’10 to Track’ soccer matches previews – just One today – MLS final, Noob bids farewell of a sort

After well over a year of Tracking matches on a daily basis I’ve felt were most important to new American soccer fans like myself, project SoccerNoob in its present form is going on indefinite hiatus.

Thank you to The Management for daring me as a joke to write about the sport I knew least about. To Dan the former Intern-o Inferno, for his hilarious work on image production, support, and understanding I needed to put screen and other fiction writing on hold to learn the discipline to write every single day. I hope your work at the Swedish women’s soccer association continues to go well. And to my young daughter, “PersonNoob”, for writing verses to our silly theme song.

My focus has been on learning leagues and Cup tournaments, both at and close to home and the world over. In talking with many of you, I’ve learned as well about the big players, about how the game itself is played, and why it is such a joy for so much of the world to follow.

In doing it all, I’ve tried adding my own off-kilter brand of humor. Hopefully between that and covering matches from places most U.S. fans don’t read about anywhere, I’ve brought some enjoyment to long-time fans as well.

I’m continuing to winter on the Isle of Sodor, covering matches here. This site will soon be bringing you news and scores from their ongoing, first-ever Premier League. The site may have a new name, in which case soccernoob.com will forward to that. Or I may just keep it right here. And who knows. A podcast has considered! Noob’s not truly disappearing. (God help us.)

For the final Track, no “10”. Just the one. The most important match of the year.

1. Atlanta United vs. Portland Timbers – Major League Soccer Final

Noobites, since this is the swan song, it’s time to graduate to sites with more in-depth coverage.   (8:00 PM Eastern, Fox)

RESULT:   ATL   2-0          Single-season record-setting MLS for goals scored in a season, Josef Martinez, adds another.

ESPNFC match preview

CBS Sports match preview

Portland Mercury match preview

beIN Sports match preview

USSoccerPlayers.com match preview

AtlUtd.com match preview

Image result for soccer graduation

Interview and Noob shenanigans with unsuspecting Tottenham Hotspur World’s founder Will Rivard

TottenhamHotspurworld.com founder and writer Will Rivard was kind enough to “join” Noob, in a manner of speaking, for an interview.

Tenured Noobites know I spurn the Spurs, named as they are for historical traitor Henry Percy.   But Noob respects fellow writers and Will’s excellent.    More, this is the sort of site to which fans should graduate as they learn more.  I wanted to share something like this before I take a scale back, take a hiatus of sorts from project SoccerNoob.

(Why some text of Will’s is red and why some is not will be made clear at post’s end.)

————

Hello? Who’s calling pleeease?

This is Will Rivard, Spurs supporter and creator of Tottenham Hotspur World website/blog.

I can’t believe you showed! I would’ve assumed you did your research, saw how my “D2 Coaches Interviews” from last year went, how these sorts of things get handled here.

Yeah, about those. Are those real, did you actually talk to anyone?

Ummm…er….Hey now, who’s conducting this interview, you or me, Mr. Rivard?

I just thought, well –

Moving on! You’ve offered to take part in this interview. In the context of knowing Noob is anti-Spurs, why?

Personally, I really like your sense of humor and site, so it was a no-brainer… besides what better way to change your mind than answering your questions (The More You Know…)

What a coincidence. Most describe this site as a “no-brainer”. So you hope to convert Noob to being a Spurs fan?

Slowly but surely… I’ll settle for Noob not being anti-Spurs for now, but before you know it… You too will be a  One Hotspur Member  (but who knows?

How long have you been running your site-blog?

I have been running my site since January of 2018.

Is this the first incarnation of your Tottenham site?

I have changed the appearance of my site a few times since its inception but have kept the format relatively similar throughout

Is this the first incarnation of your Tottenham site?

I have changed the appearance of my site a few times since its inception but have kept the format relatively similar throughout

What blogging platform or content management tool do you use?

I use BlueHost as far as the web hosting aspect of the site. The blogging platform I currently use is WordPress. I have been very satisfied with both.

Your site looks better than mine. I shake my fist at you.

I’ll see your shaking fist and take a bow for that humble praise… Seriously though it took much trial and error to get it to look the way it is, and honestly there are some days that I want to change the appearance completely. (That’s probably the perfectionist in me.)

Do you do a podcast or use other media platforms for THW?

I don’t personally have a podcast that I produce, but I have been fortunate enough to appear on several podcasts including: Bros Talking Soccer, LADS (Loud Americans Discussing Soccer), Two Foot Talk, and Top Class Finish.

I heard your interview on Bros Talking Soccer. I, too, appeared on BTS. Perhaps I should’ve come to you for coaching on how to be a proper guest.

Yeah, I caught that episode. I’m….not sure you could afford my rates.

Diplomatically-played, Will. What podcasts or other soccer media things do you enjoy?

I can honestly say that all the podcasts I’ve appeared on I really enjoy to listen to and try to catch them every week. Though you are still hung up on the whole Henry Percy thing, I do find your blog both entertaining and refreshing, a nice break from all the transfer gossip etc. in the English papers.  Two additional pods I really enjoy (both are Tottenham podcasts based in London) are (1)The Fighting Cock and (2) The Extra Inch.

Whoa there, cowboy! Those last two don’t sound like soccer. Noob doesn’t run blue. Ever think of doing your own podcast?

At some point I would love to start my own podcast, but I don’t have any plans in place at this time.

How often do you post, in and out of season?

I post on average 2-3 times per week in and out of season. During the summer it might be more focused on transfers, spotlighting young players, and covering Spurs players participating in competitions with their national teams.

Do you have a theme song on the site, something groovy for folk to listen to while perusing THW?

I do not, but that’s a good idea, maybe if things really take off we go “Mo Money Mo Problems” by Notorious B.I.G.

Had I been a baseball player, my walk-up music would’ve been Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind”.    Let’s give the readers a choice in background music.

I think that would’ve been vetoed in stadiums, unless someone understood you were making a joke about striking out.

Jokes are so much funnier when they get explained. Thanks for that.

Asshat.

Oh ho, you did check out some the D2 Coaches Interviews! Again, well-played. So, what is your background in soccer in general?

I’ve been playing the beautiful game since I was six years old. At my highest point I was the backup goalkeeper and Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Unfortunately I only made one appearance for the first team in my lone season there. Funny story about that game: I actually dislocated my pinky finger in warmups but since I hadn’t played all year, I decided I wouldn’t tell the coach and play anyways. (It didn’t matter as we won rather easily — 3-0.  I don’t think I had to make but a couple of stops)

After graduating from Auburn University, I actually coached one year of High School Soccer at Opelika High School (Opelika, AL). We only won five games, but apparently that was four more than they won the season before. I enjoy watching Tottenham, Celtic, and the U.S. Men’s National Team play. I’ve actually seen the USMNT play three times in person and got to watch Spurs play Manchester City in Nashville, TN a few years ago. (Actually got to meet the entire Spurs team the day before at training, pretty cool stuff.)

How did you come to be a Tottenham Hotspur fan?

I grew up playing soccer (among other sports) but only became a Spurs fan about 4 years ago. I love the attacking style of play Tottenham employ. In   ​ ​this video,​​ every Spurs player touches the ball in the lead up to the goal.

I also like how they seem to be one big band of brothers, ​Dele Alli and Eric Dier ​​in particular are hilarious when they get together.

And if the way ​Heung-Min Son​​ plays the game doesn’t give you joy then you might not be human.

The way that Tottenham have built the current team (promoting from the youth ranks, wise financial decisions, not spending ridiculous amounts of money like the Manchester clubs and Chelsea) is really refreshing, I feel like they don’t just buy players, but develop them as well. For instance, Harry Kane was actually let go by arch rivals Arsenal before he was 10 years old, and then came over to Spurs, and I bet they regret that every-time he bangs in a goal against them.

Why is the club named for an historical traitor?

So, from the research I’ve done (which isn’t much, mind you) what I can concur is that it has more to do with the speed of attack that Henry Percy’s forces attacked with as well as his willingness to bravely rush into the thickest part of battle, with spurs on. It didn’t hurt that he had his family owned a significant amount of land in Tottenham as well. Fun fact though, Sol Campbell is often referred to as a traitor by Spurs supporters. Prior to Campbell’s contract expiring Campbell promised Spurs supporters he would stay. Instead of staying Sol instead

joined Spurs arch-enemy Arsenal (he could’ve avoided the situation entirely by either signing a new deal or going to Barcelona or Inter Milan)

That’s a sad story. Am I supposed to be moved to pity for Sir Topham Hatt Hotpur, traitor to multiple kings, nefarious ne’er-do-well and all around cretinous yahoo?

What’s with Sir Topham Hatt instead of “Tottenham”?

Image result for very cross Sir Topham Hatt

 

 

Noob will not type He Who’s Name Shall Not Be Typed!

 

But it appears in type earlier in this interview…

Quiet, heathen! I mean, um, moving on – What all teams and other facets of the Tottenham organization/culture/life do you cover on your site?

So just like the name of the site Tottenham Hotspur World, I aim to cover the entire World of Spurs. The Tottenham teams I cover on my site include the Mens: U18, U23. UEFA Youth League, and of course the First Team, I also cover the Spurs Ladies (who are currently at the top of the table in the FA Women’s Championship). In addition to all the teams I have started interviewing Spurs supporters from all over the World for my ​Spurs Supporters Spotlight​ series. Finally, for the new Spurs (or soccer/football) fans I’ve been working on a​ Premier League Terminology ​Series. The series is in alphabetical order, beginning with terms starting with the letter “A” and it will conclude with “Z.” I’ve been able to incorporate several of the excellent videos courtesy of The Soccer Tavern in those articles.

What is your favorite thing about Spurs culture, supporters?

