’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – eep! #11, too – USL Final

Midweek Edition – time to slow down, tease out ten most important matches, for us – the newish American fans of the global game – over three days.  Think of it as a soccer slow jam, if you will.   Listen to a 90’s R&B fave whilst you read.

OK, or maybe not.  That got weird.  Again.

Tuesday and Wednesday matches and results are further down.

More Thursday

11.  Louisville FC vs. Phoenix Rising – United Soccer League

Good LAWD!   You’d think Noob would learn a lesson.  I tend to scout out matches for Track inclusion five days in advance.    This FINAL  Amuricuh didn’t appear on my primary sched source because it doesn’t do TBD.  Phoenix played their Semfinal  four days ago.

But that’s the reason, not an excuse.  And at least it can be rectified now, hours before kickoff.

Louisville are the defending tournament champions.  In the Eastern Conference this year, they finished #B, well behind MLS-bound FC Cincinnati.  They get to host this one-off final.  No return to leg to Phoenix, this is it.    Phoenix Rising look becomes Phoenix Risen with an upset win.   Noob says upset because they finished 3rd in the West.

Phoenix conceded far fewer goals than many other Western clubs – including those that made the playoffs.  But they don’t play any better on that end than L’ville, and their hosts have more firepower.  Noob smells a title decided by penalty kicks, but on paper this is advantage reigning champs.   (8:00 PM, ESPN2).

RESULT:   Louisville    1-0        Hail to the champions!

Image result for close call soccer gif

 

Noob’er with the save!

 

If barely…

 

 

Thursday

  1. Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers – Major League Soccer playoffs

The Conference Semifinals continue!  This is the second match of a two-legged tie.

The five-seed Portland won the first match 2-1 at their place.  This broke #B Seattle’s five-match win streak.  Noob has suggested this was a bad matchup for Portland.  Seattle’s offense had been playing their best ball of the season and defense is where Portland had often struggled.

That Timber defense did just enough to win.  Now we get to see if they can hold up on the road.  If they had a weakness, is up the middle some.  Expect to see Seattle run at defender New Zealander Bill Poni Tuiloma to try and get to and through veteran keeper Jeff Attinella.   (10:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Seattle   3-2       And they don’t use away-goals as a tiebreaker.  Still, congrats to Portland!   They won 6-8 on penalty kicks.

  1. Portugal vs. U.S.A. – women’s international friendly

The FIFA #1-ranked ladies head to Lisbon to face the 33rd-ranked team in the world.   They’ve only ever met six times and the U.S. has won all the matches.

With a win today, the USWNT will have it’s 500th-ever program win since forming in 1985.  They should get it by a goal or two, even on the road.   (1:00 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-1

Image result for America gif funny

 

Murican treasure Danny McBride is revved up for the game.

  1. Argentina vs. Panama – Women’s World Cup qualification playoff

Panama finished the CONCACAF World Cup qualification tournament in 4th place.  Only the top three finishers gained entry.  But Panama gets one last shot.  Like their men’s national team counterparts did last year, if the women get in, this will be their first WC ever.

Argentina finished 3rd in the Copa American Feminina, a South American tournament held once every four years.  The top two finishers qualified for WC.

This playoff is a two-legged tie, so they’ll play again on 11/13.  The teams are ranked #66 and #37 in the world, respectively.  Given the oft-seeming lack of parity in the women’s game, that difference is mammoth.  Expect Panama to win on the road outright.

RESULT:   Argentina   4-0     

Honorable Mention:   Congrats to Platense, winners of the Honduran Copa Presidente!   Noob was going to preview this match, but it was played yesterday.  My scouting had shown it slated for today.

  1. Vidi vs. PAOK – Europa League

Good thing Noob keeps back-up matches handy for such occasions.

This is Europe’s second-most prestigious international club tournament.  The Qualifying Rounds are done and the “event proper” – the Group Stage – is halfway complete.

Clubs have been divided into Groups of four each, playing double round robins.  Top two finishers in each will advance to the Knockout Stage.  And remember, the winner of the whole shebang gets an auto-pass into next year’s Champions League.

There are a slew of matches today.   Noob’s highlighting this Group L match because of how things sit in the table.  Chelsea have won all three of their matches and will not be caught.  But all three other teams are tied!

MOL Vidi qualified for the Champions League by being last year’s Hungarian top-flite winners.  They were knocked out in one of the later qualifying rounds by AEK Athens, and so have been dropped into this tournament.

PAOK were Greece’s runners-up last season.  They also qualified for Champions League, falling one win shy of making the Group Stage there.  Portugal’s Benfica housed them.

On paper, PAOK are the favorites by a fair bit.   They play out of UEFA’s 14th-ranked league compared to Hungary’s at #33.  In terms of Elo rating, the Greeks are 100 points more highly-rated.  They should probably win 5/8 of the time on a neutral pitch.

But this ain’t no neutral pitch.  More, Vidi won the first matchup in Greece, 0-2.

RESULT:   Vidi   1-0

Image result for harold and kumar at white castle

 

One of Noob’s dream’s is to own a White Castle in Vidi’s home city of Szekesfehevar.

It translates, of course, to “white castle”.

 

Wednesday

  1. CSKA Moscow vs. Roma – UEFA Champions League

Today’s slate of CL games may not quite match up with yesterday’s matches.   But Group G may be about to turn into a super-tight race if the home team

CSKA-Moscow were the runners-up in the Russian Premier League.  This is a stronger league than many realize, ranked #6 by UEFA.  They’re in 3rd, but just two points behind their visitors today and Real Madrid.

