MLS CBL info

The MLS collective bargaining agreement has two years left on it.

Sirius XM “United States of Soccer” host Jason Davis suggested to Noob on Twitter the following links to get to know a little about that agreement.

These are really nice, without getting too too deep in the weeds.  They will be archived in the ‘Explainers’ page here, though Noob may change the name of it to something like ‘Deeper Digging’.

Also, you can follow Noob on the Twitter – SoccernoobUSA.

UEFA Nations League explainer

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.

The teams 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.

2018 World Cup draw – a quick Explainer for Noobites

2018 World Cup Draws – a quick Explainer

32 teams are will form eight Groups of four.   Each team in a Group will play the others in that Group once.  All matches will be played in Russia.  Matches start in June.

The top two from each Group will advance to the Knockout phase – the bracketed part of the tournament.

How were Groups determined, Noob? 

Thanks for asking.  The teams are all placed in Pots, based on how they’re ranked by FIFA (as of last October).

Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
 Russia (65) (hosts)
Germany (1)
Brazil (2)
Portugal (3)
Argentina (4)
Belgium (5)
Poland (6)
France (7)
 Spain (8)
Peru (10)
Switzerland (11)
England (12)
Colombia (13)
Mexico (16)
Uruguay (17)
Croatia (18)
 Denmark (19)
Iceland (21)
Costa Rica (22)
Sweden (25)
Tunisia (28)
Egypt (30)
Senegal (32)
Iran (34)
 Serbia (38)
Nigeria (41)
Australia (43)
Japan (44)
Morocco (48)
Panama (49)
South Korea (62)
Saudi Arabia (63)


Russia, as host nation, gets its National Team in Pot One.

One team from each pot is randomly drawn into a Group of four.  Worth noting, any two teams from the same confederation are disallowed from being placed in the same Group.  The exception to that is Europe, because they qualify more than eight teams.

So where did they all end up?

  • Group A:Russia (65), Uruguay (17), Egypt (30), Saudi Arabia (63)
  • Group B: Portugal (3), Spain (8), Iran (34), Morocco (48)
  • Group C: France (7), Peru (10), Denmark (19), Australia (43)
  • Group D: Argentina (4), Croatia (18), Iceland (21), Nigeria (41)
  • Group E: Brazil (2), Switzerland (11), Costa Rica (22), Serbia (38)
  • Group F: Germany (1), Mexico (16), Sweden (25), South Korea (62)
  • Group G: Belgium (5), England (12), Tunisia (28), Panama (49)
  • Group H: Poland (6), Colombia (13), Senegal (32), Japan (44)

Europe’s winners and losers from World Cup qualifying

Nine go to WC by virtue of having won their Groups.   The best eight of the nine Group 2nd place finishers (sorry, Slovakia) get one last chance, will play two-legged ties against one another to get into WC.

UEFA gets 14 teams slots in World Cup next year.   Russia gets one as WC host nation.  FIFA National Team rankings are included parenthetically.

Nine qualified for World Cup:

Germany             (2)

Belgium                (3)

Portugal               (7)

England                (9)

Spain                     (12)

France                  (22)

Poland                  (30)

Serbia                   (43)

Eight that play one more qualifying round

Switzerland (11) vs.         Northern Ireland (23)

Italy (17) vs.                        Sweden (25)

Croatia (18) vs.                  Greece (47)

Denmark (19) vs.              Ireland  (52)

Those first four will be fails, if not quite epic ones, if they don’t get through these ties and into World Cup.

Who failed epically

Netherlands       (5)

Romania              (8)

Wales                    (10)

Who should’ve at least survived to the next qual. round

Austria                  (15)

Slovakia                (15)

Czech Rep.          (20)

Sexy upset picks that are out

Bosnia and

Herzegovina    (26)

Ukraine                (27)

Scotland               (29)

Hungary               (31)

Albania                 (36)

What the fruit happened?

Netherlands (5) – They were the only team to win six games in the Group Stage and not advance.  They had a little bad luck being drawn into the Group as underrated France.  They lost out to Sweden for 2nd on goal differential tiebreaker.

Romania (8) – They weren’t even in a very strong group on paper, yet finished 4th.  Their woes were on offense.  They tied for the second-most draws in all Groups.  (And they had to contend with Noob’s semi-sexy Poland dark horse pick!)

Wales (10) – Another that wasn’t thought to even be in a strong group.  They had five draws, more than any other side in the Groups.  They struggled on offense.  They only lost once, yet couldn’t get above Serbia or even Ireland.

Super-awesome surprises

Serbia (43) – They averaged a very solid two goals per game.   They benefitted from Wales not being able to get over the hump in matches and Austria (15) apparently forgetting to play a goalie.

Poland (30) – They were a holy terror on offense, scoring nearly -three- goals per match.  They’re every bit as good as Romania (8) and Denmark (24) at this point really.

Iceland (23) – No one in their Group – including them – was scoring much.  Iceland had the most grit, won games close.  There was no traditional powerhouse in their Group.  (Sorry, Croatia (14).)

Super-surprising survivors

Ireland (52) – The ONLY team ranked behind more than half the UEFA teams coming into this event!  They gave up just six goals in the ten games.   They were gritty and perhaps also lucky, being one of only two teams to win just five games and advance.  Four draws could’ve been their undoing.

Greece (44) – Same formula:  they were other team to win just five games and move on.  They, too, only gave up six goals total.  Grit and luck, with four ties.

UEFA Champions League – an ‘Explainer’


UEFA is organization that oversees the international soccer leagues in Europe. Each year, the best teams from each country’s top league qualify for its Champions League (CL). (And yes, in world soccer, they mix up the uses of the words like “league” and “cup” compared to how we Americans usually use them. It’s ok.) Bigger, badder leagues get as many as four teams in. Smaller countries may only get one.

It’s the most important annual soccer happening in the world.   And it’s all about to begin.

     “But Noob, you’ve been posting about matchups from the CL for weeks.  Deceiver!”

Slow your roll, Noobite. The first four rounds of this event were considered “qualifying rounds”. It’s just semantics. Little nations’ entries and a few of the big countries’ lesser league teams that squeaked in play in these rounds for the right to enter what is about to now begin – the Group Stage.

European fans don’t really consider CL begun until this stage. 22 of the best teams from the best countries’ leagues only now even begin playing. Ten teams made it here through those Qualifying Rounds. These 32 teams are placed in (more or less) equally-weighted pods of eight. Each pods’ teams will play each other twice. The top two finishers in each pod  advance to the Knockout Stage.

     “Noob, that wasn’t half bad. But I have a feeling you’ve left out lots of tiny details. Who            qualified initially and how. How exactly the teams are drawn for the Group Stage. How many teams each and every league gets and in which round they enter the                                competition…”

Thanks. You’re not so bad yourself. And you ask worthy questions. But I am and this is Noob. This is as far as we go here. You can find lots more in-depth intricacies and details out there on the interwebs. This is enough for you and me, the new-ish American soccer fan, to be able to enjoy the competition and to speak of it with reasonable intelligence and confidence .

Sadly for Noob, one day you may graduate from this humble site. But I will be proud. Not that I’m paying a damn cent for your grad school. Now get out of here before ya’ bother me. * cuffs you in the ear *