More than 34,000 in attendance had the [un]enviable honor of watching Adelaide United get smashed. Again. To the sound of six to nil on aggregate.
6-0. A cherry to a goose egg.
Adelaide United supporters should be lucky that Melbourne Victory did not reprise the shellacking they hadd two seasons ago. They only lost 4-0 in the second leg on February 14.
But they remember that day very well. Maybe too well. Painfully well.
Archie Thompson, one of my favorite footballers alongside Landon Donovan and Marta (only because she is playing for the LA Sol this year; let's see if she can deliver the goods this season in the inaugural Women's Professional Soccer season), scored five of those six goals.
Ouch. It's deja blue all over again.
In front of a record crowd for attendance at an A-League match, to boost an average home attendance that could pass for an average in Europe or with the Premier League (the lower teams, at least) in 2007, Melbourne Victory are on the cusp of another milestone in 2009.
The Big V, captained by Kevin Muscat, are one Grand Final victory away from not only winning their second A-League Championship Ring, but also becoming the first team to win the Australian Treble: the Preseason Challenge Cup, the Premiership Plate, and the Championship Ring, all in one season.
They already are the first team to have won all three trophies by defeating Wellington Phoenix on penalties in the 2008 Preseason Cup. The regular season saw Victory edge Adelaide on most goals scored after being tied on points.
But during the Major Semi-Final, Ernie Merrick's Victory proved to be too good for Aurelio Vidmar's United side.
After a second place finish in the 2008 AFC Champions League and a fifth place finish at the FIFA Club World Cup last December, the Reds were reduced to roadkill from goals by Thompson, Carlos Hernandez (who came back from international duty for Costa Rica), Danny Allsopp and Tom Pondeljak on Saturday.
While the Victory prepare for another crowd of over 50,000 at Telstra Dome on February 28, Adelaide are left to wonder if they have the strength to regroup against the resurgent Queensland Roar, in the hopes of one final shot against Melbourne, whom they have yet to beat since their match in the Preseason Cup.
Led by manager Frank Farina and captained by Craig Moore, the Roar marooned Lawrie McKinna's Central Coast Mariners 4-1 on aggregate.
Unlike Adelaide United, the Roar know how to beat Victory at the Dome. They proved it through a 2-0 win in Round 6 on Sept. 28, 2008. Melbourne got their revenge with a 2-1 win on January 2.
A win by the Roar over Adelaide will not only set the stage for a tantalizing Grand Final but send Queensland to its very first AFC Champions League. A victory for United at Hindmarsh Stadium could be the spark they need to reignite the rivalry between them and their Victorian neighbors.
There is a lot to play for, and even the boys in blue will want to take notice while Melbourne prepares for another weekend of championship football at the Dome.
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