’10 to Track’ match previews for weekend 1/19-20 – call Noob “Mr. CONCACAF”

Noob’s return to Tracking important matches for rolls on!

This weekend, trying out something new.

Image result for CONCACAF

What follows are the most important matches from the top 20 leagues in CONCACAF.

Enjoy, as we get to know leagues and clubs from all over our local federation.

1. UANL Tigres vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX
  • CONCACAF league rank:        they don’t do those, but MX is #1
  • Table positions:                        Apertura #5, #2
  • Stakes:                                           top 8 make the Liguilla
  • Time of season:                         Clausura just starting

For the rawest of Noobites, Mexico divides its football year into two separate tournaments – Apertura and Clausura. They’re just a game into the Clausura, so let’s look at the year’s first half:

Cruz Azul were the regular season champs! But they lost in the Liguilla (postseason tournament) final to #B CF America. They sported the best defense in the league, should be a contender once again.

UANL finished in 6th, also qualifying for the Liguilla. Their goal differential was second best in the league, but it wasn’t bad luck that kept them from a higher table position. They struggled against top competition, if often losing close at least. And they ran up scores against lesser foes. They’ll need to figure out how to get more scoring versus the real contenders if they want to join their ranks.

RESULT:   Cruz Azul   0-1

B. Atlas vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil
  • CONCACAF league rank:             hmmm…well, nowhere near as good as U.S.
  • Table positions:                             Apertura #4, #B in Group 2
  • Stakes:                                               top four from each Group make the Liguilla
  • Time of season:                             Clausura just starting

Mexico’s professional women’s league has their season divided the same as the men’s side. In this league also they are just starting the Clausura.

Unlike the men’s side, the women’s league is divided into two Groups of nine clubs each. Top four from each make the Liguilla, and these two were both in it. These two were the best defensive teams from their Group. They sported the best two defense in the league. Both will have to show they can score a lot more in order to challenge Group champs UNAL.

RESULT:        this match seems to have not been played;  an update will follow if more info becomes available

 

Image result for image redacted

 

The Number B image originally shown here was redacted.

I blame the agents of worn-out Number Two.

3. Oaxaca vs. Sonora – Ascenso MX
  • CONCACAF League rank:           might be third-best
  • Table positions:                             Apertura #6, #4
  • Stakes:                                               top 8 make the liguilla
  • Time of season:                             Clausura just starting

Previously, Noob has paid little attention to second-tier Mexican football. And while I may not spend a lot of type on it, as perhaps the third-best league in the region, we’ll get to know it a little.

There were just two or three teams in real contention for the regular season Apertura title. But that liguilla is just as shiny a trophy, and it was the #5 seed that won it. Oaxaca’s got the goal-stopping ability to make a push higher in the table here in the Clausura. Sonora’s got to win some close games this go-round or they won’t.

It’s worth noting, kind of sadly, that these clubs aren’t really offered a chance at Promotion into Liga MX. The overall winner is technically eligible, but there are safeguards in place so the last place Liga team can pay a bunch of money to stay in the top flite.

Fun Fact:   Oaxaca’s nickname – The Alebrijes – is a term for art depictions of fantastical creatures.   The form and term comes from artist Pedro Linares.  After falling ill, he had dreams of unreal animals and drew them upon waking.

RESULT:   Sonora   0-1

The rest are Caribbean region matches.  Two quick things:

  • I assume a rough correlation between a national team’s official ranking and the country’s domestic league strength.  I’ve never found formal rankings for the latter.
  • Here’s how the CFU (Cariibbean Football Union) qualifies teams for CONCACAF Champions League and CONCACAF League (which is itself a pathway to CL):

Image result for caribbean club championship

 

This year, countries with professional and semi-professional leagues can send two teams to the new Caribbean Club Championship.

 


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Other countries’ leagues can send their winners to the second-tier Caribbean Club Shield tournament.

 

The particulars of how each event qualifies teams to the CL and CONCACAF League can wait for another day.

4. Mount Pleasant vs. Portmore United – Jamaica National Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:                about #6*
  • Table positions:                               #5, #1
  • Stakes:                                                  top six make league playoffs
  •                                                                  top two get byes
  •                                                                  Caribbean Club Championship berths
  • Time of Season:                                unsure!

Last year, this 12-team, league played a double round robin. This year, they’ve just reached that point and are playing on! But it’s not the playoffs.

Currently, this league is seeing a three-horse race for those top two spots. Portmore – which made the Caribbean Club Championships last year – have a narrow lead, but their defense is suspect. Fortunately for them, Mount Pleasant is a small-ball team – don’t score much, don’t concede many.

