The rise of Robbie Kruse
The A-League has its first elite international graduate and Socceroos fans are shown that the future isn’t as bleak as some have painted it.
The A-League has its first elite international graduate and the Socceroos fans are shown that the future isn-t as bleak as some have painted it. All hail Robbie Kruse!
Alright, that sounds just a little reactionary. Before everyone gets carried away, let-s add a disclaimer: this was Jordan in Melbourne, not Brazil at the Maracanã.
That said, it was an exceptional performance from Robbie Kruse. The winger looked right at home, playing with the same attacking verve as he did in his Melbourne Victory days - only this wasn-t the A-League. This was a full international, a crucial World Cup qualifier and Kruse stepped up in a manner that sent Socceroos fans to bed with sweet dreams.
So many column inches and pub debates have been spent arguing and criticising the quality of the next generation of Socceroos but against Jordan we got proof that the talent is there, it is just taking some time to be revealed.
Which is unsurprising, considering the conservative way in which Holger Osieck has integrated Australia-s younger players in his squad.
For too many of the recent games under Osieck, the Socceroos have looked one-dimensional, either unable to unwilling to take the game to their opponents.
It-s not arrogance to say Australia should be dominating the majority of their Asian Confederation rivals; the Socceroos have enough players in some of the world-s best leagues and enough elite coaching knowledge to maintain their standing in the region.
Much of the debate ahead of the Jordan game was whether Osieck could/would let his team go on the attack. And, despite the scoreline, the Socceroos didn-t have it all their own way.
At 1-0, the game was still even, with the home side often guilty of turning the ball over too cheaply, and were too far away from each other to make successful transitions into attack.
But the lift provided by Archie Thompson-s introduction changed the game, invigorating the Socceroos and creating space in the previously compressed Jordan defence, as the visitors lost the composure and discipline. Space for Kruse to run into and exploit. He won-t get the same space against better opponents but it was a display to least lift the hearts of his teammates and supporters alike.
As Ange Postecoglou said after the game, Kruse should now be considered Australia-s best attacking player, the team-s most dangerous weapon. What Osieck and Australia must do is find the best way to maximise that talent.
There were a number of A-League players in the team but Kruse is the first to really have graduated through the A-League. From bursting onto the scene with Brisbane Roar, to leaving his hometown under a cloud, to his personal growth with Victory, Kruse has matured into a full international. It-s the kind of progression that should give heart of every young player in Australia.
The timing of Kruse-s maturity is a gift for Osieck, the young talent fans have been crying out for, blossoming at just the right time.
It was just as heartening to see both Tommy Oar and Tom Rogic get game time in Melbourne. While Oar struggled to make an impact, Rogic looked very positive during his short period on the field.
Their time will come. For those worried about Australia-s future, the Socceroos have been blessed with young and gifted attacking midfield triumvirate to inspire and excite.
But again, let-s not get ahead of ourselves. This was one game against an organised but weak Jordan side, who were also thrashed 6-0 by Japan. For the best part of an hour, until Australia got the second goal and the visitors were pulled out of shape, this game looked dangerously even.
The Socceroos are a long way off competing against the international elite. But we saw something good against Jordan. Something that says we can get to Brazil next year. Something that said we don-t have to rely on the old guard.
That optimism has been sorely missed and noticeable by its absence during the latter stages of this campaign. However briefly, Robbie Kruse brought the good times back and that might be just what we need.