That all said, Roma are a lot better.  They finished 3rd in last year’s Serie A (#3 in UEFA).  Noob-fave for Elo ratings footballdatabase.com is back up, indicates a pretty be gulf between the two.  Even on the road, Roma should win this by goal or two.  The Soviet side just doesn’t score enough.

Roma won the first Group Stage matchup with CSKA-M 3-0.

RESULT:   Roma   1-2

Image result for funny Russian sportsCome to Moscow for the surprisingly decent soccer. 

Stay for the chessboxing.  Yep.

  1. Plaza de Amador vs. Costa del Este – Panama National League

One of Central America’s stronger leagues?   Nope.   Getting to know all our CONCACAF neighbors just the same?  Aww yeeeah.

One last round of matches and the Apertura is complete.   Noob’s sources are in conflict, sio I reserve the right to correct this after the fact 😊   What I believe is that the top six clubs all make the postseason tournament.  The top two will get byes.

CdE can lead #B Tauro by three, others by four or more.  They can do no worse than #B and will get a bye.  They haven’t won any more matches than several other teams, but have earned a lot of draws and suffered only two losses.

PdA are in a three-way tie for 3rd, lead the other two on tiebreaking goal differential.  none of them can finish worse than 5th, so they’re qualified for the postseason.  This is the league’s Small Ball club – they appear to pack it in on defense and not score much themselves.

RESULT:       Noob has no idea.   It now appears this may have been a Copa match.  it may be that it ended 0-0.  Or it may have been cancelled.   The entire Copa may have been cancelled according to one source I saw.  *shrug*

  1. CD Aguila vs. Alianza – El Salvador Premier

El Sllllllllavadoooohhhhhrrrrrr!   Always am compelled to get that out of my system.

This is a bit stronger of a league.  Top eight of 12 make the Apertura postseason tournament.  Here, they have four more matches to go.

These are the #3 and #B clubs.   Aguila has almost no chance to catch Alianza, are playing to maintain their current table position.  This is a pretty well-balanced club, though perhaps a bit soft on defense.

Alianza are just a point behind #1 Santa Tecla.  They’re better than balanced.  A- defense and A++ offense.  Noob knows that’s not a real thing, but you get the idea.   They’re going to win the Apertura.

RESULT:   Alianza   1-2

Image result for el salvador gif

 

El Salvador Jr. – Mexican luchador.

Yeah,. Noob doesn’t get that, either.

 

Tuesday

  1. Napoli vs. Paris Saint-Germain – UEFA Champions League

It’s the most prestigious club competition in all world football, Europe’s championship.  The early “qualifying” rounds are long since done now and the biggest teams have joined the qualifiers here in the Group Stage.   Here, we have eight Groups of four clubs each. Top two finishers advance to the bracketed Knockout Stage.

This is where Noob very much takes liberty with the Track’s mission statement.   There are many CL matches today and nearly all are more “important” than any others anywhere.  But fans who want info on every single match aren’t typically here.   Noob and Noobite we be, and I will filter.

The most interesting match today appears to be this one.  Why?  Because PSG are really, really good.  They’re blowing away everyone at home in Ligue 1.

And they’re in 3rd in this Group.  The idea of them not advancing to the next Round is borderline unthinkable.  Yet with half the double round robin complete, they trail Liverpool by three as well as being a point behind Napoli.

Napoli – Italy’s Serie A runners-up – aren’t quite as good on paper, but not far behind.   If they can hold serve at home and get a win, that puts PSG in a bad way.

PSG has been scoring like crazy, will try to push the pace.  Napoli’s been relying on defense so far, so ball control midfield should determine who can control the pace.    (3:00 PM, TNT)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for NBA on tnt crewNoob’s starting a petition to have the Charles & Co. do the Champions League!

Might be “turrible”, but so what.

B.  Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX Femenil

Three matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season).   These are Group One (of Two) #1 and #B.   Top four from each make the Liguilla (postseason tournament).  These two are already in, but Pachuca can pretty much wrap up the #1 seed with a win today.   They already have a three-point lead.

Both teams are very balanced, should maintain the top two seeds no matter how things go today.  #3 Toluca scores a ton but gives up too many to likely be a threat.

RESULT:   Pachuca   3-2

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

This is also a #1-#B matchup, but maybe not quite as dramatic.  UNAL lead the Guad Squad by seven.  A win would wrap up the top spot.

This is a bad matchup for the visitors.   They’re a touch better on defense, but can’t score compared to other top Group Two clubs.

RESULT:   Tigres   2-1

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – three days of your footyball fix

The 10 most important matches to follow for us – the newish American fans of the global game.  Noob delights in them, and hopes you do as well.

All the leagues we care about most are in action now.  Soon, the Midweek Edition will be expanded in glory once again to three separate days.

Tuesdays match previews and results follow below Wednesday’s.

Also, please consider following Noob on Twitter:  SoccerNoobUSA.  Thanks.

  1. LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake – Major League Soccer

As yesterday, Noob takes us out West for a pivotal match.  Expansion-LAFS looked so very good for a couple months.  Have they been solved?  They haven’t won a league match since early July.  Other than a scoreless draw at home against Portland, they’ve allowed 2+ goals every time out.  They’re in 5th, but fading, and only the top six make the Playoffs.

Speaking of 6th, here we find RSL.  They should’ve been feasting on a weak stretch of their schedule lately, but have only nibbled.   They haven’t lost in their last four, but only won once.  Goal-scoring remains an issue for them, and Vancouver and Seattle are licking their chops behind them.

RSL’s fall should, of course, be destined.  Noob’s ranted before and shouts to the heavens yet again:  No “real” in Amuricuh!  Royal?   We carry no truck with monarchs this side of the Pond.  Remember that war?

RESULT:   LAFC   2-0      Christian Ramirez – a name Noobites need to know – scored both goals.

