The historic Socceroos first that highlights one state’s incredible ‘talent pool’

The Socceroos may have 2-1 lost in Melbourne on Tuesday night, however, the famed South Australian production line shone through against Ecuador. Sacha Pisani looks closer at the impact of Adelaide at club and international level.

Everything the South Australians touch seems to turn to gold.

Just look at Adelaide United – a legitimate Isuzu UTE A-League Championship contender, spearheaded by hometown hero and Socceroo Craig Goodwin. Then sprinkle in some Nestory Irankunda stardust and the emergence of Luka Jovanovic as Jonny Yull makes waves at youth level. The famed production line has been in full view.

Now cast your eyes over the Socceroos’ starting line-up on Tuesday night.

Goodwin, Joe Gauci, Riley McGree and Brandon Borrello. They are not just international teammates – the quartet were also born in Adelaide.

It meant history was made at Marvel Stadium, where for the first time in 100 years of the Socceroos, four Adelaide-born players were in a Socceroos starting XI.

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“There is something good down there,” McGree told reporters when asked by KEEPUP.

“Extremely proud to be from Adelaide and extremely proud to represent the state and as are the other boys. It shows Adelaide and South Australia have a great talent pool and hopefully it can continue to produce.”

For Adelaide United’s own Gauci, it was a particularly memorable night, despite the result.

Long touted as a future Socceroo, the 22-year-old – who is also eligible to represent New Zealand and Malta – earned his first Socceroos cap.

And the A-Leagues star did not look overawed.

He produced a stunning diving save, getting down low to his left, to deny Kevin Rodriguez in just the fifth minute. In an early baptism of fire, he passed that test.

And after the Socceroos had taken the lead through Borrello inside 16 minutes, Gauci was needed again to prevent a goal – the Reds shot-stopper coming up big to thwart Rodriguez seven minutes later.

“I don’t think he looked out of place. he should be extremely proud of himself,” McGree – a former Red now starring for promotion-chasing Middlesbrough in the EFL Championship – said of his fellow South Australian.

“Given the opportunity and he stood up. He is a top guy and definitely deserved it tonight.”

It was a proud night for Adelaide United in more ways than one as Gauci became the first Reds goalkeeper to start for the Socceroos since his goalkeeping coach and club legend Eugene Galekovic in 2013.

In the eyes of Australia defender Milos Degenek, the national team’s future is in safe hands.

“He has been playing really well throughout the whole season of the A-League,” the Columbus Crew centre-back said.

“He is someone that the national team have a bright future with for the next 10-15 years. Especially with Maty Ryan, who has a long time to go at the moment.

“I thought he played really well  and it’s a testament to him in his first start. Pulling off two world-class saves right at the start of the game is phenomenal.

“If he takes anything back from this it’s those unbelievable saves, the training he’s done with Ryan and (Andrew Redmayne) Redders over the last 10 days that will help him back at club football.”

Then there is Borrello.

He may not play for Adelaide United, but the Western Sydney Wanderers star was born and bred in South Australia.

The 27-year-old – who has found his feet back home in Australia following time away in German – led the line for the Socceroos in his first start since June 2021. It came behind his eight-goal season for the Wanderers and he capped the night with his maiden international goal.

As Goodwin rattled the post in the 16th minute, the rebound fell to the feet of Borrello, who finished expertly from an angle.

“Made in the A-League. Playing in the A-League. Doing it for Australia,” Network 10 co-commentator Andy Harper said during the coverage.

Those two will be rivals come when second-placed Adelaide United welcome third-placed Western Sydney to Coopers Stadium in the Isuzu UTE A-League this week.

If there is one thing Tuesday showed us, it’s that Friday night is not to be missed.

“I’ll take it! I mean, if he’s going to give me an assist on the weekend I’ll take that one as well,” Borrello joked initially on Network 10.

“It’s all good when we get into camp, it’s a great team spirit. But A-League is A-League, mate. It’s second against third, it will be a fiery clash.”