Australia routed Jordan, 4-0, overnight in World Cup qualifying at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium. Nine of the 14 players who featured for the Socceroos have spent part of at least one season in the A-League, including four currently employed in Australia's top flight.
Lucas Neill (Sydney FC) and Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory) started and played all 90 minutes for the Socceroos while Archie Thompson (Victory) and Dario Vidošić (Adelaide United) were second-half substitutes. A-League alumni included starters Saša Ognenovski (Queensland Roar, Adelaide), Robbie Kruse (Brisbane Roar, Victory), Tommy Oar (Brisbane) and Matt McKay (Brisbane) with Tom Rogić (Central Coast Mariners) coming off the bench.
Kruse had perhaps the best outing of the A-League alumni, netting a 76th-minute goal and assisting on two others, solidifying his role in the Socceroos side that is approaching a generational change. Six of Australia's starters last night are at least 32 years old, four of whom are already over 34. Though there is tremendous amount of goodwill toward this generation, including Thompson, Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer and Mark Bresciano, their Socerroos careers are much closer to the end than their prime.
With the A-League's inaugural season only in 2005, the elder generation of Socceroos did not have the same chance to come up through a high-level domestic league like the younger group has enjoyed. McKay (30), Vidošić (26), Kruse (24), Oar (21) and Rogić (20) each developed in the A-League before moving overseas (though Vidošić did return from four years in Germany), as have many of the current Socceroos who will lead Australia through its next World Cup qualifying campaign. Indeed, 16 of the 21 members of the Young Socceroos' U20 World Cup roster were on the books at A-League clubs in 2012/13.
In the 2010 World Cup opener against Germany, just two Socceroo starters had A-League experience (Craig Moore and Jason Čulina) and only Čulina was active in the league at that time. None of this information is particularly new, but with each passing A-League season, the role the league plays in building the national team becomes more clear as well as in raising the standard of Australian footballers, no matter where they eventually ply their trade.