RESULT:   1-1

Mount Pleasant Football Academy Logo.png

 

Noob is looking for comments on what the interjection means.   Actual part of the Academy crest.

Here or @SoccerNoobUSA on Twitter

5. Agoaudo vs. Kourou – French Guiana Division d’Honneur
  • CONCACAF league rank:               top 15
  • Table positions:                              #1, #6
  • Stakes:                                                 Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of season:                               approaching halfway

French Guiana could send two teams for the Caribbean Club Shield, but is not.  Maybe after this season.

Agoaudo are undefeated, lead the next team in the table by nine points. That’s not quite as big a gap as it looks like at first glance. This league awards four points for a win, two for a draw, and one for just showing up. Second-best offense in the league, runaway best D.

Kouro are merely midtable. Noob’s not certain they have the D to maintain a top-half finish in this 12-team league.

Fun Fact:   Nearby Agoaudo’s home of Apatou is the Guiana Amazonian Park.  Suriname is a French department (state, more or less), and this park is the largest French national park.

6. Moulien vs. USBM – Guadeloupe Division d’Honneur
  • CONCACAF league rank:        top 15
  • Table positions:                        #1, #3
  • Stakes:                                           Caribbean Club Shield
  • Time of season:                         halfway

Guadeloupe are sending 2017-18 their champs – Moulien – to the Club Shield, unlike French Guiana. That same club leads the league this year, too, but what a race it looks like so far! They lead the next team in the table by just a point, and three other clubs are within just five points.

Moulien will try to keep the score low. Not that they can’t score well themselves, but #3 (and likely true top threat for the title) USBM prefer a wide-open style themselves, and would play it far better.

RESULT:   USBM   0-3              There’s your new league #1!    Three teams trail by just a single point in the table.

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As a former radio dj, just thought this was cool.

7. St. Paul’s vs. Village Superstars – St. Kitts and Nevis Super League
  • CONCACAF league rank:                 top 20
  • Table positions:                                 #3, #1
  • Stakes:                                                   top 4 make league playoffs
  •                                                                   Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of Season:                                 over 1/3 done

Village Superstars are the defending champions, will play Club Shield.   They lead the league this year as well, but their hosts today and Newtown United are going to both be there ’til the end.

These two sport excellent offenses, but lead the league in D.  It will be interesting to see what sort of pace St. Paul’s will try and dictate at home.

Fun Fact:  St. Paul’s are based out of the town of that name, but play their games in the national capital, Basseterre

RESULT:   1-1

8. Interwillemstad vs. UNDEBA – Curacao Sekshon Paga
  • CONCACAF league rank:        top 20
  • Table positions:                        #6, #B
  • Stakes:                                          top 6 make league  playoffs
  •                                                          Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of season:                        earlyish

The season looks to only be 18 matches long here in the former Netherlands Antilles. So even at seven matches in, things are looking serious. Unbeaten Scherpenheuvel have opened up a five point lead over UNDEBA. But this is a good matchup for the visitors. They score goals like crazy, but play about no defense. But scoring is exactly where Inter struggles.

Curacao will host the Club Shield.   Jong Holland are the defending champs here, but deep down the table this season.

RESULT:   Inter   2-1        The winners climb into a three-way tie for 4th place.    The losers fall into a tie for #B in the table, six points behind the league leaders.

Image result for inter willemstad 2018-19

9. West United vs. Robin Hood – Suriname Topklasse
  • CONCACAF league rank:       top 20
  • Table positions:                      #8, #B
  • Stakes:                                         Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of season:                       earlyish

Robin Hood are the defending champs, representing the league in the second-tier Club Shield tournament. They are one of three still undefeated teams here in 2018-19. They trail Leo Victor by four in the table.

The real question in this league would seem to be will Inter Moengotapoe (3rd place) be able to keep pace? So far offensive numbers say no. But it’s early. They should beat midtable West Utd. in their own house by a couple today.

Fun FactWest Utd. are from the Coronie District, of which the four towns have fewer than 4,000 people.

RESULT:   Robin Hood   2-4

10. Grenades vs. Parham – Antigua and Barbuda Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:         top 20
  • Table positions:                         #3, #5
  • Stakes:                                            Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of season:                          halfway

It may just be the halfway point, but there are also just nine match days remaining. Parham are just five out of the lead, but it feels like they have too many clubs to leapfrog to make a title run.

Grenades are just three back of the defending champs – Hoppers – and have the defense to stay in the race. This could be a tricky home game though. Parham are something of a traditional power here.

RESULT:   Grenades   1-0       Grenades  climb to #B, Parham slip to 6th.