Tough question, so difficult to only pick one. I will say, one thing I really love is that when I am watching Spurs play an away match on TV and hear the supporters chanting..it just gives me chills. The supporters really are some of the best in the world, I’ve had so many conversations with fellow Spurs fans on Twitter from all over the world, and we may all come from different places/walks of

life/beliefs, etc. but if we ever have any differences we can put them all aside for Tottenham. A good example is Moussa Sissoko, for the first season or so he has been with Tottenham he was underwhelming to say the least, and the supporters were all over him (sad to say but I was guilty of giving the Frenchman a tough time too). However, over the past few games he looks like a new man and has been one of our more reliable players, so much so that the fans were chanting his name after we defeated London rivals Crystal Palace recently…what a difference a few good performances makes.

Where does Tottenham fall in overall level of Premier League, general success, compared to other teams?

Spurs are definitely a successful club, one of the “Top 6” (along with Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United). While much of the talk around Spurs at the moment centers around needing to win something, Spurs have historically been a rather successful club, and you can find a list of their accomplishments​ here  .

Remaining based in their current home, would Spurs win both the MLS Supporters Shield and MLS Cup running away? Would they lose a match?

Very creative question…the MLS is growing as a league and becoming more competitive every year. However, I think if Spurs were playing solely in the MLS (and didn’t have to worry about the Champions League, FA Cup, etc.) they would likely win both the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup (though I could probably say the same for the other “Top 6” Premier League Clubs. It’s hard to go undefeated in any league so I’ll defer to Noobstradamus on that one.

Who should I know from Spurs?

From the current team I would say Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen are three of the most recognizable Tottenham players. Kane is obviously one of the best strikers on the planet, and Christian Eriksen is the Spurs player who can unlock even the most difficult of opposition. Dele Alli is full of flicks and tricks (he never passes up a chance to nutmeg someone, whether it’s during a match or even in practice against his own teammates) and the runs he makes off the ball are not only underrated, but help free up his teammates. There are several Spurs players throughout history that definitely should be mentioned. Jimmy Greaves leads not only Tottenham in goals scored (266), but is also the highest goal scorer in the top flight in England (357), he played at Spurs from 1961-1970. Before Jurgen Klinsmann was the coach of Germany and later the USMNT, he was a cult hero at Tottenham. Though he only spent one season at Spurs (1994-1995) he was loved by supporters selling over 150,000 shirts and scoring 30 goals that year.

What is COY?

I think you mean COYS? COYS means Come On You Spurs and basically is our rallying cry.

Mine is “I am Noob!” IMN! Hmm, not the same. Is there other jargon Noob or actual potential Spurs fans should know?

There are several things, but most importantly WE DON’T WEAR RED (the color of arch rivals Arsenal) and you can’t root for the other London clubs, they are our sworn enemies. As far as other things to know about Spurs, ​this article from​​ Cartilage Free Captain  gives a good rundown over everything.

OK, let’s talk about our relationship.

Our WHAT?

I’ll rephrase. Don’t want to make my first-ever interviewee uncomfortable. Would you argue with me about Spurs on a podcast, yours or mine?

I would gladly argue, discuss, “banter” Spurs or anything else on either your pod or mine. In fact,

I have a question for you, Noob. Can we be best friends?

Why, Will! What an unexpected questions. I’m beyond flattered and –

The Management here. For newer readers, I frequently have to cut Noob off on his posts, clarify things, keep general order. Will Rivard did not ask Noob about being best friends. The Management will not return you to the interview, with the expectation that the next question is included as happened in the actual interview. Thank you for your time and attention. – The Management.

You know, The Management. Words can hurt.

Noob!

Sigh Fine.

Can we be best friends, Will Rivard?

Hmmm…You are going to have start to come around on Tottenham and get over the whole traitor thing first.

Once again, diplomatically and well-played, sir.

Will, thank you for agreeing to do the interview (especially knowing it would get all Noob’ed up). Good fortune to you with Tottenham Hotspur World. And you’re welcome for differentiating between answers you actually gave from those I conjured up with red, your favorite color.

run away I am Nooooooooob!

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday soccer match previews – from Serie A to Pakistan!

“The ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game.”

Friday’s, world league scheds tend to run a little lighter.  So we pack our bags, amble onto the tarmac and take the FAA flight Globetrotting Friday wherever we may.

As always, we start with more familiar leagues, then it’s off to visit footyball hinterlands!   Fun Facts about clubs, their locales and leagues abound as well.

1. Juventus vs. Inter Milan – Serie A

For all that their national team failed to make the World Cup, the top Italian domestic league still ranks a lofty #3 in UEFA. That means they get the maximum four berths for the next Champions League.

And lofty is just how Juve are sitting in the table. 13-1-0, all but running away with the league title. One of those only teams that could reasonably keep within shouting distance are their guests today. But alas, Inter have only won one of their last five matches across all competitions. Still, they did rediscover a little offense in their last outing, on the road against Roma (2-2).

RESULT:   Juve   1-0

B. Midtjylland vs. Odense – Denmark Superliga

Next, we journey down to the Danes, whose league has climbed four spots to #13 this year. That’s high enough to move their UEFA CL allotment from one to two clubs for 2019!

Odense are up to #3 in the league so far after a more usual 9th-place finish last season. But don’t be fooled. #B Midtjylland are a whopping 11 points up on them in the table. They and Copenhagen are getting those Champions Leagues slots. These two concede goals at the same pace, but Midtjylland score nearly 80% more.

RESULT:   Midtjylland   3-0

Image result for giant letter B

 

 

Takes lots of lifting power to deal with 80% more Number B.

3. Daegu FC vs. Ulsan Hyndai – (South) Korean FA Cup

The second leg of the Final. Trophy time. Daegu won the first leg at Ulsan 1-2. The stakes are very high for both teams. In Europe, the FA Cup winners typically only earn a Europa league invite. South Korea is one of the many other places, though, where winning an FA Cup gets you into the federation’s Champions League.

Daegu finished the K League 1 in just 7th place, but were hot at the recently-finished season’s end. Ulsan goit 3rd place, which is good enough for the last Champions League berth. So if Noob’s understanding is correct, a Daegu title here means Ulsan loses there AFC CL spot. High drama!

RESULT:   Daegu   3-0          Daegu are headed to AFC Champions League!    And again, I believe this knocks Ulsan out.

4. Kukesi vs. Skenderbeu Korce – Albania Superliga

Carbon footprint be damned, we’re jetting back to Europe! This league is below average for Europe, ranked #31 of 55. To give a little perspective, this is just above Republic of Ireland’s Premier.

The league season is about halfway through. Kukesi are in 4th. Since they’re just seven points out of 1st, one can see the table’s top is pretty tight. Normally that #4 spot would mean zippo. However, defending league champs and current #B Skenderbeu Korce have been suspended from all international competitions by UEFA for a record ten years recently. Match-fixing.

Skenderbeu are a little better on both sides of the ball, they appear of similar-enough quality that Noob thinks Kukesi’s home-pitch advantage today more than makes up for that.

RESULT:   Kukesi   1-0         They climb into 3rd

Kukësi Club Logo.svg

5. Mukura vs. Muhanga vs. Onze Bravos – Rwanda Premier League

Rwanda’s top flite is on the rise, entering the CAF rankings for the first time in at least a few years at #17. They’ve got to get into the top 12 before they’ll enter two clubs into Africa’s Champions League instead of just the one.

These are two of the three undefeated teams left here, very early in the season. Mukura are #B, Muhanga #5. Today’s guests have two wins and a mess of draws. The frontrunners appear to be big on defense, so if Mukura can control the pace today, the score will be low.

Fun Fact:    Mukura won the country’s FA Cup in August.

RESULT:   Mukura   1-0

6. Petro de Luanda vs. Onze Bravos – Angola Girabola

Angola’s top league just cracked the top ten this year, so they will qualify two teams to CAF CL. Reigning champs 1 de Agosto made the Semifinals this past iteration!

The season here is very new and these are two of the four undefeated teams remaining. Still, Noob would find it very surprising if either of these two was able to challenge 1dA and Progresso for one of those top two positions by season’s end.

RESULT:         might have been postponed; Update 12/8 — I continue to see postponed on one source site.  FIFA.com indicates they played Progresso de something, altogether different team.    The I’ve become most confident in is that that match I tried to feature didn’t happen.   There won’t be future updates to this possible match result here.

Image result for baixa de luanda

 

 

Beautiful mural art, deep in baixa de luanda – the old city

7. IKLS vs. MS ABDB – Brunei Super League

This is one of Asia’s weakest top domestic leagues, third-to-last. But hey- they’re playing! Noob presumes that even the league winner won’t get a sniff of the AFC Champions League. Many leagues instead get their winner into the AFC Cup, a tournament for club teams from what the AFC deems to be from “developing football nations”. That’s diplomatically put.

The season is just a few matches in here. MS ABDB are #1 so far, while IKLS are in 8th of ten. The bottom two will be Relegated. So yes, there is at least one other pyramid tier in Brunei.

Fun Fact:   Istana Nurul Iman – the sultan’s residential palace – has 257 bathrooms.

RESULT:   ABDB   1-5

8. Al Sahel vs. Al Taliya – Syria Premier

Syria’s is the #15 league in Asia. That’s good enough to put a club into Champions League in Asia, but not two.

A lot of these teams seem to look the same for offensive output. The best two are twice as good on D as anyone else though. And these ain’t them. These two are #6 and #7 in the table.

RESULT:   Taliya   0-1

Image result for camel racing syria

 

Syria – come for the footyball, stay for the camel racing

9. Garde Nationale vs. Kedla – Mauritania Premier

Not a league in the African rankings. Kedla are the #5 team, and early they have a negative goal differential. Seems unlikely they’ll make a title push.

Garde are in third-to-last, just above the Relegation Zone. They actually play about the same level of defense as their guests today, so Noob’s looking for a home upset!

Fun Fact:   Nouakchott – Mauritania’s capital city – is home to nine of the Premier League’s teams.

