’10 to Track’ Sunday (11/18) soccer matches – UEFA Nations League leads us once again

European International break doesn’t stop the ten most important matches to follow for us – the newish American fans of the global game!   Can’t even slow this train down.

1. England vs. Croatia – UEFA Nations League

Here’s the link to my brief Explainer on what this event is:

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

This is the last match to be played in this League A group of three. Spain is done, two points up on both these teams. So if either wins, that team goes to the Playoffs. If the match ends in a draw, Spain advances.

FIFA-ranked #5 England surely had no trouble with the USMNT in their recent friendly. They haven’t lost in their last four matches overall, between this event and friendlies. And the offense has picked up, with six goals in their last two matches.

#4 Croatia will be a stern test. They struggled after losing to France in the World Cup final. But a friendly win over Jordan and 3-2 win over Spain in this tournament seem to indicate they’re back in form.

Key players to watch today will be Raheem Sterling for England (two goals in the Spain match) and Tin Jedvaj for Croatia (two goals in their Spain match).   (9:00 AM EST, ESPN2)

B. Switzerland vs. Belgium – UEFA Nations League

This is another League A match. Different Group, of course. #1-ranked Belgium – who haven’t lost in six straight – lead the Swiss by three heading into this last match. But they’re tied on goal differential, so win of any margin for #8-Switzerland puts them in the Playoffs on the GD tiebreaker.

While it can be easy to overvalue friendlies, a home 0-1 loss to Qatar in their last outing isn’t promising for Switzerland. They haven’t beaten anyone but Group-last place Iceland (twice) since June.   (2:45 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Switzerland 5-2         Playoff time for the Swiss

Image result for icelandic letter B

buRES

 

Two letter A’s in the Icelandic alphabet.  Fine.

But there’s only one Number B.

3. Guinea vs. Ivory Coast – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

The ACN is next year, Africa’s top tournament for men’s national teams. Groups of four are competing in this current event, with the top two finishers in each getting in.

Two matches to go in Group H. Guinea lead Ivory Coast by three in the table. Between the two of them, they haven’t lost in ten matches overall. They’re ranked #65 and #64 in the world, respectively.   (12:00 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   1-1

4. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon – France Division 1

This is the French women’s top flite. Lyon is the major power in all Europe, has been for years. They’re undefeated again, have outscored opponents 37-1.

Today represents their toughest test of the year. PSG are also undefeated, though someone got a draw on them. Their GD is 24-3. Noob thinks they can keep this within a goal, but no better.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for angry French women

 

Never doubt that the women of France aren’t tough tough tough.

5. SS Jeanne d’Arc vs. Besancon Football – Coupe de France

Like yesterday, we’re catching another early (7th-) round match of the French FA Cup in order to spy on a CONCACAF team.

Noob’s not sure how Reunion qualifies its two teams into this event. JdA only finished 5th in last year’s Reunion Premier. Neither did they win the territory’s own Cup tournament. They’re #B in this year’s league season, which is nearly done. They still don’t score much, but the defense has been much improved.

Besancon play in Championnat National 3, France’s fifth-tier league. This league has many regional divisions (groups). They play in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Group E). They’re in 5th place in their league season. They don’t score much, either. Noob’s not got the experience to handicap a match like this, but doens’t look like it’s likely to be a high-scoring affair.

RESULT:   Besancon   0-1  AET

6. Tauro vs. Arabe Unido – Panama National League

They’ve reached the Apertura (first half-season) postseason Semifinals here. This is the first match of a two-legged tie to see which will play for the title. Tauro are the #3 seed, play much more offensively than anyone else in that league. Arabe Unido won several close matches to get the #B seed. If Tauro score early in this, Noob predicts a rout will ensue.

RESULT:   Tauro   2-0

Image result for tauro fc

 

 

Noob is not down with the bull half-face thing.

That feels like nightmare-fodder.

7. Nicaragua vs. Haiti – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Six of CONCACAF’s best men’s national teams are not having to participate in this event. They will be placed in League A of the inaugural Nations League next year. All the other member nations are battling for placement in the various League levels, just like UEFA’s NL set-up. The top ten finishers in this event will also qualify for the Gold Cup, the federation’s biennial championship.

Since each team plays just four games, there’s a lot of room for volatility. And we’re getting it. Haiti are ranked just #102 in the world, yet are in 1st in this event with just this last match to go. They’ve outscored opponents 17-1.

Nicaragua are ranked even lower (#127), but also vying for a Gold Cup slot. They’re in 9th. They likely need a win to maintain their GC invitation, though a draw today doesn’t leave them out automatically. They only score half again as much as Haiti have been, are just an even match on their own pitch today.

RESULT:   Haiti   0-2

8. Brendam United vs. Brendam Harbor – Isle of Sodor Premier League

Noob’s exclusive coverage of the Isle’s inaugural FA league continues! I haven’t been able to yet give the IoSPL the attention I intended to, especially given how closely I documented the first-ever IoS FA Cup here over the summer. I’ve been hopping the pond quite a bit, soccer and other obligations keeping me stateside oft times.

Suffice it to say for now that these are historically two of the best teams on Sodor. Of course, that “history” is tons of friendlies and loose, sporadic league-like organizations that have come and gone over many years here. Now that they’re organizing their football on this national scale, it’s hard to know how much water past results hold.

Also, Harbor won the FA Cup. And on defense, a soccer virtue not typically held in particular esteem on the Isle. Shockingly, B-Utd didn’t even make it out of the Group Stage, finishing third there. Just couldn’t find the offense (four goals in three matches).

RESULT:   Brendam Utd   10-3         As often happens on Sodor, once a team is 2-3 goals late,  what little defense might’ve been happening evaporates.

Image result for what happened?

 

I don’t know.  The font just went weird.    

I blame having switched from MS Word to OpenOffice.

9. Tahiti vs. New Caledonia – Women’s World Cup qualification

Eight teams from the OFC are vying for one spot in World Cup next year. They’ve been divided into two Groups, with the top two finishers in each advancing to a Knockout Round.

This is the first match for both teams. They’re ranked #157 and #155 in the world. This makes them the fourth and third-best teams in this federation.

RESULT:    N.C.   2-4

10. Vitoria Setubal vs. Tondela – Portugal League Cup

The Taca de Liga has just reached its Group Stage, where 16 teams remain. They’ve been divided into Groups of four. Only the winners of each will advance to the Knockout Round.

This is not the country’s FA Cup, but rather a secondary Cup tournament contested by only clubs from the top two leagues. V.S. is a midtable Primeira Liga team, while Tondela is a fair bit worse. The point here isn’t so much this particular match so much as to just introduce Noobites to the tournament period.

RESULT:   Tondela   1-2

Image result for Setubal funny

 

So long from Setubal!

Come for the soccer, stay for the boutique apartments.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (11/13-15) soccer matches – UEFA Nations League leads the way

Saturdays and Sundays, Noob endeavors to highlight the ten most important matches to follow on each, for us – the newish American fans of the global game.

Tuesday through Thursday, we do just ten over the three days.   Either way, we’re local, Western European, and then the world.  Mini-previews that introduce us to the teams, leagues and tournaments everywhere, and what the stakes are — why each is important to the teams involved, and so can be to us.

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s matches and results follow below.

Thursday

4.  England vs. U.S.A. – friendly

This is the last friendly of the year for USMNT.  After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the youth movement continues for the team.  They’ve already been running very young, and now two of the few veterans who would’ve been on the roster are out due to injury.

