Isle of Sodor Premier League – matchday 27 – all results, updated table, new hotness

Matchday 27 in Review (2/23-24/19)

Saturday feature matchBrendam Darby goes United 0, Harbor 7

Image result for BHFC crest Saturday’s feature match may not have had league title implications, but a derby is a derby!   And sometimes a match can be a blowout, as Brendam Harbor took the first FA-official local derby 0-7 over Brendam United.

 

United are now in real danger of potentially sinking into the Relegation Zone after #18 Ulfstead‘s win.

KEPA HAS NOTHING ON SUDRIC GOALIE

Image result for sutton reserve goalie sitting The only drama came at 3′ when the match was delayed several minutes.

To honor retiring reserve goalkeeper Angus Waldroup, United chose to start him briefly.   When the planned time to pull him came, he sat, saying they could sub him out if they could carry him.  [Click to read the  ESPNFC article about Chelsea keeper Kepa refusing to be subbed out during yesterday’s FA Cup final.]

The solution?  Assistant Hugh MacDuff had the caterers set up the postgame food table early.  Word of that got Waldroup up off that fat ass and to the locker room at a terrifying speed.

Sunday feature match#2 closes gap on league-leaders

Image result for ktfc crest

Knapford Town rebounded from last week’s tough loss to defeat East Coast Diesel 2-8.  E.C.D. look wiped out after a grueling stretch of top teams faced in February.  KTFC lost their local derby last week 8-9, but their mettle was stronger.

 

Coupled #1 Dryaw FC‘s surprising home loss, Knapford now only trail the top table spot by two points.

—- ALL MATCHDAY 27 RESULTS, UPDATED TABLE ——-

Sat., 2/23
T15     Brendam Utd.          0   vs.    7      #14    Brendam Harbor
#13     Marron                       7   vs.    4       #3     Kirk Ronan
#19    Tidmouth City         1    vs.    5       #5     Crovan’s Gate
T11      Castle Rolf                6   vs.    0       #10   Suddery
T8       Junction & Sheds    1   vs.    2       #15    Lakeside

2/24
#20    Arlesburgh Utd.       0   vs.     1       #4    Peel Godred
#6      East Coast Diesel     2   vs.     8      #2    Knapford Town
T11      Vicarstown                4   vs.     7      #18   Ulfstead
#7       Wellsworth                5   vs.    4      #17   Ffarquhar
#1        Dryaw                          5   vs.     6     #9     Glennock

1 1 Dryaw 19 5 3 62 League Champions
B B Knapford Town 19 4 4 60
4 3 Peel Godred 18 4 5 58
3 4 Kirk Ronan 17 5 5 56
5 5 Crovan’s Gate 16 7 4 55
6 6 East Coast Diesel 13 7 7 46
7 7 Wellsworth 14 3 8 45
9 8 Glennock 12 5 10 41
8 9 Junction & Sheds 12 4 9 40
10 10 Suddery 10 6 11 36
T11 11 Castle Rolf 9 7 11 34
T11 T12 Vicarstown 7 10 10 31
13 T12 Marron 9 4 14 31
14 14 Brendam Harbor 8 6 13 30
T15 15 Lakeside 8 5 14 29
T15 16 Brendam United 7 5 15 26
17 17 Ffarquhar 6 5 16 23
18 18 Ulfstead 6 4 17 22 Relegated to Sodor Championship
19 19 Tidmouth City 4 3 20 15
20 20 Arlesburgh United 4 1 22 13

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition – Visiting a newish league, taking on Subway

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 stakesWHY 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.

Thursday

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 —

Image result for steak and cheese subway sandwich sunflower bread

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.

Wednesday

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

Tuesday

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.

Image result for too American funny

 

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:

http://www.soccernoob.com/2018/01/01/uefa-nations-league-explainer/

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!

Image result for Scottish Jew

 

 

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!

Image result for Faroe Islands sad

 

 

 

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

Billericay Town F.C. Logo.png

Thursday

coming soon!

’10 to Track’ Sunday (11/4) soccer matches – MLS playoffs lead the way!

Noob is just 2-6 in the top division in his Scrabble tournament this weekend.  And I haven’t even faced the former national champ yet.   Welp.

So serving up the ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game – is sweet relief to me.  I’m still previewing a match from there this week, but I can’t wait to go salve my wounds with a return back to my fall-winter Sodor home next weekend.

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

It’s the Quarterfinals!   In this and the next round, teams face off in two-legged, home-and-away ties.  The lesser seed hosts first.  That’s #5 Portland.

The Timers have had quite the roller coaster season.  Their springtime was simply divine, filled with rain showers and blooming lilies and never a stormy cloud or loss to be seen.  But the summer heat made them inconsistent as could be.

Noob-reviled Sounders come in red-hot, on a five-match win streak.   The defense carried them most of the year.  Of late, it’s been their offense shouldering the load.  If that continues, this is a bad matchup for Portland, which struggled on defense compared to most Playoff clubs.   (5:30 PM EST, ESPN)

RESULT:   Portland   2-1

B.  NYCFC vs. Atlanta United – Major League Soccer playoffs

Atlanta were annihilated in their final regular season match by defending champs yet non-playoff bound Toronto.  That cost them the East’s #1 seed and the Supporters Shield.  But as the #B team, they still got a bye into the Quarters.

The New York Blues beat Philly in both of their last two matches.   That’s good work.  But Atlanta were the scoring champs of the entire league and played just as good of defense as New York City FC.   (7:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Atl   0-1

Image result for grouchy soccer

 

 

how Noob imagines the supporters for New York and Philly — grouchy

 

3.  Wellsworth vs. Ffarquhar – Isle of Sodor Premier

Since Noob’s in Asheville, NC, I’ll miss this fun matchup in the IoSPL’s inaugural season.

Wellsworth were going to be in the bottom of the three divisions.  But they made the Quarterfinals of the first-ever FA Cup this summer.  As reward, they get to play top flite.

Ffarquhar plays in one of the larger towns of the same name, also made the Quarters.  They were slated for PL status already.

These teams were about mirror images of one another statistically.  it’s hard not to lean on the visitors as favorites.  Suddric clubs all draw pretty much from their immediate locales for players.  Wellsworth is a small village — it’s just a numbers game.

Neither played much defense in the FA Cup, even compared to other teams.  That’s saying something.  Aggressive defense is quietly considered uncouth on Sodor.

RESULT:   Ffarquhar   1-5

  1. UNAM Pumas vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

With three matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season), Noob believes at least six teams have a realistic shot at the regular season title.

These two are in 4th and 3rd place, respectively.   Cruz Azul play the league’s tightest D, but their offense has scuffled this month.  Some of that may be the extra matches as they advance deeply in the Copa MX going on.

Pumas haven’t lost a match in a couple months.  I’m not sure they will catch CF America for #1. but I’d bet on them moving up a couple spots to #B.