RESULT:   Kedla   0-2

10. Pakistan Navy vs. Baloch Nushki – Pakistan Premier

We end our Globetrotting Track in the lowest-ranked league in all Asia. Is this “important”, per Noob’s usual mantra? Perhaps not. But it’s important to some people, there. Let’s be citizens of the world, get to know all corners, at least a little bit!

As mentioned before, weaker leagues like this will send their titlists to the AFC Cup, not the Champions League. It’s just nice to see them in action at all, as this league last had a season in 2014-15. Neither of these are likely going.

Navy are midtable, 8th place. Defense has been of particular concern for them. Baloch are in 14th of the 16 clubs. Worse D, second worst O. Four teams get sent down to a second-tier league from this one, so things aren’t looking good for the Fighting Nushkis. Which may or may not be their actual nickname…

RESULT:   Navy   6-1

Image result for margalla hills islamabad

 

 

So long from Islamabad, home of Pakistan Navy FC! 

Margalla Hills National Park.  Himalayan foothills.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (12/4-6) soccer match previews – Copa Argentina Final completes our Track

The Midweek Edition now stands complete at ten.   There was just one match needed for Thursday to complete the set.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s matches and results now follow further down.

Please consider following Noob on Twitter @SoccerNoobUSA.com.  Inquire for details on how to possibly join footyball discussions with cool cats on Bros Talking Soccer’s new Slack.   And click an ad , if you are so inclined.  Some of the stuff is even soccer-related!

Back again tomorrow for Globetrotting Friday!

Thursday

10. Rosario Central vs. Gimnasia LP – Copa Argentina

The Final! And this match is a one-off in Mendoza – a neutral location. Noob is continually surprised that outside Europe in particular that such otherwise weak-seeming teams advance to title matches. Rosario are in 14th of 28 Primera league teams and Gimnasia in 21st. The winner gets much more than a few pesos and a trophy. There’s a qualification to the next Copa Libertadores up for grabs!

Trying to get excited for this one, but it may be tough to watch. Rosario doesn’t score much, and they look like an offensive juggernaut compared to Gimnasia. Catch this one at 7:10 PM Eastern on TyC Sports International if you dare. And have a deep enough satellite TV package.

RESULT:   Rosario   1-1  /  4-1 PK’s        All hail the Argentine champs!

Image result for Mendoza argentina weirdSo long from Mendoza!

At least you can stay in a cool vineyard “hotel” when visiting.

 

Wednesday

3. Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

Semifinals time in the Apertura (first half-season) Liguilla (playoffs)!

This this Round will also feature two-legged ties, same as the Quarters did. Regular season #1 Cruz Azul gets the honor of hosting the second leg of the home-and-away series, which means they open in Monterrey today.

Cruz Azul haven’t lost since October 20. They’d won five straight matches until finishing off their quarterfinal draw with a 1-1 draw last time out. Plenty of teams score as much or more than C.A., but none defend like them (just 13 goals given up in the 17-match regular season).

Monterrey haven’t proven to be quite as good on either side of the ball. But as one would imagine, they’re not that far off C.A.’s pace, given that they made the playoffs. They’ve not lost in five matches. But they’ve not beaten Cruz Azul in nine consecutive tries.

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0                 Make that once in their last ten tries!

4. Manchester United vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

Arsenal just had a big, God-ordained win in the North London derby. After doing the Lord’s work in defeating named-for-an-historical-traitor (Harry Percy) Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur, can they get pumped up again for Man Utd.?

Man Utd have had a dismal year compared to expectations, the usual-title contenders wallowing in 8th place right now. They haven’t won a league match in a month. None of this has been a fluke, either, as they’re struggling on both sides of the ball. For this team to rise again, the great goalkeeper David de Gea is going to need to lead the way. Defense has been even weaker than offense on the season.

Arsenal are in 4th, which is the number of clubs EPL will qualify for the next Champions League. One would point out their offense as the best around if it weren’t for league #1 Man City blowing everyone out of the water in that department. Defense has been spotty for them, too, at least compared to other table-top clubs. German international Bernd Lemo has decidedly been the weak link. Looking for a shootout today.   (3:00 PM Eastern, NBCSN)

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for Sir Topham Hatt happy

 

Sir Topham Hatt cannot be cross so soon after a Hotspur loss.

5. Atletico Junior vs. Atletico PR – Copa Sudamericana

The Final! And crap on a cracker, Noob would’nt have been passing on covering this event had I not had bad info stuck in my head.

This tournament is the equivalent of Europa League, a tournament below the level of Champions League – or, in South America – Copa Libertadores. Noob did not think the winner of Sudamericana automatically qualified for the following years Libertadores, but they do. And that’s some high stakes.

Columbia’s Junior started in the this year’s Libertadores. After finishing 3rd place in their pod in the Group Stage there, they were dropped into this event. They’ve been very strong in their domestic league statistically, yet are just in 6th place right now. Trouble closing out the close matches, anyone?

Atletico Paranaense only qualified for this event, were not dropped down from following a Libertadores round. They just finished the Brazilian season one spot (7th) out of qualifying for the next Libertadores already.

Based on general knowledge of the pecking order of domestic leagues in South America and Elo ratings from footballdatabase.com, it seems fair to say Junior are an even match at best at home today.

RESULT:   1-1

6. Zamora vs. Deportivo Lara – Venezuela Premier

This is the second leg of the Serie Final, which pits the playoff champions from the Apertura and Clausura stages of the season against one another. The first match was played at Lara and ended in a 1-1 draw.

If one is interested in a couple extra details, scroll down to the Leg One match preview from 12/2. Suffice it to say here and now that Zamora are the hotter team the second half of the year and most definitely favored today at home.

RESULT:   Zamora   4-1          2018 Venezuelan chamPEEENS will dance with that sexy disco robot from the future of 1984

Winners get to party at KirovBar, Barinas (home of Zamora FC) for disco and with this guy….thing!

7. Ulsan Hyundai vs. Daegu FC – (South) Korean FA Cup

The Final! First leg, anyway. Second one will be at Daegu. In Europe, FA Cup winners typically just qualify for the secondary Europa League tournament. Here, the winner not only qualifies for the next AFC Champions League, they’ll enter at the Group Stage (the latest any team enters).

Ulsan finished the K League 1 in third place. That’s just high enough to net them an AFC CL berth, but not as late as the Group Stage. They have to play their way into that as things stand now, via a “playoff round”.

Daegu finished just 7th, didn’t qualify for squat. They’re not nearly as good on either side of the ball as Ulsan, but particularly trail them in goal-scoring.

That said, Daegu haven’t lost in any of their last seven matches across all competitions. They enter vastly hotter than Ulsan. Noob thinks Daegu are easily an even match for Ulsan, maybe even should be favored, given all the momentum they have.

RESULT:   Daegu   1-2            #7 in the league, but #1 in our FA Cup-hearts!   

8. Northeast United vs. Bengaluru – India Super League

Reminder: India has two top-flite leagues. The other is the I-League. ISL is the one that does not have promotion/relegation. It was created under more of an MLS-like franchise model to promote soccer in the country. They do not qualify teams into international competition like AFC Champions League.

But that doesn’t mean this #B-#1 matchup is any less shiny and alluring! Top four will make the league playoffs. Bengalaru are still undefeated eight matches into the season. They have a game in hand on Northeast, on top of leading them by four points in the table. These teams are the cream of the crop defensively, so look for a low-scoring affair today.   (9:00 AM, Asianet Movies)

RESULT:   1-1        Bengaluru saved their undefeated record at 90′ with a goal

Image result for shiny things funny

 

That… doesn’t feel relevant…

Who’s doing images around here now, anyway? 

Noob missed Dan the Intern-Inferno.

9. Turbine Potsdam vs. VfL Wolfsburg – Frauen-Bundesliga

Lyon may be the #1 women’s team in Europe, but it’s Germany’s top league that ranks most highly. And no German team is mightier than Wolfsburg – 10-0-0 so far.

Top two will qualify for the next women’s UEFA Champions League. That second slot looks likely to either go to Potsdam or Bayern Munich. No one’ going to get Wolfsburg though. After all, they’ve outscored opponents 46-2 so far. Good golly.

RESULT:   1-1         The leaders can bleed, they’re human!

Tuesday

1. UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

Time for the second leg of the Apertura (first half-season) Semfinals! All four teams are in action today. This matchup intrigues Noob a little more because UANL are undefeated. Guadalajara got a 1-1 draw at their own place, no small feat.

Matching up with the league’s best on their own turf likely to be a whole other matter. UANL scored over three goals per match during the regular season, 2/3 again as many as Guadalajara, and while playing about the same caliber of defense.

RESULT:   UANL   5-3        On to the finals!

B. Montpelier vs. Lille – Ligue 2

Paris Saint-Germain are still undefeated, miles ahead of the pack. So the race is on for just two more Champions League berths. Lille have fallen to 4th, not having one in any of their last five outings. They’ve been outscored 8-3 over that time. Montpelier are #B in the table.

RESULT:   Lille   0-1        Lille jump up to # B

But wait, just two matches to start the week?  Yup.   Sounds like more high-quality content that soccer lovers everywhere want.   It’s time for a —

NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!

Last installment of NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB, Noob took Subway to task over there new steak sandwich on sunflower bread, a catastrophe if ever there was one.

Today’s featured sammich is much close to home for Noob.  My six year-old daughter – PersonNoob -created this one recently.

What you’re seeing is four pieces of wheat bread in a

 

single stack.   Each is liberally covered with strawberry jelly.  Here pictured, I’ve removed the top layer to show what she has smashed inside — a Little Bites “birthday cake”-flavored mini-muffin.

We know from “Fizzy’s Lunch Lab” television program that “wheat is sweet”.  But four pieces?   I applaud PersonNoob’s creativity, but one only needs more than two if you’re layering the sammich in different ways between slices.  I blame myself as a parent.

