Ten to Track (Sunday, 9/3/2017)

1. Belarus vs. Sweden – UEFA WCQ

Sweden’s loss in Bulgaria Thursday likely marks the beginning of the end for their hopes of winning the Group. Road wins can, of course, be tough to come by, but they should beat Belarus and start cementing their advancement to the next qualifying Round.

B. Netherlands vs. Bulgaria – UEFA WCQ

Bulgaria’s only a point behind Sweden; Netherlands three points. The Dutch have fallen quite a ways in the last couple years. They need a result and almost certainly a win to really stay alive for possible 2nd place finish.

Image result for Netherlands sucks now  This is a “trash-eater’ (garbage can) in Efteling.  Noob’s nightmares thank you, Netherlands.

3. Greece vs. Belgium – UEFA WCQ

It’s a little hard to believe someone in this group managed even a draw against Belgium. They’ve outscored the peanut gallery 33-2 in this event! Greece can’t be expected to catch them, but even a draw will put them firmly in driver’s seat for 2nd.

4. Chicago Red Stars vs. North Carolina Courage – NWSL

Tied for 3rd hosts 1st as the regular season winds down. Top four make the league playoffs, so Chicago would probably be happy with even a draw at home. Which will be tough to get.

5. FC Kansas City vs. Sky Blue FC – NWSL

Sorry, The Management. KC is playing for just dignity now. Sky Blue, however, is only three points out of the 3rd/4th place tie.

Image result for lifetime channel meme  Will this be the lead-in for NWSL on Lifetime or the other way around?

6. Iberia vs. Colo-Colo – Copa Chile

So-so B-league Iberia went to the historically greatest of all time in Colo-Colo and won 3-2 in the first leg!  It’s still hard to fathom Colo-Colo not turning things up a notch in the second leg. I initially planned for the other Copa game for this date here, but wow this could be a colossal upset in the Round of 16.

7. Independiente Medellin vs. Independiente Santa Fe – Liga Aguila

Let’s learn about Colombian football! Santa Fe are the defending champions. And they are in 1st this go-round. Class dismissed.

8. Olimpia vs. General Diaz – Paraguay Premier

General Diaz is the surprise. Olimpia finished near the top in the Apertura. Also surprising – I don’t think General Diaz is named for a person, or at the very least not a military man of that name and rank.

Image result for general diaz  One of Noob’s favorite crests

9. Santos vs. Limon – Costa Rica Premier

They’re just 5th and 7th in the standings right now, but it’s early in this league’s Apertura. Noob believes these are two perennial excellent clubs.

10. Malacateco vs. Petapa – Guatemala Premiere

If you know Malacateco at all, it is probably as a drug trafficking hot spot. Noob wonders if the athletic facilities are quite nice then.

Image result for drug trafficking funny  Is that Corningware?  Simply lovely

Ten to Track (Saturday, 9/2/2017)

Apologies, The Management. Your Swope Park (KC) and San Francisco clubs’ games aren’t compelling enough to make the Saturday T2T. You’ll have to write a strongly-worded letter to yourself over what to do about Noob.

[copied from previous post]

Each continental confederation holds its own event to determine which teams get into the World Cup. UEFA is over halfway through their Group Stage. Winners of each group of six will qualify for the WC. Most 2nd-place finishers will advance to a playoff and have another chance to qualify.

1. Spain vs. Italy – UEFA WCQ

These two are tied for 1st in their group. Both will advance. The only question is which one will qualify into the World Cup out of this round and which will have to thump some other 2nd-place finisher to get in.

B. Ukraine vs. Turkey – UEFA WCQ

3rd and 4th place in this group – this at first seem like a throwaway game. But this bunch has no one outstanding team. These two are very much in the thick of the race, and are evenly-matched to boot.

3. Montreal Impact vs. Chicago Fire – MLS

Chicago has dipped to 4th place. The Fire are in danger of not hosting an MLS Cup playoff match if their fall continues. Canadia is not a good place to be heading. Montreal is running away from the whole league.

Image result for Canadia funny  They’re also running from bears.  Bears!!