RESULT:   Cruz   1-2          Cruz is the new #1

Image result for six is crazyZero to do with soccer, but PersonNoob (my daughter) loves M.L.P.’s “Mane Six”.

  1. Arsenal vs. Birmingham City – England Women’s Super League

Last season, Arsenal missed a top-two finish and invite to the Champions League by just one point in the table.  And they’re still feeling raw about it.  6-0-0, 31:3 GD.  It was Chelsea pulling the unbeaten number all last season, but there’s a new leader of this pack.

Nearly all the rest of the teams struggle to score a little, and #3 Birmingham is no exception.  They’ve only allowed three goals, but may well give up that many today.

RESULT:   Arsenal   3-1       Jordan Noobs with two goals, and the coolly-named Danielle van de Donk with the other for Arsenal

  1. Cork City vs. Dundalk – FAI Cup (Ireland)

It’s the Final!

Congrats to the league champs, Dundalk, upending two-time defending champs Cork City.  And now they wrestle over another trophy today.

Dundalk lead the Premier there in goal-scoring and defense.   It’s their offense that’s the greater strength.

Cork lost too many close matches to make it a close regular season title race.  But Dundalk have only managed draws their last two away matches.  Noob suspects they probably just rested starters with title in hand, but maybe they’ve spent themselves and the road has become hard.   And while this isn’t a home match for Cork, neither is it in Dundalk.  The big national stadium in Dublin hosts this one.

RESULT:   Dundalk   1-2      hail to the victors!

Image result for FAI Cup Trophy 2018

 

 

Soooo shiny

  1. Olimpia vs. Cerro Porteño – Paraguay Pro Division

Olimpia ran away with the Apertura regular season title and are doing the same here in the Clausura (second-half season).  They’ve already guaranteed themselves a berth into the next Champions League.

C.P. again find themselves #B.  Their D is sensational.  But if that’s the immovable object, Olimpia’s firepower is the irresistible force.  And they’re more irresistible – you saucy minxes – than C.P. is immovable.

RESULT:   2-2           Naughtiness ensued at 90′!   A red card for someone on each time and Olimpia hits a penalty at that mark

  1. Portmore United vs. Tivoli Gardens – Jamaica Premier

Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are the strongest leagues of those in the Caribbean subgroup in CONCACAF.

Portmore crushed it during 2017-18 regular season, then went on to win the tournament title.  Tivoli finished 3rd last year.  The new season is just seven matches in, but things look largely the same.  T.G. can play defense with the best of them, but can’t put it in the back of the net like Portmore.

RESULTL   Tivolo   0-1

Image result for Jamaican crush

 

 

Impress your fave Portmore fan and/or your own Jamaican crush with a lovely gift of Jamaican Crush.

  1. Le Geldar vs. Etoile Matoury – French Guiana Honor Division

Nation a FIFA member?  Nope.  Full CONCACAF member?  You betcha.  Two-horse race last year between these two, with Le Geldar winning the trophy by one point.

And that’s an even closer margin here than in most leagues.  In French Guiana, a win is worth four points, a tie worth two for each team, or one point just for showing up to lose.  so instead of two or three table-points being distributed like in most leagues, here it’s four or five.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Scholars United vs. Roma United – Cayman Islands Premier

We finish our Track with another matchup of 2017-18 #1 and #B teams!   This was another race decided by just a point.  But this league is different than most, or was last season.

These top two were both carried by their defense.   They didn’t Small Ball, but the next four teams in the table all played about as well or better on offense.  Just not the way these things happens in most places.

RESULT:   1-1

T.E. McField Sports Centre, George Town

 

 

So long from T.E. McField Sports Center, George Town, C.I.!

home of Scholars

’10 to Track’ Saturday (10/20) soccer matches – USL Playoffs, Liga MX, Premier League lead the way

When I became a man I put away childish things – 1 Corinthians 13:11

Noob spends a lot of the week on nuttiness.  That doesn’t change on weekends.  But today’s ‘ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game’ gets at least comparatively serious.

Today’s matches are a cavalcade of wonder and quality.   Feast.  Feast!!

  1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. Bethlehem Steel – United Soccer League Playoffs

Except for one match from yesterday, all the opening Round of 16 matches are being played today.  The format is knockout – no home and away series.  Noob’s selected this one because intrastate rivalry adds an extra layer of fun.

They are the #3 and #6 seeds, respectively.  Noob as a hard time necessarily saying Pittsburgh are the “best” defense in the league.   They allowed the fewest goals all season, so it’s quite possible.  But they didn’t score much compared to their postseason-qualifying peers.

Noob’s calling for the upset today!   I don’t believe in the small ball-strategy teams like the Riverhounds try to stand on.  Yes, it’s served them well this season.  But Noob thinks more balanced teams reign in crunch time.  In the Eastern Conference, no team was more balanced than Bethlehem.

I believe all the playoff matches are available online via ESPN+ (7:00 PM EST).

RESULT:   Bethlehem   2-2  /  7-8   pk

Image result for zoolander bethlehem steel

 

With Stiller’s help, Bethlehem are ready to let the beast out of the cage.

B.  Chelsea vs. Manchester United – English Premier League

Chelsea are part of an undefeated, three-way tie for 1st.  Good defense, exceptional on goal-scoring.  They’re on a mission after missing out on the current Champions League because of their 5th-place finish last season.

Man Utd. have only won one of their last five matches across all competitions.  When a team with the caliber of players they have isn’t D-ing up, it can be a sign of motivation, off-field troubles.  And whoa have United been dealing with that.  The power struggle between one of their superstars (Pogba) and head coach (Mourinho) continues unabated.

At least they’ve won three of four specifically in the EPL.  Still, Chelsea should handle them with relative ease at home, a couple goals says I.

On a side note, The Management pointed me to a fine article on the current state of the EPL power structure, why no one is going to touch Man City again this year, that they should dominate by even more than during their record-setting 2017-18 season:

https://www.theringer.com/soccer/2018/10/19/17995886/the-premier-league-standings-are-lying-to-you

Goodness but Noob hates giving The Management any credit for anything.  I will now take a “Crying Game”-scalding hot shower to try and rid myself of the awful feeling.   (7:30 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   2-2               Chelsea gets the equalizer at 90+6′!       Anthony Martial with both goals for Man Utd.

  1. Queretaro vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

#1 Cruz Azul are coming back down to earth a little, winning and losing two of their last four outings.  The Apertura (first half-season is 2/3 of the way through and they lead the next teams down by two points in the table.

Queretaro are just trying to finish in the top half of the standings, make the Liguilla (Playoffs).  They lead a three-way tie for the eight and final berth.  But they haven’t won a league match since the end of August.  The offense has simply vanished, and to quote the Shawshank warden, like a fart in the wind.

RESULT:   Queretaro   2-0

  1. Barcelona vs. Sevilla – La Liga

Alaves lead the league after a win yesterday, but have nowhere near the firepower to remain there long. They’ve now played one more match than the likely real contenders, like these two here.