The mini-muffins are fine as prepackaged fare goes.  Certainly eaten my share of ones PN hasn’t finished on our way to her school.

To my surprise, the sweet jam and the “birthday” aspect of the muffin didn’t make this sickeningly sweet, at least not at the first bite.    Yes, I tried it, though only ventured that one bite.  As you might imagine, the texture was just straight up waaaay too much bread.

So does Noob dare really rate a sandwich his own sweet daughter created?   You betcha.   And while this is the highest rating I’ve yet given a sandwich, the finished product still didn’t do all that well.

On the Noob Sammich Review sammich rating scale of one to five Sammiches, I rate the “Extra-Tall Wheat Jelly and Birthday Cake Mini-Muffin Sandwich” at just 1.5 Sammiches.

’10 to Track’ Relegation Monday (12/3) — previews for Matches of Suckitude

Noob always endeavors to bring us the ten most important matches to follow as newish American fans of the global game.

Monday’s, that “importance” takes a different turn – Matches of Suckitude!    Most of today’s featured games include at least one club on the verge of getting Relegated from their league, kicked out for poor performance.

As always, let’s start with a few matches of happier import —

1. Guiseley vs. Fleetwood Town – English FA Cup

This is the Second Round Proper of the tournament. There are Rounds before these two “Proper” ones, qualifying rounds for teams from levels 5-10 of the English football pyramid. At the First Round proper, teams from the third and fourth pyramid levels entered the competition.

Just a few teams from Level 6 (and none lower) remain now. Those are considered Minnows – underdogs. Folks like to root for them to make surprising, deep runs in this event. Guiseley, from West Yorkshire) will take all the support they can garner. They were Relegated from the National League (level 5) last year after a last-place finish and they’re doing little better this year a level down. The defense is okay, but the offense is nearly non-existent.

Fleetwood are from the third tier, League One. They’re below average there. But they’re fully professional and so should be heavy favorites today.

RESULT:   Fleetwood   1-2

B. APOEL Nicosia vs. Apollon Limassol – Cyprus First Division

Surprise, the Cypriot league is in the top 20 in all UEFA! If they rise a few more spots, they may soon qualify multiple teams for UEFA Champions League.

Noob has a soft spot APOEL, as one of my earliest Twitter followers is a mom of one of their players.

They’re in 3rd. Much as Noob wishes it were otherwise, I suspect this league will eventually be a two-team race between Apollon (the best team in the league) and #1-for-the-moment AEL Limassol.

APOEL are only an even match at best for their guests today.

RESULT:   APOEL   5-1        Oh MY

Image result for soft letter B

 

 

Noob also has a soft spot for soft Number B.

3. Bhayangkara vs. PSM Makassar – Indonesia Liga 1

Noob can never be accused of not being a citizen of the world. #27 league in Asia? Sure! The season there is nearly done and the title is undecided. Just one team may even possibly qualify for the next AFC Champions League from here. The champ may also end up in the AFC Cup, a secondary tournament for teams from what the AFC considers “developing football nations”.

Only two matches remain for all clubs there, and Makassar trail Jakarta by two points in the table. No other team is close enough to possibly catch them.

Unfortunately for Makassar, Bhayangkara still have something to play for. They can still catch the #3 club, and that slot might qualify for an AFC Cup berth. Bhayangkara don’t have the defensive PSM do, but the score about the same. At home, Noob considers them a slight favorite.

RESULT:   0-0

And now, your Matches of Suckit000000000d —

4. Levante vs. Athletic Club – La Liga

Three clubs will get Relegated from Spain’s top league at season’s end. Currently, Athletic Club are 18th of 20 teams. They’d be even deeper in the hole with their just one win, but they’ve earned draws in a mind-boggling eight of their dozen other matches.

Levante are 11th, as average as it gets. At home, that should easily be good enough to beat Athletic Club. Though I guess a ninth draw might be in order for the guests today.   (3:00 PM Eastern, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   Levante   3-0

Image result for wearing lots of ties

 

 

Lots of ties, Noob gets it.

The tiny soul patch is the more troubling facet.

5. Nurnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Bundesliga

Germany’s is a another that gives three teams The Boot. Nurnberg is third-to-last, courtesy of not playing a goalie ever. Well, their stats make it look like that, anyway. Even so, they might have a coin-flip’s chance at a win at home today. #12 Leverkusen are better on both sides of the ball, but not by tons.

Fun Fact:    Nurnberg have been Relegated from Bundesliga eight times, most all-time.

RESULT:   1-1

6. Bubali vs. Estrella – Aruba Division di Honor

Aruba? Surely nothing could suck in that paradise. But they have Relegation even there. One team will be automatically sent down. We’re getting to know our CONCACAF brethren, even in states of Suckitude. Hallo, neighbors!

The next two in the table are pegged to participate in a Relegation Playoff. To be honest, Noob’s not sure if they play one another and the loser also goes down to Division Uno (second-tier league) or if they play teams from Division Uno for a chance to stay up.

Regardless, Bubali are in 9th of the ten teams. The season is just a few matches in there, but ti’s not too early to say that if they can’t up their scoring to better than one goal per, they’re going down. Estrella are in 4th, but don’t defend a ton. Still, they have the firepower to handle Bubali, even on the road.

RESULT:   Estrella   0-2

Image result for Bubali aruba

 

 

 

 

There’s Bubali on the western coast.

7. Tigre vs. Godoy Cruz – Argentina Premier

Tigre are in 19th of 28 teams. Not bad, if nowhere near good. Unfortunately for them, this league uses a three-year table for determining who goes down.

And Tigre were so awful the last two, there’s little they can do to save themselves from getting Dropped. They’re in last in that aggregate table, would have to jump three teams to stay up. Perhaps they might get a draw against 10th-place Godoy Cruz.   (3:10 PM, TyC Sports International)

Fun Fact:    Tigre made the Copa Sudamericana final in 2012, but refused to finish the match after falling behind 0-2 at the half (questionably citing “security concerns”).

RESULT:   GC   1-3

8. Yeni Malatyaspor vs. Akhisarspor – Turkey Super Lig

Y.M. just got Promoted to top flite this season, but it’s not them that’s Sucking. They’re in 7th. They’re parking the bus a little, not scoring or getting scored upon lots. It won’t get them higher in the table, but so far it’s easily keeping them afloat.

Akhisarspor are in third-to-last, and Turkey’s is yet another league that kicks three out annually. Their offense is almost average, but the defense is tied for worst.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for turkey floating

 

Floating turkey.

 

No apologies.

9. AGF Aarhus vs. Velje Boldklub – Denmark Superliga

The Danish top league divided into Championship and Relegation subgroups later in the season. Top six play for the title. These two aren’t going to be among those.

Aarhus are in 11th. They show enough of a spark on defense to give hope that they’ll ultimately survive, not actually be Relegated. Velje, on the other hand, are just plain awful. They don’t score even a goal per match on average, and not because they pack it in on D by any stretch.

Fun Fact:  Aarhus were founded in 1880, primarily focused on gymnastics and fencing.

RESULT:   Aarhus   2-1

10. Dibba Al-Fujairah vs. Al Ittihad Kalba – U.A.E. Pro-League

We finish our Track today in the #4 league in all Asia. That shiny ranking is no thanks whatsoever to DAF. They’re the mirror opposite of well-balanced, sporting both the second-worst offense and defense. Kalba are below-average, but should be favored by a goal even on the road against this lot.

RESULT:   Kalba   1-3

Image result for Dibba Al fujairah stadium

 

So long from Dibba Al Fujairah Stadium!

It doesn’t meet the Pro-League’s reqs though, so they play in nearby Fujairah City.

 

Extra Credit:   matches from the women’s EAFF E-1 tournament (East Asia), #3 Dynamo Kiev vs #11 Chornomorets Odessa – Ukrainian Premier, #8 Astra Giurgiu vs. #9 Botosani – Romania Liga I, #12 Opava vs #1 Slavia Prague – Czech First Division, #10 Enosis Paralimni vs #4 AEK Larnaca – Cyprus First Division.

’10 to Track’ Sunday (12/2) soccer match previews – Liga MX, Premier League derbies lead the way

The ten most important matches to follow for us – the newish American fans of the global game.

Noob starts local and with Western Europe, but never ignores the world at large.  I hope that means there’s something here for any fan, not just Noobites.

Follow on the tweeterbox @SoccerNoobUSA.  Check back for match results.  And remember to never travel in a straight line.   Noob keeps things weird.

Note:  Noob’s sources for some CONCACAF things are…inconsistent.   The Ascenso MX (Mexican second division) Apertura Finals second leg may be today.  Really good league, probably one of the best five in CONCACAF.  Use your Google machine powers to find out more.

Also, there may be a Nicaraguan semifinal today.   Same CONCACAF weirdness issue on the interblag.

1. Pumas UNAM vs. Tigres UANL– Liga MX

Opening round of the playoffs, leg two! The top eight from the Apertura (first half-season) qualified. Pumas are the third seed, Tigres sixth. The first leg was at UANL and they won 2-1.

All the momentum is with Tigres. They’ve won four straight. Pumas have only managed one win in their last four tries. Winner will get either CF America or underdog Toluca.   (1:00 PM Eastern, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Pumas   3-1      And so they take the series 4-3 and advance

B. Arsenal vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier League

This is the North London derby. Remember to pronounce that “ar” instead of “er”. You wouldn’t won to sound literate! For the rawest of Noobites, a derby means they’re bigtime rivals.

Being one of Europe’s best leagues, four clubs will qualify from it for the next UEFA Champions League. Noob-dreaded Hotspur are #3, Arsenal #5 with the season just over 1/3 over.

Arsenal lost their first two league matches of the season but quickly righted their ship and haven’t lost since. This, despite the fact that they don’t play quite the same caliber of defense that the other title-contenders do.

