It's Monday, so here's the good, bad and ugly from Round 3 in the A-League. Before we start, though ...
The FFA Cup Final
Wednesday night's FFA Cup Final at Hindmarsh Stadium was wonderful, but lost among the Al Hassan Toure hype and celebrations in Adelaide, Gertjan Verbeek added to something that gnawingly lingers about the competition.
"A prize is a prize, but the prize here doesn't have consequences," he said post-match.
The FFA Cup has tended to bring both the good and bad about Australian football to the fore. The competition helps several discussions resurface: the lack of promotion and relegation while the current cup format undermines the purpose of NPL seasons, the scope for Australian footballers, which teams deserve Asian qualification, the cultural divide that exists in Australian football, the fact the A-League is played over summer with the rest over winter and -- of increasing pertinence -- the commercial realities of the competition and game with upcoming broadcast rights renegotiations.
For example, just to think, how much better would last Wednesday night have been if it was at the end of the season? Resuming with the league after a moment like that currently feels like a circus leaving the town.
Australian football and the Australian football public deserves more.
Now, to A-League things ...
Jamie Maclaren, confidence levels over 9000
Jamie Maclaren might have put in the most Jamie Maclaren performance ever on Sunday night. The 26-year-old is a very specific striker in this day and age, meaning Melbourne City can at times only be effective by attacking in a specific way. Especially after Wednesday night's tepid performance in the FFA Cup Final, his energy and defensive work rate was a foundational piece for City at Kardinia Park.
Western United did contribute to their own downfall to a degree, but woof, those two goals. The situations were very compatible for Maclaren -- with transition allowing him to burst into the channel in the manner he prefers -- but the execution for his brace underlined the amount of confidence he is currently playing with.
The receiving for the opener to finish on his second touch, and then the second following Josh Brillante's hoof into the heavens -- not to mention in that moment, full-time approaching with City a man down -- were both very nice.
Western Sydney, top o' the league
Somehow, the Wanderers have claimed three wins out of three to open their season. It's like a paradox that exists in football: In a results business, results do not necessarily tell the whole story. And in this case -- granted, small sample size -- results can arguably deceive.
Despite the fact the Wanderers have won all three games, they've been a mix of fortunate and less bad than the opposition. There is an obvious benefit to making fewer mistakes than the opposition, but it is unclear how sustainable this can all be for Markus Babbel and his side.
Sydney deserved more on Saturday night, and were unlucky not to make their almost total dominance count while it was still 0-0. Although Melbourne Victory were nothing short of woeful the weekend prior, the opening game against Central Coast left a similar taste to the derby. And no, the ball did not cross the line.
Fowler's VAR tweet
Long after his career had finished, Michael Jordan said of the Detroit Pistons failing to congratulate him and his Chicago Bulls teammates after the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals: "You get your ass kicked, you can walk out any way you want."
Still, for Brisbane Roar coach Robbie Fowler to tweet "According to #var not a pen" late on Friday night, with a photo of a ball striking Leigh Broxham's hand, before deleting the tweet was not great.
Fowler might have reason to feel aggrieved, but there were other key factors that contributed to the 1-0 home loss to Melbourne Victory on Friday night. There was the directive for Tom Aldred to follow Ola Toivonen up the pitch as part of a three-man defence, continuously allowing two-v-two situations close to Brisbane's own goal. There was also the general lack of penetration with the ball or genuine width the Roar have showed in the opening two games.
A question for #SokkahTwitter, though: is it worse to send that kind of tweet or delete it?
Franjic in full flight
Perth Glory's 2-1 win over Wellington was neither the most notable or enthralling of fixtures, but it was lovely to see Ivan Franjic make his 200th appearance in the A-League on Sunday. After missing the opening two matches for Perth due to a suspension carried over from last season, Franjic played 90 minutes with characteristically boundless energy.
Given his career path, that the 32-year-old was even on the pitch was an achievement in itself. Converted to a right-back in 2007 under Chris Taylor, in what was still known then as the Victorian Premier League, it was Franjic's energy that became a vital ingredient for Ange Postecoglou's Roarcelona side. Picking up injuries at both the World and Asian Cups in 2014 and 2015 respectively, there where doubts Franjic could even play football again in 2016, suffering from an acute myocarditis.
It is an example of his resiliency and determination that today, despite that history, he plays in exactly the same committed manner as he did a decade ago. Bravo.
Read the room, Newy
Newcastle had put themselves in position to win the game against Adelaide on Saturday, but simply gave away control of the match and the eventual result in the second half. The conditions are important to consider here. It was 31 degrees and windy at the Hunter, which necessitated a more considered approach with the ball.
In the first half, although Abdiel Arroyo's fantastic take for 1-0 comes from a break in play, Matthew Ridenton and Steven Ugarkovic were able to incorporate the rest of the Newcastle attack and restrict Adelaide to sporadic transitional opportunities. In critical moments and against the wind in the second half, Dimi Petratos, Matt Millar and Nikolai Topor-Stanley were guilty of pumping the ball into nothingness and bypassing the midfield -- with the intent to counter-attack as quickly as possible -- needlessly stretching the lines in a game prone to a significant drop in energy.
Little surprise Adelaide scored immediately following those moments.