Tied-for-3rd Barcelona started the league season with four straight wins, but haven’t won one since.  It’s possible they’re stretching themselves a bit thin with Champions League right now is all.    Sevilla are #B and have trended the other way, winning all four of their latest league games.

Both have the offense to stay table-top.  But will they be able to hold off the more defensive-minded big Madrid teams lurking just down the table?   (6:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Barcelona   4-2

Image result for almost sounded smart funny

Noob almost sounded smart there, eh?

But now back to vocab and counting work...

  1. W Connection vs. Central – Trinidad and Tobago Pro League

I’ve watched so much “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” with my daughter, “PersonNoob”, that I’ve been more inspired than ever in recent months to get to know our CONCACAF neighbors.  And this is the best matchup going, a shiny #1 versus #B face-off.

The league champions and runners-up will qualify for next year’s Caribbean Club Championship.  The winner of that will, in turn, qualify for the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.

This is a very offense-centric league.  W score theirs and then some, but are the only club there that plays more than seemingly token defense (.5 goals allowed per game-average).  Central are tied for #B.  They’re one of the worst league culprits, though, when it comes to turnstyle-defense.

RESULT:        ppd

  1. T.N.S. vs. Connah’s Quay – Welsh Premier League

Is this a strong European league?  Nope!   #50 ranking in UEFA.  But they’re on the rise, will climb a couple notches when the 2019’s are out.  And Noob gives propers to all top U.K. leagues.

Two traditional heavyweights lead there again.  The New Saints look like the best team in paper, but CQ lead them by two in the table after a run of five straight league wins.

Barry Town is right there, too, but that is a very temporary thing.  No one else but these two will challenge for the title.  Both their defenses are twice as good as anyone else’s, and the same can nearly be said of the offenses.

RESULT:   TNS   3-0

Image result for Welsh kung fu

 

 

 

 

Your soccer is weak, Wales, as is your tiny kung fu!

  1. Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Levski Sofia – Bulgaria First Pro League

We move well up the UEFA league ladder to find Bulgaria’s perfectly average one.  This one’s turning into a three-horse race, and these two are the leaders.

Razgrad like to go up and down more than anyone in the country.  But Levski can run with them and still manage to play fair D.  Noob’s looking for #1 Levski Sofia to get a key road win, which should good and piss off #3 CSKA-Sofia.

RESULT:   Razgrad   2-1

  1. Universidad Catolica vs. Unversidad de Concepcion – Chile Primera

Chile’s league is starting to lose a little luster lately in South America.  But it’s still one of the better ones in CONMEBOL, if no Brazil or Argentina.  It’s rare or perhaps even unique that they don’t divided into multiple partial seasons within a full year, unlike most Latin American leagues do.

The top three will qualify for the next Copa Libertadores, S. America’s version of Champions League.  the university teams are always excellent, and this year is no exception.  These are the #1 and #B teams.  Catolica would be putting some distance between themselves and the pack, but just suffered a surprise bushwhacking by midtable-at-best Huachipato.

RESULT:   Catolica   1-0

Image result for south american geography funny

 

 

 

Don’t confuse Noob, cartographers!

Noob needs no help from you on that front.

  1. Nacional vs. Peñarol – Uruguay Primera

Nacional won the first half-season, qualifying themselves for the Championship Playoff to take place at the end of this current, second stage of the year.  Now they’re #B, trailing their visitor’s today by four in the table with the stage soon ending,

No reason to think that these two won’t be the Championship players when all is said and done.  Peñarol found their defensive stride and have absolutely throttled teams the last couple months.   (2:00 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   1-1

Honorable Mention:  Zurich is hosting Young Boys of Bern in another #B-#1 matchup today, in the Swiss Super League.  But YBB are the only “super” ones.  They’re so much better than everyone else this year, they should easily be considered a two-goal fave on the road today.

RESULT:       Noob wouldn’t normally include an HM result, but YBB had to make a big comeback to draw 3-3

  1. Buducnost Podgorica vs. OFK Titograd – Montenegro First League

We finish today’s Track with yet another in the parade of 1-B matchups today!   This league is no stronger than Wales’, but hey – they’re playing.

B.P. are one of the two clubs with which Noob is at all familiar from this league (Sutjeska being the other).  Yet it’s Titograd that are #1!  Not only that, but B.P. haven’t beaten them in their last four tries.  That includes a 1-0 loss this season.

But Tito have only a draw to show for their last two outings.  The teams look pretty similar statistically so far, but B.P. reclaiming their familiar spot atop the table after today feels likely.

RESULT:   BP   2-1

Podgorica, cattedrale della resurrezione di cristo, esterno 01.JPGSo long from Podgorica’s Cathedral of the Resurrection!

Really unique architecture, not mimicking the more common High-Byzantine style like so many Orthodox ones.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/29) – MLS, EPL, El Clasico lead the way

Noob tries to bring something unique to the internet landscape —

A shared, live-action learning journey of mine also meant to be one for YOU.  Learning about the best clubs, leagues, and tournaments the world over.  how it all fits together.  BUT.  Coupled with the most oddball humor-angle.

Today, at least you’re rewarded with a treasure trove of high-quality matches from the biggest leagues.   But there will still be weirdness.  I promise.  And you’ve been warned.

  1. Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

Dallas and Kansas City keep going back and forth for the #1 seed in the Western Conference.  Electric boogaloo!  They’re back on top by two points with a tie to tough Columbus Crew bookended by nice (if predictable) wins versus Houston and Vancouver (who just fired their coach).   A great sign for them is that they’re succeeding playing low and high-scoring matches of late.

The #4 Timbers have trended the other way, losing two of three.  Both were on the road, but 4-1 thrashing by Houston has to be of particular concern.  Even in their home win over Columbus, they’ve played shite for defense.   At 32, is keeper Steve Clark getting a bit long in the tooth, feeling the late season lots more perhaps then his younger counterparts?   (10:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   0-0

B.  D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact – Major League Soccer

D.C. still have five points to make up on Montreal for the East’s last Playoff slot.  It’s been an impressive second-half season comeback for the former bottom-feeders.  Wayne Rooney money appears money well-spent.

But they’ve not beaten Montreal in their last seven tries (3D, 4L).  To break that streak, they’ll look to control the pace, make it a fast and flying match.  Montreal’s success of late has been on a suddenly improving defense, peaking at the right time of year.   (7:00 PM, ESPN+)

RESULT:   D.C.   5-0        Rooney with two goals.   Acosta with a goal and three assits

Image result for letter B bird

 

 

Not the fastest-flying bird, Number B.

Yet still, nice call namedropping the Bobolink.

  1. Queretaro vs. Tigres – Liga MX

You just have to love the format in Mexico (and other Latin, South American countries) where they divide the annual league soccer calendar into two separate tournaments.  Each match is -so- important.  In fact, Noob requires your love for this!   Liga MX WILL have it.

OK, that got weird for a bit.  Welcome to Noob, if you’re new.  This match features two teams right on the edge of qualifying for the Liguilla (postseason).  Top eight clubs get in, and there’s a three-way tie for 7th-9th right now.  Wave hi, combatants.