4. FC Dallas vs. New York Red Bulls – MLS

Dallas slide of late is so bad they’re actually envying Chicago. 7th place has them outside-looking-in for playoffs. Red Bulls will be no easy meat, either.

Image result for FC Dallas meme  The gal isn’t intimidating anyone.  She looks scared for her life.  Canadiaian bears are coming!

[copied from previous T2T]]

It’s very simple in Africa in this the third and final round of their qualification event. 20 teams remain alive, divided into five pods of four. Winners go to the WC. All others are done.

5. Senegal vs. Burkina Faso – CAF WCQ

Burkina Faso is in 1st, but it’s early and Senegal is the better team historically and only a point back. Noob looks for a Group changing of the guard.

Image result for Burkina faso funny  Have their new national team logo your way.

6. Miami FC vs. Puerto Rico FC – NASL

Check out the latest D-Twosday Interview to get PR FC head coach Marco Velez’s deepest thoughts on this #1-#2 matchup. It’s caliente. He’s caliente. Can Noob say that?

Image result for that word means what you think it means  Mandy Patinkin:  soccernoob Editor

7. Louisville City FC vs. Charleston Battery – USL

Noob truly lives up to his moniker. If forced to, Noob would’ve guessed the Battery were from West Virginia. They are from South Carolina, in a metro area well over 4x the size of WV’s capital. We’re all learning here. This is why Noob is.

Oh yeah, and these teams are 1st and 2nd in the Eastern Division.

Image result for charleston dance funny  Charlestons galore

8. Real Monarchs SLC vs. San Antonio FC – USL

Noob has said it before and does so again: Amuricuh! Real means “royal”. We have no kings and queens here. Go, San Antonio fighting chickens! (Noob hopes that’s their nickname anyway.)

Oh yeah. Focus, Noober! 1st vs 2nd in the Western Division.

Image result for aretha franklin queen of soul  Well-played, interwebs.

9. Deportivo Lara vs. Deportiva Tachira – Venezuelan Premier

Venezuela is not Argentina or Brazil when it comes to soccer. Noob knows even experienced Amuricuhn soccerheads aren’t paying attention. But we can expand our horizons a little. It’s free to try. And so! It’s early in this league’s Clausura, but Lara and Tachira are in 2nd and 4th place. Lara’s the surprise here, as they were in the bottom half of the Apertura standings.

10. Orlando Pride vs. Boston Breakers – NWSL

The Pride are in 4th and really much better than 5th place Sky Blue FC. But that doesn’t mean they can afford to fall asleep against last place Boston. Noob hopes they do. Orlando = swamp city. Boo to swamp cities!

Also, are there two teams that more need to switch nicknames than these?

Image result for orlando breakers  Noob wonders how Minnesota St. soccer is doing.

In light of your misdeeds cited at post’s beginning, Noob:

Image result for funny horrible punishment  Love, The Management

Ten to Track (Friday, 9/1/2017)

1. United States vs. Costa Rica – CONCACAF WCQ

Six teams are vying for three WC slots, and so this single grouping is called “The Hex” (or hexagonal).

The USA sits in 3rd place. Winning the group outright was perhaps never a serious consideration because Mexico is Mexico. But Costa Rica is in 2nd place and this is the country Amuricuh needs to pass. Panama lurks a single point los estados unidos.

B. Mexico vs. Panama – CONCACAF WCQ

And so Amuricuh is probably silently rooting for Mexico. Except Mexican-Americans. They’ll be far more open in their support. Don’t harass Noob.

Image result for Mexican-Americans offended meme  Go after this girl instead.

[copied from previous T2T]

Each continental confederation holds its own event to determine which teams get into the World Cup. UEFA is over halfway through their Group Stage. Winners of each group of six will qualify for the WC. Most 2nd-place finishers will advance to a playoff and have another chance to qualify.

3. Czech Republic vs. Germany – UEFA WCQ

Germany has outscored its opponents 27-1 in this group. The Czechs are have only cashed in nine goals, though are in 3rd place. Noob is something of a Euro-mutt as far as ancestry, but is plenty Czech, so gofightwin! Or at least don’t crap the bed.

