I’m not meant to be writing this. A wordless agreement to myself had me promising to take it easy during this group stage of Olympic qualification. Add on ever intending to write nice things about Melbourne City. I definitely wasn’t intending to write this.
We need to talk about the transformation of Emily Van Egmond since she’s joined Melbourne City. It’s a better transformation than when a hard shelled corn kernel turns into a delicious puffy piece of goodness after some time under the heat.
Before heaping praise onto Melbourne City, I want to provide some context. Van Egmond has always been good.
Flick your mind back to the first season after a spell in Germany with Wolfsburg. At the Jets, with a hard working midfield duo of American Tori Huster and youngster Clare Wheeler. Most Van Egmond gifs found on twitter, with her wearing a Jets jersey are from this time for a reason. She was given free reign as number ten, with her ability to really play between the lines, and connect with clever players around her. The type of magic that mesmerizes was on display round after round.
The move through time from this moment wasn’t so kind. A loss of form, mixed with playing deeper in midfield took the joy out of Van Egmond’s game. While the midfielder has all the attributes to play deeper successfully, and can definitely fill a gap, with her ability to play the ball out and read the play, it takes away the world class edge Van Egmond possesses.
Melbourne City, with their bucket load of defensive midfielders and centre backs, has allowed Van Egmond to flourish as an attacking midfielder once more. Greatness doesn’t happen overnight, the City effect didn’t either. It took a little time, with early matches still ringing without true confidence.
However, it’s really ticked lately. Case and point? Carrying that form over into a green and gold.
The Olympic qualifiers have been hers. That seems apt considering Van Egmond was a key part four years ago. But this time round has been unreal. Going beyond merely showing glimpses of her old, brilliant self, she’s been the game changer.
Focus is often on Sam Kerr during any Matildas match in the past 2 years. Rightly so, she’s earned it. The forward is usually the one looked to as the game changer. These past couple matches have seen Van Egmond step up to the plate.
Opening up play deliciously against Chinese Taipei to set up a number of goals was just the warm up. Going in with confidence against Thailand, she was a star. A hat trick is a beautiful thing. Add on continually being breathtaking on the ball, finding nifty pockets of space and composure, a good performance is really an understatement.
The Matildas have struggled with creativity in the final third in the past twelve months. Finding goals have continually required the same formula. Find the flanks, put in a high cross in search of a Sam Kerr header, or finding Kerr’s feet and being unable to provide meaningful support to help break down compact defences.
Having a naturally creative and technically gifted player as number ten can really create opportunities and provide a spark our national team has missed so, so often.
A move to City has provided confidence, which is priceless in the lead up to an Olympic campaign (hopefully). The ability for Van Egmond to show off her talent so high up the park, with the freedom her new W-League club has allowed her, is priceless. Here’s hoping it’s cemented her spot in the Matildas as our number 10. All good sides need a genius at number 10, Van Egmond is ours.
PS six nil against Thailand and seven heaven against Chinese Taipei is beautiful. What a way to open up 2020.