UANL Tigres are the story here.  They haven’t lost a match since mid-August.  They’re also coming into this key road match off two clean sheets.  They’re better on both sides of the ball than Queretaro.  Which makes this match being IN Queretaro so awesome.  Noob’s absolutely finding someone with ESPN Deportes in order to catch this one (6:00 PM).

RESULT:   Tigres   0-2    A.P. Gignac with both goals

  1. Chelsea vs. Liverpool – England Premier League

These two just played a few days ago, in the EFL Trophy tournament.  (Chelsea won 1-2).  You can learn a Noob-bit about it on the Vocab page for this site.

I’d love to be able to truthfully say I didn’t include in on that day’s Track because I knew they were playing a more important league match today.  But that would make me a lie-ahh!  Noob scouted it.  Fully intended to do a mini-preview.    Crapped the bed, skipping right over it on the ol’ spreadsheet.

Oh, how long will Noob suffer his own Noobishness!  Will this Dantean circle of hell ever be written out of the accursed book?

Get a grip, Noob.  There’s no soccer in “The Inferno”. 

Oh, The Management, you cannot pull Noob from the fire and anguish in my own mind, brought on by my own footyball incompetence!

Just – do the damn mini-preview.

Right!  Liverpool are #1.  6-0-0.  Two other clubs are 5-1-0.  Chelsea is one of those.  Neither has the overall offensive striking capability of defending champs Man City, so this match is super-duper key to the league race.  Also, Liverpool hasn’t beaten them in their last four attempts.

Names to Listen For:  For Liverpool, Mo Salah is the smexy name, as he broke the league scoring record last year.  But it’s striker Daniel Sturridge that’s been keeping that engine firing of late.  Eden Hazard remains the focal point of everything Chelsea does.

There.  Feel better?  Hey now!  Put your shirt back on and that wire coat hanger away! 

The Management apologizes for needing to redact the next would-be portion of the blog, as Noob punishes himself so catastrophically as to make this the internet’s first-ever “snuff blog”.   (12:30 PM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   1-1     And guess who scored?  Hazard and then the very late one to tie it from Daniel Sturridge!

  1. Juventus vs. Napoli – Italy Serie A

Last year’s runaway #1 and #B teams from 2017-18 occupy the same two spots this year early on.  With world’s greatest player-Cristiano Ronaldo, Juve are 6-0-0 and looking unstoppable.

Napoli were soooper fun to watch for their wide-open offensive style last season, may once again pose the only real threat to Juve.  They’ve netted six goals their last two games, getting back into form.   (12:00 PM, Rai Italia)

RESULT:   Juve   3-1      Ronaldo with a pair of assits

  1. Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid – Spain La Liga

It’s “El Clasico” – two of the mighty powers of Spain’s always top-heavy league.  Real are tied for 1st with the current world dominator Barcelona.   They’ve had heaps of trouble with #3 Atletico in recent matches though.

Atletico like to keep the scores low, were and are a very defensive-minded group.  But if Real can find the back of the net early today at home, this is their match to lose.   (2:45 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for El Clasico funny

That actually looks like a fight scene from the Elijah Wood Movie “Green Street Hooligans” to Noob.

  1. USBM vs. Phare du Canal – Guadeloupe Division d’Honneur

How serious is Noob of late about us getting to know our CONCACAF brethren?   I didn’t look up and don’t even feel the need to double check my spelling of this league’s name.  Boom!

This league is unusual.  1)  They’re in CONCACAF despite being an overseas department of France. B)   They’re even part of the French football system while being in our local federation.  3)  Teams get four points for a win, two for a draw, and one for just being on the schedule (by which I mean a loss).

Ooh, and check out how close this title race was last year.  CSM beat both these teams out by a single point.  These two finished #B and #3 and were themselves separated by just one tiebreaking goal in differential for the entire season.

The season just started a week or so ago.  Noob is curious to see if the league race is wide open year to year if the same teams will be front-running again.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Thun vs. Young Boys of Bern – Switzerland Super League

FC Basel is the name Noob consistently hears on satellite radio shows regarding Switzerland.  But it’s YBB who are 8-0-0 to start.  (Check out Noobstradamus’ vision regarding YBB’s last home game to learn some history on the naming of city-Bern.  If you can pick it out through the sheer inanity!)  They’re scoring well over three goals per match and sports the league’s top defense early on.

#B Thun score second-most in the land, but have to sacrifice D to do it.  Still, this may be the top contender to Bern’s likely title.  No other club in the league even has a positive GD to date.

RESULT:   YBB   1-4

Image result for Thun Switzerland funny

 

Noob’s going to start playing lottery, win, and buy Oberhofen Castle on Lake Thun.

You’re invited to party.

  1. Riga vs. RFS – Latvia Higher League

Noobites will also see this as “Virsliga” some places.  Because Noob knows you’re going to look for Latvian football content multiple places.  *bonnnnngggg*  It’s the 42nd-ranked league in UEFA, after all.

But what can Noob say?  I’m attracted to shiny things, and nothing glistens like a 1-B matchup.   And every member country gets at least its champ into Champions League.  Noob actually does know you’ll be looking at that.

They’re about 2/3 of the way through their season already.  Riga have opened up a four-point lead on both Riga and Ventsplis.  While not unique, it is rare to see a team on top that leans so heavily on their defense only.  Their offense is actually below average compared to the entire eight-team league.

Riga had won 13 matches in a row until their scoreless draw last outing.  If not for a tough start to their season, they’d already have bought polish for the league trophy.

Meanwhile, RFS just got off a three-match, scoreless losing streak.  If they can get a W today, this league race is going to be a dandy to follow, #42-rank or not.

RESULT:   Riga FC   1-2     Noob had the home and away sides turned around

  1. APOEL Nicosia vs. AEK Larnaca – Cyprus Super Cup

One of Noob’s first-ever Twitter (@SoccerNoobUSA) followers was a proud mama of two boys who both played or maybe even still play for APOEL.  Cypriot soccer will often win a tiebreaker for Track inclusion.

Also, please join Noob in shock and amazement at not realizing how strong this league is.  I’d have guessed closer to eighteenth from the bottom than actual #18 in UEFA.

After 20 years of the event being held in Nicosia, the times have changed.  Larnaca hosts today.  They won the country’s FA Cup last season to earn their place here.  APOEL won the league title, as is often the case.  With apologies to that lovely APOEL mom, Noob thinks Larnaca’s rise will continue.  They’re winning today in AET or penalty kicks.

RESULT:   Larnaca   1-1  /  1-4  pens       Wow.  Called that one!

Image result for Catacomb of Faneromeni Church

 

 

So long from the Catacomb of Phaneroni Church, Larnaca!  