Hotspur have won six straight across all competitions. They have proven capable of winning both high and low-scoring affairs, may well be the top threat to #1 Manchester City. They are also named for historic traitor to multiple kings Harry Percy, are worthy of our scorn. Not that this is likely to affect a match result. Noob just can’t help but throw it in there.   (9:05 AM, Telemundo)

RESULT:   Arsenal   4-2        for great justice

Image result for fat controller pissed off

 

 

 

Sir Topham Hatt is displeased by the Harry Percy fawners.

3. RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Bundesliga

Germany’s top league has had a topsy turvy table compared to normal this season. Things are starting to look closer to normal, but M’Gladbach is a club they’re not used to seeing so high up. The enter today #B in the table, and it’s no fluke. Good offense, sterling defense. And they’ve won four in a row over all competitions.

Leipzig either play whatever is better than sterling for defense or parks the bus and doesn’t worry much about scoring. Either way, it worked for them early in the season. They’ve lost three of their last four now though and they sit in 5th place. Top four get into the 209-20 Champions League.   (9:30 AM, FS1)

RESULT:   Leipzig   2-0

4. Alaves vs. Sevilla – La Liga

Spain’s is another top flite that’s table has been filled with less-familiar names at the top. Last year, these were the 7th and 14th-placed teams, respectively. Currently they sit #4 and #1. Top four here, too, qualify for the next CL.

Alaves have lost two of three. They’re not consistently dominating teams much further down the table. They appear to have the defense to perhaps flirt with a top-four finish, but Noob’s not banking on it.

Sevilla are really well-balanced. If it weren’t for hard-charging Barcelona, Noob might think they could truly contend for the title. Plus, Real Madrid appear to be waking from their early season slumber. They’re 5th and will climb higher. For the moment, we get enjoy a breath of fresh air, some new scenery at the top of the table.   (2:45 PM, beIN Sports en Español)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for Spanish fresh air

 

 

 

Eventually we’ll need these again.

5. Celtic vs. Aberdeen – Scottish League Cup

FA Cup – every club that’s a member or associate members of the Scottish Football Association. Challenge Cup – teams from levels 2-4 of the Scottish football pyramid, plus some lower clubs and a few non-Scottish invites.

And then there’s this one! It’s been being contested by the teams from the top four leagues. This is their one-off Final match. It’s in Glasgow, but not at Celtic’s actual home stadium. Not like they need a home-pitch advantage probably, either. They’ve been leading the Premier League there, while Aberdeen are down in 7th.

Celtic have only allowed six league goals all season, 15 matches. That’s insane. But while Celtic should be favored no matter what, Noob doesn’t have a sense of how big a deal this particular Cup is there. Some tournaments, some places, clubs use these as chances to give playing time to bench players.

RESULT:   Celtic   1-0       trophy time!

6. Manchester City vs. Arsenal – England Women’s Soccer League

It’s a battle of the two undefeated teams in the ladies’ top league in England! No one’s even gotten a draw with Arsenal, either. No wonder, they average over four goals per match.

Three teams have gotten draws with Man City. They score over twice as often as any other team in the league – yet only ¾ as much as Arsenal.

RESULT:   Man City   2-0

Image result for White Castle funny

 

Wish I could find the match on TV.   

Ready to party with leftover White Castle.

7. Heredinao vs. Alajuense – Costa Rica Premier

The Final! Noob loves some Costa Rican soccer. This league is every bit as strong as MLS. This is for the Apertura (first half-season) title. And this is the first leg, so they’ll play another match at Alajuense in a few days to complete things.

Alajuense tied for 1st in the regular season table, but lost out on goal differential. They had a quirky 22 matches in that not a single one ended in a draw. No other club had fewer than three.

Herediano tied for 3rd, but entered these Playoffs as the #4 seed, also losing out on GD. They’re a more traditional power there, but weren’t as strong on either side of the ball as their guests today.

RESULT:   Herediano   2-1

8. Deportiva Lara vs. Zamora – Venezuela Premier

Like most or perhaps all Latin American leagues, Venezuela divides their soccer year into separate Apertura and Clausura half-seasons. And for each half, they have a playoffs, crown a champions. But unlike many of those others, here the two tournaments champions face off at year’s end to decide an overall champion. Noob like-y.

Lara won the Clausura playoffs, despite finishing just 4th in the regular season. Zamora finished #B and then won the Apertura playoffs, but weren’t nearly so strong during the Clausura. There, they finished just 7th.

This is a two-legged, home-and-away series for the title. Zamora gets the honor of hosting the second leg, presumably by having the better overall record on the year. Both teams have already qualified for the next Copa Libertadores, so this is strictly for the shiny trophy.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for shiny trophy funny

 

 

The runner-up trophy.

Maybe…

9. Emelec vs. LDU Quito – Ecuador Serie A

Ecuador call their two half-seasons simply Opening and Closing Stages. Concept is the same as Apertura and Clausura though. Or maybe they use those words there and Noob’s sources are just goofy about not translating for Ecuador for some reason. The world is weird.

In any case, there are just two matches to go in the Closing Stage. Opening Stage champions LDU de Quito trail Emelec by two points in the table. As many as four other teams appear mathematically alive for 1st, but one of these two is going to win it.

Emelec haven’t lost in six straight matches. De Quito have also been on a tear. Well, save for a weird loss for soon-to-be-Relegated Tecnico Universitario.

This one’s a big enough match that GOL TV is actually airing it internationally. You’d have to have a deep, deep satellite package to get it here stateside, but it’s on at 12:00 PM.

RESULT:   0-0

10. Basel vs. Young Boys of Bern – Swiss Super League

We finish our Track back in Europe. Noob’s saved this one for last because while it’s an irresistible #B-#1 matchup, there’s no title race going on here.

YBB are ahead by a whopping 13 points in the table less than halfway through the season. That said, Switzerland are a highly-enough ranked league in Europe that they’ll qualify two club into the next Champions League.

Basel have been the more recent studs, but might really only be the fourth-best team this season. The defense is down this season, the offense not enough to make up for that lack.

RESULT:   YBB   1-3

Image result for Basel funny

 

 

So long from the Christmas Market in Basel, Switzerland!

 

Home of creepy, nightmare-inducing holiday mushroom figurines.

You’re welcome.

 

Extra Credit:   Liverpool vs Everton – English Premier League, any of the Second Round English FA Cup matches, #3 Hearts vs #2 Rangers – Scottish Premiership,  #4 Anderlecht vs #B Genk – Belgian First Division A

#2 Vidi vs #3 Budapest Honved – Hungarian NB 1, #3 Academy Pandev vs. #B Vardar Skpje – Macedonian Prva Liga, #3 Feyenoord vs. #1 PSV Eindhoven – Dutch Eredivisie, #4 Besiktas vs #3 Galatasaray – Turkish Super Lig

#5 Independiente vs. #6 Boca Juniors – Argentinian Primera, a Peruvian Primera semfinal, #B Al Nassr vs. #4 Al-Wehda – Saudi Premier, #4 Etoile du Sahel vs. #B Sfaxien – Tunisian Ligue 1

Quarterfinal matches from El Salvador and Guatemala, a semifinal from Honduras, #1 Village Superstars vs. #3 St. Paul’s United – St. Kitts and Nevis Premier, plus maybe a final from Panama.  Info on Panama is the worst.

’10 to Track’ Saturday (12/1) soccer match previews – Liga MX, Premier League lead the way

Noob could choose to define the mantra  here of “the ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game” any number of ways.

But in the quest to learn soccer, I’ve learned I want to embrace the game everywhere  its found.    Today’s Track proudly sports matches from all six continents and federations.

1. Santos vs. Monterrey – Liga MX

This is the second leg of the opening, Quarterfinal round of the Apertura (first half-season) Liguilla (postseason tournament). Tonight’s match completes the home-and-away series.

These are the #4 and #5 seeds. They finished in a three-way tie with another club during the regular season and statistically look very much alike. Monterrey won the first leg at their place, 1-0. Best aggregate score will advance in the bracket.

All the momentum is on the side of Monterrey right now. They haven’t lost in four matches and have conceded only two goals over that stretch. Santos haven’t win in four matches, only score three times over those games.

The winner will almost certainly face #1 Cruz Azul in the Semifinals. They’re up 2-0 in their Quarterfinal and have yet to host their match.   (10:00 PM Eastern, Univision)

RESULT:   Monterrey   0-2        on to the Semis to face Cruz Azul  

B. Manchester City vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

This may be the English match today involving the collectively two highest teams in the table, but it sure doesn’t look competitive. Man City are the world’s greatest club running at the moment.

Bournemouth are tied for 8th. More, Noob’s Fighting Cherries have lost three straight, all by 2-1 scores. They had an extremely hot streak to start the year, but that magic has cooled.   (10:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man City   3-1

Image result for letter B cherry

 

Noob’s been faithful to the quest for Number B.

Number B stays loyal with me in support of the Fighting Cherries of Bournemouth.

3. Lille vs. Lyon – Ligue 1

Once you get past 14-0-0 PSG, there’s quite a race going on in France! Lyon are #B. Lille is one of three teams trailing them by just a point. Top three will make the next Champions league.

Noob doesn’t think Lyon have the defensive ability to maintain their table position, will be one of the odd teams out for a top three finish. Defense is Lille’s greater strength and so they should be expected to get a result here at home.

RESULT:   2-2

4. Flamengo vs. Atletico PR – Brazil Serie A

The last round of matches begins in Brazil now. #B versus #7 isn’t usually shiny enough to capture Noob’s fickle gaze, but this is one with specific meaning.

Flamengo can’t catch Palmeiras (and hail to the champs!), nor can they be passed by anyone. They’re headed to the next Copa Libertadores, qualifying straight through to the Group Stage.

Atletico Paranaense right now are the odd team out of the CL mix. Top six get in and they’re in 7th. APR have lacked on defense compared to teams like Flamengo all year. But with the hosts having essentially nothing to play for, who knows – they may start all scrubs.