Image result for Antigua Recreation ground

 

So long from the Antigua Recreation Ground in St. John’s, home of Grenades F.C.!

Capacity:  12,000

’10 to Track’ Relegation Monday (1/14) matches – more Suckitude than you can handle or deserve!

Monday’s world league scheds are exceptionally light today.  So, before we dig into Matches of Suckitude – ones that feature teams about to get Relegated for their poor performances – we start with some match mini-previews of happier import.  Enjoy.

1. Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – English Premier League
  • UEFA league rank: #B
  • Table positions: #B, #11
  • Stakes: top 4 go to Champions League
  • Time of season: middle

The defending runaway champs can retake the league lead today with a win. They’ve reeled off four straight wins since a two-loss speed bump that allowed Liverpool to move into 1st. The last two of those were by a combined score of 16-0, though over non-Premier foes in Cup tournaments.

Wolves are in 11th, but would move into the top half of the 20-team table with a draw and jump to 8th or 7th with a win. How is a team that was just promoted doing so well? Money infusion from the Chinese conglomerate that bought them. (Thank you to the Bros Talking Soccer podcast guys for the answer to that one on their Slack.) They win with smallish ball – low scores for everyone. It’s not likely to work today…but “defense travels” is an axiom for a reason!

RESULT:   City   3-0

B. U.A.E. vs. Thailand – Asian Cup

The Group Stage of Asia’s national team championships is nearly done. The pods of four are playing just a single round robin, all matches in the host Emirates. The top two from each Group automatically advance to the next round. The four best third place finishers will also move on.

U.A.E. have already mathematically advanced. Thailand are tied with India for runners-up, but down to them on head-to-head tiebreaker. The AFC ranks homers U.A.E. #4 and Thailand #8 (FIFA ranks #79 and #118). But no matter – the Thais are so far the best of the third-place sides, are all but certain to advance as well.

RESULT:   1-1        The Thais advance as the Group runners-up!

Image result for letter B cartoon sword

 

 

Number B is back, and the quest to be rid of Number Two in lists is ON.

3. Newtown vs. St. Paul’s – St. Kitts and Nevis Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank: they don’t really do them
  • Table positions: #B, #3
  • Stakes: top 4 play for the title
  • Time of season: over 1/3 done

Two similar teams chasing Village Superstars for the trophy!

RESULT:   1-1

4 and 5.

Gotta be honest. It’s late here on Sodor where Noob is wintering. Gotta save time for continuing to put together the coming Isle of Sodor Premier League page.

So. The Coppa Italia (FA Cup is in its Round of 16. Also, there’s also a second division Portuguese league match you can Google up, should the Spirit move you.

And now, Matches of Suckitude!

6. Aris Thessaloniki vs. Lamia – Superleague Greece
  • UEFA league rank: #13
  • Table positions: #8, #14 (of 16)
  • Stakes: bottom 3 Relegated
  • Time of season: middle

Lamia are a fair bit better than the bottom two teams. They are one of three teams realistically trying to stay out of the last Relegation slot. That said, the fourth-to-last place team will play the 4th-place D2 team for the right to play Superleague next year. Lamia can’t score worth a darn, are likely to stay right where they are.

Noob doesn’t think they can even compete for a draw today. Thessaloniki score twice as much, are just as good on D.

RESULT:   Thess   1-0

Image result for Lamia football

 

 

 

Aaaaand stab yourself in the head.

7. Alki Oroklinis vs. AEL Limassol – Cyprus Premier
  • UEFA league rank: #18
  • Table positions: #9, #3 (of 12)
  • Stakes: bottom half do Relegation playoff
  • Time of season: middle

Worst offense and defense in the league. How A.O. are higher in the table than three clubs is beyond Noob. They’ll be doing well to keep this to a one-goal loss against the #3 side.

Fun Fact:   The team owner re-named the club after a fave of his that had just gone bankrupt and dissolved.   What the cuss?

RESULT:   AEL L   1-3

8. Hapoel Tel Aviv vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv – Israel Premier
  • UEFA league ranking: #27
  • Table positions: #12, #1 (of 14)
  • Stakes: bottom 8 do Relegation playoffs
  • Time of season: middle

Side note: This league has dropped a tied-for-worst nine notches in the European rankings this last year.

HTA aren’t likely to escape the Relegation playoffs at season’s end. Their small-ball ways aren’t working out. Ten draws in 17 matches have kept them from the table’s very bottom. And MTA are going to put up with none of their nonsense. Undefeated, best offense and defense in the league.

RESULT:   1-1

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We’re not taking you seriously with those stretches, HTA.

Get a Peloton for warmups.   Something.