 

The city name most likely means “coffer”, referring to the massive number of sarcophagi found at this and other sites in the city.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/1) – and working on a theme song

“Soccer Noob rockin Amuricuuuhhh! /

Mini-previews!  *clap clap* /

Insight!  *clap clapclap* /

O.K.notreallythatsecondwuuhhhhn!   /  *crickets*

Soccernoob rockin’ Amur-I-CUHHH!”

  1. Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City – Major League Soccer

Really, Track match No. 1 is all MLS.   This might be the most intriguing matchup, but all but two slated for today met Noob’s standards of high interest.  Good you up some ‘Muricuhn action today, Noobites.

Those goldurn Sounders Noob reviles so have won seven straight.  The first half of their season was so pitiful that this now has them in just a tie for the last Playoff berth (6th) in the Western Conference. They Haven’t allowed multiple goals in a match since their last loss.  On June 30th.

Tenured-Noobites will recall that Noob’s first exposure to a hardcore ‘Muricuhn soccer fan was a douchebag TA in college who was a bandwagon-jumping Seattle supporter.   And I’d still be rooting alongside The Management for KC today, given his ties to that area.  But the Sounders’ turnaround has been simply epic.  Much respect.

Sporting could do absolutely nothing right in July.  Noob would’ve best against them hosting mid-table FC Seoul (picked as a nod to The Management’s current business trip).   But now they’ve won four in a row themselves, are only a point or two from retaking 1st place back from FC Dallas.  They haven’t allowed ANY goals over that stretch.

This match might be a defensive slugfest.   But it’s going to be more than worth the view.  4:00 PM EST today online with ESPN+ or broadcast on Univision Deportes.

RESULT:   Seattle   3-1       So much for defense.  KC scored at 2′, though it was all Sounders after that.

B.  Cincinatti vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – United Soccer League

Yup.  We’re shifting to a second-division matchup instead of a second MLS one.  We’ll spread our love through multiple leagues.

And it is a doozy.  Cinci has all but wrapped up the Eastern Conference.  No surprise, as they’re making the move to MLS next year.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is in a tie for #B!   Noob adds the exclamation point because they’ve flown under my radar all year.   They were near the very bottom of the standings last season.  They couldn’t score then, and they don’t do much of it now.  But they’ve conceded just 14 goals all season.  To quote Tom Cruise from “The Firm”, “It’s not sexy, but it’s got teeth.”

You know, I never found that line quite so disturbing as I do now.  Must be seeing it written.

RESULT:   Cinci   2-1      But Pitt made them work for it.   FCC got it’s two goals in the last 10 minutes of regular time.

Image result for tom Cruise weird

 

Cruise without teeth.

Good LAWD.   This was an error in judgement.

Should’ve put in a Number B-image.

  1. Leon vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

One of the radio hosts I listen to regularly pronounces the “MX” letters as they would be in Spanish.

We’re in Amuricuh.  We can say just “em. ecks.”   It’ll be fine.

(tied-for-8th versus tied-for-5th)  (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Pumas   1-2         Felipe Mora with a pair of goals

  1. Chelsea vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

Leicester City hosting Liverpool might have a shade more cache, but Noob’s giving the edge to his Fighting Cherries!  Given that they’re one of the three matches being given stateside TV coverage (10:00 AM, NBCSN).

Chelsea have been electric on offense in their first three matches, winning them all.  Bournemouth should’ve beaten Everton to get a third win, too, after they’d gone a man up.  My guys will do well to get a draw at one of the mammoth-budgeted teams grounds today.

RESULT:   Chelsea   2-0       Noob has read and heard some are encouraged by AFCB’s keeping the match scoreless most of the way.  I say you’ll rarely if ever get a result possessing the ball just 27% of the game.  Oy veh.

Image result for aFC bournemouth funny

 

Guys!   I’m pretty sure “standing on one’s head” is an expression regarding goalies.

Noob is worried.

  1. Washington Spirit vs. Sky Blue – National Women’s Soccer League

Four of the eight teams make the postseason.  These two have been out of the running all summer.  So why Track it?   It’s the only domestic top-flite ladies’ match today.  Also, Sky Blue is running out of chances to get their first win of the season.  This may be as close as they get.

RESULT:      ppd

  1. France vs. Mexico – international women’s friendly

France are the host country for the 2019 women’s World Cup, so they’re not having to play in the UEFA qualifying tournament.  Mexico needs the tuneup before they enter at the final stage of the CONCACAF qualifying event going on now.

They are ranked #3 and #25, respectively, by FIFA.  (3:00 PM, TV5MONDE)

RESULT:   France   4-0       Eugenie Le Sommer with two goals in the second half

Image result for waiting gif

 

They must wait, Inigo.  

We must all wait sometimes.

  1. Iceland vs. Germany – UEFA women’s World Cup qualification

Germany are #3 in FIFA and ranked #1 in Europe.  Yet they trail Iceland by a point in their Group table with just two matches left to play.  Only the winners automatically qualify, and only about half the runners-up will get to vie for one last berth in their own mini-tournament.

Iceland are only ranked 29th in the world.  But they upset Germany on the road 2-3 in the first match they played of this double-round robin.   Germany must get at least a draw today, or they could be sitting at home for WC 2019.

RESULT:   Germany   0-2       Svenja Huth with two scores

  1. Slavia Prague vs. Viktoria Plzen – Czech First League

I was just reading up today on the 80’s-90’s new jack swing group ‘Wreckx-n-Effect”.  Checking oneself before the possibility of wrecking oneself comes recommended, by them and Noob both.  Safety first.

What I did not know was that the group’s name originally was not spelled with an X in it.  That was only added after one of their members was shot, symbolic of his absence.

(League #1 versus #2)

RESULT:   Slavia Prague   4-0      S.P. take over 1st now on GD.   Tomas Soucek scored twice.  Plzen had a tough go of it after going down to ten men in the 1st half (red card).

Image result for wreckx n effect

 

 

 

Rest in Power, Brandon Mitchell.

  1. Consadole Sapporo vs. Vissel Kobe – Japan J1 League

4th versus 5th doesn’t quite match Noob’s criterion coming out of an 18-team league.   But The Management must be appeased.  Since he’s a Japanophile, Match Nine is a sop to him.

Only the top three from Japan make the AFC Champions League.  With the season 2/3 over, this isn’t quite and elimination match, but both sides will likely play like it’s one.  And they should.

Neither has quite the defense to match up properly with the top three teams, yet Noob thinks both teams will be tight and we’ll have a low-scoring affair here today.

RESULT:   Sapporo   3-1      Kobe lost a player to a red card right at the half.

  1. Metz vs. Lens – France Ligue 2

At time of scouting, this was a 1-2 matchup.  But Niort just climbed to #B in the table as Noob was writing, so it’s #1 versus #3. But Niort have played one or two more games than these clubs, so they’re cheaters and we’re Tracking this. 😊

I thought about going back and featuring Columbus vs. NYCFC.  But variety is the spice of life.  And since there’s spice, we’re letting the French cook.  Not Ohioans.