Noob’s guess is that APR gets a result today and is still stuck in 7th, headed to Copa Sudamericana – South America’s version of Europa League.

RESULT:   Atletico PR   1-2          But Atletico MG also one, so no Copa Libertadores for Paraense

Image result for Flamengo youth soccer

 

 

Meet Flamengo’s U10 squad.

They’re probably starting this match.

5. Nigeria vs. South Africa – Africa Women Cup of Nations

Let’s get someone a trophy – it’s the Final! This is the most prestigious tournament for national teams in Africa and is held every other year. This match is a one-off in Ghana, where the whole tournament has been being hosted.

Nigeria are the defending champs and #1 team in the CAF, and it’s not even terribly close. South Africa rate fourth-best (#38 and #50 worldwide). It’s worth noting, however, that South Africa beat Nigeria 0-1 in the Group Stage.

RESULT:   Nigeria   0-0  /  4-3  pk                Nigeria are chamPEEENS!

6. Olimpia vs. Real España – Honduras National League

This is the second leg of the Apertura playoff Semifinals. Regular season runners-up Olimpia earned a 2-2 draw on the road in the first match of this home-and-away series. Real are high-octane – all O, no D. At home, the better-balanced Olimpia-ns should take care of business.

RESULT:   0-0        so with the aggregate score tied at two, Olimpia advances on away-goals

Image result for high octane funny

 

 

 

 

If he does “The Pigeon”, Noob’s going on a killing spree.

7. San Pedro vs. Verdes – Belize Premier

Is this match, this league “important” in the football world? Probably not by most anyone’s standards. It’s one of the weaker leagues of Central America. But Noob is bound and determined that we will gain at least a passing familiarity with all other CONCACAF member leagues. Hallooo, neighbors!

More, this is a Semifinal! As the lesser, #3 seed, San Pedro host the first leg of the home-and-away series. They’re not out of their class when comparing defenses here.

But Verdes tied for first in the Opening Stage (like Apertura) regular season, only missing 1st by lesser goal differential. And this league was never anything but a two-team race. Verdes are light years better on offense.

RESULT:         it now appears this was slated for 11/30 but was postponed 

8. Fiji vs. New Zealand – OFC Nations Cup

Oceania’s confederation host this tournament just once every four years. It serves as the qualifier for both World Cup and the Olympics.

And here’s your final! It’s a one-off match, being played in New Caledonia, as was the whole tournament. These are the only OFC teams to rank in the top 100 worldwide. New Zealand are the defending champs and 20th-rated team anywhere by FIFA. Fiji are ranked #89 and will have to try and be happy with second place. Because they’re about to get wrecked.

RESULT:   New Zealand   0-8                 Wrecked indeed

Image result for New Zealanders funny

 

 

 

Well that explains it then.

9. Consadole Sapporo vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Japan J1 League

Just like Brazil’s top flite, this league is now in it’s last round of matches. The top three all qualify for the next AFC Champions League. Only champs (and congrats!) Kawasaki qualify directly to the Group Stage there. The next two will have to play in earlier rounds.

Hiroshima are #B, up just a point in the table on newly-minted AFC CL-titleholders Kashima and two above Sapporo. And what the fruit happened to Hiroshima? At one point they led the entire league by nine points. They’ve now lost seven straight matches. If they can manage a draw today, they’ll finish no worse than 3rd place and still qualify for the next CL. Even if they lose, Kashima has to win to pass them and knock them out of the top three.

Sapporo have won three of four and been reported by the Japan Times to be seen licking their chops endlessly in anticipation of this match.

RESULT:   2-2        And so Kawasaki win the league, Hiroshima hold on to second, and Kashima finish 3rd.    Sapporo – no AFC CL for yooooou.

10. Ballymena United vs. Linfield – Northern Ireland Premier

We finish our Track today with a shiny #B-#1 matchup. Does Noob care that it’s in one of the weakest leagues in all Europe? Not at all! (OK, maybe a little. They’ve fallen behind Gibraltar for goodness’ sake, which has the population of like Ames, Iowa.)

Anyway, the season is halfway complete in this semi-pro league. The race is shaping up to be a dramatic one. Linfield lead their hosts today by just a point in the table. Glenavon are just a point farther back, and defending champs Crusaders are just six back of their familiar spot.

The top four all average about two goals per game. But in this offensively-leaning league, it’s only Linfield that can defend as well. They’re the only club giving up less than a goal per game average.

RESULT:   Ballymena    1-2           We have a new leader in the NIFL Premier!

Image result for Slemish Mountain Saint PatrickSo long from Slemish Mountain, Ballymena – said to be first irish home of Saint Patrick.

This guy’s just a Sean Astin-wannabe though.

 

Extra Credit:   Any of the many second round English FA Cup matches, #5 Sheffield United vs. #B Leeds United – English Championship, #5 Grenoble vs. #1 Metz – France’s Ligue 2

#B Legia Warsaw vs. #4 Korono Kielce – Poland Ekstraklasa, #3 Zilinia vs. #B DAC 1904 Dunajska Streda – Slovakia Super Liga, #3 Domzale vs. #1 Maribor – Slovenia Prva Liga, #3 Malaga vs. #4 Granada – Spain’s Segunda Liga, today’s AFF Cup and women’s EAFF-1 matches

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday (11/20) soccer match preview – Ascenso and Liga MX Femenil lead the way!

Fridays, here at Noob we put on our adventure outfits and Trot the Globe.  What’s that mean?

Schedules run a little light most everywhere right before the weekend.   Rather than a stay-cation, we pack our bags and binoculars and head out to see the footyball world!  Take some time to see tournaments, clubs and leagues we don’t get to the rest of the week.

As always, we start more local, then we jet-set to soccer hinterlands of wonder.

1. CF America vs. Pachuca – Liga MX Femenil

Time for the Semifinals in Mexico’s top women’s league! These are the Apertura (first half-season) playoffs, meaning they’ll have another half-season and set of playoffs right after this set ends.

Semifinalists will play two-legged, home-and-away ties to see who makes the Finals. Since America won their regular season Group (the league is divided into two), they get to host the second match of this series.

The teams were pretty similar statistically throughout the Apertura. Neither team led their Group in goal-scoring or defense, but both were very balanced. America leaned a touch more heavily on their defense, so odds are they’ll keep the pace under control, the score low.

RESULT:   0-0

B. Sinaloa vs. San Luis – Ascenso MX

Mas Mexico! Ascenso is the second division league there, and this is the first match of their Apertura finals. The top eight teams all made these playoffs.

Surprisingly, these two finalists were just 7th and 5th in the regular season, respectively. These were the lowest-scoring teams off all those that made the playoffs (and some that didn’t). This won’t be the smexiest series ever, with goals likely being hard to come by all around.

RESULT:   Sinaloa   1-0

Image result for so smexy funny

 

 

We can agree to disagree.

This fellow always sees the Smexy in everything.

3. Cardiff City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – English Premier League

The only EPL match today involved two teams that were in the second-division Championship league last season. They finished #B and #1, respectively.

Cardiff are playing like they’re headed right back down. They’re in a three-way tie for last and three teams is the number that will be Relegated. They don’t score much, but the defense has been even more lacking. They’ve lost three of four coming into today.

Wolves – even though their nickname is officially Wanderers – had a hot start to the season, sit in 11th place. But they haven’t won in their last five outings. They don’t score, which was fine when they weren’t conceding many goals, either. But that’s changed. So look for this to at least be entertaining, likely to be a shootout.

RESULT:   Cardiff   2-1         a come from behind that win that – for the moment – lifts them out of the Relegation zone

4. Solihull Moors vs. Blackpool – England FA Cup

This is the Second Round Proper of England’s FA Cup Noobites, check out the vocab page at the top of this site for a few more details on what that entails.

The only match from this event today features a home team from the fifth level of the English soccer pyramid. Some teams from the sixth tier are alive as well, but fifth is low enough we can call them Minnow – an underdog fans all over will cheer for to make a deep run in the event.

Solihull are in the National League premier division. They’re in 5th so far this season. Last year, they nearly got Relegated to one of the regional National League for finishing so low. Good balance, a little more reliant on their defense.

Blackpool are from the third division – League one. They’re just a bit better than average there. If they want to be more than that, it’s going to require a surge in offensive power they’ve yet to display.

RESULT:   0-0        So they’ll play again in a few days, but at Blackpool

Image result for solihull moors fc

 

 

If you don’t look too closely, it appears the horse is trying to make someone slow dance with it.

5. Dundee United vs. Ayr United – Scotland Championship

This is the Scots’ second-tier league. It’s earlyish, yet the league is starting to shape up to be a three-horse race. But just one will be automatically Promoted to Premier. The next top few finishers will have a Playoff to see what other club also moves up.

Ayr sport the league;’s second -best O and D, which has them in 1st. Noob thinks Ross County will be the only true competition they’ll have by the end. Dundee can score, but don’t have the defense apparently to keep pace long-term. A home match like today’s is the perfect chance to be proven wrong though.

RESULT:   Ayr   0-5

6. Lorient vs. Lens – Ligue 2

The top two in the French second division will move up at season’s end automatically, while the next three battle for one more berth.

The defense for these two is good enough to get them where they want to be. But only two teams have serious goal-scoring capability and these ain’t them. These two are in 3rd and 4th place. A draw feels likely. If either wins, that puts the other one in a bad way for the title race.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for Monty python french gif

 

 

 

French defense is the funniest

7. Shandong Luneng vs. Beijing Gouan – China FA Cup

The Final! And the second leg, at that. When the two met in Beijing for the first match, it ended 1-1. The two finished 3rd and 4th in the Super League this year. Of the top four, Shandong are the ones who rely on their defense, so this may be a tight, tactical affair on their pitch.