9. Glacis United vs. Boca Juniors – Gibraltar Premier
  • UEFA league ranking:          #51
  • Table positions:                     #7, #9 (of 10)
  • Stakes:                                        last place gets Relegated
  • Time of season:                      middle

#51 of 55 leagues? Hey, it’s a rock with about the pop. of Ames, Iowa and they’re not #55. Noob’s actually more impressed that they even have a Second Division to which a team can be sent down.

The 9th-place finisher will have a playoff with the #B from the second tier. I’d say their offense is the worst thing ever, but last place-Lions only have two goals on the entire season to Juniors’ six. Truth be told, Glacis aren’t light years better, but at least they’re not giving up buckets of goals.

Fun Fact:   Argentinian Boca Juniors called and they’d like their name back.  Like, now.

RESULT:   Glacis   6-1

10. Red Star vs. Lens – Ligue 2, France
  • UEFA league ranking: n/a, second-tier league
  • Table positions: last, #5
  • Stakes: bottom 3 get Relegated
  • Time of season: middle

Two other league clubs are as poor on defense as Red Star, but those play a little to a lot more offense. Red Star might climb to 19th over no-goals Nancy, but won’t get higher.

Lens are well-enough balanced to stay in the top five and participate in the Promotion Playoffs later, if not so good as to be a threat to the top two and get automatically moved up.

RESULT:   1-0

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So long from Saint-Ouen (greater Paris), home of Red Star FC.

HUGE flea market, but is super-“professional”.

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday (1/11) – Liga MX, Asian Up, CAF Champions League lead the way

Noob’s return continues!   Last Monday we celebrated Relegation matches of suckitude for the first time since the holidays.   Today, we return to our Globetreotting ways.  When the biggest leagues provide a little less, we spend our Friday perusing matches  far and wide!

Come, Noobites!   Let’s discover a world of soccer.   As always, we start close to home —

1. Atlas vs. CF America – Liga MX
  • CONCACAF league rank:            doesn’t have ’em, but this is #1
  • Table position:                               Apertura #15, #2 and Liguilla winner
  • Time of season:                              early

Atlas won their first match of the Clausura (second half-season of the Mexican football year). They needed a hot start after crapping the bed for first half-season. After getting just 11 goals that whole time, they already have two.

This is America’s first match. They’re awesome and will almost certainly perform terrible deeds upon their host tonight. View the carnage at 10:00 PM on Univision Deportes.

Fun Fact:  La Barra 51  are Atlas’ primary supporters group, named for 1951 – the last time and I think only time they ever won the top-flight championship.

RESULT:   America   1-2

B. Palestine vs. Australia – Asian Cup

This is the quadrennial championship for the AFC. The qualification rounds are done and the Group Stage is at hand. All the remaining matches are being held in U.A.E. Six pods of four teams each each duke it in a round robin out for two slots in the next, bracketed round.

Defending champs Australia (#41 in the world, #2 in the AFC) actually lost their first match. HYOOJ. Jordan also won their second match, so it’s looking like one slot will be theirs.

Palestine are rated the 16th-best national team in Asia, #99 overall by FIFA. They had a scoreless draw with Syria to open this stage.

RESULT:   Socceroos   0-3

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Number B- enticing you to join the question to be done with Number 2.

 

3. Leeds vs. Derby County – EFL Championship
  • UEFA league rank:                     n/a; second-tier league in England
  • Table positions:                        #1, #6
  • Teams promoted:                      3
  • Time of season:                          middle

Even as only England’s second-highest league, this is probably a top-15 league talent-wise in Europe. The top two teams will be Promoted to Premier League, with the next four having a playoff for one last slot.

Leeds still lead the league, but they’ve allowed it to be a tight race after losing two league matches in a row (and their recent FA Cup match as well). Both were road losses, but six goals conceded is bad against Nottingham and QPR.

Derby have kept their hopes afloat with a lot of draws of late. They don’t appear to have the defense to hold a top-six position, recently or over the season as a whole so far. Noob predicts a shootout today. First one to three goals wins!

RESULT:   Leeds   2-0

emblem

 

 

One of Noob’s all-time favorite crests.

So many design elements here give it a three-dimensional look.  This would make a fine ornamental piece.

 

4. Lobi Stars vs. Mamelodi Sundowns – CAF Champions League

If it seems like the last iteration of this tournament just ended, you’re not wrong. They’re moving from a Feb-Nov. timeframe to an Aug.-May format in 2019. So this 2018-19 version is the tweener, running Dec.-May.

The qualification round is done, and this is the first day of the Group Stage. Four pods of four clubs each compete in a double round robin for two slots each in the next, bracketed round.