  1. Seattle Reign vs. Chicago Red Stars – National Women’s Soccer League

The top half of NWSL’s eight-team league makes the Postseason, and Chicago are making a push to be included.  They’re in 5th, have gotten two wins – and an impressive draw against 1st-place North Carolina – in their last three outings.

The Reign are in the midst of a solid run as well, seem to be shoring up the #B spot.  That’s critical, because finishing 4th would mean getting North Carolina in the first Playoff round.  Only sadness and the never-ending Void are to be found there.

RESULT:   0-0      *The Price is Right” loser-sounder*

Image result for The Void funny

 

Noob – home of all soccer serious content, all the time…

  1. Tijuana vs. Juarez – Copa MX

See Tuesday’s Copa MX match preview for format and such.

‘Cause Noob wants to get straight to ogling Tijuana’s seemingly new and improved defense.  I can tell you’ve been working out Tijuana.  Would you mind doing a slow, goal-keeping spin?  Oh yes.  The results are obvious.   Mmm hmmm.

Yes, that got weird.  Noob knows.  Noob has no cares!  Tijuana didn’t make the Clausura (second half-season) Liguilla (postseason tournament) this year, but the climbed to midtable.  How?  Los Xolos cut their opponents goals by half while maintaining their previous offensive output.

Now they’re tied for first in this Group with Ascenso MX’s Juarez.  “The Brave Ones” nearly win the 2017-18 Apertura before falling on their faces in the Clausura.  And while the 2018 Apertura is only a few matches in, they’re in first.  No matter which team shows up, it’s still a road match against a Liga MX squad.  Tijuana by two goals today.

RESULT:   Tijuana   3-1

  1. Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid – UEFA Super Cup

Domestic Super Cups typically pit a league’s defending champions against that country’s most recent FA Cup winner.  The international European version here is the latest Champions League winners against the Europa League champs.  A small oddity, Atletico actually finished higher in last year’s La Liga table than Real.  (#3, #B).

They’re playing this in Tallinn, Estonia of all places.

RESULT:   Atletico   2-4   AET         Diego Costa for Atletico had both Atletico’s goals in the first 90′.

Image result for Where am I? funny

 

 

We’re right here in Estonia.

Noob hears it’s Super.

  1. Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – Canadiaian Championship

This is the second leg of the Final.  The winner gets Canadia’s berth in the next CONCACAF Champions League.  Only four teams have been vying for it annually.  These are the 7th and 9th place teams in their respective MLS conferences.

The first match in Vancouver ended 2-2.  Vancouver, though, has won three of their last five matches with no losses in that run.  Defending league champs Toronto will have anything but a gimme today playing this on their home pitch.

RESULT:   Toronto   5-2      Toronto is once again Champions League-bound

  1. Vissel Kobe vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Japan J1 League

Noob ends today’s Tracking in the land of the rising sun.  Hiroshima barely missed getting Relegated in 2017, yet lead the league this year by eight in the table.  Kobe are improved as well, 4th now versus low-end midtable last year.  Only two will make the AFC Champions League.  KV look unlikely to really get in the running, behind #3 Kawasaki by seven.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for Kobe Japan weird

 

So long from Kobe, and from Tetsujin 28-go!

(Fine, “Gigantor”, if you must.)

 

 

Thursday

Go, be free!  If the international friendly between Guatemala and Cuba tickles your fancy, perhaps Noobites can Google up an internet stream.  As for Noob – see you on Friday!

Tuesday

  1. L.A. Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids – Major League Soccer

On August 4, Colorado hosted and beat the Galaxy 2-1.  The 11th-place Rapids have now won two in a row, tying their longest streak in a lousy year.

Los Angeles sort of rebounded from that loss, earning just a draw at home against improving Minnesota United.  They’re till tied for 4th, but even a top-six finish is far from guaranteed.  The middle of the Western Conference is packed like a sardine can.

While the Galaxy’s back line haven’t been golden of late, it’s the goalkeeping that’s really let them down.  Backstop David Bingham has been anything but, having allowed multiple goals in their last four matches.   (10:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for david bingham

 

 

Will Bingham even be able to keep goals from being scored in his pie-hole?

B.  AEK Athens vs. Celtic – UEFA Champions League

This is the Third Qualifying Round of Europe’s premier club tournament.

These two faced off about a week ago, playing to a 1-1 draw in Scotland.  This is the second-match of the two-legged tie.  It always seems like Celtic struggle mightily in international competition.   Hard for Noob to think the Greeks won’t take care of business at home today.

The winner will get either Malmo from Sweden or Hungary’s MOL Vidi in the “Playoff Round”.

RESULT:   AEK   2-1

Image result for B is for business

 

 

 

Number B taking care of its own business as we quest to replace worn out old Number Two.

  1. Leon vs. Zacatecas – Copa MX

The Group Stage continues in the first of two Copas to be played during the 2018-19 season.  Pods of three.  Winners and most of the runners-up will advance to the Knockout Round.

If you know Noob, you know I love rooting for Minnows.  Halfway through the Group Stage, second-division Zacatecas are tied with both Liga MX’s Leon and Queretaro in the table.  The “Mineros” will be doing well, though, to keep today’s match within a goal.  Even against a weaker Liga MX club like Leon.   (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Leon   2-1

  1. UANL vs. Monterrey – Liga MX Femenil

UNAL won the 2017-18 Clausura (second half-season) after a 3rd-place regular season finish.  Today the Pumas host the team that won that Clausura regular season.  UANL had the third-best offense last year, though with a sizable gap between them and the top two.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for biggest GAP store

 

“Sizable GAP”.

Nice work, Nashville

 

 

Wednesday and Thursday

coming soon!