Perhaps the most noteworthy cal-up is goalie Jonathan Klinsmann, son of the former German USMNT manager.  He’s with German Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin, but Noob gathers hasn’t been a key part of things there yet.

In other big news, American’s young, oft-thought #1 superstar Christian Pulisic (with Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund) is coming off injury and on the roster for the first time in a while.  Tyler Adams of New York Red Bulls is back from being hurt as well.

Finally, this may be the last match as interim head coach for Sara Chan.  Talk is that Columbus Crew manager Gregg Berhalter is likely to take the reigns for the American team shortly.

The Management would like to apologize for Noob’s greivous error.  The interim manager of the US Men’s National Team is Dave Sarachan.  He is not an Asian or Asian-American women named Sara Chan.  Thank you for your time, attention and patronage of Noob.

Sooooo…you don’t think a women could do the job, The Management?

That is not what I said. Merely that –

Moving on!  Sexist pig 🙂

England’s all-time leading scoring Wayne Rooney – currently of MLS’ D.C. United club – will be making a farewell appearance for their national team.  He last appeared for them in 2016.

These are the 23rd and 5th-ranked teams in the world.  Noob’s read that gap might be exacerbated by the fact that the Three Lions will likely be playing their top squad or something close.  They’re currently also playing in the new UEFA Nation’s League tournament.  I would think that means they’d rest starters for a friendly, but we shall see.   (3:00 PM EDT, ESPN2)

RESULT:   England   3-0         Not a strong showing for the Americans on any front.

5.  Croatia vs. Spain – UEFA Nations League

A reminder of what we have here:

This is a new tournament, largely replacing international friendlies in certain parts of the soccer calendar.  UEFA intends to hold this every other year.  All 55 national teams are participating.  They are divided into four leagues, based on rankings around the last World Cup.  The top dozen are in League A, the next 12 League B, and so on (though more than a dozen in C and D each).

The Leagues are in turn each divided into equal cross-section Groups of three or four.  In each Group, the teams will play home and away double round robins.  In League A, the four winners will have a Playoff to determine the event champion.  In the other leagues, the Group winners will have a Playoff as well.  The winners of all four Playoffs automatically qualify for the 2020 European Championships.

So that’s what’s going on and what’s at stake.  This matchup is one in League A.

Currently, Croatia is ranked #4 in the world, Spain 9th.  But Croatia haven’t had good fortune since making the World Cup final last year.  Their only win since then is a 2-1 win over Jordan.  Spain won the first match against them 6-0 in this event.  The Spanish lead England by two points in the table for 1st.   (2:45 PM, Galavision)

RESULT:   Croatia   3-2        Last minute goal for the winners!

6. Luxembourg vs. Belarus – UEFA Nations League

Most or all of the teams in League A will actually qualify for the 2020 Euros through other channels, so this event is more important for teams in the lower Leagues’ teams.

Here in League D, the Groups are four teams each.  Luxembourg lead Belarus by a point after four matches.  They’re ranked #84 and #78 in the world, respectively.  This isn’t the sort of match you’ll find on TV – at least not stateside.  But it should be a shootout! The two have collectively outscored their opponents 16-1 so far.  Belarus won the first match between them in this event 1-0.

RESULT:   Belarus   0-2

Image result for luxembourg men's national football team 2018

 

 

The Lux MNT of 1920.

7.  Iran vs. Trinidad and Tobago – friendly

Welcome to what might be the only English language preview of this match anywhere!

FIFA ranks them #30 and #93 in the world.  This makes Iran the #1-ranked team in Asia.  They’ve lost just once in their last six matches, all low-scoring affairs.  That includes a pretty decent win against Morocco (#47).

T&T, tenured Noobites may recall, was the last team the USMNT played in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers last year.  Our Caribbean counterparts were victorious, keeping the Americans out and allowing Panama their first-ever appearance.  More recently, they’ve won just once in their last four outings, all all low-scoring.  But the W was a decent one, over higher-ranked U.A.E.

OK, not much of a preview.  But we’re going to get to know our CONCACAF neighbors as best we reasonably can.

RESULT:   Iran   1-0

8.  Israel vs. Guatemala – friendly

Noob just trained a college kid at work this week.  He grew up abroad, all over.  Mom is in the Foriegn Service.  His favorite place was doing high school in suburban Tel Aviv.  He’s working towards working for them as well, will work towards getting back to that spot.

He follows soccer, but mainly Premier League.  He likes tracking his favorite players, not club teams.  Noob isn’t super-player specific at all, so that’s all I really have to say about that.

The Management:  Going to preview the match?

Nah.  I just like to write whatever.

RESULT:   Israel   7-0          not a typo

9. Sao Paulo vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

It may be “International Break” for Europe, but there’s still hawt domestic league action in other places!

The season is nearing it’s end in Brazil.  The top six all qualify for the next Copa Libertadores (South America’s champions league).  These two are tied for 4th.  Fourth place itself is an important table position, as it’s the lowest one from which the club will automatically enter the CL Group Stage.  The two below will have to fight through a qualifying round.

Sao Paulo was red hot much earlier in the year, occupying the top spot in the table for a good while.  But they’ve only won one in their last nine, albeit that stretch is littered with many draws.  It had looked like the defense might be what would cause them trouble based on early-season numbers, but its their offense that has done a disappearing act of late.

Gremio have cooled off a little of late themselves, though not nearly to Sao Paulo’s degree.  Some of that may have been because they were defending their Copa Libertadores title.  They lost in the Semis and can now focus on a top-four finish in league play.   (4:00 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   1-1

10.  Deportivo La Guaira vs. Deportivo Tachira – Venezuela Premier

We finish our Track with some domestic league Playoff goodness.

Like in many Latin countries, Venezuela divides its season into two separate league tournaments.  This is the second leg of the Semifinal of the Clausura (second half-season) postseason playoffs.  They finished #B and #3 in the league.  La Guira tied for best offense in the league, but lost the first match of this series 0-1.

The winner will get #4 Deportivo Lara or barely-qualified #8 Caracas.

RESULT:   La Guaira   3-1

Image result for Estadio Olímpico de la UCV

 

So long from Caracas! 

La Guaira is  both a city and club, but their Estadio Olimpico UCV home is in Caracas.

Wednesday

3.   Panama vs. Argentina – CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualification

Like yesterday’s UEFA WC qual. match, this is a Playoff – one last chance to get in. Panama finished 4th in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament and Argentina finished 3rd in the CONMEBOL version. The teams are ranked #66 and #37 in the world, respectively.

Now they are playing off for one more berth. And the Panamanian women’s quest to join last year’s men’s national team in being the first ever to qualify from their country is nearly over. Argentina won their home half of this two-match series 4-0. Panama aren’t scoring 5+ today.

RESULT:   1-1         Argentina are World Cup-bound

Tuesday

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

The #1 world ranked American ladies continued their tuneups for next year’s World Cup.   #19 Scotland could only keep possession a little over 1/3 of the time.   Alex Morgan’s goal was the only one of the match, so 0-1 U.S.

Image result for usa usa usa gif

 

 

Thanks for keeping us pumped, Miley.

USA!  USA!

B. Switzerland vs. Netherlands – UEFA Women’s World Cup qualification

The Group Stage winners of this event all qualified for next year’s WC.   The four best runners-up have been participating in Playoffs to determine one last qualifier.

#18 Switzerland and #10 FIFA-ranked Netherlands were the last two standing.   The Dutch gals won the first match of this home and away two-legged tie in dominating fashion, 1-3.   The pace was slower for today’s second leg, a 1-1 draw.

And so, congrats to Netherlands and good fortune in in 2019!