Lobi won last year’s Nigerian Premier. This league is ranked #13 in Africa. Just a notch higher and they would’ve qualified the maximum two teams into this event. The Stars’ success is predicated more on defense than scoring.

The Sundowns are one of two teams from the #6-ranked South African Premier. Their league season is about halfway over. They;re in 4th place, but have 3-4 matches in hand over the teams above them. They’re also undefeated, though with lots of draws. They’re even more defensive-minded than Lobi.

If either teams scores, it will be Mamelodi. They should be considered a 1-2 goal favorite today.

RESULT:   Lobi   2-1

Image result for soccer compression socks funny

 

 

 

Soccer compression socks.

5. Mantab vs. Conaree – Saint Kitts and Nevis Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:                 n/a; prolly not in the top few Caribbean                                                                             ones
  • Table positions:                                 #8, #5
  • Clubs relegated:                                  2
  • Time of season:                                   over 1/3 done

The winner of this league will probably qualify for the next Caribbean Club Shield – a new second-tier tournament for semi-pro and amateur clubs in that region. But neither of these two are likely to be vying for that.

Conaree aren’t bad, but don’t have the offense to nearly compete for international competition. Mantab are just trying to stay in the country’s top flite. The bottom two here will be demoted to First Division next season. Mantab couldn’t score even with the help of a map to the back of an opponent’s net. They’re above the cutline now, barely, and in real danger.

Fun-nish Fact:  Mantab’s home city of Basseterre – the SKN capital – has been destroyed seemingly countless times by war and natural disaster.

RESULT:   1-1

6. Somerset Trojans vs. Robin Hood – Bermuda Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:               n/a; perhaps a little stronger than SKN
  • Table positions:                                last, first
  • Clubs relegated:                                2
  • Time of season:                                 middle

Undefeated Robin Hood are in a dead heat with Pembroke Hamilton for the league lead, tied on table points and goal differential. Noob tends to favor well-balanced teams like Robin Hood, but P.H. are the defensive stalwarts of the country.

Should be a fabulous title race, especially with wide-open styled X-Roads Warriors close in 3rd. Noob thinks this is one of the region’s fully professional leagues, which means they’ll be able to send up to two clubs to the Caribbean Club Championship.

Somerset have yet to win their first match. Their stats aren’t much worse than other bottom teams here, but they’re deep in last just the same. Defense is their undoing.

RESULT:   Robin Hood   3-5

Image result for somerset bermuda

 

 

Forget the footyball!

Noob’s down for learning that.

7. Tefana vs. Central Sport – Tahiti Ligue 1
  • OFC league ranking:                       n/a; probably about 4th INHO
  • Table positions:                              #4, #2
  • Stakes:                                                 top four make league playoffs, top two make                                                                  OFC CL
  • Time of season:                                almost halfway

Noob estimates this league’s strength based on guessing that national team and league strength probably corelate with smaller nations like these.

There’s actually a three-way tie for #B right now. Defending champs Central don’t bother with defense so much, but score like gangbusters in league.

Seven of the 10 league teams are very much in the hunt. It will be interesting to see if Tefana cam hang on to a spot. They’re well-balanced, but lack enough on offense to make Noob guess no. Manu Ura, more traditional powers Pirae or both will pass them eventually.

Fun Fact:  Tefana are one of two clubs to advance as far as the OFC CL final (2012).

RESULT:   2-2

8. Al Hilal vs. Al Raed – Saudi Pro League
  • AFC league ranking:                  #7
  • Table positions:                          #1, #9
  • Stakes:                                             top three make AFC CL
  • Time of season:                           middle

It’s not quite a two-horse race in Saudi Arabia, but it’s close to being such. Defending champs Al Hilal should be able to maintain their position atop the table hosting a midtable club.

Al Raed have overachieved to date this season. The second-worst offense in the league should be a lodestone around their necks that drags them down close to, if not into, the Relegation Zone.

RESULT:   1-1

WATCH: Al-Hilal supporters pull off freakishly good Mortal Kombat mosaic

 

 

Pretty cool “Mortal Kombat” mosaic the Hilal supporters pulled off.

9. Police vs. AS Kigali – Rwanda Premier
  • CAF league ranking:             unranked
  • Table positions:                    #5, #6
  • Stakes:                                       one berth in CAF CL
  • Time of season:                      almost halfway

Rwanda’s top flite may not be ranked at present, but they are slated to be #17 next version! That will still only be good enough for one league berth into the Champions League there though.