’10 to Track’ midweek Edition soccer matches – US Open Cup Semis lead the way

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

As the big Euro leagues start to roust themselves, it’s getting harder to justify a single Midweek Edition Track!  Soon, there will be re-expansion.

For now, Noob remains efficient.  Match previews are now posted through Wednesday.

Twitter:  @SoccerNoobUSA

Tuesday

  1. Dorados de Sinaloa vs. CF America – Copa MX

Welcome back to the Apertura (first half-season) Mexican FA Cup.   We’re still in the Group Stage – nine pods of three teams playing a single-round robin, with winners and the seven best runners-up advancing.

Veracruz lost both of their matches so far, so one of these two will win the Group.  Cups tournaments, for Noob, are all about looking for Minnow until their late stages.  Sinaloa is our underdog del dia.  They finished #B in their Clausura in the Ascenso MX (second tier) last season.

CF America is really good, so los Dorados will need all the home pitch advantage they can squeeze out of today.   (10:00 PM EST, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   0-0      With a match to go, these two have now both clinched at least runner-up status in the Group.  Still, two of the runners-up in this stage will not advance, so all still bears watching.

B.  Chelsea vs. Lyon – International Champions Cup

Most teams that aren’t already done are playing their third and final matches of this event.  That is the case for these two.  It’s just glorified friendlies, so the results don’t matter really, but these two are tied for 10th.  This is a home match for Chelsea, which is weird for this event.

Soon, their leagues will begin, so maybe the club will actually start their real lineups.   (3:00 PM, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   Chelsea   0-0  /  5-4  pk

Image result for letter B sunglasses

 

 

Number B, already keepin’ it real.

Charming the ladies.  Unlike that poser Number Two.

 

Wednesday

  1. Houston Dynamo vs. LAFC – U.S. Open Cup

It’s the Semifinals of America’s FA Cup today!  This is a knockout format, so no return leg to Los Angeles.

Both teams have been on skids in MLS.  Houston has lost three in a row, sunk all the way to 10th place in the West.  Since they’re almost certainly not Playoff-bound, perhaps this means they’ll be super focused on chasing this trophy.  Not every team is necessarily.

That brings us to LAFC, who are also winless in their last three.  They’re in 4th out West, seem very much in line for a postseason berth.  That’s hardly guaranteed, but they are also shooting for a top two-seed, good for one or more home pitch Playoff games.

LAFC seems more likely to sprinkle in more reserves and/or subs today.  between that and the GD between these two not being too far apart – despite the difference in table position – and Noob finds himself believing in Houston.  Not that Noob would ever, ever root for a city built on a swamp.  Down with bad urban planning!  (Don’t judge me poorly.  That cause is JUST.)

RESULT:   Houston   3-3  /  7-6  pk       Diego Rossi had all three goals for LAFC in the loss.

  1. Utah Royals vs. Washington Spirit – National Women’s Soccer League

This isn’t likely a match with playoff implications, but expansion Utah isn’t totally out of that picture.  The top four will advance.  Utah is in 6th, and got a surprising point two matches ago against might NC Courage.  They followed that up with a solid road win at so-so Houston.

Washington has lost six straight and sit in second-to-last.  They’re so bad, Noob wonders if they would even beat MLS’ D.C. United…

OK, that was mean.  But was it unfair?

RESULT:   Utah   1-0

Image result for that was mean

 

You’re no Richard Dawson!!  

Get off Noob’s back, Harvey.

  1. UNAL Tigres vs. Tapachula – Copa MX

The Group Stage rolls onward!  Nine pods of three.  Double round robin format.  All winners and seven runners-up will advance.

Tapachula are one of the two Ascenso MX clubs in Group 9.  We Tracked them once already this stage, so we’re going to have some fun continuing to follow them. They got a draw in their first match with San Luis.  They’ve been on a great roll, having won the 2017-18 Clausura Ligulla.

UNAL needs to show why they’re a Liga MX team today, after dropping their first match to San Luis.

RESULT:   0-0     

  1. Celtic vs. AEK Athens – UEFA Champions League

This is the Third Qualifying Round.  After this, there is a Playoff Round to determine final entrants into the Group Stage, where the big boys of Europe enter the tournament.

This round is where Athens enters as the Greek Super League (15-ranked) champs.  Celtic, out of Scotland’s league (ranked #26) entered two rounds ago, has so far clobbered Armenian and Norwegian teams.

Despite the difference in league ranking, Celtic is the more accomplished team internationally in recent years, should be favored by a goal at home.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for AEK supporters riot

 

 

But are you ready for the standard Greek fans, Scotland?

  1. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC – Canadiaian Championship

This is just a four-team affair between Canadia’s three MLS teams and the USL’s Ottawa Fury.  The winner gets Canadia’s berth into the CONCACAF Champions League though.  As the country’s soccer federation soon has it’s own broader league (though without the MLS teams), Noob wonder’s if this Championship will field a lot more clubs in the coming years.

Vancouver is 7th place in MLS’ Western Conference, fighting for a top six regular season finish and Playoff berth.  Will they play all starters here?  Toronto are 9th in the east.  As they made the Final of the last CONCACAF CL and are less likely to get an MLS playoff berth, perhaps the will be more inclined to throw total effort into this affair.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Cerezo Osaka vs. Independiente – Sugura Bank Championship

This is a strange annual match.  It’s always in Japan, so Noob assumes sponsor Sugura Bank just pays both teams a pile of yen to show up for a glorified friendly.

This pits the J.League Cup winner – not the J.League regular season champ – from last year against the defending Copa Sudamericana (South America’s answer to Europa League) titleholder.

