient, Elrich has been a huge plus for the Jets this season.

Midfield

Matt McKay: Even though he was absent for over a month due to Socceroos duties, McKay is clearly the standout midfielder among a pretty hot group of players. Goal-scoring may not be his prowess, but the 27-year-old has been pivotal in the premiers’ impressive run at the title this season.

Thomas Broich: The German playmaker has been a revelation for Roar this season, and his ability to settle quickly into his defined role has been one of the main reasons for Brisbane’s unbeaten run. Four goals simply adds to the all-round package, but his main role this season has been to provide the strikers with chances – which he has done with aplomb.

Marcos Flores: The Argentine has taken over Carlos Hernandez’s mantle as the best foreign player in the league this season. Not only is he a great provider of goals but he also contributes them in bucketloads – nine this season for Adelaide, including a hat-trick against North Queensland Fury.

Strikers

Sergio Van Dijk: The Dutchman continues to be the most prolific marksman in the game. After scoring 25 goals in 50 games in Brisbane, Van Dijk has backed up in Adelaide with 16 this season and a vital role in guiding the Reds into the finals. Equally impressive with his head or feet, Van Dijk connects well with Adelaide’s marauding attacking midfielders.

Jean Carlos Solorzano: The Costa Rican marksman made his Roar debut only in round five, and he didn’t start regularly until round 17. But sheer weight of goals in a winning cause demands his presence here. A great goal-poacher, Solazano has scored 11 times this season having stepped up at a time when Roar badly needed him. Imagine what he could do with a full season under his belt?

Robbie Kruse: Selection for the Asian Cup was just reward for an outstanding sason. Reinvigorated after a move to Melbourne Victory, Kruse has led the Victory line impressively in the absence of some key players. He has scored 11 goals in just 17 games and confirmed his pedigree with doubles against Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Heart.

Honourable mentions: David Williams (North Queensland Fury), Glenn Moss (Brisbane Roar), Michael Thwaite and Jason Culina (Gold Coast) and Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Newcastle Jets)

Coach Of The Year: There can only be one winner. Brisbane Roar’s Ange Postecoglou has presided over one of the best A-League seasons in history.

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