Image result for you're not funny meme  You’re right, Richard.  Noob apologizes for that pun.

4. Denmark vs. Poland – UEFA WCQ

The Poles have yet to lose this round. Denmark is tied with surprising-to-Noob Montenegro for 2nd.

Image result for montenegro strong  No need to apologize, headless and armless guy.  We don’t think you’re in the dating pool really.

5. Slovakia vs. Slovenia – UEFA WCQ

Noob cannot love either team, since I have to type five characters deep to differentiate between the two with cntrl-F searches. They are in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, and England isn’t putting tons of space between themselves and these.

Image result for slovakia meme  Yeah, what Batman says!  And…biff.  Pow!

[copied and ediited* from previous T2T]

It’s very simple in Africa in this the third and final round of their qualification event. 2o teams remain alive, divided into five pods of four. Winners go to the WC. All others are done.

6. Nigeria vs. Cameroon – CAF WCQ

These two play twice in five days. Nigeria leads by four points after just two games in the group. Cameroon ought to be every bit as good, but cannot afford a loss and probably needs at least one win to hold out hope for a WC slot.

7. Cape Verde vs. South Africa – CAF WCQ

Cape Verde is pretty fair in recent years, but sits in last this go-round. South Africa is tied for 1st in the group with Burkina Faso.

8. Tunisia vs. DR Congo – CAF WCQ

Guinea and Libya stink out loud, so this group will be decided by these two. Star Wars stuff was shot in Tunisia, so the Noober is kinda diggin’ the home team. Not full Adoption though.

Image result for tunisia star wars set  Tunisia:  “This is why we can’t have nice things!”

9. New Zealand vs. Solomon Islands – OFC WCQ

Here stand the last two teams (of only 11 or 12) from Oceania. They play a two-legged tie for an inter-confederation playoff spot. No auto-qualification into the WC for this bunch.

Image result for two midgets fighting  extrememidgetwrestlingnoob.com?

10. Coquimbe Unido vs. San Luis – Copa Chile

Noob had to break the pattern of WC quals. Round of 16. Coquimbe is fun to say. Put the emphasis on any syllable. Stretch it out. Become a fan.

Image result for fun to say words  Coquimbe.  Coooooquimbe.  Coquimmmmbe.  CoquimBE!!

Ten to Track (Thursday 8/31/2017)

1. France vs. Netherlands – UEFA World Cup qualifying

Each continental confederation holds its own event to determine which teams get into the World Cup. UEFA is over halfway through their Group Stage. Winners of each group of six will qualify for the WC. Most 2nd-place finishers will advance to a playoff and have another chance to qualify.

France is tied in points with Sweden for 1st. Netherlands are just three points behind, but a win on the road is always a tall task.

B. Bulgaria vs. Sweden – UEFA World Cup qualifying

Bulgaria is hardly out of things in 4th place. Sweden could hardly have come in as the favorite for the group. Noob thinks Sweden will soon be scratching and clawing for a 2nd place finish.

Image result for sweden football meme  Did Noob say 2nd?  Maybe I’m stretching…

3. Cyprus vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina – UEFA World Cup qualifying

Belgium is going to win this group. The battle is for 2nd, and B&H has the inside track to catching Greece for 2nd.

4. Greece vs. Estonia – UEFA World Cup qualifying

But Greece should be able to get a win against Estonia and maintain their lead.

Image result for estonia hot women motivational poster  But remember, Estonia’s gonna be all right.

5. Chile vs. Argentina – CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying

CONMEBOL doesn’t divide up the ten national teams participating into separate groups. Each plays a home and away against every other team. They’re in the final stretch of games now. The top four finishers qualify for World Cup. The 5th place teams has to play in an inter-confederation playoff for one of the remaining to WC slots.

Right now these teams are in 4th and 5th place respectively. This match is going to be muy caliente.

Image result for you're in trouble argentina meme  Makes out with Sacha Baron Cohen, then finds time to dis Argentina.  Nice work?