To give some idea of the relative strengths of the clubs, know that C.Osaka would be among the very favorites to win MLS if they played here.  And Argentina’s Independiente would probably beat them about 2/3 of the time on neutral pitches.

RESULT:   Independiente   0-1

Image result for scrooge mcduck pile of money gif

 

 

Winners get to go to the bank CEO’s house, go full Scrooge McDuck dive into a bottomless pit of yen.

  1. Home United vs. Ceres-Negros FC – AFC Cup

This is Asia’s secondary Cup tournament for clubs, though not really analogous to Europa League or Copa Sudamericana.  Clubs participating in this qualify out of countries identified by the AFC as soccer “developing” and “emerging” soccer nations.   Google up the criteria specifics if you are so inclined Noobites.  We streamline things here.

There are five geographically-based “zones” out of which clubs will advance to Inter-Zonal Finals and then final Finals.  This match is the second leg of the ASEAN (southeast Asia) Zonal Final.  They drew the first match.

Home United qualified by finishing 3rd in Singapore’s top league, which is ranked just above average in Asia.  This would not be high enough, but the champs are a Japanese club satellite team, and so ineligible for international competition.  The #B team got into AFC Champions League.

Ceres-Negros are from the Philippines, the runaway winners of their slightly better top-flite league.  It is ranked #17 in Asia.  They actually played in the pre-Group Stage of the AFC CL, but didn’t make the Group Stage, so they can still play in this one.  That’s nice.

RESULT:   Home   2-0

Thursday

  1. Cerro Porteño vs. Palmeiras – Copa Libertadores

The Round of 16 in South America’s version of Champions League is here.  This is the first match of the two-legged tie for these two.

Palmeiras qualified for the CL by finishing runner up in Brazil’s Serie A last year.  They went undefeated in the Group Stage to get to this Round, with an average match result of a two-goal victory per.

Paraguay’s top entrant finished #B in their Group, even goal differential.  They’re good.  But even at home, their only maybe an even match for their guests today.  The winner will take on either Chile’s Colo-Colo or Corinthians from Brazil – a traditional behemoth either way.

RESULT:   Palmeiras   0-2

Image result for General Pablo Rojas Stadium

 

 

So long from La Olla Nueva, Asuncion, Paraguay!

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – UEFA Champions League, Copa MX lead the way

The ten most important matches to follow for us – the newish American fans of the global game.  This is Noob’s mission, our mantra, a recipe for learning successness.

America, Mexico, CONCACAF, Western and all of Europe, South America, and anywhere at all in the world.  This is Noob’s very general guideline for measuring that importance from out perspective.

(Matches are grouped in reverse chronological order by day.)

Thursday

  1. LAFC vs. L.A. Galaxy – Major League Soccer

As a famous Spanish derby is nicknamed “El Clasico”, so the City of Angels have decided their intracity rivalry is “El Trafico”.  This time around, we even get a match that actually matters in league terms!

Expansion-LAFC continue to impress.  They score the most in the Western Conference, league-wide are only surpassed by Atlanta United.  They trail FC Dallas by just four point for 1st place.

Only four more points and two slots in the standings we find the surging L.A. Galaxy.   They may actually be playing better offense than anyone now, including LAFC.  They haven’t been held scoreless in a league match in 14 straight matches.  They’ve won three in a row, and no one (outside U.S. Open Cup) has beaten them since May 30.

LAFC gets scoring from all manner of places nowadays, but there’s no denying that Zlatan is the catalyst.  He leads the team in scoring, despite not starting the year with them.  The one-time (perhaps) best player in the world and still comically-egomaniacal, talented Swede opens things up for everyone.  Midfielder Chris Pontius has seen particularly huge benefits – a name to continue to look for in the stat line if they are make a push to be a Playoff #1 seed.   (10:30 PM EST, ESPN)

RESULT:   2-2    LAFC blows a big lead at home, giving up goals in the 81′ and 86′.

Image result for dinosaurs playing soccer

 

 

Suggested reading.  Alternate title — “El Jurassico”.

  1. U.S.A. vs. Japan – Tournament of Nations

This event is an annual invitational with just four teams.  The matches are friendlies – no bearing on any other events.  they’re playing a round robin and that will be that.   But apart from being Amuricuh and our interest automatically being peaked, this match features the #1 and #6-ranked teams in the world.  Color me intrigued.  This is one’s in Kansas City.   (7:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   USA   4-2    Alex Morgan goes for three goals

Image result for America jingoism funny

 

 

Steven Colbert is ready for Muricuhn soccer, are you?

  1. Atletico Madrid vs. Arsenal – International Champions Cup

You know the story now for this event.  Pile of big European top clubs, glorified friendlies.   These two finished #B and a disappointing #6 in their respective leagues last season.

Noob’s intrigued to see this one on TV.  Singapore’s National Stadium just opened a few years ago.  The tiny nation is really pushing to upgrade the quality of their football.   (7:30 AM, ESPNU)

RESULT:   Atletico   1-1  /  3-1  pk

  1. Gremio vs. Sao Paulo – Brazil Serie A

Noob might not normally feature this match.  But #7 versus #B still really matters there.  And Gremio is really in a three-way tie for 5th, just happen to be down on goal differential.  As the top-rated league in South America, Brazil gets six teams into Copa Libertadores (think: Champions League).  Throw in that Gremio are the defending Libertadores champions and we’re in.

Sao Paulo didn’t even make that Copa last year, but they’ve won four in a row to climb within three of the league-leaders (Palmeiras).  Gremio continue to play small ball, and it’s hard to argue with last year’s 4th-place league finish and the continent’s top trophy in their case.  It will be fun to see if a traditional powerhouse can stem the momentum of their streaking hosts.   (6:30 PM, Premiere Futebol Clube)

RESULT:   Gremio   2-1     Come from behind win, two goals for player simply named “Everton”.

