Sydney FC will rebound but is Brosque bouncing?
ALEX Brosque has promised to make a decision on his playing future in the next couple of weeks, headlining a changing of the guard at Sydney FC in the wake of their heartbreaking semi-final defeat.
The Sky Blues players were visibly shattered following their 3-2 defeat to Melbourne Victory in a drama-filled match that was decided by Terry Antonis in extra time.
Josh Brillante even admitted the shock loss had gone some way to tarnish their achievements over the past two seasons.
With the hurt and disappointment of not going on to defend their championship still sinking in, Brosque admits the season has taken its toll on him.
The 34-year-old is off contract and has been weighing up whether or not to continue his playing career, but says he hasn't yet made a decision.
"The Asian Champions League really took its toll physically on me and mentally as well, I think," he said. "The break will do me good, but I really don't know which way I'm going to go yet.
"I need a break really. I've been speaking to a lot of people over the last couple of weeks in trying to come to a decision. I owe that to the club - to make a decision and allow them to move on either way.
"Now that the season has come to an end I'll probably take another week or two and have a bit of a break. Hopefully I'll miss being around and use that to make a decision."
While the core of the squad will remain at the club, the futures of defenders Jordy Buijs, reportedly close to signing with the Western Sydney Wanderers, and Luke Wilkshire remain uncertain. Then there's the appointment of a new coach to replace Graham Arnold, with a decision expected to be reached in the coming weeks.
The departure of Arnold brings to an end an era of unprecedented success for the club after they claimed back-to-back premierships and became virtually unbeatable over the last two seasons, but Brosque sees no reason why that can't continue under a new coach.
"It's an era done under Arnie, but it can continue," he said. "Most of the team will stay on and the team is a very good one. I think the quality is there to go on next year and do exactly what we've done.
"We've created a high standard for the players that do come in and the players that are still here to make sure we don't fall away from it. Arnie was obviously instrumental in creating that culture and setting that standard, but players move on, coaches move on and I'm sure we'll be back up there next year."
The Sky Blues claimed back-to-back premierships after two seasons of sweeping virtually all before them. But the reigning championships fell short of the dream opportunity to defend their A-League title after being beaten at home by fierce rivals Melbourne Victory in the semi-final.
It was an almost indescribable game, with deflected goals, a last gasp equaliser, an extra time winner and a couple of red cards contributing to the most memorable of finals encounters.
Ultimately it was Victory who went on to snap their seven-game losing streak against Sydney to book their place in next weekend's grand final and Brillante admits the result has put a dampener of their season.
"It does a little bit because it's the big game and you want to win that trophy, but on the other hand we have done so well and it's been an unbelievable season," he said. "We have to pat ourselves on the back for that.
"It's hard to describe. It sucks coming off a loss like that, especially after the season we've had. We deserved to make it to the grand final. Again, we've had an unbelievable year and killed all the other teams, so it's very disappointing."
Just when Sydney seemed destined to bow out of the competition in regulation time, an own goal from Terry Antonis just 13 seconds before the whistle went sent the match into extra time. It was a shattering blow for Victory and Brillante says he felt it gave Sydney the upper hand.
"That feeling ... I felt we were on the front foot there, but obviously going into extra time people start to struggle with their legs and injuries," he said.
Antonis went on to redeem himself by scoring the winner in the 117th minute and few would argue it wasn't a result Victory deserved. Sydney were pegged back for much of the game and Brillante says they failed to execute their usual game plan.
"We probably just didn't do what we normally do, as well as we usually do," he said.
LIVE stream the 2017/18 Hyundai A-League on FOX SPORTS. Every match LIVE in HD, with no ad-breaks during play! Get your 2-week free trial NOW