6. Pumas UNAM vs. Celaya – Apertura Copa MX

UNAM aren’t going to catch mighty Monterrey in this group. The Pumas can shore up their 2nd place status and likely advancement in the tournament against the Ascenso squad.

7. Japan vs. Australia – AFC World Cup qualifying

The AFC is in its third round for its qualifying tournament. There are two pods of 6 teams each now. The top two finishers in each qualify for the WC. The 3rd-place finishers will advance by themselves to the “fourth round”, which is just them playing each other for a slot in the inter-confederation playoffs.

Japan is in first in its group and is already guaranteed no worse than a 3rd place finish. Australia is tied for 2nd with Saudi Arabia, but has played one less game than them. This may be the most evenly- and hotly-contested match of the day.

8. South Korea vs. Iran – AFC World Cup qualifying

Iran has run away and hidden from the rest of the group. South Korea, however, is in a dogfight with Uzbekistan for 2nd at just a point up.

9. Uganda vs. Egypt CAF – World Cup qualifying

It’s very simple in Africa in this the third and final round of their qualification event. 25 teams remain alive, divided into five pods of five. Winners go to the WC. All others are done.

Any team but Egypt qualifying from its group would be a major upset. Currently, Uganda sits in 2nd place. They simply must win at home to have a chance of keeping pace.

10. Orlando B. vs. Bethlehem Steel – USL

Orlando Buh has climbed into the playoff standings at 6th in the Eastern Division. Bethlehem is jin 8th, yet just two points back. The Steel have no draws on the road this season and in fact their three overall is far fewer than any other division team. Which Noob likes. Because swamp-city Orlando must, of course, go down.

Image result for Bethlehem Steel FC meme  Just wait ’til Bethlehem releases ‘Magnum’.  It’s beautiful.

D-Twosday Interview 8/29/2017

For newer Noobites:

Every Tuesday, we celebrate the glory and wonder that is second division professional league soccer in North America with a special interview. Noob leaves it to you to decide what sort of “special” it ends up being. Check out ‘Interview D-Twosday’ category link for the archived magic and fun.

Anyway. So far we’ve been on a run of fabulous weeks with the always-engaging (if rarely willing) NASL Puerto Rico FC head coach Marco Velez.

Noob:  Coach Velez, thanks for meeting with me for a D-Twosday interview on soccernoob!

Coach Marco Velez:   Do you ever bother anyone else? We’re right in between games against back-to-back games with Miami.

Noob:  A rough time, to be sure.

Coach Velez:  I hear Coach Brandt of USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds is a nice enough guy.

Noob:   I hear he’s a cretinous yahoo, ne’er-do-well and scalawag. We will not speak of him again.

Coach Velez:  Whatever, weirdo.

Noob:  So- your team dropped to second place after a home 0-2 loss to Miami FC.

Coach Velez:  You’d bring that up.

Noob:  Your men found woodwork early and had some other near misses as your side pressed throughout the match. Talk to me about your feelings.

Coach Velez:  Feelings? I feel like we were unlucky against an excellent Miami team.

Noob:  Agreed. And the second goal was only because you pulled the goalkeeper very late to try and capitalize on a set piece.

Coach Velez:  You actually follow? I’m surprised and impressed.

Noob:  But things don’t get any easier with that trip -to- Miami this week.

Coach Velez:  Thanks, Captain Obvious.

Noob:  Too bad you stunk up the joint the entire Spring Season and have virtually no path to the playoffs except to miraculously win the current Fall Season title.

Coach Velez:   Ass. Hat! * phone click *

Golly, he’s a sensitive fellow, especially for the coach of a second place team. But hey! It’s why we love him. No generic coach-speak from Puerto Rico FC’s head coach Marco Velez, no sirree.

Thanks for reading another insightful, fresh-smelling D-Twosday interview. We’ll do it again next week! Even if Marco tries changing his phone number. Again.

Image result for ass hat  Shoosh.

Ten to Track (Wednesday, 8/30/2017)

1. Atlas vs. America – Apertura Copa MX

Group stage matches. Pods are just three teams each, and nearly all the second-place pod finishers will also advance.