Image result for streaking Frank the Tank gif

 

So long from Noob, and a streaking Frank the Tank!

 

Wednesday

  1. Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union – Major League Soccer

Here we have two clubs scrapping for playoffs berths, which go to the top six in each of the two divisions.  So far, it’s not been working out.

Houston must’ve fallen even farther than Noob had realized.  They’ve actually not lost in five straight matches, yet are still in just 8th place in the West.  Over this stretch, they’ve been winning high and low-scoring games – good signs for a team that has disappointed compared to expectations to date.

#7 Philly just went down to surprising surging L.A. Galaxy in their own house.   Prior to that, though, they’d two consecutive wins!  A road upset wouldn’t move them into the East’s top six, but the Union would be knocking on the door.

A victory today would move the Dynamo in a playoff slot.  Veteran midfielder Romell Quioto from Honduras leads the team in assists.  His name has been popping up a lot in the stats sheet recently for those and his own goals.   Houston needs his play to stay elevated for their climb to continue.   (9:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   Philly   1-3     Houston scored first, but the Union tied before the half.  in H2, Dynamo lost a star player to a questionable straight red car and went down easily with just ten men for the remainder.

Philadelphia remains in 7th, Houston slips to 8th because of other match results.

  1. Veracruz vs. Dorados de Sinaloa – Copa MX

When Noob features league games, teams both from about the top quarter of a league meet the standard.    But when it comes to Cup/Copa tournaments – especially early I love to shine a light on Minnow.  These are underdogs from lower divisions, often in positions to maybe earn an upset.

The first of Mexico’s two season Copas is just beginning.  27 clubs from the top two divisions of football divided into Groups of three compete for 16 spots in the Knockout Round.   Veracruz finished very low in Liga MX standings during last season’s Clausura (second half-season.), averaging well under a goal per game.

Meanwhile, Sinaloa finished #B in the Ascenso.  They sported one of the best defenses at that level.  Noob’s not sure how many changes these clubs make in their shortened off-seasons, but if their makeups largely remained the same, Dorados could perhaps earn a draw here.   Any result is necessity for advancement, as neither of these clubs is going to beat Club America in this Group.

RESULT:   Dorados 1-2     Sinaloa with the upset after starting down 0-1.

Image result for Mexico funny

 

 

Noob truly hopes so.

I’ll bet those birds played futsal when they were little to learn that ball control.

  1. Celtic vs. Rosenborg – UEFA Champions League

Noob has perhaps a bad habit in re-explaining each event in each post in more details than is necessary for Noobites who read here regularly.  So, see match #1 in this Track for a few general details.

Once again, Noob’s selected a match to feature here out of many slated for today simply because this one involves the westernmost team in action.

Celtic are the super-dominant Scottish powerhouse perennially.  This hasn’t translated into tons of international tournament success.  But they destroyed an Armenian squad last round 6-0 in two matches and they carry a higher Elo rating (footballdatabase.com) than Norwegian champs Rosenborg.

Rosenborg’s one advantage today is that they are in form, halfway through their league season.  The Scottish Premier hasn’t started up yet.  Still, they’d be satisfied with a draw today and then taking their chances at home in the second match of this two-legged tie.

Their leagues are both middle of the road in the UEFA rankings.  The winner gets AEK Athens in the next round, which enter the competition at that stage.

RESULT:   Celtic   3-1

  1. AC Milan vs. Manchester United – International Champions Cup

Reminder:  ICC is a big pile of really good European clubs playing in the US and around the world playing friendly, warming up for their domestic leagues about to begin.  So it’s hard to handicap them, as any given club is as likely to be playing reserves as starters.

Still, they’re big names, and the games in the U.S. draw very well.  This one is at the Stub Hub Center in L.A. (Carson).  The teams finished #6 and #B in their leagues last year, respectively.   (11:00 PM, ESPN)

RESULT:   Man Utd   1-1  /  8-9  pk     Wait, why are they using penalty shootout in a non-knockout tournament?

Image result for big pile funny

 

Phil Hartman.  Not soccer-relevant.

Noob neither has no needs a reason.

 

Tuesday

  1. PAOK (Greece) vs. FC Basel (Switzerland) – UEFA Champions League

The best thing about PAOK playing outside Greece is that maybe their hooligan fans won’t be in so riled up and in such force.  Noob and The Management cheer for Basel.  Just because he saw their stadium once.   And they’re not Greek soccer hooligans.

This is the Second Qualifying Round.  The event-proper isn’t considered to be really starting until the Group Stage begins.  There are several matches from this tournament today.  Noob rather arbitrarily chose this one by virtue of it involving the westernmost club of the bunch.

These two qualified to enter at this round, did not have to play the First QR.  These and two other clubs entering here got in by finishing runners-up in their domestic leagues.  This is called the “League Path”, as opposed to the “Champions Path”.  Really doesn’t matter as far as Noob can see.

Their leagues are rated 16th and 12th, respectively, within UEFA.   Their Elo-ratings (footballdatabase.com) are pretty close as well.  This two-legged tie should be a very competitive one.  The winner will take on Standard Liege, Belgium’s FA Cup winner, in the Third QR.

RESULT:   PAOK   2-1

Image result for PAOK hooligans

 

News outlets probably just keep violent PAOK soccer supporter-footage a button-click away at all times.

B.  Zacatecas vs. Leon – Copa MX

Just as Mexico’s Liga and Ascenso MX seasons Apertura (first half-season) are beginning, so is their Apertura Copa tournament.  The Group Stage is nine pods of three clubs each.  The winners and the seven best runners-up will all advance to the Knockout Stage.

