Isuzu UTE A-League season preview: Adelaide United

Enjoy KEEPUP’s season countdown with our club-by-club previews. Scroll down to the foot of the page to access your club’s article.

The Reds fell one win short of a Grand Final berth for the second time in three seasons last time out. 

But Carl Veart’s side return to action in the 2021/22 Isuzu UTE A-League campaign with a club legend back on the books, and an appetite for success which will only be quenched when a new piece of silverware sits in the club’s trophy cabinet. 

Major ins

Isaías Sánchez, George Blackwood, Nick Ansell

Major outs

Tomi Jurić, Ryan Strain, Jordan Elsey, Al Hassan Toure

Head coach: Carl Veart

Reds record: 33 games, 14 wins, nine draws, 10 losses.

Since taking over from Gertjan Verbeek as interim head coach in 2019/20, Carl Veart has put his own stamp on a Reds side steadily improving under his watchful eye. In his first full season as head coach, Veart took Adelaide to a fifth-place finish, knocked off Brisbane Roar in an Elimination Final and fell just short of a Grand Final berth, losing 2-1 to Sydney FC in the semifinals. 

Veart’s side conceded more goals (42) than scored (40) last season – a statistic the former Reds captain will hope to improve upon in 2021/22, along with his current win percentage of 42.24% since his Adelaide takeover.

What can Veart achieve in his second full season as Reds head coach?

Can’t take your eyes off… Craig Goodwin

The Reds’ explosive winger with a wand of a left peg is capable of taking a game by the scruff of the neck and wrenching it into his side’s favour.

He’s quick, he’s confident, he’s aggressive – and he’s got added motivation to excel this season, after suffering an ankle injury on the eve of his side’s semifinal win over Brisbane Roar in the 2020/21 Finals Series.

Goodwin returned to training in mid-October, and is eyeing a spot in the Reds squad come the season opener against Perth Glory on Saturday, November 20.

Reasons to be cheerful

“Si senor, si!” The famous words of Simon Hill rang around the City of Churches in the wake of the return of Isaías to the Reds. The Spaniard lifted two FFA Cups, the Premiers Plate and the 2015/16 Championship trophy in his first stint at the Reds, winning the Joe Marston Medal as best player afield in the 2016 Grand Final against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Isaías departed the club for Qatar in 2019, but it wasn’t long before the 34-year-old felt the allure of a Reds return tugging him back to Australia. He begins the first season of a three-year deal in 2021/22.

Isaías returns to the Reds on a three-year deal.
Image: Jordan Trombetta, Adelaide United

Adding to the excitement of the return of Isaías is the prospect of talented teen Mohamed Toure continuing his development in 2021/22. Veart once said the young man can “go as far as he wants to go” in world football, such is the talent possessed by his rising star. At 17 years of age there’s plenty for growth in Toure still, but Veart could stand to benefit from putting his faith in a player possessing the X-factor to tear games apart.

Speaking of promising young forwards, one narrative which cannot be ignored is anticipated rivalry between Kusini Yengi – the self-proclaimed smoothest mover in the league – and Perth Glory marquee Daniel Sturridge, who arrives in Australia faced with the unenviable task of going toe-to-toe with Yengi in a season-long goal celebration dance battle.

… and reasons to be fearful

There’s a hole in Veart’s squad in the shape of Tomi Jurić.

The fringe Socceroo led the scoring for the Reds with nine strikes in 2020/21. George Blackwood re-signed with the club after a stint at English League Two outfit Oldham Athletic, but the 24-year-old’s return is unlikely to cover the attacking impetus of both Jurić and Al Hassan Toure, with the pair of Adelaide forwards both joining Macarthur FC.

After conceding the most goals of any team in the top six in 2020/21, Adelaide could struggle to improve in that department after key defenders Jordan Elsey and Ryan Strain left the club in the off-season. Nick Ansell comes into the fold to cover in central defence, but whoever is tasked with the challenge of filling the boots of brilliant right-back Ryan Strain will have their work well and truly cut out for them.

Fans’ eye – by Chris Adams

Why we believe: I went to my first Adelaide United game in 2008. It was a very magical time to support the club. I was eight years old, so I was very young but I still remember it very well. There was just something about seeing Hindmarsh packed every week for those knockout games in the Asian Champions League, and then being able to take that into the A-League as well.

From the first time I went to Hindmarsh I fell in love, with the atmosphere of the club, the football, everything about it. I feel a sense of pride seeing South Australia and Adelaide specifically represented on the national stage, in the sport that I grew up playing. It makes me feel very patriotic.

Who we believe: If you had asked me which player the fans love the most about six months ago, I’d absolutely say Craig Goodwin. He’s the hometown hero. Everybody gets around a brilliant player who can score goals and is loyal. But in saying that I feel that with Isaias coming back, those two are the two club legends, the two Championship winners who will really get bums on seats and get people excited as soon as they’re on the ball.

The magic of match days is… getting together with all of your friends and being able to watch a good performance. I stand in the active support bay, and I have a lot of friends who I don’t really see outside of football but I get together with my football group and having them by my side and watching the Reds play well, it makes my day. Win or lose, being able to go to football games with that group of people just makes it for me.

Usually we’ll meet at the Red Army designated pub before the game, have a couple of beers, have a meal, get the banter going and head over to the stadium 20 minutes before the game. 

If I could change one thing about the club: If we could get two, three or maybe four thousand more people to every home game, it would be a flow-on effect from the fans, the atmosphere improving, the match day experience improving and the players will work harder, give that extra 10%. That’s my biggest wish.

Whenever Hindmarsh is full the fans want to cheer even louder, and the players, I’ve spoken to quite a few of them, they always say whenever there’s that extra edge at Hindmarsh it always drives them to play harder, to fly into tackles harder and to run harder.

Pack the stands at Coopers Stadium, says Reds fan Chris Adams


By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito

Adelaide United: Can Veart steer them into the decider?

Brisbane Roar: Will the local lads surprise again?

Central Coast Mariners: A renaissance or brief ray of sunshine?

Macarthur FC: Attack looks great, but who replaces the veterans?

Melbourne City: Can anyone stop the champions?

Melbourne Victory: Can Popa resurrect the fallen giant?

Newcastle Jets: Can Papas find success with another overhaul?

Perth Glory: Are box office Glory title contenders?

Sydney FC: A familiar feel in Sky Blue – do they have another gear?

Wellington Phoenix: Can the ‘Nix thrive early doors based in Wollongong?

Western Sydney Wanderers: Will Robinson rise to expectations?

Western United: Will more ‘Dia’ magic help United bounce back?