These two are all but guaranteed to advance to the knockout stage. But the 16 teams there will be seeded, so these two may not just sit on their heels for a nil-nil’er. And they’re pretty evenly matched.

B. Oaxaca vs. Leon Apertura – Apertura Copa MX

Leon -is- guaranteed advancement to the knockout stage. Oaxaca is in 2nd in the group. They are also right on the cut line for second-placed teams to advance. Oaxaca was the better team last Clausura, so Noob looks for them to put it to a perhaps-resting Leon side.

3. Zacatecas vs. Morelia Apertura – Apertura Copa MX

A likely win versus the already-eliminated Zacatecas should be at least enough to keep them well up in the second-place pod finishers standings to advance.

4. Toluca vs. Universidad de Guadalajara – Apertura Copa MX

Same situation as in letter B above. Toluca is already in. U de G on the second-placers cut line. The one difference is that Toluca is a powerhouse and U de G is middling. Noob thinks “The Sausagers” will be the only team to advance from this pod.

Image result for sausage party meme  nothing less attractive than a cute girl who openly knows just how cute she is

5. Cruz Azul vs. U.A.N.L. – Apertura Copa MX

U.A.N.L. is in 3rd in this pod, but three points would catch them right up to 2nd. Cruz Azul is hardly running away with the group, so this should be a lively match.

6. Seattle Sounders FC 2 vs. Tulsa Rednecks – USL

The USL season’s about ¾ of the way through. Seattle isn’t far behind 6th place Tulsa in points, but they have three to jump other teams to that last playoff spot. Is it too early to say must-win?

7. Newell’s Old Boys vs. Godoy Cruz – Copa Argentina

No messing around in Argentina’s FA Cup. These are bracketed, single-game knockout matches. This is a very evenly-matched game for the Round of 32. Noob says advantage Newell’s.

8. Colo-Colo vs. Iberia – Copa Chile

Colo-Colo is the all-time great Chilean club. But their hyphen disappears and reappears depending on what source’s Noob is reading. Madness! Despite this, they should blow middling B-side Iberia out of the water.

Image result for hyphen meme  Noob’s hero

9. Atletico Nacional vs. Patriotas – Copa Colombia

Arguably Colombia’s all-time best team is actually down 2-3 on aggregate to the far-lesser Premier club. A one-goal win should be enough for the host “Purslanes” to advance though, since those two away-goals would likely win a tiebreaker.

10. Hearts of Oak vs. Aduana Stars – Ghana Premier

In 2009-10, the Stars demolished the world record for lowest goals-per-game average (0.6333) of any club league champion. Soccer fever – catch it! In this case, you may be able to catch it very easily.

Image result for defense meme

Ten to Track (Tuesday, 8/29)

1. Guadalajara vs. Santos Apertura – Copa MX

Both these teams are very likely to advance out of the Group Stage, given that the only other team in their pod hasn’t won a point yet.

B. Tijuana vs. Atalante Apertura – Copa MX

Tijuana should absolutely tee off against the Ascenso side. Pirate a stream to see arguably North America’s best club put on a show.

Image result for bullfight funny  Charleston, VA protests were worse.  But this doesn’t look promising, Tijuana.

3. Cimarrones de Sonora vs. Queretaro – Apertura Copa MX

Queretaro isn’t a particularly good side in Liga MX, but Sonora hasn’t won a point yet.

Image result for sonora meme   In a word:  No.

4. U.A.E vs. Saudi Arabia – AFC World Cup qualifying

Looks like the hosts need to win their last two matches of this Group Stage to advance. Saudi Arabia is in 2nd there.

5. Blackpool vs. Wigan Athletic – EFL Trophy

Check out the new static Vocab page for competition definitions in brief.

Blackpool was just promoted from League Two to League one, while Wigan just got relegated from from the Championship to League One. Noob thinks Wigan might be more focused on league play, picks The Tangerines.

Image result for Tangerines meme  Noob once drew a face on an unripened papaya and named it “Luke”.  True story.

6. Coventry City vs. Shrewsbury Town – EFL Trophy

Coventry are the reigning champions of this event, but Shrewsbury had the better league season last year.

