After enduring an up and down Season Four and losing several players through pregnancy, injury and the new pesky neighbours in the off-season, perennial powerhouse Sydney FC will be hoping a fresh and youthful squad can recaptured the coveted W-League trophy back.
Since the inception of the Westfield W-League, the Sky Blues have been fortunate to have their pick from a wealth of talented players based in and around the Sydney region.
The introduction of the Western Sydney Wanderers this season has already made an impact on the Sydney FC landscape by snatching three long-serving alumna and Matildas representatives Servet Uzunlar, Teigen Allen and Sarah Walsh.
To add injury to insult, sharp-shooter Leena Khamis and formidable centreback Danielle Brogan (who was in career best form) both suffered pre-season ACL injuries ruling them out of the 2012/13 season. With the retirements of Thea Slatyer and Kylie Ledbrook and the pregnancy of Heather Garriock, it’s a new look Sydney FC outfit that will take the pitch.
Long serving coach Alen Stajcic is again at the helm of the Sky Blues and he has compiled a squad of predominantly young, but considerably experienced, players. Only time will tell if this proves to be a winning edge or a risky failure.
The acquisition of ex-Sydney FC players Alanna Kennedy and Nicola Bolger (who played with Newcastle Jets last season) and the procurement of Sam Kerr (former Perth Glory striker), who has returned from injury, could be a recipe for football magic; particularly when combined with in-form goal poacher Kyah Simon.
Simon, who has been handed the captain’s armband this season, leads a strike force the includes Kerr, former Canberra United striker and NZ international Emma Kete and the up and coming Larissa Crummer.
However, this immense depth of goal-scoring talent will be easily negated if the Sky Blues fail to defend their net or struggle to maintain possession in the midfield. Matildas defenders Ellyse Perry and Caitlin Foord and midfielders Renee Rollason and Teresa Polias will be crucial to both endeavours.
Regardless of how Sydney FC may look on paper, the Sky Blues now have four seasons of finals appearances and a 2009 W-League premiership/championship under their belts and they are expected to make waves again this season.
The forward third of Sydney FC looks potentially the most potent in the W-League. The Sky Blues have acquired a collection of forwards straight out of every football fans wish list with a variety of skilled strikers (Simon, Kerr, Kete and Crummer) and creative attacking midfielders (Rollason, Bolger and Polias). If the Stajcic can get his attacking combinations clicking early, Sydney will be a dangerous proposition for any side.
Sydney FC have previously been disrupted by the loss of fringe players however, this season the squad will be reeling from the movement of key starters which will impact on the depth of the Sky Blue bench. The retirement of major play-maker Ledbrook will be a significant loss for Sydney FC. She is a player who is not easily replaced. The Sydney FC defence has also been rocked and looks more vulnerable than in previous seasons with the loss of Brogan, feisty wingback Allen and Slatyer but the opportunity is there for former Adelaide United goalkeeper, Sian McLaren to stamp her mark in the Sky Blue.