Welcome back to the second instalment of Kick360’s ‘Breakthrough Stars’ series where we examine each club’s potential youth prospects set to make the step up to the first team and try to cement their place in the squad.
It’s never easy to make the grade in professional football but there’s no feeling for a fan like a homegrown player breaking into the side and becoming a favourite.
This week we look at Brisbane Roar
Last season’s fourth placed finish for Brisbane came with performances that correlated with expectation. Scoring 36 goals from an expected 33 it seemed to click well for the side who lost in the elimination final against Adelaide United.
Roar averaged just over a goal a game last campaign staying relatively close to their expected goals scored. While it makes for comforting viewing it does hide the fact that Roar were incredibly inconsistent in front of goal.
Brisbane failed to make the scoreboard in 10 matches in the A-league season, often fluctuating between scoreless and large margins such as the 5-2 win over Melbourne Victory and the 4-0 over Central Coast Mariners.
Roar desperately need to find consistency in the final third as this large number of games without a goal dents any hope of a team challenging for the top. This issue was highlighted with Roar’s total goal tally.
Brisbane’s 36 goals ranks them just seventh for goals scored in the league last year and will need to see a vast improvement should they want to compete next year. With a number of players exiting the Roar headlined by the likes of Danzaki and Wenzel-Halls, Roar do need to fill the gaps.
Breakout Star: Eli Adams
19 year old Eli Adams is a right midfielder/ forward who made his way through the ranks at SWQ Thunder, earning himself a move into the Brisbane Roar youth squad. Standing at 5’8 Adams is a tricky winger with an eye for goal.
Warren Moon showed a willingness to play youth players who performed well in the NPL last season, handing debuts to six players and playing a total of 13 under 23’s.
With the loss of Danzaki and Wenzel-Halls, Roar must replace 16 goals from last seasons 36 in this upcoming campaign.
And who better to try to fill those holes than 19 year-old Eli Adams. Listed by Roar as a forward, the left footed Adams thrives on the right wing.
Scoring 10 goals in his 17 appearances for the Roar NPL side last season Adams was handed his senior debut by Moon in a defeat to Sydney FC in round 24.
In just eight minutes on the pitch Adams was able to register nine touches including a strike that threatened to level the score, rippling the side netting.
It was a promising showing in such a short space of time and highlighted the youngsters confidence. It is this confidence and Adams’ eye for goal in the youth levels that signifies him to be the breakout start for Brisbane Roar this campaign.
But can Adams help the cause?
It’s never easy to convert goals at NPL and youth level into the senior side. It can especially seem daunting as Adams will have to try and fill the shoes of both Danzaki and Wenzel-Halls.
However, along with his fellow youth players being blooded through at the Roar, Kick360 backs Adams to make his mark this season. His ability to score from tight angles is a prominent feature as well as his joy to cut in onto his left foot from the right flank.
An athletic player, we can expect to see him excited Roar fans with his work rate and determination across the pitch and chip in with a few goals. The confidence Adams will get from playing with players familiar to him such as Cyrus Dehmie and Keegan Jelacic will surely help Adams get into the rhythm of the games too.
Warren Moon has shown faith in the youth so far in his tenure and, excluding any big attacking signings, it looks likely that Eli Adams could be set for a big season ahead. His ability on the ball to score and assist makes for promising signs and could provide some stability for the club, and excitement for the fans.