A tried and true marksman

If you look up the word journeyman in the soccer lexicon there's a good chance the name of Daniel McBreen will pop up, certainly in the Australian edition.

The term is usually tinged with some scorn these days, a suggestion that a player who is so dubbed is nothing out of the ordinary. But its origins are more neutral, referring to a tradesman's capacity to work at his craft for a day for a certain rate of pay, the English word deriving from the French jour, meaning a day.

McBreen exemplifies the term perfectly, having played for numerous clubs in various countries, all the while practising his trade - goalscoring.

The stage above journeyman is master craftsman. McBreen has rarely looked as though he might hit those lofty heights - until now, in the autumn of his career.

The tall frontman has struck the hottest form streak of his life and, rising 36, he is proving that if you have the nose for goal it never deserts you, no matter how old you might be.

The Central Coast Mariners striker leads what is a close battle for the Golden Boot in this year's A-League, his 15 goals putting him just ahead of Melbourne Victory's Marco Rojas and Wellington Phoenix's Jeremy Brockie on 14, with Sydney superstar Alessandro Del Piero and last year's winner, Besart Berisha, on 12.

McBreen has been a revelation this season, leading the line in Gosford, scoring with a frequency hitherto unrecorded in his career in the domestic competition.

Overall his 30 goals from 75 A-League starts is a ratio of one goal every 2½ games. His 15 from 20 starts this season is just over a goal a game - a very satisfactory record for a striker, and one that shows he is in career-best form. He could put the issue to bed this weekend when the Mariners look to bounce back after their loss to Western Sydney when they take on Sydney FC. McBreen notched a hat-trick when the two sides met earlier in the campaign in the Mariners' 7-2 win.

Rojas got back on the scoresheet with a brace on Sunday as Victory demolished the Jets 5-0 at AAMI Park.

The second illustrated his skill-set perfectly as he waltzed through challenges in the penalty area and then rounded Jets' keeper Mark Birighitti to tuck the ball into an empty net. His first was very much an echo of the style of Victory's mid-season purple patch, when he fastened on to an Archie Thompson pass to break the Jets' defensive line and slide home.

Rojas has been one of the stars of the season, his pace, skill and nose for goal elevating him several notches in the A-League pecking order and making it no surprise that he is being targeted by overseas clubs when he comes out of contract at season's end.

The young Kiwi looked to struggle when his partner in crime Thompson succumbed to injury for three games, but he prospers when the veteran is there to play off - as he was against the Jets.

Brockie's efforts are also praiseworthy in a team that has struggled near the foot of the table all year, the 25-year-old NZ international scoring the only goal of the game on Sunday as the Phoenix saw off the Heart, the strike bringing his total to 14.

He too has been around, having spells at Sydney, North Queensland Fury and Newcastle before heading home to the land of the long white cloud.

Del Piero needs little introduction and if he could somehow make up the leeway it would crown a wonderful debut A-League season for the little Italian superstar who has been one of the few bright spots in a so far disappointing year for the Sky Blues.

His precision with free kicks and dead-ball deliveries has been a joy to watch, while his shooting from long range has also been breathtaking, as he showed with that wonderful strike from distance against Perth last Saturday night.

His four goals in Sydney's 7-1 rout of Wellington is the competition's best individual goalscoring feat this season.

Berisha has already taken out one Golden Boot, last season when his final tally, including finals matches with champion Brisbane Roar, was 21 in 29 starts.

The Albanian-born forward is always dangerous and with Brisbane hitting form and pushing for a play-off berth, he cannot be ruled out as a contender, especially as he also takes penalties.

Daniel McBreen (Central Coast) 15
Jeremy Brockie (Wellington) 14
Marco Rojas (Victory) 14
Besart Berisha (Brisbane) 12
Alessandro del Piero (Sydney) 12
Ryan Griff iths (Newcastle) 9
Emile Heskey (Newcastle) 9
Mark Bridge (Wanderers) 8
Dario Vidosic (Adelaide) 8
Mark Milligan (Victory) 7

Thomas Broich (Brisbane) 8
Youssouf Hersi (Wanderers) 8
Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast) 7
Marco Rojas (Victory) 7
Marcelo Carrusca (Adelaide) 6
Guilherme Finkler (Victory) 6
Paul Ifill (Wellington) 6
Dario Vidosic (Adelaide) 6
Alessandro del Piero (Sydney) 5
Ryan Griff iths (Newcastle) 5

This story A tried and true marksman first appeared on Canberra Times.