7. Curico Unido vs. Palestino – Copa Chile

Curico won the B league last year, but Palestino played excellent A-ball and should handle the cake-makers. Cake-makers? I was considering Adoption, but didn’t find why they are called such. What I -did- find by accident was the slang definition of the term. Noob tries to run a clean house. Google up that if you’re so inclined. But wow, be warned.

Image result for peril meme  This just feels unnecessary.

8. Bankstown Berries vs. Sydney FC – Australian FFA Cup

This is the only major football association cup played in Oz. Bankstown merely competes in the second-best league in New South Wales (third-highest in the country’s overall league system). They should get housed by defending champions A-League “Harbor City Originals”.

9. Queens Park Rangers vs. AFC Bournemouth – club friendly

Noob doesn’t understand why teams are playing friendlies during their league seasons. But maybe my Cherries have a fighting chance, even on the road, against the second-tier Rangers. No, Noob is not bitter about the extra-time goal they gave up over the weekend to lose. Not.

10. Malaysia U23 vs. Thailand U23 – Southeast Asian Games

Final! The host Malaysians could be seen has coasting here, but Noob predicts this doesn’t get decided in the first 90 minutes.

Image result for southeast asian games 2017  Rimau, we hardly new ye.  Noob’s loss.  Farewell, SEA Games!

Ten to Track (Monday, 8/28/2017)

It seems few if any league’s out there do something analogous to NFL Monday Night Football.  And so achtung!  Without big league matchups of note, most of today’s T2T we will spend getting to know a little about some of our cousin England’s teams and towns of the National Division.

It’s defined in Noob’s new Vocab page, but here’s the skinny:   This is the 5th level of football in the league system. There’s the Premiere League, then the Football League – which houses the next three leagues/levels of play.  Then there’s The National League System, which oversees almost 90 leagues.  These guys are the top of that.  Teams from here can be promoted into League Two, the 4th level in the league system.

1. Bromley vs. Sutton United – National League (English)

Bromley is a district in southeast London. The population is maybe 75,000. The home ground of the Ravens or Lilywhites” seats 1300, but has a total capacity of 5000.

Bromley and Sutton are 4th and 2nd place respectively in the early season league standings.

B. Maidenhead vs. Leyton Orient – National League (English)

Maidenhead is in Berkshire County, with a population of maybe 75000. The Magpie’s home ground of York Road seats 550 with a capacity of 4000. It is longest-continuously-used ground by one club in English history. They are only a semi-professional club.

Maidenhead and Leyton Orient are in 9th and 8th place respectively.

3. Eastleigh vs. Aldershot Town – National League (English)

Eastleigh is in Berkshire Bounty, with a population of maybe 30,000. The Spitfires’ home ground seats 2700 and has a total capacity of almost 5200.

Eastleigh and Aldershot are in 10th and 5th place respectively.

4. Dover Athletic vs. Ebbsfleet United – National League (English)

Dover is in Kent County and has a population of over 31000. It sits at the narrowest point of the English Channel. The Whites’ home ground seats over 1000 and has a total capacity of over 5700.

Dover an Ebbsfleet are in 7th and 12th place respectively.

5. Boreham Wood vs. Wrexham – National League (English)

Borehamwood – as the town is now spelled as one word – is in Heretford County, a commuter town of London’s with a population of about 31,000. The Wood’s home ground seats 1700, with a total capacity of 4500.

Boreham Wood and Wrexham are in 3rd and 11th place respectively.

Wrexham-N-Effect?  No.

Noob is not convinced the young saxophonist was cast based in her New Jack Swing stylings, ability…

6. Gateshead vs. FC Halifax Town – National League (English)

Gateshead is in Tyne and Wear County and has a population of over 120,000. The Heed’s home ground holds close to 12,000.  Heed….maybe just re-spelling of Head?  I found it in singular form regarding the club.

Gateshead and Halifax are in 6th and 13th place respectively.

7. Maidstone United vs. Dagenham & Redbridge – National League (English)

Maidstone is a town of well over 160,000 in Kent County. The Stones’ home ground seats under 800, with a total capacity of over 4000.