 

Image result for letter B party

 

Number B is down to party with the Dutch gals.

 

Tired out old Number Two need not RSVP.

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

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

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

Tuesday and Wednesday matches and results are further down.

More Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Louisville    1-0        Hail to the champions!

Image result for close call soccer gif

 

Noob’er with the save!

 

If barely…

 

 

Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-1

Image result for America gif funny

 

Murican treasure Danny McBride is revved up for the game.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Argentina   4-0     

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

  1. Vidi vs. PAOK – Europa League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Vidi   1-0

Image result for harold and kumar at white castle

 

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

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

 

Wednesday

  1. CSKA Moscow vs. Roma – UEFA Champions League

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Roma   1-2

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

Stay for the chessboxing.  Yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. CD Aguila vs. Alianza – El Salvador Premier

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Alianza   1-2

Image result for el salvador gif

 

El Salvador Jr. – Mexican luchador.

Yeah,. Noob doesn’t get that, either.

 

Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

Might be “turrible”, but so what.

B.  Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX Femenil

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

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

RESULT:   Pachuca   3-2

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

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

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

RESULT:   Tigres   2-1

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday (10/12) soccer matches – from MLS to, well, everywhere

This was such a fun Track to write.  No one match jumps out above all others, but there’s a ton of fun and learning in today’s soccer travelog.

As always on Fridays, Noob starts us at or close to home, then we jet-set off to corners of the football globe ignored by most of the interwebs.  Feast.   Feast!!

  1. LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo – Major League Soccer

Los Angeles have pulled onto a tie for #B in the Western Conference with just three matches to go in the regular season.  Since the top two finishers get a bye out of the first round, that is high drama!   They’re actually still in 3rd, behind Sporting Kansas City on goal differential.

The Falcons suffered a puzzling loss two matches ago, getting blasted by the hapless Chicago Fire.  Even on the road, that’s not a club Playoff times should be getting blown out by.  But they did bounce back in their most recent match, skunking Colorado at their place, 0-3.

Houston have been eliminated from Playoff contention already.  They’ve played better ball of late, certainly highlighted by their U.S. Open Cup victory over Philly in the Final.  With that trophy in hand, it’s hard for Noob to imagine this the Dynamo matching LAFC’s energy, motivation.

For LAFC, the names to know have been Diego Rossi and Adama Diamonte.  The one Noob’s seen coming up more recently is Walker Zimmerman, a young defender from Georgia.  If he continues to be a consistent help in goal-scoring, this team will be hard to stop now and in the postseason.   (10:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   LAFC 4-2         The winning goal?    Walker Zimmerman

Image result for Walker Zimmerman funny

 

 

Hey, Walker, could you talk to Heinken about sponsoring Noob?

B.  Croatia vs. England – UEFA Nations Cup

Noob’s given some details a while back on this new European tournament, but I did not revisit them when previewing matches from it during this last Midweek Edition Track.  Here’s a wee bit:

This is a new event is meant to largely replace a bunch of friendlies all the teams are already playing anyway.  UEFA plans on having this played every other year.  All the men’s national teams in Europe may participate. The top 12-ranked teams play in four Groups comprising League A.  The next dozen play in League B, and on down the line.

Noob will detail particulars another time, but teams from all the Leagues within this Cup can use this tournament as another qualifying route into the next (2020) European Championships, the premier tournament for national teams which is held every four years.

So!  Croatia and England are currently FIFA-ranked #4 and #6 in the world, respectively.  In this competition, they are in League A (top league), Group 4 (arbitrarily numbered).   Both have a lot of catching up to do with the other Group member – Spain.`

Spain beat England 1-2 on the road and walloped World Cup runners-up Croatia 6-0 at home.  Only 1st place in each of these Groups get to move on to the League Playoffs.  The other two shall receive NO fruit cup.  None whatsoever.   (2:45 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   0-0     The draw all but guarantees that Spain will win this League A Group

Image result for letter B fruit

 

 

 

Number B – taunting those who will not receive fruit cup.

  1. U.S. Virgin Islands vs. Curacao – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

The six teams that played the final 2018 World Cup qualifying event (Hexagonal) already qualify for League A in the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League.  This tournament is being used to determine which other six teams will join them in League A.  The other teams will be placed in Leagues B and C, based on how they do this in qualifying tournament.

Each of the 34 teams in this event will play four matches, so goal differential could end up meaning a lot.  They’ll each play a match against another team club from each of the quartiles, which are based on a CONCACAF Rankings Index.  In other words, each team will play a roughly even cross-section of opponents, for fairness.

U.S. Virgin Islands are at a bit of a disadvantage.  On top of being only ranked #201 in the world, they don’t get to play any true “home” matches.  This is presumably because of the damage from Hurricane Maria.  So this and their other are being played in Bradenton, Florida.  They’re in the bottom quartile, lost their first match to Canadia 8-0.

Curacao – a country a ways off the coast of Venezuela and affiliated with the Netherlands politically – has a much stronger team, ranked #81.  In this event, they’re in the second quartile.  But their 10-0 trouncing of Grenada has them in 3rd place for now.

RESULT:   Curacao   0-5

Fun Fact:   US VI are “The Dashing Eagle”

  1. Algeria vs. Benin – Africa Cup of Nations

Unlike the above two tournaments, this is the premier national teams tournament for Africa, held every to years.  it is currently in its Group Stage.  Pods of four, double round robin, top two finishers will advance to the Knockout Stage.

They’re two matches into the Group Stage.  To no one’s surprise, the Algerians are 2-0.  Perhaps to the mild surprise of some, Benin have a win and a draw.  FIFA ranks them reasonably close together (#69. #88).  But the CAF lists Algeria as the fourth best team while not even listing Benin in the rankings (top 18).

This above discrepancy makes this tough for Noob to handicap.  But Algeria is good enough in a vacuum that at home they should be easily favored by a goal.  Benin would celebrate a draw, keeping them well ahead of Togo, probably the Group’s most likely candidate to advance as runner-up.

RESULT:   Algeria   2-0

Image result for benin surprise

 

 

Has to be this guy’s, oh, third Track appearance. 

Noob wants him on staff.

  1. CSD Macara vs. Delfin – Ecuador Serie A

HooWHEE!   That was a lot of mumbo-jumbo to try and digest.   Let’s cleanse our palate with some league action.

Macara are #1 in this Second Stage of the season.  The winners of each of the two stages vie for the league title.  They finished just 8th in the First Stage, so are something of a surprise here.  The defense has looked much better.   Their GD, however, belies a club that could easily be slipping back to midtable soon.

Delfin are tied for #B with another traditional league power, First Stage champs Emelec.  Statistically, they’re a little better than Macara.  Since that’s where the match is, this should be a dandy to watch – if you have a deep enough satellite package to catch this on GOL TV (9:00 PM).

RESULT:   1-1

Fun Fact:   Macara play in the city of Ambato.  They are named for an army fort.

  1. Tajikistan vs. Palestine – Bangabandhu Cup

The Final!   But the Final of what?

This tournament is a standalone event in Bangladesh.   Their football federation hosts this event every so often as a tribute to their nation’s founder, for whom it is named.  It was last held in 2016, the year before, and then before that last in the mid-90’s.

In the past, most participating countries have sent their national men’s teams reserves squad or elite youth teams.  This year, however, five of the six nations sent their A-clubs, including our two finalists.

Tajikistan’s team is ranked #120 in the world, while Palestine’s is #100.  They both advanced out of the same Group in that Stage.  Palestine won their matchup there 2-0.  But Noob smells a penalty shootout to decide this one!

