Melbourne 3 v Wellington 0
Central Coast Mariners 1 v Newcastle Jets 2
Newcastle's win, in an amazing game that could have had either team pound the net many times, has set up the Roar v Sydney game at Lang Park tomorrow as a possibility for game of the season. It can already be locked as the biggest and most important game in the Roar's history. It has been building this way each season.
The last Roar v Sydney game, with Roar at home, each season has offered the Roar an opportunity to create a new platform for the club. It is more than the state of origin nature, although that is there - but only there for this last feature (the Sydney home fans don't come out in record numbers for a Roar game). No, each year some thing special has been on the line for the Roar.
In version 1 it was redemption - 2-1 (round 19) to Roar but not enough. In version 2 it was the last game and a bitter fight for a spot in the finals. Each time Sydney has blocked the Roar out. Last year in particular Sydney put a particularly dead hand on the game. An early slip, on a Robbie Williams' concert ruined in-goal area, from Remo Buess saw Alex Brosque cruelly rub Roar fans noses in his deflection. Then a Sara long ball was cushioned down by Reinaldo for Damien Mori to provide a special end to his goal scoring record - a 2nd half bicycle kick got in the keepers way (can you tell how it still hurts, to be the best side never to have made the finals).
And now we have. But of course now we need more. We need the Asian Champions League, and the hugh financial boost that will be provided to entrants in 2009. It was very, very disappointing to see the poor crowds mustered by Adelaide and Sydney last year against the top Asian teams. That will not be the case in Queensland. The crowds will be huge - 40,000 to 50,000 - we love big games.
Now CCM and Newcastle are tied up on 31 points, and Sydney and Roar - both with tomorrow in hand on 30. And that is the final four - so alas Adelaide, good final run Melbourne. Sydney will, for the first time, be playing to win - they must. The team that loses will have an up hill battle to qualify for the Asian Champions League (1 and 2). Because a winner would go to the top of the A-League - 2 clear of the others. If Sydney lose their goal difference could mean they may not be able to catch the Roar next week. If Roar win their goal difference advantage would mean it may only need a draw next week against Adelaide to qualify for Asia. CCM and Newcastle have both said they want a draw from Roar v Sydney - this would tie all four up - but still give Roar an edge.
Wow - 30,000 plus at Lang Park tomorrow - what a game to anticipate... wow can we, can we ... we can...