Last season in Ligue 1, an attacking side of The Management, Dan the former Intern-o Inferno and I could’ve scored on Metz.  And so they finished last and were unceremoniously Relegated.  Lens were a bottom-feeder in this league, but stayed afloat with enough draws.

And look at them now!  Metz says they’re ready to go right back up, are 5-0-0, scoring at will.    Lenz have yet to let anyone score on them.  Viva la France!  Top three will all get automatically Promoted to Ligue 1 at season’s end.

RESULT:   Metz   2-0      It’s a Track full of red cards!   Lens lost a man mid-first half.

Image result for cathedrale st etienne metz stained glass

So long from Metz, Lorraine!

Cathedrale St. Etienne – home of perhaps the world’s broadest stained glass collection.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (8/26) – the best of footyball, home and abroad!

Noob tends to get more than a bit silly covering and learning about soccer.

Noobstradamus, in-house prognosticator.  Always fighting with The Management.  Screaming about Tottenham Hotspur being named for an historic traitor.  Lamenting teams from cities built on Swamps.  The quest to displace Number Two with Number B in all lists…

But weekends, things get (comparatively) serious.   End your weekend relishing in the umami-like rich goodness of Sunday’s mini-previews.  You’ll laugh a little, you’ll learn more.

Please considered following Noob on twitter: SoccerNoobUSA.com, and remmeber to check back for match results.

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

Rivalry Week has saved one of it’s heartiest hate-matches for last.  On top of the intra-regional malice, there’s a lot at stake.

Six from each conference make the Playoffs.  Right now, Portland sits in 6th, just two points up on Seattle.

Please, Timbers, turn things around!  Long-tenured Noobites may recall that my first ever experience with a hardcore soccer fan was a college TA/Sounders bandwagon jumper.  I want that wagon to fall off a cliff!  Noob may not be stable or normal, but I am consistent and sincere.

The problem is, Seattle’s been playing extraordinary ball for two months, not having lost a match since late June.  No one’s scored twice on them over this period. Portland, meanwhile, has lost three straight games.  Two of those were against teams not likely to make the Playoffs themselves.  Timbers have conceded nine goals in those matches.

If Portland are to do as they should, they’ve got to get the heart of their defense right.  International centerback Larrys Mabiala has been épouvantable, while goalkeeper Jeff Attinella has been just as abysmal.   (9:30 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   Seattle   0-1

Image result for larrys Mabiala funny

 

Larry’s started believing he’s Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix”.

May be the issue.

B.  New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United – Major League Soccer

English all-time great Wayne Rooney has been everything D.C. could’ve dreamt.  Since he’s arrived midseason, they’ve won five, drawn one, and lost no matches.  They’re still six points out of the six and final Playoff slot in the East, but are now 8th.  Given that they were in the basement for the entire first half of the season, that’s incredible.

The Red Bulls were playing like the league’s best team midsummer.  And they haven’t lost in their last four outings.  And they’re still #B in the conference.  Still, are they fading a tiny bit?  Road draws against NYCFC and non-playoff Vancouver are okay.  A workmanlike road win against awful Chicago is good enough, just.  A close home win over good-but-fading-themselves LAFC…

Maybe it’s just the road being hard.  Yes, Noob’s imagining NYRB’s imminent demise.   (7:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   NYRB   1-0

Image result for imagine letter BNumber B, doing some messed up reimagining of self.

Is it not enough to merely be usurping Number Two’s place?

  1. Newcastle vs. Chelsea – English Premier League

Last season, Newcastle surprised with a 10th-place finish, having just been Promoted from the second division.   But they’ve followed up on that so far.  A loss Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – even at home – is clearly forgivable.  The home, scoreless draw to just-Promoted Cardiff is less so.

Chelsea have won their first two against pedestrian competition.  After a disappointing 5th-place finish in defense of their previous league title, they won’t be sleeping on anyone.  Missing out on Champions League (top four get invites) will have that effect.   (11:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Chelsea   1-2

  1. Santos vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

What a gigante match!  #3 hosts the only undefeated remaining and #1.  They’ve scored 22 goals in their six matches.  This doesn’t guarantee a shootout though.  Cruz Azul have only allowed one.   (7:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for giant soccer ball

 

 

Gigante!!

Hey, no hands.   I don’t see you in-net.

  1. Cray Valley Paper Mills vs. Ashford Town – English FA Cup

It’s not so much that this individual math is “important” that it’s neat to know that the FA Cup has already begun.  The big-league clubs won’t enter the competition for some time.

In truth, teams from this far down the football pyramid are unlikely to get anywhere near the Round where the Premier League clubs start playing.  But who knows, maybe we’ll have a history-making Minnow!

CVPM play out of the 9th-tier Southern Counties East League (formerly known as “Kent League”), in which they finished 6th in the higher of its two divisions.  They’re from Eltham, which is in the Greenwich Borough (southeast greater London).

Ashford town finished 12th in the 8th-tier Southern League Division One last season.  This year, they’ve made a lateral move to the Isthmian League.  They’re from Stanwell – just northeast of greater London – in the Surrey area of Spelthorne Borough.

RESULT:   Cray Valley   4-1

  1. Marseille vs. Rennes – Ligue 1

The French top league is already three matches into their season, but this is the first one that’s featured two teams from the top quarter of last season’s table.  These two finished in 4th and 5th, meaning they were the best two to not get invites to Champions League.

At least Marseille only missed the CL berth by a point in the table.  There was a massive gulf in the table between them and Rennes.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for you are not invited

 

 

Would it make a difference if Noob and Rennes brought delicious scones?

 

  1. Jamaica vs. Antigua and Barbuda – women’s World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)

Reminder:  This is also the women’s CONCACAF Championship, doubling as qualification for next year’s WC.

This is the second round of Group Stage.  To get here, each had to win their previous group.   FIFA-ranked #133 A&B didn’t allow a goal in the previous stage’s three matches, but only scored five themselves.  #71 Jamaica, meanwhile, had a GD of 18-2.  Home team by a couple goals today, easily.

RESULT:   Jamaica   9-0         not a typo

  1. Dorados de Sinaloa vs. Correcaminos UAT – Ascenso MX

Welcome to the Track, Mexican second division!   Noob’s making a concerted effort to stay closer to home, with more CONCACAF/Western Hemisphere/North Amuricuhn matches than ever before.

Sinaloa are in 12th of 15 teams this Apertura (first-half season).  UAT are in 8th.   Noob sources are conflicted as to whether seven or eight team will qualify for the postseason Liguila, but either way, Correcaminos are right on that line.

Los Dorados have yet to win a match, but it’s early.  Noob thinks they will get a result at home today.

RESULT:   0-0

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Yes, um, it’s Ascenso league coverage.

Do what now?

  1. Club Brugge vs. Anderlecht – Belgium First Division A

Club Brugge more or less ran away and hid from the pack over the regular season.  When it came time to play the last 10 matches in a Championship division, they fell back to earth a little, but still win the title.