Noob’s chosen to feature this match out of several today because it looks like the best chance for an upset.  Leon finished just 13th in the 2017-18 regular season Clausura, being ghastly on defense.  Zacatecas won the second division Ascenso.

Zacatecas would’ve been Promoted to Liga MX for this year, but Noob heard Mexico’s FA changed the rules in some way so they couldn’t potentially see big-money Guadalajara get Relegated.  So no club’s moved between the two.  Noob thinks “The Miners” can get a draw today.

RESULT:   Zacatecas   4-3     Leon came on fast and furious with two late goals to make this a riveting match.

Image result for letter B in trouble

 

Not soccer-relevant, but we also quest to learn about Number B here.  

Funny how Number B’s belly gets pointed out, but Letter D’s big backside gets a pass.

 

Tuesday and Wednesday

Coming soon!

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (5/12) – MLS, top UEFA league’s drama, and more FA Cup Finals!

The ten most important matches for us – the newish American fans of the global game – brook no nonsense (ok, maybe a little nonsense…) on the weekends.  There’s hardware to be passed out today, so let’s dive in.

  1. Columbus Crew vs. Chicago Fire – MLS

Noob originally had Dallas and LA Galaxy for the top game today, but it’s a save over the crossbar!  Correct best game identified.

Columbus are #4 in the Eastern Conference, have seemingly righted their ship.  They lost three straight matches before this unbeaten streak of four.  Chicago are having trouble on offense.  Four assists out of their aged Euro-star Bastian Schweinsteiger isn’t bad, but he’s stuck on one goal for the season.   (7:30 PM Eastern, NBA League Pass 6)

Noobstradamus Sees:   Columbus 1-0 on an early goal.   Columbus doesn’t score much, either, but they’re tied for the conference lead in goal defense.

RESULT:   Columbus 3-0

Image result for bastian schweinsteiger mls funny

 

 

Do you have a question, Bastian?   Noob’s spot-on.

B.  Portland Thorns vs. Orlando Pride – NWSL

Orlando have won four in a row!  That’s pushed them to 5th place, but Noob thinks the soccer gods are lulling them into a false sense of accomplishment.    (3:30 PM, Lifetime)

Noobstradamus Sees:   …#4 Portland repeating their 2-1 home win from earlier this season versus the Pride.  Down with cities built on swamps!

RESULT:   Orlando   1-2

Image result for letter B thorns

 

 

Number B – menacing with a thorny look

  1. Middlesbrough vs. Aston Villa – English Championship

The battle is on to determine which of the #3-6 clubs will get the third and final Promotion into Premier League for next season!  This is the first leg of a semifinal between, as you might imagine, two very even sides.

Noobstrdamus Sees:   1-1.  Saving the real drama for the return leg at Aston Villa.

RESULT:   Aston Villa 0-1

  1. 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Dortmund – Bundesliga

This is the last weekend of matches in Germany!  Reminder:  Four Champions League berths for this league.

#3 Dortmund are all but guaranteed one now, as they lead #4’s Hoffenheim and Leverkusen by three points each.  Might explain why they lost to lowly Mainz at home last match.

Hoffenheim is hoping their hosts today will be sleeping again.  Leverkusen play at home against also-ran Hannover today.   (9:30 AM, KTBC)

Noobstradamus Sees:   Hoffenheim 2-0, leaving Leverkusen having to utterly blowout Hannover to pass them.

RESULT:   Hoffenheim   3-1

Image result for soccer sleeping

 

 

He’s even in a yellow BVB jersey, see?

  1. AS Monaco vs. St. Etienne – Ligue 1

Monaco are tied for 3rd place and the final CL slot for France.  But they’ve got this and one more match to play, whereas their peer Marseille are down to just one.

St. Etienne may be #6 and fighting to hold onto their Europa League slot, but there’s a massive gulf in ability between the league’s top four and everyone else.   (3:00 PM, TV5MONDE)

Noobstradamus Sees:   …Monaco leaving nothing to chance.  5-1.

RESULT:   1-0

  1. Inter Milan vs. Sassuolo – Serie A

With two matches to go in Italy, it’s Inter who are losing the game of musical chairs.  They’re in 5th, two points out of 4th and the final CL spot.  They have a possibly sneaky-tough matchup today as #12 Sassuolo have only lost once since mid-March.

Noobstradamus Sees:   …that the competition Sassy-pants have been playing of late is decidedly not the league’s strongest.  Inter 3-0.

RESULT:   Sassuolo   1-2

Image result for sassy italian

 

Snausages!

Noob neither has nor needs any reason.

  1. Galatasaray vs. Yeni Malatyaspor – Turkey Super Lig

Hiccup Watch game.  Y.M. are 10th place, should be fodder for tied-for-1st Galatasaray.

Noobstradamus Sees:   …Galatasaray – who have two matches left to just one for co-#1 Istanbul Basaksehir – not giving up that advantage.  4-1.

RESULT:   Galatasaray   2-0

  1. AEK Athens vs. PAOK – Greek Cup

The Final!  Athens get to host, no neutral site business here.  And it’s the league #1 vs. #B, as is good, right, and proper.   (1:30 PM, Antenna 20 Years)

Noobstradamus Sees:   Massive fires in Athens, a couple of maimings… it’s Greece!   Oh, and PAOK gets the upset, 1-1, then taking it in PK’s.  So make that several maimings.

RESULT:   PAOK   0-2

Image result for noobstradamus

 

 

Hold up.   Did someone say snausages?   Yummaaaay.

  1. HJK vs. FC Inter – Finnish Cup

Another Final!   This one shouldn’t be dramatic, truth be told.  HJK Helsinki are the league defending champions.  FC Inter are a bottom-half club who achieved nicely by getting to this match.

