W-League review: Brisbane get off the mark thanks to the Gorry Waddle
The W-League weekend in 280 characters or less
Brisbane get their first win of the season after downing Canberra 2-1, Victory put a dent in the Wanderers' perfect run with a 1-1 draw, Perth go bottom after 2-1 loss at home to Newcastle, and Sydney stumble after going down to City 2-1.
Brisbane were on track for their worst start to a season since 2014 coming into Thursday night's clash against Canberra, but Matildas Tameka Yallop and Hayley Raso showed their quality and got the Roar their first three points of 2019-20. But, arguably, neither of the two goal scorers weren't the Roar's most influential player; that honour falls to goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who made a diving fingertip save to keep substitute Leena Khamis' almost-certain equaliser out of the net.
It's been a rough start for the Roar, who, as head coach Jake Goodship admitted, barely had a single training session as a full group before their first game. The stacked squad finally started to click against Canberra, though, with Yallop's goal in particular coming from a gorgeous slicing move through the home side's midfield before the Matilda pinged the ball in from the underside of the bar (are there any better sounds in football?). And as if that wasn't delightful enough, Brisbane's second goal was assisted by Arnold who launched the ball downfield and right onto the head of Raso, who nodded past Sham Khamis.
Canberra were ultimately unlucky to come away with nothing, no thanks to Roar midfielder Katrina Gorry, who became a meme within seconds thanks to her time-wasting antics (scroll down to this column's final section to see the now-famous #GorryWaddle). But there's a fair amount of expectation hanging over this Brisbane side, so they'll be chuffed to finally look like the team they appear to be on paper.
Off the back of their inaugural AFC Women's Club Championship tournament last week where they lost twice (fairly convincingly, too) and drew once, Victory were likely low on confidence coming into this weekend. As if that wasn't tough enough, their first game back in the W-League was against Western Sydney, who sat equal-first on the ladder after three straight wins coming into Saturday's game; the best start to a season in the team's history. There were concerns Victory's W-League campaign would be derailed by their Asian adventures, but after opening the scoring in the eighth minute through American import Haley Hanson, you got the feeling that it'll take much more to crumble the reigning Premiers.
The Wanderers weren't as convincing in the first half as they have been in games past, but came out the stronger in the second, which makes Victory's solid defensive efforts all the more impressive. Indeed, the Wanderers' equaliser came through a long bomb from Alex Huynh to Lynn Williams -- Victory's top defensive structure forcing the visitors to play over the entire field to get the ball anywhere near the net.
Another shout-out to Victory keeper Casey Dumont, who made a sensational save with the final touch of the game to deny Kristen Hamilton what would certainly have been the winner. This draw will feel like a win for Victory and a loss for Western Sydney given where both teams have come from.
Has there been another team who has fallen so many places between seasons as Perth have? From finishing fourth last season and making the Grand Final to now sitting dead last on no points, having scored two goals and conceding seven in three games, this is Perth's worst start to a season since the competition began in 2008-09.
Sure, losing the player who The Guardian has just voted the best footballer on earth hasn't helped; nor has losing the three American imports Sam Kerr took with her when she left. Despite bringing in a few international replacements, the Glory just look like a group of people who've never played together-because, for the most part, they haven't. Internationals Celia Jimenez and Crystal Thomas made their first starts against Newcastle on Saturday night, which gave the gals in purple a much-needed injection of quality and allowed them to surge late in a game they ultimately lost 2-1, but you have to wonder whether anything they'll do will come close to the last two seasons they had under the Matildas captain.
Hayley Raso's entire body, apparently
Oh, Hayley Raso. What crystal skull did you steal from an ancient cursed tomb in another life to bring such bad luck upon you? Breaking your spine in two places and staying bed-bound for weeks wasn't enough suffering for a single person, it seems, which is why your hand got stomped on in Round 2, forcing you to wear an enormous, awkward arm brace that you could probably use as a blunt weapon in an episode of "Gladiators."
This week, the universe decided to have someone stomp on your shoulder, too, with added stud-drag down your back with almost the full force of their landing leg. Why does this happen to you, Hayley? Please return that cursed object to its rightful place in the bowels of an extinct volcano or whatever; Brisbane and the Matildas need you!
Here's the tea
The Sydney Smoke should prompt a re-think of W-League calendar
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks (and given everything terrible that's happening lately, I don't blame you), you'll know that practically every tree and blade of grass surrounding the city of Sydney is on fire. Things have been particularly harsh in the north and the south, with terrifying footage and photos and maps and graphics circulating around the world. The fires are so massive that they can even be seen from space. Shockingly, we still haven't actually hit summer yet, but this is already one of the worst fire seasons in the country's history. One of the enduring images of this summer season will be the smoke that has cloaked almost every populated area of New South Wales in a thick, dystopian haze.
On Friday, FFA released a statement regarding the scheduling of some of the weekend's A-League, W-League, and Y-League games. The statement said Sydney FC's W-League match against Melbourne City would be going ahead because "favourable wind conditions" had been forecast, but they noted that they'd continue to monitor the situation.
I asked FFA about the air pollution problem a few weeks ago as Western Sydney were gearing up to host Newcastle Jets at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, after we had our first really bad week of smoke. I went searching online for their air quality policy but came up empty-handed. The Asian Football Confederation has one, and Football NSW has one, but Australian football's national governing body doesn't. It's understandable that they don't given that this level of smoke pollution is unprecedented, and it's been revealed recently that FFA are working towards some clearer and stricter air pollution guidelines in the interests of player and spectator safety.
But this situation should give us pause to think more seriously about what Australian football is going to look like down the track. Were it not for a coincidental thunderstorm that pushed the smoke away from Bankwest that afternoon, and were it not for a timely easterly breeze that allowed Sydney's game against City to go ahead on Sunday, these games could have been delayed or abandoned altogether. The safety of players is now starting to hinge upon some hoped-for shifts in the direction of a breeze. And the rescheduling process can only happen so often; you can only move so many games so many times before it becomes so disruptive that you have to find another solution altogether. The climate crisis is only going to make summer hotter, smokier, and more dangerous. Should we really continue to be a summer sport when the people at football's heart -- the players and fans -- will be put at further risk as things get worse?
Is there a gif of that?
As mentioned above, Gorry's immense s---housery when running down the clock in Brisbane Roar's win over Canberra was a sight to behold. All hail the #GorryWaddle.