RESULT:   Palestine   0-0  /  3-4 PK        Hail to the victors!

Bangabandhu Gold Cup logo.png

 

 

 

The pure, unadulterated joy of having started your own nation.

  1. Basque Country vs Venezuela – men’s international friendly

Noob proffers as mission statement that these Track’s embody “the ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game”.  Fridays, even I must confess the matches I include may not match up with that perfectly.

But this site is the outgrowth of my own soccer learning journey.   I think this is important because I didn’t know about it.  Let’s be global-game citizens!

The story here is “Basque Country”.  This team represents the autonomous, adjacent Basque areas of both Spain and France.  That said, the players are all from top Spanish clubs right now.  This team has existed since 1930, though they’ve only played an average of maybe three matches every two years.  Early in their existence, had Elo ratings been a thing, this team would’ve ranked #4 in the world!

The biggest non-FIFA football organization in the world is CONIFA, which represents peoples and teams from autonomous regions, national and regional diasporas, and stateless peoples.  Yet Basque Country has never been a member.

But they’re trying to get into FIFA!  And there’s at least indirect precedence for a team like theirs to be represented.   The United Kingdom serves as an example of one nation with multiple countries having membership.  And then places like Faroe Islands display that an autonomous country that is still truly a part of another nation (Denmark) can have membership.

Basque Country’s situation is apples to oranges to both examples above.  Still, they have commonalities with both.

As for today’s match?  It’s a friendly.  No idea how often BQ practices together.  The result isn’t what’s important, at least to Noob.   It’s that it’s happening at all that I love.

RESULT:   Basque Country   4-2

  1. Faafu Nilandhoo vs. New Radiant – Maldives Dhivehi Premier

And now we continue our journey to comparative footyball hinterlands once again with some far-flung leagues!   Maldives is an islands-nation southwest of southern India.  Their league is ranked just below average in Asia, 24th of 46 associations.

New Radiant are in 3rd place, but look statistically like the league’s best team.  Best offense and defense both.  Faafu Nilandhoo are in 8th of 10 clubs, on spot above the Relegation line.   Noob’s simply stunned that there’s at least one more league in the Maldives to which anyone could be sent down.

RESULT:   New Radiant   0-1

Fafà Picault.jpg

 

Never mind that he’s an American born to Haitian immigrants.

Noob thinks Philadelphia’s Fafa Picault needs to someday play for Faafa Nilandhoo.

  1. RC Bobo-Dioulasso vs. Comoe – Burkina Faso Premiere Division

This west African country’s league isn’t ranked on the continent.  And these two teams are low-midtable at #10 and #11.  And the season is just a few matches in.  But hey, they’re playing!

RESULT:   0-0

Fun Fact:   The Bobo language-speaking natives of Bobo-Dioulasso refer to the city simply as “Sia”.  Soooo much easier to pronounce.

  1. Al-Jaish vs. Al-Taliya – Syria Premier

This league is so fresh into its new season, Noob looked more at last year’s standings.  Al-Jaish won the league – by one goal in differential as a tiebreaker over Al-Ittihad.  And as the #15 league in Asia, they only get one club into their Champions League.  Al-Taliya finished 6th.

RESULT:       now listed for Monday, 10/29

Image result for Damascus funny

 

 

So long from Damascus, home of Al-Jaish!

Yeah, Noob doesn’t recall any banana peel-slippage story from the New testament.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – more UEFA women’s Champions League in our lives

Time for our last two matches of the Midweek Edition.  Fine, quality footyball to be found in both.   This, despite how bonkers Wednesday got in the writing.

Remember to scroll farther down for Tues. and Wed. results.  And to consider following SoccerNoobUSA on the tweeter.  And to patronize establishments which have replaced plastic straws with alternatives like bamboo.

Thursday

  1. Zurich vs. Honka – UEFA women’s Champions League

How little parity is there in the women’s game?  There are six matches being played today in this event, all second legs.  Every home team today is ahead on aggregate, meaning they all won their away games.  No draws even.

This is the closest one.  More, both were champions of their domestic leagues last season.  Zurich won 0-1 in Finland.  They get a chance to wrap this up neatly at home in Switzerland today.

RESULT:   Zurich   5-1      Fabienne Humm with the first three scores

  1. Olimpija Llubljana vs. Gorica – Slovenia Liga

It’s a lighter day for league games – not uncommon.   There are tons of FA Cup matches form various countries Noobites can Google up.  But none of the “big” countries’ events are far enough along to catch my eye today, while the ones who are a little deeper into their tournaments are “smaller” nations’.

So, welcome to the #30 league in Europe, nestled lovingly between Romania and Slovakia, just below average ordinally.  These clubs are #B and #3 about ten matches into their season.

O.J. trail historic and current #1 Maribor by four in the table.  Gorica have overachieved to this point.  They don’t have nearly the offense of any other team in the top half of the league.  Nor do they play the defense to make up for that.  They’ve lost just one (four wins, four draws).  But today, that total gets doubled.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for ljubljana funny

 

So long from Ljubljnana, home of Olimpija and the Museum of Illuisions!

(Noob assumes these patrons are actually real.)

 

Wednesday 

#B.  Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union – U.S. Open Cup

The final!  $300,000 cash prize on the line, plus an automatic berth into the next CONCACAF Champions League.  Bet there will be a spit-polished fancy trophy, too.

Not all the teams have been playing all their starters leading up to today.  Understandable, saving energies for league games.  Noob’s not at all sure why Houston’s bothered.  Their GD holds up, indicates they’re a capable bunch.  But waaaay too many draws have them down in 10th in the West.  They won’t catch a sniff of the league Playoffs.

Meanwhile, Philly is here for the third time in five years.  They’re 5th in the much tougher-at-the-top Eastern Conference.  Goal differential is negative, but they’re win-or-bust.  Just four draws all season.

New Jersey-born Bedoya attacking midfielder gets talked a lot about being the key to the Unioin’s success.  Mayhaps.   But Noob thinks the key man for them will their Czech international Borek Dockal.  He leads the league in assists.  After a comparatively quiet September, Philly needs him controlling possession and servicing passes like a champ.

The Dynamo have been seemingly all over the map stylistically in league of late.   Will keeper Joe Wills have to make a barrage of saves because they’ll be sending everyone forward?  Whether they do or not, look for Colombian international forward Mauro Monatas to get in the scoring early.  He doesn’t convert a high percentage of his chances, yet ranks sixth in league goal-scoring.

Noob thinks this is very even matchup.  If you live where gambling is legal and can get straight-up odds, take Houston.  Philly didn’t capture the title in either of their last two tries.  And the road is the road, woefully hard to win on it any given day.   (8:00 PM EST, ESPN2)

RESULT:   Houston   3-0       Monatas with a pair of first-half scores

Image result for letter B trophy

 

 

Number B’s design idea for the USOC trophy.

  1. NYCYC vs. Chicago Fire – Major League Soccer

Your ‘Muricuhn soccer undercard is this one, the only league match today.  And it’s what Noob deems a “Hiccup Watch”.  NYCFC should – on paper – beat them handily, especially at home.  Or will they have a hiccup.

In Match #B, Noob noted the East was the tougher conference, but at the top specifically.  The West is stronger when comparing teams in similar positions further down the standings.  Chicago are 10th in the East and not nearly as good as Houston, even independent of the latter’s appearance in the Cup Final.

That said, the Fire are showing at least a little spunk of late.  They just earned a road draw against Playoffs-bound Philly.  Right before that, they kicked the tar out of Orlando City (worst club in the East) 4-0.