Maidstone and D&R are in 14th and 1st place respectively.

8. AFC Fylde vs. Barrow – National League (English)

AFC Fylde is based in the town of Wesham is in Lancashire County. The town has a population of maybe 3500, but the Borough of Fylde has more like 78000. The Coasters; home ground holds 7000.

Fylde and Barrow are in 17th and 16th place respectively.

9. Sheikh Jamal vs. Brothers Union – Bangladesh Premier

Sheikh Jamal and Brothers Union are in 3r and 4th place respectively. S.J. Is known as “The Yellow Fear”, presumably because for the last season or two their yellow home kits have been made by a company named “Yellow”. Sounds more like a bile-inducing sickness. Go, B.U.

Image result for yellow bile  Take two, root for Brothers Union, and call Noob in the morning.

10. Hurricanes vs. St. John’s – Grenada Premier

These two are in 1st and Noob -thinks- 4th respectively. Shockingly, Grenadine soccer isn’t abounding on the interblag. Finding quality football for Mondays isn’t the easiest! But now we know that country -has- a league. In fact, they even have pro-rel with a second one!

Image result for anger management grenada meme  Grenada!!!!!!!

(Wasn’t that, like, 12 hours?)

Ten to Track (Sunday, 8/27/2017)

1. Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact – MLS

Right now, Montreal is in a dogfight with expansion Atlanta for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Division. A road trip to class-of-the-league Toronto may not help their cause.

Image result for Canadia  Canadiaian puns are best!

B. Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers – MLS

#1 hosts #2 in the desperately tight Western Division.

It’s ‘Rivalry Week’ as advertised by (I think) ESPN. This sounds very collegiate to me for some reason. But television ratings for MLS are. Not. Good. Can’t blame them for trying.

Image result for seattle portland hate meme  Rivalry Week gone wrong

3. Liverpool vs. Arsenal – English Premiere

Last season’s #4 vs. #5 in a battle of two traditional powerhouses.

I’ve looked back over all the EPL final season standings of the 21st C., and Liverpool defines ‘close but no cigar’ for title contention.

4. Chelsea vs. Everton – English Premiere

Everton just finished downing Croatian side Hajduk Split in the final qualifying round of the Europa League. Noob wonders if they’ll have much in the tank for a road trip against last season’s EPL winner.

5. Napoli vs. Atalanta – Serie A

Atalanta crashed the top four-party last season in Italy. Noob is American, and so enjoys underdogs. Atalanta is easily the best Italian team to not be based in a truly major metro area.

Image result for Atalanta Italy meme  Translation:  We look like villainous henchmen casting rejects from the original Die Hard movie.

6. Veracruz vs. Pumas UNAM – Liga MX

OK, it’s not a smexy matchup, but it should at least be more competitive than Toluca-Puebla. Both teams are toiling early this Clausura (half season) in the lower half of the league standings.

7. Shimizu S-Pulse vs. Urawa Red Diamonds – J1 League

Not a match that will help determine and postseason play, qualification into larger competitions here. But Urawa is Noob’s team, here our cry – “Gym – Tan – Sushi!”

Image result for the situation pointing at abs  Yes.  Where the sushi goes.  Thanks yet again, The Situation.  You know Urawa doesn’t pay you, right?

8. Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Rostov – Russian Premier

Confession: Noob thought 3rd place-Rostov might be a newly-promoted team to this top league. They actually finished 6th last year, just off my radar. Zenit is undefeated with just one draw.

9. Sturm Graz vs. Salzburg – Austrian Bundesliga

In the heart of the soccer breadbasket of the world, it is to be wondered why Austria’s top flite league isn’t stronger than it is. Here, last season’s top two clubs clash.

Angry Arnold - happy AUSTRIA day  Shoosh.  Go watch the Total Recall remake that looks like it was randomly generated.

10. Colo Colo vs. Universidad de Chile – Chilean Seabass Premier

Colo Colo is the only non-university sponsored team in the top four. They are the defending champs and arguably the greatest team historically. Chile U. is their biggest rival.

UEFA Champions League – an ‘Explainer’

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE (2017-18)

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 *