Mining for Aussie Gold – Finding Mark Schwarzer’s Replacement

After earning over a hundred caps for Australia, Mark Schwarzer announced his retirement from international football this month. The Socceroos don’t now have a replacement who is regularly playing for a club in any of the world’s big leagues.

Mitchell Langerak sits on the bench at Dortmund while Adam Federici lost both Premier League status and his first team place at Reading last year. The only overseas keeper getting good game time right now is 21 year old Mathew Ryan, plying his trade at Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League.

langerak

Mitchell Langerak can’t stop Raffaele Palladino’s penalty. Photo by JAMedia.com.au

So what of those still at home in the A-League? Nathan Coe, Eugene Galekovic, and Mark Birighitti were all selected for the Socceroos squad against China in the summer. How good are they? As luck would have it, the data is publicly available now in order to be able to test at least one of their skill-sets. At Differentgame we have a keeping model which allows us to rank goalies based on their shot-stopping.

The A-League kicked off again in October and is only 6-7 games in. All the keepers on the table below are eligible for the national side apart from New Zealander, Glen Moss. As a quick explanation, “SOT” is shots on target, and at this stage, “goals above average stopped” is the main column we need to concentrate on for now. This is basically how many goals we reckon they’ve saved their teams already this season. By the end of the season the final column will be the place to look as the number of saves made by each increases disparately:

ALeagueRankingsNovBirighitti has started the season really well and justifies a look in for the Socceroos. Coe, too, to a lesser extent, but Adelaide’s Galekovic is so far having a shocker. A-League fans might be surprised to see him and Covic at the bottom of this list as both are generally well thought of. However, it’s still early days and one or two good performances can change things.

Justin Pasfield of the Central Coast Mariners was dropped after 4 games in following this howler versus Newcastle. However, he had already gained his team a goal with his saves since the start of the season so may count himself unfortunate. Still, replacement Liam Reddy is already in the green with his saves too.

The really interesting names here are Danny Vukovic and Andrew Redmayne. Vukovic has enjoyed a decent time since joining Perth in 2011/12 and hasn’t represented the Australian national side since turning out for the U-20s in 2005. Redmayne has done well so far on his shot-stopping despite the fact his club Melbourne Heart are rock-bottom of the league and have the worst goal-difference.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the A-League scene this year to see if we can find some keeping gold amongst Australia’s natural resources.

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