Melbourne City’s Youth Team will again be competing in the Victorian NPL3 competition in 2022 and will look to build on a solid 2021 campaign that was cut short by the impacts of COVID-19.
The team finished the 2021 season in 5th place after 14 games, making a name for itself as a high-scoring outfit with the likes of recent A-League debutant Max Caputo leading the way with an equal league-best 12 goals.
Following the promotion of former NPL Head Coach Petr Kratky to the role of Senior Men’s Assistant Coach, John Maisano will take the reins for the 2022 season with former City A-League player Iacopo La Rocca joining him in an Assistant role.
The former Bulleen Lions Head Coach will be aiming to guide his young but supremely talented side towards promotion to the NPL2 as the club aspires to test its youth against the highest-quality opposition possible.
Fans of Melbourne City’s A-League Men’s team will already be familiar with the likes of Kerrin Stokes and Taras Gomulka, who didn’t take long to establish themselves as regulars in the first team squad after their respective arrivals from South Australia in recent years.
The recent emergence of Jordan Bos in the first team speaks to the development available to those in City’s NPL squad, with the young full-back breaking into the senior City squad after some standout performances in the NPL in his limited opportunities in 2021 thanks to injury and a COVID-shortened campaign.
Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Caputo are another of City’s recent debutants from the NPL setup, with the latter becoming our second-youngest player ever when he debuted at 15 years and 293 days.
Luke Oresti recently signed a two-year scholarship contract extension and has featured in a handful of senior matchday squads, whilst goalkeeping duo Ahmad Taleb and James Nieuwenhuizen are regular features in the senior environment too.
Around the League
Standing in our way of promotion will most notably be the academy sides of fellow A-League outfits Western United and Melbourne Victory, who finished third and sixth in the NPL3 in 2021. United have since lost last year’s other leading goalscorer Manyluak Aguek, who equalled Caputo’s 12 goals and has moved to Avondale FC in the NPL1.
However, our sternest opposition for promotion may just come from Preston Lions, who finished last year’s prematurely-terminated campaign top of the table on goal difference above Doveton SC. Known for its passionate supporter-base, Preston made headlines with its frequent home attendances into the thousands in 2021 and will again be a league powerhouse both on and off the pitch in 2022.
Ones to Watch
Though there are several players already known to fans due to their involvement in the senior setup, there are plenty who could replicate Bos’ path to an A-League debut with a breakout 2022 NPL campaign of their own.
Though the now 16-year-old Caputo surely has to go down as one to watch as he spearheads our attack again this season, it’s the performances of Lucas Byrns and Moonib Adus on either side of him that are sure to excite plenty of observers in 2022. The wingers are unsurprisingly rapid with the ball and are complementary of each others’ skillset; Byrns tended to be the more prolific goal threat last season, whilst Adus used his tricky feet and superb crossing to provide assists on a regular basis.
Attacking midfielder Jordi Valadon was an influential presence for City entering the final third and also has a knack for netting some highlight reel strikes from distance. The 19-year-old also recently featured in an A-League matchday squad for the first time.
With Connor Metcalfe departing for FC St. Pauli at season’s end, it may be Luke Oresti who looms as one of the largest beneficiaries. Positionally similar, the 18-year-old is already on the precipice of breaking into the senior squad and operates with an industrious work rate as he buzzes about midfield whilst also proving a valuable creative presence to have in, around, and leading up to the penalty area.
How to Watch
City’s NPL home games will be played at Parade College in Bundoora as construction continues on a permanent home at the City Football Academy in Casey Fields, Cranbourne.
The team will host Doveton SC there for its season opener on Saturday, March 19 at 3pm. That clash against last season’s second-placed finisher marks the beginning of a tough start to City’s 2022 NPL3 campaign, with the team then hosting Melbourne Victory for a Round 2 Derby before travelling to face Western United in Round 3.
One NPL3 game per week will be available to stream on the all-new NPL.TV service, powered by Cluch.