The Midweek Track, where instead of ten matches each day, Noob teases out the same number over three days. Ooh la LAH.
But what IS Noob? Noob is introducing the newish American fans of the global game to the leagues and tournaments of the world. Local first, but ogling everywhere.
The Tracks are the backbone of the project. Ten matches that can matter most for us. More, Noob tells you the stakes, WHY each match matters. And I like to think sometimes that’s even new and fun for seasoned fans of the game.
And it’s Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs! That madness lurks below (and after that, previous days’ match results.
10. FC Goa vs. Bengalaru – India Super League
We finish the Midweek Track in a country with two “top-flite” leagues. (The other is the I-League.) ISL is similar to America’s Major League Soccer in that it is not part of a promotion/relegation system. (The I-League is.) Like MLS, it is run on more of a franchise-system. This is just the league’s fifth season, and it only received formal recognition by the Asian Football Confederation last season.
The AFC ranks “India club competitions” as #14. Noob’s not certain yet if that is a reference to both India’s leagues or just I-League, and so I am uncertain of the quality of this particular league. But this is Noob and this is part of what we do, learning the game from all over, and learning is a process.
Goa are currently #1 this young season, but they’ve played two more matches than #B Bengalaru. It’s the latter who are undefeated so far. Just like last year this is a clash of styles. Bengalaru can do it all, but lean more on defense. Goa don’t seem to believe in defense even a little, but score seemingly at will.
RESULT: Bengalaru 1-2 High drama in the battle for first! The visitors led 0-1. Then Mohamed Ali (yep) got yellows at 36′ and 47′ to get redded out. Then Bengalaru had a player get a straight red at 59′.
Equalizer for Goa at 72′, but Bengalru gets the decider at 77′.
And since the Midweek was frontloaded on matches, let’s flesh things out here on the back end, indulge in yet another —
NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!
Indeed, it’s time for the Noob to give his take on another sammich. Because if there’s one thing Noob’s two target niche audiences want more than the footyball goodness here, it’s… whatever the cuss this has been.
But this time, s**t’s about to get real —
Yup, Noober’s taking on a brand name. This is Subway’s new Chipotle Steak and Cheese on Sunflower Crunch Bread.
Full disclosure: Noob ordered steak, sans cheese and chipotle. I added spinach, black olives, tomatoes, and a little lite mayo. And I didn’t get it toasted. Repeat. I DECLINED THE TOASTEDNESS. Some of what’s to follow is on me.
The vegetable-condiment combination is a standard for me and was not problematic here. But the steak had no flavor. Not bland flavor. -None-. It was like chewing water as far as taste. Noob’s never experienced the like. I thought perhaps I was having a stroke.
Subway — don’t make sammiches that make someone think he’s having a damn stroke.
And this was nowhere near the greater sin of this sandwich.
Sunflower Crusted Bread – mmmmmm…thanks for coming up with something a quarter-notch better than pencil shavings for to put in my mouth.
It looks like wet bird seed. Well, it might literally be wet bird seed. Crunch? Zero. Bitter taste. While a little of that can be an interesting foil to another primary flavor, remember: nil-flavor steak.
As added punishment, Noob was on the road and got this to go. That meant wet bird seed ALL over my car. Like need-to-have-it-detailed all over. No cohesion between the bird seed and bread.
In a nutshell, sadness reigned. Again, toasting — would this have married the bird seed and bread more closely? Noob’s no culinary-physics expert. Still learning soccer, dang it. Would toasting have given a hint of flavor to the steak? Hard to say.
Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs run on a 0-5 Sammich scale. I give this sandwich 1 1/2 sammiches.
The vegetables and lite mayo couldn’t save this atrocity. While I could credit myself there, I’m calling it a wash for my critical non-toasting error in judgement.
Thank you reading Noob Sandwich Reviewoob. Join the…again, whatever this is by commenting here on the site. Or find me at SoccerNoobUSA on Twittter.
9. Flamengo vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A
Just one match for your Wednesday Track portion. It comes from South America’s top league, and things are heating up there.
With three league matches to go each, #B Flamengo and #4 Gremio have assured themselves of at least top-six finishes. That means they’ve qualified for next years Copa Libertadores – South America’s version of Champions League.
Neither is guaranteed a top four finish yet, though. Ending the season that high means entering the CL right at the Group Stage, not having to play any prior qualifying stages. More, Flamengo still have a realistic – if not probable – shot at the league title. They trail Palmeiras by five points in the table.
Flamengo have beaten a couple of also-rans 1-0 their last two outings. Before that, they hadn’t won in three matches. Gremio haven’t lost in four matches.
To look at the season-long stats, Gremio haven’t had the offense to quite compete for the trophy. But if recent trends for these two continue, this will be a tactical, low-scoring affair. (6:45 PM, Rede Globe TV International, Premiere Futbol Clube)
RESULT: Flamego 2-0
1. Italy vs. U.S.A. – friendly
The U.S. surely didn’t look like world-beaters when they lost 3-0 in England a few days ago. Their European tour continues now in Italy. The teams are ranked #19 and #23, respectively, by FIFA.
Italy have been playing in the UEFA Nations League. They have finished #B in their Group and not qualify for the Playoffs there.
After missing out on the World Cup, neither side has been doing a lot of winning, as they retool rosters with younger players. It’s all part of getting ready for future international competitions and even the next World Cup cycle.