Couple that with NYCFC’s current skid of late and one is forced to wonder if the Fire can’t get a result tonight.  The Blues have faced six straight Postseason-caliber teams and beaten none of them.  Really, they haven’t won against a “good” team since mid-July (Columbus Crew).  The trouble?  The offense has gone Houdini on them.

Without attacking midfielder Jesus Medina still likely out (hamstring), veteran Spanish scorer David Villa must find his early-season form.  Otherwise, Chicago is getting a scalp with which to salvage their non-Playoff wounds.   (7:00 PM, ESPN+)

RESULT:   NYCYC   2-0      David Villa with one of the goals

  1. Queretaro vs. Dorados De Sinaloa – Copa MX

Just Match #1 of the Midweek for some details about where things are in this event.

Noob goes fishing for Minnow once again!   Sinaloa are in 12th in the Ascenso.  The consider scoring to be gauche, ungentlemanly, and eschew it nearly always.

Liga MX side Pachuca are in 13th.  They score a little more against the bigger boys, but also play better defense.  They’re in 13th, but will climb.  Queretaro 2-0 today feels like an easy prediction.   (8:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Queretaro   2-1      Camilo with both goals for the victors

 

 

 

A clear ball and a funky hat.   The prognostication business feels pretty easy.

  1. Brondby vs. Juventus – UEFA women’s Champions League

The Round of 16 wraps up this week as they play the second matches of two-legged ties.

Beyond the very best few teams in the world, Noob is still desperately unversed on the women’s side of the game.  But life is long, so here’s us learning!

This is the closest tie of those being played today.  Brondby earned a 2-2 draw at Juve in the first match.  I have a general sense that Nordic countries play and host a lot of quality women’s soccer.  While that may not mean that they don’t further south, Noob looks for the Danish club to topple the Italians today.

RESULT:   Brondby   1-0

  1. Young Boys of Bern vs. St. Gallen – Switzerland Super League

Last year, St. Gallen finished midtable while sporting about the worst defense in the league.   They weren’t even that good at offense.  Early this season, they’re better on both side of the ball, sitting on 3rd as their reward.

RESULT:   YBB   2-0

Image result for Noobstradamus

 

Look who’s back —  It’s NOOBSTRADAMUS!   

He was right quick to get pissed off, point out to Noob that real prognostication isn’t for amateurs.   

 

And he’s had a vision.  God help us.

Yes.

I close my eyes, lose myself to space and time.  When I open my eyes, I know it is not in the true corporeal world.   I am having a Vision.  I am in the Vision.

I only have a vague sense of who I am, an attendant of some kind to the Duke of Zahringen, Berchtold V.  We’re out hunting.  It’s the late 12th C.  And it’s cold.  This vision sucks.

Old Berchty, as those closer to him refer to him here and now, is bored of life in Zahringen after succeeding his late father just five years in.  What better way to cure that than to, oh, found a new city. 

“I’m going to name it Berchtyland!”   He gets no response from his entourage.  “Berchtycity?”

“Perhaps you could name it after something you see, find, sire.”

Berchty’s a crabby apple, must be feeling the cold as well.  He backhands the attendant, breaking his nose.  But to his credit, he considers the idea.

“That might be too much.  Everything in Swabia has our family name all over it.  I will name the city which I shall raise here after the first animal we find!”

Everyone agreed it was a good idea.  Probably because Berchty wasn’t the sharpest knife in the kitchen and other ideas he might come up with would be more likely to be worse than better.  But a squirrel bolted across our path just then, stirring out horses.

“Squirreltyton!  Perfect!”

“Brilliant, um, but I think there is already a ‘Squirreltyton’ a few duchies west of Swabia.  You surely don’t want to be found copying anyone.”

It was total bunco.  But again, our liege is dim.  We rode on.  Stopping for a drink at a stream, the Duke saw a worm.  And he looked like he was trying to think extra hard.  

Sensing the need to avert disaster, another attendant whispered in my ear.  I nodded at his idea and sneaked off a little ways, cloak and fur hat in hand.

When the party started to remount, I started shoving branches and bushes around, making much din, from a distance.  Close enough to be seen, but just.  I had put my cloak over my head and the fur hat just so and thrashed around a bit more, growling all the while.

“My liege, look, a noble bear!  it would honor all his kind for its name to be taken for your city.”  The attendant who’d whispered this idea to me was a sly one. 

“Quite right!   We’ll name the city “Bern”, since that’s in our language.  I’ll bet he’s majestic!  Let’s kill it.  Since we’re hunting and stuff.”

Not wanting his own nose broken and leaving Noobstradamus high and dry, my peer said nothing.  The Duke, though a dolt, was a good shot.  His arrow found its mark, piercing my leg and catching an artery.  I knew I was done for. 

The best I could do was limp frantically away upstream and then throw myself in the water.  If Berchtold tracked the blood trail, found my body and discovered the ruse, he’d perhaps kill everyone in a rage.  And name the town-to-be ‘Wormyville’. 

As the cold water took me away – damn this cold again! – the lifeblood leaking out of me caught in a small eddy and formed the words ‘Bern 3-0 over St. Gallen’.  

And THAT is how you prognosticate.  You’re amateur hour, sir.  Good day.

— Noobstradamus, wait!  Noob as so many non-soccer questions for you.

I said ‘Good day’, sir!

  1. Norrkoping vs. Malmo – Sweden Allsvenskanliga

Eight points behind 1st-place AIK.  If traditional co-behemoth Malmo are going to make a move with just 1/3 of the season remaining, they’d best hop to it.

They’ll have to hope with much vigor to get a result today.  Malmo may have the better GD, but #B Norrkoping are very good, and especially so on defense.  That’s tough to get past on someone else’s pitch.

RESULT:   Norrkoping   3-1      Kalle Holmberg with two first-half scores

  1. Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Maccabi Haifa – Israel Toto Cup

This is not the country’s FA Cup, which is considered more important.  This tournament is just for clubs from the top two divisions.  It’s largely used to give reserves and young player a chance for minutes, plus testing out some foreign players.

Still, it’s a Final today!   The site is Petach Tikva, neutral.  MTA finished runner-up last year in the Premier, while M. Haifa were 10th.  Things are much the same early in 2018-19, as they’re #1 and #9 now.

RESULT:   MTA   2-1       They got the winning goal at 85′

Image result for toto cup trophy

 

 

A Toto Cup trophy.  

Sort of a walking taco-motif.

 

Tuesday

  1. Pachuca vs. Cafetaleros de Tapachula – Copa MX

Midweek games tend to be centered around Cup tournaments.  They save the league matches for the weekends.  In Mexico, just as the yearly league season is divided into two separate halves (Apertura and Clausura), so they also concurrently play Apertura and Clausura Cups.   This is the Apertura underway, and they’ve moved on from the Group Stage and now begin the Knockout Stage with 16 teams.

One of Noob’s great joys is looking for Minnow – lower-division underdogs – in the Cups.  Since this Copa only involves teams from the top two divisions, can’t get any more Minnow-y than last place in the D2 Ascenso.  And guess what?   Tapachula is right there.   They’re so lousy on defense, Noob wonders if they’d stand up for their own mothers.

Um, Noob?  Don’t you think it’s classier to leave the mothers out of most any contentious talk?

Thanks for chiming in, The Management.  You may be right.  But I will not be filtered!  They are awful in that half.  Probably going down to whatever hell the third tier is.  Will they even get paid?

