It’s the halfway point of the Foxtel Y-League season, and Melbourne City’s Youth are well on their way to mounting a stong defence of their 2016/17 Y-League title.
City are undefeated in their four Y-League matches this season, with the ten points gained from their three wins and a draw enough to see them sit three points clear of second placed Adelaide United in Group A.
City have wins over the Brisbane Roar, Victory and Perth Glory so far in the campaign, their draw coming back in round two in an away clash with the Reds.
With A-League Head Coach Warren Joyce already taking a keen interest in the performance of the young players of the City Football Academy, the performances have launched a number of young players into the A-League; Nathanial Atkinson and Daniel Arzani already having set tongues wagging with their performances in the A-League this season.
Much like the senior side, City’s Y-League success has been built on the back of a solid defence, with the backline of Atkinson, Lucas Portelli, Ruon Tongyik, Mitch Graham and Jaiden Madafferi combining with goalkeepers James Delianov and Yaren Sozer to lead a defence that is tied for least amount of goals conceded in the Y-League.
Up front, senior listed Braedyn Crowley has been a force in the first half of the season, being attributed six goals in the three appearances he has made, including a five-minute hattrick against the Victory.
His play, combined with the sterling wing play from Arzani and Najjarine and the midfield work of players such as Josh Cavallo, Denis Genreau and Connor Metcalfe have been key reasons City have again emerged as the true class of Group A thus far this season.
Despite the Y-League’s short length – the Y-League will last only ten weeks, with teams playing eight games, before the teams at the top of Group A and Group B playing a grand final the week after the season ends – Palatsides is keen to see his group repeat their title wining efforts of last season:
“The NYL for me is a prestigious tournament because we can gauge our players against their own age groups,” he said.
“Whereas in the NPL [National Premier League] we can’t do that.
“When you talk about the best in Australia, we look at playing against these other teams in the same age [Group] and see how we compare
“Last year I thought we did quite well, This year, this ’99 [Born in 1999] and 00’ kids [Born in 2000] I think are very, very talented. If we can go on and have a good year – both individually and as part of a team – I think that’s what we’re looking forward too.
Palatsides does however, make no bones about his desire to see the Y-League season expanded beyond its current format:
“Eight games isn’t a lot,” Palatsides said
“Usually by the time you get them going – the seasons over, I’m just one of many in the youth system that thinks that the league should have a lot more games in it,” he said.
“We get a lot more value out of the Y-League than the NPL and I think a lot of my counterparts at other clubs would feel the same way.”
This years Y-League will play its final round on the last weekend of January – with the Grand Final to be played at a time to be determined following that – before focus will shift for Palatsides and his staff to City’s Victorian NPL2 Campaign that is slated to commence on February the 18th.
This short turnaround between the conclusion of the Y-League and commencement of the NPL season is another area Palatsides remarks on:
“That probably hampers what we look for in maybe a possible overseas tournament,” said Palatsides
“Because we see so much value in what we did last season with the boys - the '01 boys [Born in 2001] and the '02 boys [Born in 2002] - who went over and played against Inter Milan in the China [In the 2017 Suning Cup]
“They came back understanding where they need to get to and where they are now and it was a great gauge for us to see how our boys develop.”
City will play half of their remaining four Y-League games in Melbourne, with a game against Adelaide United at the City Football Academy in round 7 and a game against the Melbourne Victory at Epping Stadium in round 9.
City will travel to Queensland this Friday to take on the Brisbane Roar – who they defeated 3-0 in a rain shortened game in round 1 – and travel to Perth to take on the Glory in round 8 – a return leg of their week 4 fixture that City won 2-1.