It’s been a proud morning for Melbourne City, with Jamie Maclaren, Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe all representing the club in Australia’s World Cup qualifiers when they featured in the Socceroos’ 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei earlier today.
Jamie Maclaren featured in the starting lineup, playing alongside Mitch Duke as the front two in a 4-2-2-2 system. City’s lethal number nine struggled to find space as he’s been regularly able to do at club level, perhaps as a result of sharing the striker role with Duke, but certainly in part due to Chinese Taipei’s disciplined defensive structure that saw nearly every outfield player stationed behind the ball. As a result, Maclaren’s offensive influence was heavily inhibited, but that didn’t prevent the forward from providing for his teammates, demonstrating plenty of deft interplay touches which is an element of his game that we’ve seen develop this season at City. Maclaren got his reward when he earned a penalty in the 26th minute, closing down a defender who’d received the ball while facing goal, and intercepting the attempted pass before getting absolutely scythed down in the box before he could shoot. Once the ball had been placed on the spot, it felt like the outcome was a formality, with Maclaren smashing the ball down the middle for his sixth goal at international level. Just a few minutes later, he finally found the space behind the defensive line that he’s become so effective at exploiting, played into the box through the gap between full-back and centre-back by Mitch Duke and walloping a shot from a wide angle that forced a good save from the keeper. Unfortunately, Maclaren continued to struggle to find good positions and was eventually substituted in the 75th minute for Nikita Rukavytsya.
Curtis Good completed his feel-good injury comeback story arc by featuring in his first Socceroos game since his fateful senior international debut in 2014, named at left-back as Trent Sainsbury and Harry Souttar occupied the central defensive positions. Certainly not a conventional full-back by any means, Good was reluctant to contribute too heavily to offensive build-up and tended not to overlap or cross into the middle, though he did pick out Rhyan Grant superbly in the 44th minute, and his unmarked opposite full-back should have buried the chance. Good operated more like an inverted full-back in the second half, tucking in centrally as we’ve seen Scott Jamieson do in the past two seasons. Good put in a solid 90-minute performance and was about as defensively reliable as fans have come to expect of the 28-year-old.
In an especially proud moment for City fans, 21-year-old Connor Metcalfe became Socceroo #611 when he was subbed on for Kenny Dougall in the 62nd minute. The youngster made a markedly high 21 passes (67.5 per 90) at 95% accuracy and looked supremely comfortable on the ball. The midfielder wasn’t able to influence offensive proceedings too heavily but should certainly be proud of his debut Socceroos performance.