Pachuca are in 13th in the top-tier Liga MX.  They’re GD suggests they’re better than that.   How the “Baristas” got this far is—

Noob.  “Cafetalero” is “coffee grower”.

Be still, The Management!  Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you don’t need to stow it.

How Tapachula got this far is beyond me.  On paper, Pachuca should manhandle them and their grown coffee.

Manhandle their grown coffee?   That doesn’t even make sense.  But you know what?  Carry on.

Oh, I will.  But not today muahahahahaha.   (8:00 PM EST, ESPN Deportes)

Image result for fighting with the management funny

This is why Noob does not listen to you, The Management.   

Well, not exactly why not.

RESULT:   Pachuca   3-0      Jose Leonardo Ulloa with all three goals

 

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – Liga MX’s, UEFA women’s Champions League

And so with Thursday’s mini-previews now UP, our Midweek Edition is complete.

Check back for results.  Follow Noob on Twitter as SoccerNoobUSA.   And remember that as weird as this can all get, there’s actual info in here.  Who’da thunk, amirite?

Thursday

  1. Veracruz vs. Toluca – Liga MX

With the International Break over, Liga MX returns with a lone match tonight.

It’s not the smexiest of matchups, truth be told.  Veracruz is near the league bottom, sporting easily the league’s worst defense.

Toluca, at least, could be liguilla (playoffs)-bound.  They’re tied for 7th, and eight teams will qualify.  Defense hasn’t been a virtue across the table this Apertura (half-season) for the most part.   If they or any team can shore theirs up even a little, that will be the difference-maker.

RESULT:     This game got mixed up with a Copa MX match, will be played tomorrow.

Image result for Veracruz funny

 

Noob’s Spanish is rusty.

Can they not defend since they’re so close to the sun?

  1. Queretaro vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

Queretaro keeps on popping up in these matches for the Track.   They’re only 5th in their Group, not themselves on Noob’s radar.  Must be in a tough stretch of matches.

Here they get #B Guadalajara.  Top pair in each of the two Groups makes the playoffs, and no one is likely to challenge them.  Even on the road, this will be a two-goal margin in their favor.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester City – UEFA women’s Champions League

So Noob’s done a modicum of Google-machining since yesterday.  Now I at least know which eight women’s leagues are rated best in Europe, if not the order.   Spain’s is not among them, England’s is.

And since the women’s game seems to be short on parity, that means this Round of 32 match should easily go women-Man City’s way, even in Madrid.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for weird sites madrid

 

So long from El Rastro, Madrid!

Remember:  Not every Spanish fleamarket vendor offers equal goods…

 

Wednesday

  1. D.C. United vs. Minnesota United – Major League Soccer

This is the only MLS match today, yet it would likely make the Track even were it a tree in a footyball forest.

It’s no accident D.C. keeps making airwaves the last few weeks or keeps getting featured by Noob.   Huge win streak after spending over half the season in the basement.  Wayne Rooney signing.  And they’re finally performing against playoff-caliber teams — a win and a draw in their last two.

Now they get a comparative break and we get to see if D.C. can continue to need to be so “up” for every match this late in the season.  They’re in 8th, still five points out of the sixth and final Eastern Conference postseason slot.

Minnesota gave up their season long since.  They’ve lost four of five, haven’t won a match in three weeks.  9th in the West, double-digit points out of the playoff picture.

You’d likely have to catch tonight’s match online (7:30 PM EST, ESPN+), but the man to ogle besides Rooney is Luciano Acosta.  Having Rooney out there has really opening things up for him offensively.   He will be in space all evening.

RESULT:   DC   2-1      Acosta with an assist and was the statistical man of the match.

So D.C. rises to 7th place, just one spot away from the postseason.  And they’ve played one less match than #6 Montreal.

  1. Martinque vs. British Virgin Islands – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Without having officially read such, this match’s postponement today must, of course, be due to the hurricane.

Rather than insert a replacement match, Noob offers thoughts and prayers here for those there and throughout the entire effected region.

Image result for Scorpions rock you like a hurricane funny

 

 

No insensitivity intended. 

It would be so much nicer to swap out Scorpions for the weather disaster.

  1. Juventus vs. Brondby – UEFA women’s Champions League

Noob’s tardy in getting today’s matches up (darn workplace sched!), so am picking this match for Tracking out of many simply because it’s halftime as I write this.  (Juve lead 1-0.)  All other matches in this tournament today are further along or already completed.

This is the first match of a two-legged tie in the Round of 32.   Juventus is just now entering the event, champions of Italy’s top league.  Brondby enter now as well, runners-up in Denmark.

Noob’s not much sure how to handicap these matches.  As noob as I am with soccer in general, I am particularly so with the international women’s match.  But it’s part of why we’re all here – learningness!

RESULT:   2-2

Tuesday

  1. U.S.A. vs. Mexico – international friendly

Anything but friendly.  Players who have had choices between playing for either national team have gone the way of Mexico.  And not that they can be blamed, since they’re the strongest team in CONCACAF and therefore were the most likely to reach World Cup.

Both teams will feature very young sides today, though especially the Americans.  They’re both coming off decisive losses in their most recent friendlies.   Mexico got walloped by Uruguay 1-4, while the USMNT went down 0-2 to Brazil.  Those are top-five world teams.

Even with the U.S. team, Noob is still climbing the learning curve.   I’ve been reading that midfielder Weston McKinnie is a big reason German Bundesliga’s club Schalke 04 finished runners-up last season.   Noob will be listening for his name tonight.

Mexico has an 18-year old named Diego Lainez who Roma tried to buy this summer.   His club – CF America- probably won’t be able to hold him back from Europe past this season.   (8:30 PM EST, ESPN)

On a side note:  Tonight’s match is in Nashville.   “Music City”, they claim.  Noob is down with some alt-country, some older (pre-1990) country, and current “outlaw country”.   But the country-politan crap they’ve been producing in Nashville for a quarter century sucks out loud.

There’s a reason modern pop country is the only music America makes but we can’t export to any real degree.  It sucks out loud, gags on what it takes in, then gags again when it projectile-vomits.  Music City Noob’s ass.

Noob would choose Bakersfield, CA first, if given the choice between just those two.  Austin, TX should lasso the moniker.

RESULT:   USA   1-0        Full disclosure:  Right until they lost a player to a straight red card in the second half, Mexico dominated this match.   

Image result for dwight yoakam Jason Statham

 

Dwight Yoakam – Bakersfield Country.  Check.

Acted with Jason Statham in “Crank”.  Check.  

B.  Spain vs. Croatia – UEFA Nations League

Please scroll down to last week’s Midweek Edition if you are in need of Noob-level detail for this tournament.

FIFA-#9 Spain are hosting this at a second-tier club stadium in Elche, Valencia.  How cool would it be if they were to have this in Madrid? Croatia’s star is midfielder Luka Modric, who plays for Real Madrid.  His national team has climbed all the way to #4 in the worldwide rankings on the heels of their World Cup finals appearance.

Spain won their first and only match in this event so far over England, 2-1.  This is the first one for Croatia.   (2:45 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   Spain   6-0        Eep!   Six different players scored.

Image result for croatia letter B

 

Number B, you bandwagon jumper!

Hanging out in Croatia’s Glagolitic script.

  1. Guadalajara vs. Tigres UANL – Liga MX Femenil

#B hosts #1 in Group 2 (of two) in Mexico’s top women’s league.   They lead the pack by quite a bit, so this match may be the determining factor in who takes the group title, gets the better seed in the playoffs.