The top for league finishers in China all qualify for the next Champions League in Asia. The stakes seem to be today that the winner will get to enter that tournament at the Group Stage, while the vanquished will have to play through a pre-group stage qualifying round.

RESULT:   2-2     …which means Beijing are your FA Cup winners!     Aggregate score is 3-3, which means Beijing win on away-goals tiebreaker.

8. Cameroon vs. Mali – Africa Women Cup of Nations

Cup of Nations is the premier international Cup event in Africa, held every two years. This version’s been hosted in Ghana. Here we’ve reached the Consolation Match, a battle for 3rd place.

FIFA ranks these nationals teams as 49th and 89th- best in the world, but 3rd and 10th-best in the CAF. Both can score, but Cameroon defends well, too. Both advanced to the Knockout Round out of the same Group, so they’ve played already during this event. Cameroon won 2-3.

RESULT:   Cameroon   4-2            Bronze to the home side

Image result for african women cup of nations 2018

9. Sepahan vs. Padideh – Persian Gulf Pro League

Iran’s top flite is rated as the fifth-strongest in all Asia. As such, they will qualify two clubs into the next AFC Champions League. As of right now, these would be them.

Sepahan are the only club in the league scoring a whopping 2+ goals per match. Irresistable force, mean Immovable object. Padideh give up less than one every other match. The former are one of two clubs that are still undefeated. But the latter lead everyone because they win a lot more than they draw.

RESULT:   Sepahan   1-0

10. Gokulam vs. Churchill Brothers – India I-League

A reminder: This is one of two leagues considered “top tier” in India. I-League is the one that actually qualifies a team into the AFC Champions League. They only get one team in, as they are ranked only14th in the confederation.

Churchill are undefeated, but so are Chennai City, and the latter get mostly wins, not draws. That’s why they lead Churchill Bros. By seven points in the table already, just five-six matches into the season.

Gokulam are just a point further back. They score pretty well, for a team that isn’t Chennai anyway. Both teams come in having won two matches in a row.

RESULT:   1-1

So long from Kozhikode, home of Gokulam!

Backwater Cruises here and around Kerala look heavenly.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (11/27-29) soccer match previews – MLS Semis end the MWE!

The ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game” – hit their peak of importance today. MLS Semifinals! After tonight, we’ll know who’s playing for the big trophy.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s match results follow below. Remember you can always check back for results on every single day, plus often a note or two about who starred, or how the results affected what was at stake.

Thursday

9. Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers – Major League Soccer

Second leg of the Western Conference Finals! While any team would of course like to get a road win every time, #1 KC got the draw in Portland in the first match of this two-game series. Now they have the chance to take care of business at home.

But that scoreless draw has to be troubling for them. Goalkeeper Tim Melia of USMNT fame played well and Graham Zusi was a monster on the back defensive line. But Noob highlighted Daniel Salloi for that first match and instead of starring, he was the weak link, losing duels and not being terribly good with passes.

The 5th-seed Portland was better on passing, held the ball longer, and created more shots on goal. That didn’t and won’t matter if they can’t get better play from striker Jeremy Ebobisse though.

Ultimately, it’s hard to beat home cookin’. KC did what was necessary, if just, and should be a moderate to heavy favorite at home.   (9:30 PM Eastern, ESPN)

RESULT:   Portland    2-3           Diego Valeri with two Timbers goals, including the game winner at 90′

10. New York Red Bulls vs. Atlanta United – Major League Soccer

Some are calling the Eastern Conference finals the de facto league finals. Both teams had several more point in the the table than K.C.

#B Atlanta laid the smack down at their place in the first leg of this overall Semi, 3-0. Franco Escobar was the slightly-surprisng star with both a goal and an assist. This club has the best offense in the entire league. It will be interesting to see if they keep dancing with the girl that brought them and continue attacking, or try to take the air out of the ball with such a big lead from the first leg.

NYRB have a HYOOJ hole to dig themselves out of. Lots of goals will certainly mean the involvement of BrandonWright-Phillips, who looked like an MVP the first half of the MLS season. Not that he tanked after that, but his effectiveness definitely diminished. But if the right side of Red Bulls’ back line get manhandled again (Tim Parker, Michael Murillo), BWP’s possible resurgence won’t matter.   (7:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   NYRB   1-0         But it’s not enough!    ATL will host the single-match Final versus Portland.

Image result for the world of red bull funnySo long from…wherever the Red Bull box cart races were held.

Yeeeah.  Wow.

 

Extra Credit: Two Liga MX qf’s, a couple dozen group stage Europa league matches, Copa Sudamericana sf, El Salvador and Guatemala qf’s, second round Arab Club Championship

Wednesday

3. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur vs. Inter Milan – UEFA Champions League

You can scroll down to the Tuesday portion of the Midweek Track for a few extra details on the event, should you be a completely unseasoned Noobite.

Noob-reviled Hotspur is nearly out of Champions League, as is good, right and appropriate. When your club is named for an historic traitor (Harry Percy), good things cannot follow.

The scourge of England’s Premier League, Hotspur trail Inter by three points in the table and won the first match between them (tiebreaker). Since Hotspur’s remaining match other than this one is at #1 Barcelona, they’re in desperate need of a win today.

Hotspur are winners of five straight across all competitions. Inter are in just 5th in Italy’s Serie A. Where Hotspur lack a little offensive punch compared to many other top teams, Inter have been sagging on defense. Bad matchup for the visitors, sadly.   (3:00 PM Eastern, TNT)

RESULT:   Hotspur   1-0

Image result for sir topham hatt furious

 

 

Sir Topham Hatt — flexing the pimp hand.  Gotta keep it strong for those Hotspur COYS.

 

4. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Liverpool – UEFA Champions League

This is the most competitive Group going here. Liverpool and Napoli are tied for first. PSG are just a point behind and Red Star Belgrade only a point behind them in turn.

PSG are running roughshod over Ligue 1 – no losses or draws. Yet many people Noob reads suggest the league is not very good this year. Liverpool have yet to lose in Champions League, putting them in second place there. Neither team allow goals.

Both teams are stronger than the ones in Track Match three here. If either doesn’t qualify for the Knockout Round, that’s big news.   (3:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   PSG   2-1

5. Porto vs. Schalke – UEFA Champions League

Three matches from one event? Thought you were filtering event like these, Noob.

Oh, but I am. But I won’t ignore important ones this late in the Group Stage just for the sake of it. Porto is Portugal’s #1 team. That doesn’t make them one of the very strongest clubs remaining, but they won’t be a pushover for anyone next round. They’re dominating the Primeira Liga and can score and defend amazingly.

Germany’s Schalke trail Porto by two in the Group C table. An upset win today would guarantee them a berth in the Knockout Round. And it would be a remarkable upset at that. In the Bundesliga, they’re playing so darn badly that they’re fighting just to stay out of the Relegation Zone.

They don’t defend half badly, but they didn’t wow on offense last year and don’t score much at all now. Still, they lead the Group 3rd-place team by four, seem likely to sneak out of the Group Stage no matter how today goes.

RESULT:   Porto   3-1

Image result for schalke 04 funny

 

 

 

Is that the German Mr. Magoo?

 

6. Monterrey vs. Santos – Liga MX

Let the playoffs begin! This is the Liguilla. The eight best teams from the Apertura (first half-season) qualified. This is a bracketed tournament. Each pair of teams will play two-legged, home-and-away series.

It is seeded just like the NCAA basketball tourney would be, and this is your 4/5 matchup. Santos has been a shade better on both sides of the ball. More, they haven’t lost to Monterrey in their last three matches. But Monterrey haven’t lost in three matches, while Santos didn’t win in any of their last three.   (10:06 PM, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:   Monterrey    1-0

7. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

This is CONCACAF’s third-strongest league. They might argue they’re better than MLS. Mexicans might argue their second division league is better. Regardless, this is a sneaky-good football league.

And the Playoffs are already underway! The top four qualified for this postseason tournament. Apertura regular season champs Saprissa host this second match of the home-and-away Semifinal series. Herediano – the other perennial power here – finished 4th, won the first leg 1-0 at their place.

Saprissa was better on both sides of the ball all Apertura, but particularly so on offense. That one-goal deficit should be one they can overcome today, move on to the Final.

RESULT:   Saprissa   1-0       …which means the series was tied and they moved on to penalty kicks!    Herediano advances to the final on those, 2-4

Image result for costa rica premier logo

 

 

One foot-sport, one heart.  

But the logo’s more than a little puffy-nipply.   No.

8. Portmore United vs. Tivoli Gardens – Jamaica Premier

This, too, is one of CONCACAF’s stronger domestic leagues – almost certainly the best of the island nations in our federation. Hallooo, neighbors! Noob’s making a concerted effort to get to know ya. May I borrow a cup of sugar?

The top six finishers here will make the Playoffs, with the top two getting byes into the Semifinals. They’re a dozen matches into the season, and rhese two are #1 and #3. This is a classic best offense versus best defense scenario. An upset win wouldn’t move Gardens into 1st, but would tighten up an already good-looking race.

RESULT:   Portmore   2-0

Extra Credit:   the other UEFA Champions League matches, Costa Rican semifinal, Liga MX qf; 

Also, Spain’s Copa del Rey round of 32 match, Copa Argentina sf, Copa Sudamericana sf, Czech Cup Round of 16, Guatemala National League sf

Also, #1 Shkendija vs. #3 Academy Pandev in Macedonai’s Prva Liga, Russian FA Cup qf, very early round CAF Champions League, #3 Brittania vs. #2 Nacional in Aruba’s Division di Honor, second round Arab Club Championship

Tuesday

1. Lyon vs. Manchester City – UEFA Champions League

But make no mistake, I’m glad it’s back, baybeeeeee! A quick reminder for the newest Noobites what the it is:. League champions and other top teams of Europe in the crown jewel of all club tournaments. They’re currently in the Group Stage. Pods of four playing double round robins. Top two finishers from each will advance to the Knockout (single elimination, bracket-style) Stage. Everybody’s got two matches to go.