These two are all but out of the running. Police are nine points out of first in the table, still have maybe a glimmer of hope. Kigali are three points further back. Too many draws there. But for anyone to catch the top two, someone’s going to have to figure out how to score on them anyway. They’ve combined to allow just seven goals between them all season.

Fun Fact:  The Police F.C. manager’s first name is “Innocent”.

RESULT:   2-2

10. Adama Kenema vs. Dire Dawa City – Ethiopia Premier
  • CAF league ranking:              tied for #13
  • Table positions:                       #9, #10
  • Clubs Relegated:                       3
  • Time of season:                        earlyish

Like aforementioned Nigeria, Ethiopia’s league needs to climb just one more notch in the rankings to earn a second Champions League invitation. Neither of these clubs are likely to be there. They’re below average of the 16, making them slightly more likely candidates to to be Relegated.

Kenema’s going to be the better team, perhaps finish in the top half, given their offense. Dire Dawa will likely stay just where they are, scuffling along as they neither score many goals nor give up too many.

RESULT:   Adama   1-0

Image result for adama ethiopia funny

 

 

So long from Adama!

Adama University – cool building

’10 to Track’ returns — Relegation Monday! plus CONCACAF and other goodness

After a semi-farewell and long holiday break, Noob returns!     Twitter: @SoccernoobUSA

The plan remains to feature exclusive Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage here.  Soon!  I’m still wintering on Sodor, putting things together, even as the season is half-finished.   To get a feel, check out this site’s Page for last summer’s inaugural Isle of Sodor FA Cup.

But I’ve missed doing the near-daily Tracks, previewing the most important matches from the U.S., all CONCACAF, Premier League, continental Europe, and the world!

So for now, I’m bringing back Relegation Monday and Globetrotting Friday – the most unique content I provided.   So enjoy!   Today, several matches feature teams about to be Relegated, from “important” leagues to those far-flung.  Then there’s a few matches of happier  import.    Dig in.

1. Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Club Bilbao – Spain:  La Liga
  • UEFA League Rank:     #1
  • Table positions:            #14, #18 (of 20)
  • Clubs relegated:             3
  • Time of season:             middle

Noob’s return to at least Tracking on “Relegation Mondays” starts with a realistic upset chance! Athletic have only lost one of their last six matches. I’m not saying they’re storming the league and going to make a move on a midtable position, but only allowing one goal in their last four matches is a big step forward.

Celta Vigo, at home, should be favored. Their goal differential even indicates they may be worthy of a higher table slot. But they’ve not scored in two matches. Noob senses this is a bad matchup for them.

Fun Fact:    Bilbao are The Lions.  Their stadium was built near a church which was named for Saint Mammes, a Christian saint thrown to the lions.  He pacified them.  

So they named themselves after tamed animals?   Never mind from before.  You’re getting Relegated.

RESULT:   Athletic   1-2        The Lions climb to 17th place, above the Drop Zone for now

B. Moreirense vs. Aves – Portugal Primeira Liga
  • UEFA league rank:        #7
  • Table positions:             #7, #17 (of 18)
  • Clubs relegated:             3
  • Time of season:              middle

Aves have the worst defense in the league, and it’s not particularly close. That said, they’ve only allowed one goal in each of their last to matches, against excellent competition. They didn’t win either, though, and haven’t done so since late November.

Moreirense seem to be overcoming a dreadful start to their season when it comes to goal-scoring. They’ve won three of four matches running and scored multiple times in all of them.

RESULT:   Moreirense   1-0

Image result for letter B pumped up

 

 

The Quest for Number B to displace worn out Number 2 in lists is back on!

Clearly, the people want their Number B.

3. Ermis Aradippou vs. Enosis Paralimni – Cyprus First Division
  • UEFA League Rank:         #18
  • Table positions:                last, second-to-last
  • # of Clubs Relegated:      1
  • Time of Season:                 middle

One of Noob’s first ever Twitter (@SoccernoobUSA) followers is a Cypriot mother of two First Division players. This league will always have a little piece of my heart. Thankfully for Mom, her boys play for far better clubs than these sad sacks!

Aradippou have earned points in just three matches all season so far. They won their last match, but that was in their FA Cup. Against a Second Division club that is considered a “refugee team”. That haven’t played in their home city since the Turkish Invasion of 1974. Aradippou haven’t beaten a league foe since November.

Paralimni have earned draws in their last two league matches, lead Aradippou by five points in the table. Road wins may be tough to come by, but Noob wouldn’t be able to call this in upset even so. Both teams are just so lousy.