Noobstradamus Sees:   HJK 11-1.

  1. Sporting Cristal vs. Huancayo – Peru Premier

Let’s end the Track with one more Final!   This is the championship for the Verano (first of three regular season stages).  Cristal earned a 1-1 draw on the first leg of this two-match tie.  They are likely considered a full goal-better than Huancayo on their own pitch.   (9:30 PM, Peru Magico)

Noobstrdamus Sees:  …that funny things happen in footyball!  2-2 today, then the visitors take the title in penalty kicks.

RESULT:   Cristal 1-0     chamPEENS!

Image result for peru funny

 

So long from Peru–  from Noob and controversial Peruvian TV character “Peasant Jacinta”!

’10 to Track’ soccer matches- Weekend Edition – Premier League, MLS, all the finest

The ten most important matches for the newish North American fan to follow.  Our quest is noble.

  1. Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City – MLS

The Fire placed 3rd in the Eastern Division last season, and unless team make-up has changed a lot, they will play things wiiiiiide open.  KC finished 5th in the weaker Western.

The Management has strong KC ties.   Noob has yet to decide if he will openly root against The Management’s teams on principle, cheer along with him (Unlikely!), or modestly heckle.  For today, I’ll just say this:  If Chicago score first, KC will get routed.  (6:00 PM Eastern, NBA League Pass 6)

RESULT:   3-4    KC     (KC scored first)

Image result for heckling meme

 

 

Apparently, Noob’s late to this party.

B.  Tigres UANL vs. Tijuana – Liga MX

Noob loves Liga MX more and more each passing day.  They play about the same number of games as other premier leagues (34), but when the season is divided into two separate halves, every game means so much more.

They’re 10 games into the Clausura (second half-season), and things are tight as a tick in the table.  Only eight points separate 1st from 13th.  These two are 5th and 7th.  Top eight will get to play in the postseason Liguilla.

The hosts have some trouble on the defensive side of things, but that makes this a good matchup for them.  Tijuana apparently just like to kick the ball as high as they can all game long.  Only 16 goals have been scored in their 10 matches.   (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes, Univision)

RESULT:   Tigres   1-0

Image result for mexican letter B

 

 

Number B is so ready.

  1. Manchester United vs. Liverpool – English Premier

At #B and #3, both these clubs are looking safe for a top four-finish and invites to the Champions League.  Man Utd. like a lower-scoring game, at least compared to other top clubs.  Noob looks for 1-0 Red Devils win.

RESULT:   Man Utd.    2-1

  1. Sevilla vs. Valencia – La Liga

Spain’s top-flight league gets four Champions League invites, and Valencia seem set for that 4th.  They’re six points up on 5th-place Sevilla.  They need more than a draw.  Anything but a win and they’ll for certain be settling for Europa League.

RESULT:   Valencia   0-2

Image result for sevilla fc meme

 

 

 

Layers of confusion.

 

 

Sunday, 3/11

  1. Atlanta United vs. D.C. United – MLS

What a treeee-mendous first season Atlanta had!   4th place in the brutally tough East.  Pretty much filling up the lower bowl at the NFL Falcons’ home stadium.  Just think where they might be in a few years.

Hopefully someplace good.  Unlike long-timers D.C. United.  They crapped the bed to a dismal last-place finish.   (3:00 PM Eastern, ESPN)

RESULT:   Atlanta   3-1     The Capitol-crapping continues

  1. Borussia Dortmund vs. Eintracht Frankfurt – Bundesliga

Likely the most important game on the globe this weekend.  League titles mean a lot, but those seem to be decided for most of the big Euro leagues.  Getting to Champions League is what counts.

These two are tied for 3rd, and three more teams lurk no more than three points behind them.  American superstar Christian Pulisic and Dortmond will be looking to make this a battle of offense today.  Frankfurt won’t be able to keep up.   (1:00 PM, FS2, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Dortmund   3-2      High drama!  Frankfurt gets the equalizer a minute into stoppage time, then Dortmund gets the winner at 90+5.

Image result for christian pulisic funny

 

 

They grow up SO fast!

  1. Inter Milan vs. Napoli – Serie A

If the above is most important, it’s #7 here giving them a run.

Napoli lead the Italian league by a point, but they’ve also played one more game than #B Juventus.  Inter are just one point behind Lazio for the league’s last Champions League berth.  They play the same defense, but Napoli score half again as often.   (3:45 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Rangers vs. Celtic – Scottish Premiership

The sand is running out of the glass on Rangers.  They’re just six points behind Celtic for 1st (and the league’s only C.L. spot), but few other teams have the capability to beat Celtic.  They’ll only face off one more time after today.  Realistically, Rangers have to have a win and three points here.

RESULT:   2-3   Celtic

Image result for great scottish food

 

 

 

Wait, those can’t be Scottish.  They look edible.

  1. Jorge WIlstermann vs. Bolivar – Bolivia Premier

This is the Apertura (first half-season), and oh my have they changed formats.  While the Clausura will still be played under a more typical round-robin system, right now they league is split into two groups of seven.  The top four from each group will advance to a Knockout tournament.

Aaaaanyway.  These two are tied for 1st in their Group.

RESULT:   JW   4-2

  1. PAOK vs. AEK Athens – Superleague Greece

#2 hosts #1!   Just what’s needed – added pressure.  PAOK fans will fight just about anywhere, anytime as is.  The club has already had two points in the table deducted for hooligan fans.  They’re five behind AEK.

RESULT:   0-0      Best of all, Noob heard of no fan maimings

Image result for paok hooligans

Actual photo from fighting before a PAOK-AEK game.   

We should NEVER have sent Greece those Karate Kid VHS tapes.