Can Maclaren inspire new-look City front line to Hyundai A-League silverware?
Warren Joyce unveiled a new three-pronged frontline in Saturday evening’s clash with Adelaide United, and returning Caltex Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren was the jewel in the crown.
It was the 25-year-old’s first Hyundai A-League appearance since April 2017, and a return to form that might truly ignite City’s claim as competition dark horses.
But despite the promising signs on display from Maclaren, on-loan Tottenham Hotspur product Shayon Harrison and young gun Lachlan Wales, City undoubtedly remain a work in progress.
Melbourne have found attacking fluency hard to come by this season despite their comfortable position in the Hyundai A-League top six.
Joyce’s side have registered the third fewest goals in the competition, while nominal full back Ritchie De Laet leads the club’s scoring charts.
Indeed, City entered Saturday night’s pivotal top six standoff with Adelaide on the back of two scoreless draws.
However, with their new star putting a stop to that drought, fans of the Melbourne outfit might soon start to fantasise about the potential damage a Maclaren-led frontline might do to opposition defences.
“It’s a dream start,” Maclaren told FOX SPORTS following the match.
“It’s a great point for us, it’s been a difficult week but it’s great to get out there and play in front of my family.
“I had a difficult week even before I came with not much training. I’ve really worked hard Monday and Tuesday trying to work with the group.
“I know the boys' faces but when you play together in a team it’s difficult to mould. But today they saw my runs and it will only get better.”
“At the end of the day we got our goal and we’ll take the point but there’s positives to take from it.”
A blueprint to follow
If Maclaren is to fire Melbourne City to glory this season he may do well to take a leaf out of Craig Goodwin’s book.
The Adelaide-born flyer had threatened to steal Maclaren’s thunder with a thumping first half header that broke the deadlock in Saturday night’s stalemate.
He might just be the Hyundai A-League’s Australian benchmark currently. Following that goal, Goodwin has been directly involved in 54% of Adelaide’s 26 league goals with nine goals and five assists.
Goodwin is quite simply of talismanic import for Marco Kurz’s side, and his exploits this season offer a template Maclaren could follow to reclaim his status as one of the Hyundai A-League’s greatest homegrown talents.