Being unable to sleep one night I turned to YouTube as one does, only to find some live soccer being shown on it. Curiously I started to watch thinking it was some third-division match being played in some random country across the world. But boy was I wrong. What I was watching was Adelaide United FC vs Western Sydney Wanderers FC of the A-League (known as the Isuzu UTE A-League for sponsorship reasons). And what a match I choose to watch.
The match started off fairly mundane with neither team really doing much. Each team was just feeling out each other to see where they were at. Both teams are fairly evenly matched with Adelaide sitting in fourth at the time of the game and Sydney sitting in third. It was the 32nd minute when the game started to get good. Adelaide got a penalty kick which they converted which opened the flood gates for both teams. Sydney got one back in the 46th, followed by Adelaide in the 49th, then Sydney again in the 50th and 63rd minute to take the lead for the first time. Adelaide followed up with a goal in the 67th and 79th minute only for Sydney to take the lead in the 90+5 minute of injury time to tie up the game 4-4. This game had everything, penalty kicks, wonder goals, and red cards.
For the majority of people in Canada the A-League doesn’t come to mind when they think of soccer to watch during the off season. Instead they think of the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga etc. and for good reason to, those are the relatively more accessible options to watch, and most likely the majority of people didn’t even know that Australia had a league or how they would go about watching it. Personally I would of thought that in order to watch the A-League I would need some such expensive niche streaming service, similar to how if you wanted to watch the Scottish Premier League. Instead the games are streamed live on YouTube on the KeepUp channel, which makes the games extremely accessible and cheap. The A-League is also the perfect league to turn to for the CPL fan, with the CPL running from April to October and the A-League running from October to April you get almost no cross over but yet a whole year of soccer.
Now lets talk quality of football because I know that is what stops people from watching certain leagues (looking at you euro snubs, not supporting your local CPL team). The game I watched was fairly good quality. I would say it’s similar to watching MLS or a second division European league, you have some great players on each team and then some not so good players. In terms of entertainment quality it’s great, there are loads of goals being scored each and every game. The last 0-0 draw that occurred was on January 21st. The majority of the games seem to end 2-1 or 3-2 with some 1-0 games thrown in their for good reason, but at the same time you get some 4-0, 3-3, 3-0, 4-2, 6-1 games as well which just keeps it entertaining. Not much different than say the Premier League which often has one sided games and evenly matched ones.
S. 2 Ep. 17 – Can Canada Hold Herdman – FC13 Podcast
The one downside about the A-Leauge is the time difference, but think of it this way, if you start watching the A-Leauge now and get use the the game times you’ll be set for the Womens World Cup which starts in the summer. One the other side, you don’t have the media talking about the A-Leauge in Canada and the USA like you do with the Premier Leauge or other European leagues. This means if you don’t want to stay up late or get up early you can just log onto YouTube later and the live stream of the match is saved for your viewing pleasure without having to worry about the game being ruined.
The A-League is also great for North American soccer fans as it has the “excitement” of playoffs that we all seem to love in Canada. The top regular season team is awarded the Premiers Plate (similar to the Supporters Shield or yet to be named CPL equivalent). The top six teams then move on to what they call the finals series (playoffs). The third to sixth place teams play in a one off single elimination match with the winners joining the first and second ranked teams in a two-legged series. The winners then play each other in the grand final. Think of it a just a smaller but better version of the MLS playoffs.
Overall I think North America and the rest of the world is sleeping on the A-League. It’s freely available for fans, at least Canada to watch live on YouTube. The quality of the play is on par with MLS and is better than the CPL. The games are exciting to watch and the commentary is great (Australian accents). The league operates in a similar style to the MLS and CPL with a regular season, followed by playoffs. Not to mention that there are twelve teams currently in the league so the choice of which one to support is there for people to choice, or you can just be a neutral fan who needs their footy fix during the cold dark Canadian winters.
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