A key matchup to watch will likely be in the midfield between New York Red Bull Tyler Adams and Jorginho of Chelsea.
Jorginho is a pass-happy fah-reeak, and clearly a talented one to be playing for a top club in the Premier League in England. Adams didn’t play in the U.S.’ last friendly, getting some rest after an MLS playoff match.
RESULT: Italy 1-0 Minor note: turns our the game was held in Genk, Belgium. Major note: This score could’ve been soooooo much worse. U.S. were awful, only holding possession about a quarter of the match.
Beers and eagle heads and American flag-beachwear.
Here we come, Italy!
B. Argentina vs. Mexico – friendly
If this match rings a bell, it’s because it should. The two faced off in Argentina just three days ago, with the home side taking the match 2-0.
Mexico made the World Cup quarterfinals, but have had little success in friendlies since then. Argentina also made the WC quarters, but they’ve only lost once since then. The two are ranked #12 and #16 by FIFA.
RESULT: Argentina 2-0 Mexico actually looked pretty solid on may stat lines
3. Sweden vs. Russia – UEFA Nations League
Once again, here’s a link to Noob’s ‘Explainer’ of what this event is:
This is a League B matchup. Russia lead the Swedes by three in points and in goal differential. That means Sweden needs a big, big win in this last match to overtake the Russians.
They carry FIFA-rankings of #17 and #41. Given that the Russian Premier League is rated well in the top-10 of Europe, Noob was surprised to find their MNT rank so comparatively low. But these things don’t always corelate.
RESULT: Sweden 2-0 And that is just enough – the Swedes advance!
4. Scotland vs. Israel – UEFA Nations League
These League C combatants are tied for the lead in their Group. Last match and winner takes all. Scotland only need a draw to advance, as they hold the GD tiebreaker.
It will be interesting to see how the Scots play this. Their success has been just as much on offense as their D, yet given the situation, playing for a low-scoring draw is certainly defensible.
RESULT: Scotland 3-2 Three goals for Celtic club member James Forrest as the Scots move on!
Um, what? Why?….No…
5. Montenegro vs. Romania – UEFA Nations League
This is another league C matchup. Unlike the previous Groups – including the one in Match #4 above, this Group has four teams.
In truth, this match only matters at all if last-place Lithuania somehow beats or draws with Group leader Serbia. At Serbia. Unlikely.
Serbia lead Montenegro by two points in the table and their tied on GD. So here’s the breakdown: Romania have to win today to have any shot at 1st. If that happens and Serbia merely draw with (or lose to) Lithuania, Romania wins.
Montenegro and Romania are ranked #39 and #26 worldwide. Noob figures this to be a tossup since it’s in Monenegro.
RESULT: Romania 0-1 Did their part…
6. Kosovo vs. Azerbaijan – UEFA Nations League
Here in League D, all the Groups have four teams. But in this Group, only two are in play for 1st. Kosovo lead Azerbaijan by two heading into this last match. So a win for the visitors and they win the group. Any other result and Kosovo advances to the Playoffs.
This Group has been a bit of a surprise. Faroe Islands came in with the nest FIFA ranking, the only one in the top 100. And Azerbaijan are 30 notches higher than Kosovo.
RESULT: Kosovo 4-0 …but it’s Kosovo in a rout, so on the playoffs for them!
Faroe Islands realty – a wee bit Hobbit-y?
7. Curacao vs. Guadeloupe – CONCACAF Nations League qualification
Scroll on up to yesterday’s post if you need a small refresher on what’s going on, at stake with this tournament.
Curacao have one their first two matches by a combined score of 15-0. That’s good for 5th place, and looks even better when you recognize most teams around them have already played three of their four games.
Guadeloupe are in 16th after their first to matches. Based on where these two rank in CONCACAF (not FIFA, as not a member, being a French territory), one might’ve expected their places to be turned around. But that’s part of the fun of this tournament. Four matches are all each of the 34 participating teams get, so there’s a lot of volatility.
RESULT: Curacao 6-0 wowzerz (also, this match may have been played yesterday)
8. Billericay vs. Chesterfield – England FA Cup
The “qualifying” stages done. Between teams advanced through those q-rounds and ones just now entering the tournament, there will have been 32 playing here in the First Round Proper.
Most of the 1RP matches are already done. It’s a Knockout event, meaning that they just play one game, host decided by random draw. But if the match ends in a draw, they have a Replay. This time, it’s at the other team’s place though. That’s how we get to this featured match. These two tied 1-1 in their first try.
Billericay are from the sixth level of the English football pyramid, making them very much a Minnow – an underdog. Looking for Minnows that make deep runs in the whole event is part of the fun of following this. They’re from Essex, and play out of the Ishthmian League’s premier division, to which they were just promoted this year. And they’re #B in their current league, meaning they have a very good chance to get Promoted once again!
Chesterfield play one league up, the National League. They’re not having a very good season there. In fact, if they do much worse, they might get sent down. These two may essentially end up switching places.
Noob thinks Billericay still isn’t quite an even match today at home, but wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re able to get another draw after 90′. If that happens, this time there will be no more Replays. They’ll play extra time, go to penalty kicks if need be, decide who advances today.
RESULT: Chesterfield 1-3