Noob has become more and more disenchanted with “small-ball” as a winning style of play.  So far, it’s how Guadalajara have stayed up in the table.  But it tends to fail against truly great teams.  Both here are undefeated, but Noob thinks Tigres will get the road upset today.  They play little defense, but score like a house afire.

RESULT:   Tigres   1-3

  1. Saint Martin vs. Guadeloupe – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Again, please scroll down to the last Midweek Edition for event details.

Couple of French teams in our region do battle today!  Guadeloupe is in the top third of CONCACAF strength-wise.  Not bad, considering they aren’t FIFA members.  Saint Martin are one of the weakest, this match will not be close.  Guadeloupe will look to ruin up the score, since GD is very much likely to matter.  All the teams in this event are in one giant aggregate table.  First match of the event for both.

RESULT:   Guadeloupe   0-3

Image result for weakness funny

 

 

Saint Martin:  *sigh*   “The footsballs. “

 

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – USWNT leads the way

The Midweek Edition Track finishes with two more matches for Thursday.

There’s not much in the way of preview for the matches proper.  But you’ll learn about two brand spanking new tournaments themselves.  Enough to get you through high-end water cooler-level chat.

Thursday

  1. Germany vs. France – UEFA Nations League

Nations League.   Here I thought I was really starting to know club and national team football around the globe.   But I’ve never heard of this league!   You have failed all Noobites.  You are a scalawag, cretinous yahoo, ne’er-do-well.  You are declared outlaw!”

Outlaw as adjective originally meant living outside the law.  People could do anything to you with no consequences, including murdering you.  So why don’t we hold up and give ol’ Noober a chance to explain.

Perhaps I should’ve mentioned this tournament before, given you a heads up.  This is a new biennial tournament.  All 55 member teams of UEFA have been divided into four leagues, based on their UEFA rankings (as of pre-2018 World Cup Group Stage).  Those leagues, in turn, are subdivided into four smaller groups.  Within each Group, they’ll play standard home-and-away double-round robin format.

Example:   League A is the top 12 teams in UEFA.  The four Groups within League A are relatively even cross-sections in terms of ranking.

The Group Stage games are now through November.  The winners of each Group in League A will play for the Nations League championship.  That bracketed stage will be in June of next year, location TBD.

Leagues B, C, and D will not have their own bracketed championships.  Their journeys end with the Group matches.  However, the Group winners get Promoted to the next highest League for the next incarnation of this tournament in two years.  The poorest Group performers are Relegated in turn.

The Perceived Good:   This event is largely replacing intra-European “friendlies”, provide more competitive matches.  Also, this event will serve as another qualifying means for national teams to make the 2020 European Championships.  It’s an extra chance for smaller/weaker teams to perhaps get in.

The Critique:  This is an extra chance for smaller/weaker teams to qualify for the 2020 European Championships.

Noob’s not going to delve into the particulars of this event as qualifier for the Euros.  There are other sites for that.  The self-assigned job here is to make you aware of basics.  So go, be free!   Use your Google machine powers to learn finer details.  Noob will, too, in time.

Today’s Track’ed Match: 

Germany and defending World Cup champions France are UEFA-ranked 4th and 5th, respectively, as of today.   Noob phrases is that way because UEFA used the rankings as of right before World Cup Group Stage began to seed all the teams for this event.  These two were 1st and 5th-ranked at that time.

Either way it’s two of the best teams in the world.  Though yes, Germany struggled at WC.  Here stateside, we can watch it on Univision Deportes at 2:45 PM EST with great joy.

Hopefully this spares Noob a mob lynching, you rascally animals.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Dominica vs. Suriname – 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Yup!   This tournament is new, too.   It doesn’t truly start until next year.  This is a qualifying tournament.  As such, Noob will keep things even simpler about the whole thing for now.

The top six-ranked national teams in CONCACAF have already automatically qualified for actual Nations League next year.

34 of the 35 other member nations’ teams play in this qualification event (Guatemala are nawtee, suspended).  They are divided into four Pots, based on rankings.  Each team will play four matches, two home and two away.  Each team will play one match against a team from each Pot.

All the teams’ results will be in just one aggregate table.  The top six finishers will qualify for Nations League A, joining the six teams that auto-qualified, as mentioned earlier.  The other teams will be divided in half, into League B and League C.

(The CONCACAF Nations League is a qualifying event of its own, putting teams into something called CONCACAF Gold Cup, which in turn qualifies teams for the FIFA Confederations Cup.  Interestingly, the top ten finishers from this qualification event being played now automatically qualify for Gold Cup regardless of how they do in Nations League.  Oy veh.)

Today’s Track’ed Match:

These two are ranked 25th (Pot C) and 12th (Pot B) in CONCACAF.  They’re #177 and #153 in all FIFA.  Should be a pretty even matchup since is in Dominca.

The match is actually being held in Guadeloupe, not Dominica.  Curious.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Les Abymes

 

 

So long from Les Abymes, Point au Pitre, Guadeloupe!

 

Wednesday

  1. NYCFC vs. New England – Major League Soccer

NYCYC have won just once their last six outings.  They’re settling into the #3 seed in the East as the regular season approaches its final stretch.

New England now sit in 8th, five points out of the sixth and final playoff berth in their conference.  That they can still even smell the postseason as a mathematical possibility is a testament to how improved they’d appeared in the season’s first half.  They just got a draw at home against a solid Portland side, but that’s now nine straight matches and no victories.

NYCFC will be missing goal-scoring leader Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.   He’s on international duty this week, as are several of his club teammates.  He is Libyan by birth, but Noob presumes is with the Austrian national team now, as he holds citizenship there.   (7:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   Revs   0-1

Image result for football international duty funny

 

 

Speaking of international duty, did this mascot-guy just get vomited out after finally agreeing to go to Ninevah?

  1. Oaxaca vs. Morelia – Copa MX

Noobites can find a bit about the format below in the Tuesday Copa match mini-preview.

Guadalajara has already advanced as this Group’s winner, with ease.

Liga MX side Morelia lead the Ascenso’s Oaxaca by two points in the table.  Morelia only need a draw to finish #B in the table, but only a draw almost certainly still leaves them out of the next Round.  Even a win for Oaxaca probably leaves them among the bottom two Group runners-up and out of this tournament.

Both sides have been scuffling in their respective league seasons, sitting midtable.  Morelia likely takes this one by a goal on the road.   (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1      And with that, both teams are eliminated.

  1. Indy Eleven vs. NYRB II – United Soccer League

Former NASL-side Indy are tied for 5th in the East, two points up on NYRB.   The top eight from each conference make the Postseason.

Indy doesn’t score much, have stayed afloat with a lot of draws.  Red Bulls’ reserve squad have even more draws.  That’s surprising, given that they play such a wide-open style, eschewing defense almost entirely.

RESULT:   Indy   3-0       Evgeni Starikov with two goals, and Indy climbs to 4th place.

 

Is it just Noob, or does this look like an entrance to kinda nowhere?

  1. Internacional vs. Flamengo – Brazil Serie A

It’s #B and #3 in South America’s best domestic league!

Internacional trail only Gremio in defensive prowess, haven’t allowed a goal in seven consecutive matches.  That said, they’ve only achieved draws in their last two games.

Flamengo are more balanced.  They’re coming off a sleepy home loss to newly-promoted, weak Ceara.   (8:00 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   Internacional   2-1       The winners now lead the entire league, while Flamengo drops to 4th place.

Tuesday

  1. U.S.A. vs. Chile – international friendly

Déjà vu all over again.  They played a few days ago, are now back to battle today.  Noob guesses Chile have been training in – perhaps even with – the USWNT.  The Americans won the first one 3-0 in Carson (L.A.).   Tonight, they play in San Jose.