Man City is thought by many to be the #1 team in the world currently. They’re undefeated in Premier League play, lead Lyon by three point in the Group F table. But they’ve lost one match.

To Lyon. At Man City! The French team is a distant #B to undefeated Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 there, but #B nonetheless. They haven’t lost to anyone, anywhere, besides PSG since August. Yet strangely, that win over Man City is their only win in Group F. All their other matches have ended in draws.

So what’s at stake? Noob’s laser-focused of late on stakes, letting you know why any given match is important. Man City are almost 100% to advance to the Knockout Round now, and any result (win or draw) will seal that deal.

A win for Lyon would do the same. Anything else, and the door is very much open for the other two Group F clubs, trailing by three and four points, respectively. So yes, remaining undefeated with a draw would leave the, in jeopardy yet. What a tournament.

Oh, and based on ELO ratings (thank you, footballdatabase.com), Noob thinks Man City will win easily, 1-2 goal margin, in France.

RESULT:   2-2         Maxwell Cornet with a goal and an assist for Lyon as they blew two leads.  

B. AS Roma vs. Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League

Noob is often reluctant to feature multiple matches from the same league or tournament on a given day. I wish to act as filter for we newish fans, allow us to focus on the most important things, yet with a broad gaze. Eight matches today for UEFA CL. We can do two.

It’s an easy decision when the three-time defending champions are in the mix, too. Real and Roma are tied for the Group G lead. The next team down is five points behind. Look, these two are going through to the Knockout Stage no matter how the match ends today. But finishing 1st or runner-up matters for seeding in the next Round, so this match is still monster.

Defending champs or not, this isn’t the same Real team of recent years. Losing the greatest active player in the world – Cristiano Ronaldo – will have that effect. They’re in just 5th place in La Liga and just suffered a blistering 3-0 loss to Eibar. If you don’t know that name, that’s the point. And their newfound issues are on both sides of the ball.

Yet after a 3rd place Italian Serie A finish last year, Roma have slipped as many places as Real – down to 7th at present. They’d appeared to have the righted their ship to some degree of late, but than lost to Udinese last time out. Once again, if you don’t know that club, that’s the point.

Real’s crash back to earth this year has been the steeper fall. Still, Noob wouldn’t put Roma at any better than an even match for them at home.

RESULT:   Real   0-2

New feature! EXTRA CREDIT will appear with some frequency now – these are events, matches Noob scouted for a given date but that didn’t make the cut for the Track.

Extra Credit: Early round-Coupe de France, Scotland’s FA Cup, very early round 2018-19 CAF Champions League, later round EFL Cup (tournament of tertiary importance in England), and Semifinals of Africa’s women’s Cup of Nations – all are in action.

ALSO! Congrats to Guadalajara, UANL, America and Pachuca of Liga MX Femenil. They all just qualified for the Semifinals of the Apertura (first half-season) there.

Noob’s trying to learn women’s and more CONCACAF soccer in general, but the site I use (for the moment) screws up dates something fierce. I’d scouted the Quarterfinals I thought were today, but they’re in the books already. Part of the learning for Noob is finding the best resources.

 

’10 to Track’ Relegation Monday (11/26) soccer match previews – Matches of Suckitude

All week long, Noob endeavors to provide concise, entry-level info for matches, leagues and tournaments the world over.   The newish American fans of the global game deserve no less!

Mondays, world scheds tend to run a little light.  So Noob invites us all to embrace the sadness of a Monday, celebrate with Matches of Suckitude and Fun Facts!

Most of the matches involve at least one team on the edge of being Relegated – kicked out of their league for poor performance.

1. Burnley vs. Newcastle United – English Premier League

Not a Relegation match. At least not presently. In fact, things have been looking up for Newcastle! They started the season on a desperately awful winless streak. But they’ve won two in a row now and not lost in three. Bottom three get Relegated in England and these results have lifted Newcastle to 15th. But they’re still just one point in the table ahead of all the last place clubs.

Burnley are in 17th. They’ve also had two wins on the league season, but none recently. A road draw at Leicester just got them off a three-match losing skid. They so putrid on defense, one almost forgets that they don’t score much either. How there are three teams worse than them is nearly beyond Noob, but the numbers it all up.

RESULT:   Newcastle   1-2

B. Hamburger SV vs. Union Berlin – 2. Bundesliga

It’s Suckitude flashback! Last year, Hamburger was Relegated to this, Germany’s second division. This is the first time they’d ever been sent down. They were the only team in the country to have always been in the top flite. Suckitude Redemption? It’s looking that way so far. The top two here will get Promoted at season’s end and HSV are tied for 1st.

But Union Berlin are coming to town. They’re 4th place, pretty good, undefeated, and statistically weird. They’re record is 5-8-0. They’re the best defensive team in the league and it’s not even that close.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for letter B hamburger

 

Number B wonders why the face is on the bottom bun.

(With bits like this, hard to believe Noob hasn’t been picked up by a larger interwebs site.)

3. Botafogo vs. Parana Clube – Brazil Serie A

One win in their last 22 matches. Parana Clube were the fourth and final team Promoted last season from Serie B. They’re going right back down, have been so bad they should be Demoted right to Serie, oh, H. Do they go that low? Probably not.

The team just above them in the table actually plays worse defense. Not sure that’s the right turn of phrase. No defense is being played. But Parana only score half has much as the next-most impotent offense in the league.

The only reason Botafogo might not win by 2+ goals today is that with two matches to go, they’re fate is sealed – win, lose or draw. They’re headed to Copa Sudamericana, South America’s answer to Europa League.

Fun Fact:   Parana Clube are from the city of Curitiba, which means “Araucaria Nut Land”, araucaria being a Brazilian candelabra tree.

RESULT:   Botafogo   2-1

4. Defense y Justicia vs. Tigre – Argentina Premier

Argentina’s is one of those leagues that uses a multi-year Relegation table. It’s too bad Tigre are all but certain to get The Boot after this season. They’re actually not much worse than half-bad now, 17th place of 26 clubs. The offense has improved to downright so-so!

But they crapped the bed so badly for the two years prior, there’s about no saving themselves now.

RESULT:   DyJ   2-1

Image result for crap the bed emoji

 

 

No.

 

No no no no no.

5. Petrojet vs. Smouha – Egypt Premier

Petrojet would be in last instead of just above it, but Al Ahly is below them for the moment. Getting all the way to the CAF Champions League finals meant postponing a lot of domestic matches for them.

Funny thing is, Petrojet doesn’t look half bad at all on paper. They’re record is as bizarre as Union Berlin’s – 1-9-4! They’re pretty average on both sides of the ball, but a 60% draw-rate is cartoonish and ultimately unhelpful to their cause. Smouha are in 5th, lean defensively, will try to keep the score down. Look for a 1-1 draw, Noob supposes.

Fun Fact:    FC Barcelona of Spain’s La Liga called, says to drop the “Egyptian Barcelona” nickname you’ve been using.  Knock it off until you no longer suck.

RESULT:   Petrojet   5-1      Not just a Monday miracle, but a blowout!

6. Tivoli Gardens vs. Harbour View – Jamaica Premier

Time for the getting to know our CONCACAF neighbors-portion of the program! And what we can now know is that Harbour View has the worst defense on the island. Not that they score much, but the only smell more powerful than the sweet ganj all over the place there is the bitter odor coming from their back line and goalkeeper.

Tivoli are in 3rd. They’re offensive numbers don’t look tremendous so far. That changes today though.

RESULT:   Tivoli   5-1       This game may have been played yesterday

Image result for soccer marijuana

 

 

 

You’re welcome.

7. Aarhaus vs. Horsens – Denmark Superliga

The bottom eight of the 14 Danish clubs will later in the season have their own subdivision and then Relegation Playoffs. So now, the goal is to avoid that danger and get into the top six.

Neither of these – the 11th and 9th-place clubs – have the offense to climb to that Championship subdivision which will form later. Just no scoring firepower to be found between them.

Fun Fact:    Last year, Aarhus was a designated European Capital of Culture.   The city is particular noted for its musical history, being a jazz hotbed in the 1950’s.

RESULT:   Horsens   1-2

8. Ermis Aradippou vs. Doxa Katokopia – Cyprus First Division

This league is like Denmark’s. D.K. Might have the scoring capability to eke out a top-six finish and avoid the Relegation subdivision later this season, but sit in 8th for now. E.A. are in 10th, almost appear allergic to scoring.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for ermis aradippou fc 2018 crest

 

 

 

Too cool a crest for D2

9. Botosani vs. Universitatea Craiova – Romania Liga I

Botosani are another of the type of team we keep running into on today’s Track that just get waaaaay too many draws to make any headway in their table. If they could shore up their porous defense much at all, this could be a club that actually climbs from nearly last place all the way to a top-half finish and safety. Gotta get to top six here, too, to avoid Relegation subdivision play later.

Unfortunately for them, that trek probably doesn’t start today. Craiova are well-balanced, strong on both sides of the ball. They’re in 4th now, and Noob thinks they’ll give FCSB all they can handle for the title.

Fun Fact:  The city of Botosani is home to an internationally award-winning puppet theatre group.

RESULT:   Botosani   2-1

10. Arka Gdynia vs. Wisla Krakow – Poland Ekstraklasa

We finish our Track today with a match involving perhaps the best club that’s technically in a Relegation Zone. Gdynia are in 9th. If they can climb just one little spot in the table, they’ll be clear of the Relegation subdivision in Poland. And they’ve already got an impressive three road wins on the season. They lack just a little on offense to make a hard push towards the league contenders.

Wisla Krakow are in 6th. This makes Noob wear the sadpants, as I picked them to win this league.

RESULT:    Gydnia   4-1           At this point, Krakow are just taunting me

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So long from Noob and Mister Sadpants.