Saturdays and Sundays, Noob endeavors to highlight the ten most important matches to follow on each, for us – the newish American fans of the global game.
Tuesday through Thursday, we do just ten over the three days. Either way, we’re local, Western European, and then the world. Mini-previews that introduce us to the teams, leagues and tournaments everywhere, and what the stakes are — why each is important to the teams involved, and so can be to us.
Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s matches and results follow below.
4. England vs. U.S.A. – friendly
This is the last friendly of the year for USMNT. After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the youth movement continues for the team. They’ve already been running very young, and now two of the few veterans who would’ve been on the roster are out due to injury.
Perhaps the most noteworthy cal-up is goalie Jonathan Klinsmann, son of the former German USMNT manager. He’s with German Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin, but Noob gathers hasn’t been a key part of things there yet.
In other big news, American’s young, oft-thought #1 superstar Christian Pulisic (with Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund) is coming off injury and on the roster for the first time in a while. Tyler Adams of New York Red Bulls is back from being hurt as well.
Finally, this may be the last match as interim head coach for Sara Chan. Talk is that Columbus Crew manager Gregg Berhalter is likely to take the reigns for the American team shortly.
The Management would like to apologize for Noob’s greivous error. The interim manager of the US Men’s National Team is Dave Sarachan. He is not an Asian or Asian-American women named Sara Chan. Thank you for your time, attention and patronage of Noob.
Sooooo…you don’t think a women could do the job, The Management?
That is not what I said. Merely that –
Moving on! Sexist pig 🙂
England’s all-time leading scoring Wayne Rooney – currently of MLS’ D.C. United club – will be making a farewell appearance for their national team. He last appeared for them in 2016.
These are the 23rd and 5th-ranked teams in the world. Noob’s read that gap might be exacerbated by the fact that the Three Lions will likely be playing their top squad or something close. They’re currently also playing in the new UEFA Nation’s League tournament. I would think that means they’d rest starters for a friendly, but we shall see. (3:00 PM EDT, ESPN2)
RESULT: England 3-0 Not a strong showing for the Americans on any front.
5. Croatia vs. Spain – UEFA Nations League
A reminder of what we have here:
This is a new tournament, largely replacing international friendlies in certain parts of the soccer calendar. UEFA intends to hold this every other year. All 55 national teams are participating. They are divided into four leagues, based on rankings around the last World Cup. The top dozen are in League A, the next 12 League B, and so on (though more than a dozen in C and D each).
The Leagues are in turn each divided into equal cross-section Groups of three or four. In each Group, the teams will play home and away double round robins. In League A, the four winners will have a Playoff to determine the event champion. In the other leagues, the Group winners will have a Playoff as well. The winners of all four Playoffs automatically qualify for the 2020 European Championships.
So that’s what’s going on and what’s at stake. This matchup is one in League A.
Currently, Croatia is ranked #4 in the world, Spain 9th. But Croatia haven’t had good fortune since making the World Cup final last year. Their only win since then is a 2-1 win over Jordan. Spain won the first match against them 6-0 in this event. The Spanish lead England by two points in the table for 1st. (2:45 PM, Galavision)
RESULT: Croatia 3-2 Last minute goal for the winners!
6. Luxembourg vs. Belarus – UEFA Nations League
Most or all of the teams in League A will actually qualify for the 2020 Euros through other channels, so this event is more important for teams in the lower Leagues’ teams.
Here in League D, the Groups are four teams each. Luxembourg lead Belarus by a point after four matches. They’re ranked #84 and #78 in the world, respectively. This isn’t the sort of match you’ll find on TV – at least not stateside. But it should be a shootout! The two have collectively outscored their opponents 16-1 so far. Belarus won the first match between them in this event 1-0.
RESULT: Belarus 0-2
The Lux MNT of 1920.
7. Iran vs. Trinidad and Tobago – friendly
Welcome to what might be the only English language preview of this match anywhere!
FIFA ranks them #30 and #93 in the world. This makes Iran the #1-ranked team in Asia. They’ve lost just once in their last six matches, all low-scoring affairs. That includes a pretty decent win against Morocco (#47).