RESULT:   0-0          That seems more than fitting

4. Mont Bleu vs. Muungano – DR Congo First Division
  • CAF league rank:        #3
  • Table positions:         #12, last place of 16
  • Clubs Relegated:         3
  • Time of season:           uncertain

Last season, the Linafoot may only have been about 14 matches. This season, some clubs have already reached 15. The format also seems to have changed from three league divisions to one.

So what does Noob know? That Muungano have won just once and drawn not at all in their 11 outings. This is one of three teams that play far worse defense than everyone else. None of them look likely to climb out of the Drop Zone no matter when the season ends.

Mont Bleu are a bit better on both sides of the ball, though not nearly good enough threaten climbing to midtable.

RESULT:      ppd

Image result for OC Muungano

5. Ndanda vs. Ruvu Shooting – Tanzania Premier
  • CAF league rank:        #24
  • Table positions:         #17, #16 (of 20)
  • Clubs Relegated:         4
  • Time of season:           middle

Ndanda may be on the edge of daylight, but their goal differential is the worst in the league. If they had a strength, maybe they could climb. But they’re bottom-three in both O and D.

Still, a win today would move them above the Cutline (for the moment). Ruvu score a lot more, but sport the league’s worst defense for it. If Ndanda want to prove Noob wrong, this is a home must-win.

Fun Fact:  Ndanda’s Nangwanda Sijaona Stadium has a capacity of 15,000.

RESULT:   Ruvu   0-1

6. Muslim FC vs. Karachi Port Trust – Pakistan Premier
  • AFC league rank:       #46
  • Table positions:         #11, #13 (of either 14, 15 or 16)
  • Clubs relegated:         2, 3 or 4
  • Time of season:          very late

The number of league teams is higher now than when it last seemed to have played, in 2014-15. Assuming they’re still playing a double round robin, this season is on the verge of finishing. It started with either 15 or 16 teams. One or two of them aren’t playing for financial reasons. Bottom line is, just 14 appear to be actually playing and two of those will be Relegated.

And so, welcome to the worst-ranked league in Asia! Hey, they’re playing. Love football? Want to see it develop, improve everywhere. Noob’s got your back, Pak.

KPT and one other team are vying to stay in the country’s top flite. Baloch Nushki are playing, but have long since been mathematically cooked. And if it weren’t for Baloch Nushki, KPT would have the worst defense in the league.

Muslim are not much higher, yet appear safe in their position. They play small-ball, neither scoring nor conceding many goals at all. KPT won’t get one on them today, and they will go down a league.

RESULT:   Muslim   2-0

KPT FC Logo

 

 

We hardly knew ye

7. Rayo Majadahonda vs. Las Palmas – Spain’s Segunda Division
  • UEFA league rank:         n/a – second-tier league
  • Table positions:             #19, #11 (of 22)
  • Clubs relegated:             4
  • Time of season:              middle

Majadahonda are in a three-way tie for 18th through 20th in points in the table. But they’re one of the four worst in goal differential, simply must score more if they want to stay afloat. Try for at least a goal per game, fellas. It’ll work wonders.

Statistically, Las Palmas are perfectly average in every way. Yet strangely, they haven’t won a match since October, mostly achieving draws. High or low-scoring, doesn’t matter. They can’t seal the deal. Look for a 0-0 draw today, and contain your excitement, Noobites 😛

Fun Fact:   This is the highest Majadahonda have ever been in the Spanish football pyramid, having just been promoted this year.

RESULT:   0-0

Non-Relegation Matches of Treeemendous Consequence!

OK, might’ve oversold that.

8. Lille vs. Sochaux – Coupe de France

The French FA Cup is in it’s Round of 64. This is the only match for the event today. Lille is the current #B team in Ligue 1, while Sochaux are barely above the Relegation Line in Ligue 2. The only reason this match might not be a blowout for the home side is that Noob’s read this FA Cup is considered by clubs even less important than other top European leagues’ clubs consider theirs, which is so-so at most.

Here’s the link for the event. Hopefully your technology translates it for you readily.

RESULT:   Lille   1-0

9. Waterhouse vs. Cavalier – Jamaica Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:        don’t think they do them; #B  Caribbean maybe
  • Table positions:                       #B, #3
  • Stakes:                                          top 6- league playoffs bracket, top 2 get byes
  • more Stakes                               Top two will have option to play Caribbean Club                                                           Championship.
  • Time of season:                        2/3 through regular season

#1 Portmore and Waterhouse have the offense. Cavalier boasts the top D. Unfortunately for them, Waterhouse is almost as good in that regard. The home team today is probably the most talented in the league.

Even given the relative table positions, a Cavalier win should be considered an upset. But given that they were just promoted to top flite this season, they’re performing incredibly.

