Only two match days remain in the Hyundai A-League regular season for eight teams, while for two others, it all comes down to one more. Western Sydney Wanderers have one hand on the Premiership Plate after their stirring victory over Melbourne Heart. Central Coast Mariners will have to win this weekend to stand any chance of catching the debutantes of Australia.
Here’s this week’s A-League Power Rankings on the View from Avalon.
1. Western Sydney Wanderers
Labinot Haliti scored a brace in the 28th and 60th minutes of play at Tony Popovic’s Western Sydney Wanderers blew apart Melbourne Heart 3-1. Also scoring for the Wanderers was Iacopo La Rocca in the 89th minute. A win over Sydney FC on Mar. 23 at Parramatta Stadium in Sydney will all but wrap up the regular season title and a place in the AFC Champions League.
2. Central Coast Mariners
Bernie Ibini-Isei’s game-winner in the 34th minute powered Graham Arnold’s Central Coast Mariners to a 1-0 shutout win over the Brisbane Roar at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford. Central Coast will need help from rivals Sydney FC when they take on Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide on Mar. 24.
3. Adelaide United
Marcelo Carrusca’s equalizer in the 49th minute was enough for Michael Valkanis’s Adelaide United to draw 1-1 with the Newcastle Jets at Hindmarsh Stadium. With a place in the Finals Series in hand, the Reds can prepare for the postseason on Mar. 24 against the Central Coast Mariners at Hindmarsh.
4. Melbourne Victory
Despite a goal from Mark Milligan in the third minute of play, Ange Postecoglou’s Melbourne Victory drew 1-1 with Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. Despite the result, the Victory will be in the Finals Series and will get set for postseason action with a warmup match on Mar. 23 against Perth Glory at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
5. Sydney FC
Yairo Yau kept the hopes of Frank Farina’s Sydney FC aliuve with a 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium. The Sky Blues continue their season on Mar. 23 against the Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium in hopes of crashing the Premiership party.
6. Wellington Phoenix
Despite a 2-1 victory for Chris Greenacre’s Wellington Phoenix over Perth Glory, the Nix are out of the postseason this year. Paul Ifill opened up the scoring in the 35th minute and Stein Huysegems delivered the game winner in the 67th minute of play. Wellington wrap up their season on Mar. 31 against Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand.
7. Perth Glory
Ryo Nagai scored in the 76th minute for Alistair Edwards’s Perth Glory, but it was not enough as they fell 2-1 to Wellington Phoenix at nib Stadium in Perth. The Glory face a must-win game against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Mar. 23 to stand any chance of making the top six.
8. Brisbane Roar
Mike Mulvey’s Brisbane Roar were shut out, 1-0, by the Central Coast Mariners and are close to failing to qualify for the Finals Series after winning the league title last year. The Roar face a must-win game against already-eliminated Melbourne Heart on Mar. 24 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
9. Newcastle Jets
Michael Bridges opened up the scoring in the 44th minute, but Gary van Egmond’s Newcastle Jets could not hold on to the lead and were held to a 1-1 draw with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The Jets will be sure to sweat out the week’s action as they prepare for what could be their final game this season, a Mar. 29 match at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle against the Western Sydney Wanderers.
10. Melbourne Heart
John Aloisi’s Melbourne Heart crash out of the running for a spot in the 2012-13 A-League Finals Series after getting hammered 3-1 by the Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park. Golgol Mebrahtu scored for the Heart in the 39th minute of play. The Heart continue their season on Mar. 24 against the Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.