Keisuke Honda scores in A-League debut before 40,500 fans
SYDNEY (AP) It didn't take long for Japanese international Keisuke Honda to make an impression on and off the field in the A-League.
The Melbourne Victory marquee player scored the opening goal in the Melbourne derby in a 2-1 loss to Melbourne City.
Honda has also helped the Victory's membership increase to 24,000, and there were 40,504 fans at Marvel Stadium. The biggest roar of the night came when the 32-year-old Honda was introduced.
A-League chief Greg O'Rourke, who helped finance the move for the 98-time international with money from Football Federation Australia's guest player fund, said the investment was already paying off.
"What an excellent crowd," O'Rourke said. "We'd been hearing rumblings of just how many people were keen to see Honda in action through the week."
Honda headed home the opening goal in the 28th minute, but Ritchie de Laet, City's own marquee player, and Riley McGree scored later to give City the win.
In other news involving a high-profile player, Australian media reported that eight-time Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt had been offered a contract by the Central Coast Mariners. His agent confirmed the offer, but Mariners coach Mike Mulvey said he didn't know anything about it.
Bolt was in Melbourne while the Mariners played the Roar to a 1-1 draw in Brisbane, where a thunderstorm delayed the start by about 20 minutes.
Bolt, who retired last year from track and field, is attempting to gain a contract with the Mariners. He scored two goals in a trial match last week.
In other matches, the Wellington Phoenix edged Newcastle 2-1, English recruit Adam le Fondre scored to give Sydney FC a 1-1 draw with Adelaide United, and Perth Glory and Western Sydney Wanderers also played to a 1-1 draw.
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Updated October 21, 2018