RESULT:   Cavalier   0-1         So be it – upset!     These two are now tied in the table on points.  Cavalier is still in 3rd on GD.

10. UNDEBA (Banda Abou) vs. Scherpenheuvel – Curacao Sekshon Paga
  • CONCACAF league rank:                gotta think it wouldn’t be high
  • Table positions:                               #3, #1
  • Stakes:                                                 top six make the playoff subdivision
  • more Stakes                                      at least one club will have option to play in                                                                      new second-tier 2020 Caribbean Club Shield
  • Time of season:                                very early

Welcome to the former Netherlands Antilles! The top at some point the top six will be moved into their own Championship Subdivision. It’s unclear to me if at some point the top four from that will have their own bracketed playoff not. But the season is just a few matches in, so there’s all kinds of time to figure it out.

Scherpenheuvel are undefeated, outscoring opponents 12-1 to date. Banda Abou’s GD is 18-9. Can’t think their lack of defense will serve them well over a full season, but that 3+ goals per game average sure is shiny.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for stoba goat papaya

 

 

Be inspired to find or make some stoba, a traditional stew from these parts.

And be bold!   Do the goat with the papaya.

Classic Noob revisited – “We are D-2” / “We Are the World”

Noob is preparing to morph this project into largely exclusive coverage of the inaugural Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage.    There will be joy.

In the meantime, please indulge in the D-Twos-Day Interviews.    This was the final post in that category (Page on right for all of them). 


Welcome, Noobites, to the final 2017 edition of D-Twos-Day Interview.  Noob’s had the unparalleled pleasure of interviewing coaches and myriad figures from the part of the soccer world we most celebrate: North American second division leagues!

But one of them, the North American Soccer League, is on its last legs.  They need our help!  Inspired by the 80’s classic song that raised nearly $150M in 2017-adjusted dollars to aid famine relief in Africa, Noob has gotten together an all-star cast to record a new version of”We Are the World”.

Thank you to all the surviving artists involved with the original for joining us.  Special thanks to Dominic Kinnear for not breaking out mid-song into any Rush classic.

And no, Noob has no idea how this will help.  But it WILL.  And if you don’t get this, go back and check out all the great Interviews!  The segment returns in 2018.

Lionel Richie:   There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When D-2 must come together as one.
Paul Simon:   A tier-two league is dying
And it’s time to lend a hand to NASL
Paul, Kenny Rogers:   A soccer gift for all.

Noob:  Noob can’t go on pretending day by day
That somehow, some way it’s gonna get saved
Tina Turner:   We’re all a part of D-2’s big family
Billy Joel:  And the truth, you know,
Noob, Tina, Billy:   Is this is all we neeeeeeeed

Choir:   We are D-2.  We are the coaches
We are the fans, the concerned parties
So let’s keep singing
Diana Ross:   It’s a choice we’re making
It’s not just USL
Diana Ross and NASL federal case judge Margo K. Brodie:   It takes both leagues to make a better day
Just wait and seeeeeee!

Puerto Rico FC head coach Marco Velez:   Thought Noob was my tio, but now I call him Noober
And our lives together are stronger and free
Willie Nelson:   As we have shown you, by calling him “asshat”
Willie and Marco Velez:   We’re strong.  And nothing can defeat us now!
(background: Cyndi Lauper – “but Miami FCeeeeeeee!)

Edmonton FC head coach Colin Miller:   Called him the C-word – in Scottish Gaelic
But he mailed me booze, 30 years old
Turns out Noob’s no dick!

(background: Noob – “Could we find a way to rephrase that please?)

New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso:  D-2 status be damned
Noob agrees with me
It’s true we should just care
About qualiteeee!

L.A. Galaxy asst. coach Dominic Kinnear:   When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all
Huey Lewis:   But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall
Cyndi Lauper:   Well, well, well!  Let’s realize that a change can only come
Huey, Cyndi, Kim Carnes, and OKC Energy ‘Grid’ fan club prez Joseph Pugh:   When we stand together as one!
(Joseph Pugh cont.:  “WOOO!!  Do it, Nooner!)

Choir:   They went dark-arts, went Santeria
Burned rabbit bones and burned Pele’s jock
To save our leaaaaague!
Incoming USL club owner Bobby Jones:  Noob hates my teams’ name – boring Austin FC.
Jacksonville Armada owner Robert Palmer:  At least he didn’t think you were a reincarnated pop-rock arteeeeest.

(key change!)

Choir:  We are the fans, the concerned parties
So let’s keep singing
It’s a choice we’re making
It’s not just USL.
It takes both leagues to make a better day
Just wait and seeeeeee!

’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.