Anderlecht went from second to third over that same stretch, seemingly having hit a wall, finishing those last ten matches with a negative GD even.  If they want to have a shot of their own at the hardware, they’ll have to have improved defense in 2018-19.  The were easily the worst in that regard of all the top clubs, and didn’t have offense that made up for it.

RESULT:   Brugge   2-1

  1. Qarabag vs. Neftchi – Azerbaijan Premier

We finish today’s Track in UEFA’s #23-ranked league.  Like most other European domestic leagues, they’re just getting started.

If you don’t already, get to know the name Qarabag.  They are the perennial power in here, easily the favorite to once again decimate all before them and get the league’s one CL berth.  Their offense is good.  They’re defense was about impenetrable.  They conceded less than a goal every other game on average last season.  Neftchi was 3rd.

RESULT:   1-1

 

So long from Baku, home of Qarabag!

Is that a Death Star they’re building or a seven-star hotel?

(Both!)

’10 to Track’ for Saturday (8/18) – ten match previews for your ogling pleasure

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

Our collective soccer education.  Noob’s unstable mind and left field-humor.   A combination almost as good as chocolate-almond-coconut ice  cream served by a Brazilian agriculture student.

Read on to have THAT explained.  Check back for results, too.  On matches, not the Brazilian girl.   And follow Noob on Twitter at SoccerNoobUSA.com.  Thanks.

  1. Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers – Major League Soccer

As the regular season moves into its final third, it appears eight Western Conference teams are vying for the six postseason berths allotted them.  Just ten points separate the last of that group from first.

(Minnesota United fans, Noob looks forward to your emails of bile and vitriol.  Your club is trading away its talent now.  Management knows it’s over this year.  Embrace the pain.)

Portland are in 5th now, but not playing like they’ll stay there.  Two losses in a row to non-playoff bound competition don’t bode well.  Admittedly, that D.C. United team looks frisky this week, but were in last for a long time for a reason.  Reasons.

Kansas City have their groove back.  They’ve been in a brutal stretch of schedule, had lost three straight to fall to 4th.  Now, they’ve won back-to-back games against solid competition and have #1 Dallas in their sights, who dangle just three points ahead.

The key to recovering from their tailspin has been the back line.  Unsurprisingly, it has been spearheaded by MLS’ 2017 Defender of the Year award winner Ike Opara.   (8:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   KC   3-0

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Defense:  Top-notch

Ike’s head wear choice:

YOU make the call.

B.  Philadelphia Union vs. NYCFC – Major League Soccer

Things are shaping up a little differently in the East.  The top three seeds look secure, though in what order they’ll finish is up for grabs.  Columbus will be the #4 seed.  NYCFC and NY Red Bulls are tied for #B, just two in back of Atlanta.

The last two Playoff slots are down to four clubs realistically.  Here, we find Philly, tied for 5th.  They just bagged a big win over peer New England.  Since they’re hosting, Noob’s calling this match a tossup today.   (7:00 PM, ESPN+)

RESULT:   Philly   2-0

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And for “blue” and for “Noob” spelled backwards.

Tres chic, Number B.

  1. Portland Thorns vs. Chicago Red Stars – Nationals Women’s Soccer League

Three matches to go in the regular season.  Here’s what we know:  North Carolina kick butt.  What we think we know:  Seattle are going to get the #B seed.

Five teams remain alive for the other two Playoff spots.  Portland are in the driver’s seat for the coveted #3 seed.  Not having to play NC in the opening round is a big deal.  Chicago and Orlando are tied for 4th.

Portland have won four of five and Chicago haven’t lost in four consecutive outings.   Check out this humdinger on ESPNEWS at 10:30 PM.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Monterrey vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

We’re essentially at the quarter mark for the Apertura (first half-season) already!   Noob loves just 17 matches.  Every single one is so important.  And so it’s time for Noob to stop using last season’s results as a crutch and look at what we really have in Mexico now.

Pumas went from 14th to 7th between the 2017-18 half-season tournaments.  And look at UNAM now!  1st place.  One of two clubs with no losses.  Tied for the best offense in the league.  They grow up so fast!  *sniffle*

in 5th, we find Monterrey.  They finished in 1st and 3rd last year in the two tournaments.  They’re matches have been low-scoring to start out this Apertura, a surprise.  This one’s at 10:06 PM on FS2 to see of Pumas can continue to hold the top spot.

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0

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Yes, Fox Sports 2 is a real channel.

We’re not to “The Ocho” yet, but all in good time.

  1. Chelsea vs. Arsenal – English Premier

Early here in the EPL season we get a matchup between last year’s two best teams that were disappointments.  At 5th and 6th place, they just missed out on Champions League berths.

The stories about these teams that will get you through Level One water cooler-chat:

Both teams have new coaches.  Chelsea expectedly won their first game while Arsenal lost to the defending champs to start this season.  And Chelsea star Eden Hazard should join the starting lineup now.  He’s gotten some rest after his run with his World Cup team in Belgium.  (12:30 PM, NBC)

RESULT:   Chelsea   3-2      Chelsea squandered a 2-0 early lead before closing this one out late.

  1. Lazio vs. Napoli – Serie A

Nearly all the talk this European off-season has been about Cristiano Ronaldo moving from Real Madrid to Juventus.  But don’t miss this match.

Napoli gave Juve everything they could handle in last season’s title race.  And Lazio – who are really fun to watch with the ball in the opponent’s third – finished 5th, losing out on a Champions League berth by tiebreaker.

RESULT:   Napoli   1-2

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Plastic bottle-gladiator guy on the Lazio Plaza.

Hopefully he’s selling those to hot, thirsty footyball fans.

  1. Difaa al Jadida vs. MC Alger – CAF Champions League

And speaking of CL, let’s head to Africa’s.  A reminder of where we are:  Group Stage.  Four pods of four clubs each play double-round robins.  Top two from each will advance to the Knockout Stage.  Most everyone is four matches into their six.

In Group B, Congolese club TP Mazembe has already earned 1st place.  MC Alger is one of two Algerian clubs vying for runner-up, and they lead ES Setif by just a point.

DaJ aren’t out of it entirely, but have to earn more than draws to have any shot.  They’re actually the slightly more accomplished team internationally.  Between that, home pitch advantage, and plain old desperation, Noob looks for El Jadida to nab the W today.

RESULT:   El Jadida   2-0

  1. Royal Pari vs. The Strongest – Bolivia Premier

Welcome to the Track, Royal Pari!  Congrats on getting Promoted to Premier after last season.

In the Apertura, they finished in the bottom half of their division, if just.  Not bad for newbs.  And now in the Clausura – when the league plays all one division – (Bolivia is strange that way), they’re #B and have no losses!  Muy bueno.  But now, the real test.  The Strongest are 6-0-0.

These are the two highest goal-scoring offenses in the league.   To catch it, though, Noobites will likely have to try Googling up some internet streamage.  Maybe even pirated.  Yaaarrrgh.