T&T, tenured Noobites may recall, was the last team the USMNT played in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers last year. Our Caribbean counterparts were victorious, keeping the Americans out and allowing Panama their first-ever appearance. More recently, they’ve won just once in their last four outings, all all low-scoring. But the W was a decent one, over higher-ranked U.A.E.
OK, not much of a preview. But we’re going to get to know our CONCACAF neighbors as best we reasonably can.
RESULT: Iran 1-0
8. Israel vs. Guatemala – friendly
Noob just trained a college kid at work this week. He grew up abroad, all over. Mom is in the Foriegn Service. His favorite place was doing high school in suburban Tel Aviv. He’s working towards working for them as well, will work towards getting back to that spot.
He follows soccer, but mainly Premier League. He likes tracking his favorite players, not club teams. Noob isn’t super-player specific at all, so that’s all I really have to say about that.
The Management: Going to preview the match?
Nah. I just like to write whatever.
RESULT: Israel 7-0 not a typo
9. Sao Paulo vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A
It may be “International Break” for Europe, but there’s still hawt domestic league action in other places!
The season is nearing it’s end in Brazil. The top six all qualify for the next Copa Libertadores (South America’s champions league). These two are tied for 4th. Fourth place itself is an important table position, as it’s the lowest one from which the club will automatically enter the CL Group Stage. The two below will have to fight through a qualifying round.
Sao Paulo was red hot much earlier in the year, occupying the top spot in the table for a good while. But they’ve only won one in their last nine, albeit that stretch is littered with many draws. It had looked like the defense might be what would cause them trouble based on early-season numbers, but its their offense that has done a disappearing act of late.
Gremio have cooled off a little of late themselves, though not nearly to Sao Paulo’s degree. Some of that may have been because they were defending their Copa Libertadores title. They lost in the Semis and can now focus on a top-four finish in league play. (4:00 PM, GOL TV)
10. Deportivo La Guaira vs. Deportivo Tachira – Venezuela Premier
We finish our Track with some domestic league Playoff goodness.
Like in many Latin countries, Venezuela divides its season into two separate league tournaments. This is the second leg of the Semifinal of the Clausura (second half-season) postseason playoffs. They finished #B and #3 in the league. La Guira tied for best offense in the league, but lost the first match of this series 0-1.
The winner will get #4 Deportivo Lara or barely-qualified #8 Caracas.
RESULT: La Guaira 3-1
So long from Caracas!
La Guaira is both a city and club, but their Estadio Olimpico UCV home is in Caracas.
3. Panama vs. Argentina – CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualification
Like yesterday’s UEFA WC qual. match, this is a Playoff – one last chance to get in. Panama finished 4th in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament and Argentina finished 3rd in the CONMEBOL version. The teams are ranked #66 and #37 in the world, respectively.
Now they are playing off for one more berth. And the Panamanian women’s quest to join last year’s men’s national team in being the first ever to qualify from their country is nearly over. Argentina won their home half of this two-match series 4-0. Panama aren’t scoring 5+ today.
RESULT: 1-1 Argentina are World Cup-bound
1. Scotland vs. U.S.A. – women’s international friendly
The #1 world ranked American ladies continued their tuneups for next year’s World Cup. #19 Scotland could only keep possession a little over 1/3 of the time. Alex Morgan’s goal was the only one of the match, so 0-1 U.S.
Thanks for keeping us pumped, Miley.
B. Switzerland vs. Netherlands – UEFA Women’s World Cup qualification
The Group Stage winners of this event all qualified for next year’s WC. The four best runners-up have been participating in Playoffs to determine one last qualifier.
#18 Switzerland and #10 FIFA-ranked Netherlands were the last two standing. The Dutch gals won the first match of this home and away two-legged tie in dominating fashion, 1-3. The pace was slower for today’s second leg, a 1-1 draw.
And so, congrats to Netherlands and good fortune in in 2019!
Number B is down to party with the Dutch gals.
Tired out old Number Two need not RSVP.