RESULT:   R.P.   1-0

Image result for pirates computers

 

 

 

Yup.  Went there.

  1. Corinthians vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

#7 versus #4.  Two teams that will probably move up the table before all is said and done.   (6:00 PM, Premiere Futebol Clube)

Noob recently took his daughter and a neighbor kid out for a day, and that included a downtown ice cream shop near the local University.  The new girl working the counter was Brazilian.  Wonderful!  Buuhhht turns out she doesn’t care for football.  The footyball gods taunt Noob.

Noob learned a few interesting things though:

—  “Corinthians” might be pronounced with more of almost a “ch” than a “th” in Brazil.   Or our server might’ve had a speech impediment.  Noob didn’t ask.  Never mess with people handling your food.

—  The neighbor kid I had in tow told me I have a new girlfriend now, since I chatted her up so much.

Look, child.  Noob’s married and old enough to chat up an attractive, exotic, visiting postgrad intern without any nefarious intentions. What’s more, I— I— Oh my.  It’s true.   I am now my father.

—  One not need add much of any coconut to chocolate-almond to get the appropriate flavor effect.  Well-done, ice cream peoples.

RESULT:   Gremio   0-1

10.  FC Cincinatti vs. Charleston Battery – United Soccer League

Noob bookends today’s Track by bringing our gaze back stateside, to the second division.  Since the top eight in each conference will make the Playoffs, these are in excellent shape.  Cinci – who will be joining MLS next year – lead the East by five.  Charleston is tied with Pittsburgh Riverhounds for #B.

Charleston haven’t lost a league match since June 6.  And that’s as long as Cinci’s gone!  Primo matchup.  Noob wishes DII would get on the t00b.  Maybe the matches are carried locally and can be found on the interwebs.

RESULT:   Cinci   3-0

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So long from The Mushroom House,  Hyde Park, Cinci!

’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

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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’ soccer matches for Saturday (8/4) – MLS back from All-Star break

After months of compressing the weekend matches into a single Track!  No more!  MLS in full swing again, the best of Europe rousing from its slumber.  Back to full Tracks for Saturday and Sunday.  Let’s dig in.

  1. Orlando City vs. New England Revolution – Major League Soccer

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.  The Management and Noob waggle our fingers at you and laugh, Orlando.  You can’t exist in a city built on a swamp and expect anything but bad ends.  Losers of four in a row.  Only one win in the last, oh, two months and change (and that over over-aged Toronto).  9th place in the Eastern Conference.

Not that New England’s doing much better of late, losers of three straight.  At least they’re still holding onto the East’s 6th and last playoff berth.  Matt Turner and that back line have allowed seven goals over those losses.  Philly will catch them posthaste if that doesn’t get shored up pronto.   (7:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   3-3

Image result for matt turner new england revolution funny

 

 

Turner might consider turning his superpowers back on.

B.  Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City – Major League Soccer

The Management will be breaking out the pork rinds and sushi boat for this one.  Add his KC ties to the righteous loathing of Swamp Cities and you’ve got him pulling out all the stops.

He should be bringing out any lucky charms he has as well.  Sporting’s lost three in a row and didn’t win a league match all June.  They’ve fallen from 1st to 5th in the West.

While the road is never easy, they could be catching Houston at the right time though.  Dynamo have lost two in a row, courtesy of some porous defense.  They’re down in 9th now, four points out of a playoff slot.   (8:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   KC   0-1

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Number B is all about the road.

And won’t swerve to avoid Number Two if it comes to it.

  1. Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX

Pachuca improved their offense over the course of 2017-18, moving from 12th in the Apertura (first half-season) to 9th in the Clausura.  Not quite enough to make the Liguilla (postseason tournament).  It’s their defense CFA will look to exploit as they look for another top-three finish.

RESULT:   CFA   1-3

  1. Inter Milan vs. Lyon – International Champions Cup

These may two of the weakest teams in this event, but there are no slouches to be found anywhere.  Inter finished fourth in Serie A last year while Lyon was third in Ligue 1.

While some clubs have already finished their three matches in this shiny pile o’ friendlies- tuneups for the impending league season starts – Inter is playing just their second now.  They lost to Chelsea in penalty kicks.  Lyon has played just once so far as well, topping Portugal’s Benfica.   (2:00 PM, ESPN)

RESULT:   Inter   1-0

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Pile o’ friendly pandas

  1. FC Cincinnati vs. Nashville FC – United Soccer league

Cinci haven’t lost a league match since May, and so now lead the Eastern Conference and are tied for the most points in the entire league.  The only losses they’ve suffered over that stretch have been in penalties to MLS’ Minnesota United and a narrow one to Spanish La Liga club Espanyol.

After a fabulous spring and early summer, expansion cub Nashville are wilting in the dog day-heat.  They haven’t beaten anyone outside of lowly Toronto II since early June.  The offense is flat-out gone.  That said, they’re still in 7th and in line for a Playoff berth.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Paris Saint-Germain vs. AS Monaco – France Super Cup

The “big” European leagues are all about to start up.  That means it’s Sooooooooooooper Cup time!  These don’t count towards league standings or anything else, but a shiny trophy will still be awarded.

PSG won both Ligue 1 and the FA Cup last year.  As the league runner-up, ASM gets to make the trip.  Trip?  Yep.   They’re playing it in the Guangdong province of China for some reason.   (8:00 AM, beIN Sports En Espanol)

RESULT:   PSG   4-0

ShenZhen Universiade Sports Centre.jpg

 

 

Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre, Guangdong province

  1. FC Porto vs. Deportivo das Aves – Portugal Super Cup

This one will almost certainly go to Porto, the defending league champion.  Aves had a magical run to the FA Cup title, but finished just 13th in league play, woefully on goal-scoring.  This one’s in Portugal, though at a neutral site.

RESULT:   Porto   3-1

  1. PSV Eindhoven vs. Feyenoord – Netherlands Super Cup

They’ll play the Dutch version at PSV’s place, their reward for winning the Eredivisie last year.  Feyenoord won the FA Cup, finished 4th in the league.

RESULT:   Feyenoord   0-0  /  5-6  pk

Image result for dutch football funny

 

 

 

Good thing the fans won’t get weird…

  1. Gremio vs. Flamengo – Brazil Serie A

Gremio are tied for 4th and host the league #1 today.  The top six will all get invites to the next Copa Libertadores, but only the top four will get ushered through right to the Group Stage.  These two allow fewer goals than any other clubs in the league.

RESULT:   Gremio   2-0

  1. HJK vs. RoPS – Finland Veikkausliga

We finish our Track with a 1-2 matchup!  It may be just the 38th-ranked league in Europe, but this and other northern European summer leagues are over halfway through.  The stakes are heating up.

HJK are the defending league champs and lead all others in offense by a mile.  RoPS are ten points back now.  The desperately need a road upset today to keep any credible hope alive for catching the leaders.

RESULT:   2-2

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So long from Helsinki (HJK’s home city)!

Noob’s still trying to “read” the Sibelius Monument.