Fun Fact:  The San Jose Earthquakes played a friendly last night against Chile’s children’s Special Olympic side and lost 0-14.   SJ were not sandbagging, by all accounts.

Pardon the interruption, this is The Management.  I apologize on behalf of NoobWe’re not even sure they have Special Olympics in Chile.  Said friendly did not occur. 

And if it had, a more likely score would be 1-14.  The ‘Quakes wouldn’t get shut out completely at home.

*gasp*    The Management, throwing shade on San Jose!  Is Noob dreaming?   (10:00 PM EST, ESPN2)

RESULT:   USA   4-0       Carli Lloyd with a pair in the second half

B.  Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC – National Women’s Soccer League

Three of the four Playoff teams are set.  Two regular season matches to go for #4 Chicago.   They’re two points up on Utah and Houston.

One of Noob’s primary sources indicates Houston is already eliminated though.  That feels unlikely, even given head-to-heads are the first tiebreaking criterion.

And since they’re playing winless Sky Blue, a Chicago result and postseason berth seem likely.

Aaaaand then they’ll get slaughtered by the world’s best women’s team, North Carolina Courage in the Playoffs.

RESULT:   Chicago   5-0       Alyssa Mautz with the first two goals

Image result for letter B horror

 

 

Number B, expressing the carnage that awaits Chicago or Utah in the postseason.

  1. Zacatecas vs. Queretaro – Copa MX

They’re also down to the last match in each of the three-team Groups in this opening stage of the Apertura (first half-season) Copa in Mexico.  All nine winners will advance, plus seven of the runners-up.

Second-division Clausura regular season champs Zacatecas trail Queretaro and Leon by three points.  So Los Mineros have to win today just to get tiebreakers into it.  Leon has played all their matches already, so three-way tie.  Go, Minnows!

Zacatecas are having trouble scoring, even as they win games so far this year in Ascenso MX.  Queretaro should be at least a one-goal favorite on the road today.  They’re near the top of the Liga MX table themselves.

RESULT:   Queretaro   1-2

  1. Netherlands vs. Norway – UEFA women’s World Cup qualification

The Group Stage is down to its last matches here, too.  The winners of all seven qualify for 2019 WC.  The four best runners-up will have a Playoff for one more berth.

In Group 3, these are your top two and no one else can catch them.  They’ve outscored opponents 21-0 and 0-3 and are FIFA-ranked #9 and #14, respectively.  Nothing appears guaranteed for whichever team finishes #B in the group.

Now, check out this mockumentary done by Norwegian women’s national team.  I’m sure is the current team, but regardless, this is priceless.

RESULT:   Norway   2-1     had the home/away mixed up

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (8/25) – MLS, NWSL, Noob’s fave Fighting Cherries

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

Plenty of ‘Muricuh, North ‘Muricuh, Caribbean spice and then footyball flavors from the world over.   Savory.  Let’s eat.

  1. Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution – Major League Soccer

Hard to believe New England are still in the playoff hunt, just four points behind Philadelphia for 6th and the last postseason berth.  They haven’t won a match since June and have given up multiple goals every match but the first in this nasty streak of seven.

The Union, meanwhile, have won three in a row, including one that puts them in the Final for the US Open Cup next month.  The defense has been good, but the offense has been superb.  If the teams continue to trend as they have, this match could get out of hand in a hurry.

If New England hope to right the ship, Matt Turner’s got to get it together in goal.  But Noob thinks that the weak link in the back line has been on the right side.  Andrew Farrell was an all-star in 2016, but he’s playing like an all-stooge right now.   (7:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   Philly   1-0       Statistically, Farrell and Turner were the second and third-worst defenders for either team today.

Image result for andrew farrell new england revolution funny

 

 

Somehow, Andrew just doesn’t look… ready.

B.  Seattle Reign vs. North Carolina Courage – National Women’s Soccer League

A quite probable preview of the postseason Final is on tonight for NWSL.   With two matches to go in the regular season, North Carolina has (long since) clinched the Supporters Shield and.   Seattle is also now guaranteed a playoff spot, #B in the standings, up four on Portland.

Noob thinks they’ll both play like this IS the playoffs, not rest many or any starters.  If so, Seattle is only an even match at best tonight, even at home.  NCC score nearly twice as much.

RESULT:   1-1     The Courage got the equalizer at 90′

Image result for BB

 

 

Twice the Number B?

What’s not to love?

  1. Monterrey vs. Morelia – Liga MX

Plain and simple, two of Mexico’s best face off tonight.  Everyone’s chasing Cruz Azul right now, but these two are #B and #4.  The story tonight might be Morelia’s defense.   Every win but their first has been by just one goal, with only one clean sheet over that stretch.   (10:06 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   2-2

  1. AFC Bournemouth vs. Everton – English Premier League

Noob tries not to play favorites in determining which matches are track-worthy.  But it truly looks like my Fighting Cherries hosting last year’s #8 in Everton is the best, most competitive British match o’ the day!

AFC finished in 12th, tied with a couple teams that had better GD’s, last season.  This year, they’re one of six clubs to have one their first two matches.  Everton are 1-1-0, and this is the sort of match they didn’t always win last year – and need to – if they want to climb even just one more notch in the table and get at least a Europa League berth.

RESULT:   2-2      What a wild one.  Everton went down a man just before the half, but took the lead in the second.   Then a Cherry got a red card and Everton scored again.  Two late-ish goals – including one from kit model-Josh King, earned AFCB the draw.

AFC Bournemouth home

 

 

Josh King, sporting the new AFCB kit

  1. Juventus vs. Lazio – Serie A

These are last year’s Italian champs and #5 finishers, respectively.  This could be one wild, woolly match.

Juventus now have the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo.  They add him to what was already the best offense in the league, save one club.  And that one club was Lazio, though they scored very much at the expense of their defense.

Juventus barely beat lowly ChievoVerona 2-3 in their opening match, getting the game-winner in the 93’.  Lazio lost their first on the road at last season’s runner-up, Napoli.  Talk about your tough matches to start a year.   (12:00 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   Juve   2-0

  1. Cuba vs. Trinidad and Tobago – women’s World Cup qualification

This is the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, dually serving as WC qualifying event.  The first qualifying group stage just concluded.  Five Groups of Caribbean national teams played, out of which only the winners advanced.

In this next qualifying round, those five all play in one pod.  Three will advance to the final round.  (Another pod of Central American teams also starts play at this round, out of which two will advance.)

Cuba is ranked just 85th  in the world, while T&T is 50th.  Cuba outscored opponents last round 22-3.  T&T surpassed even that, racking up a 27-1 to one margin (and still only advancing on tiebreaker!).

RESULT:   T&T   2-3

Image result for Trinidad and Tobago women's soccer 2018

 

 

T&T women’s national team

  1. Benfica vs. Sporting CP – Portugal Primeira Liga

Portugal’s top flite league has held steady in the UEFA rankings at #7.  That means they’re the best league that will still get only two Champions League berths.

Last season, Benfica got the second one, with Sporting just missing out in 3rd.  Benfica were a lot better on offense and Sporting’s equal on defense, more or less.  They’ve each one both their matches to start to the 2018-19 campaign.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Cerezo Osaka vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Japan J1 League

A 1-5 matchup in a league this size isn’t usually quite shiny enough to capture Noob’s wandering gaze.  But this site has its the Management and he is a Japanophile and must be appeased!

The top three will make the next AFC Champions League, and there’s a seven-point gap between 3rd and the rest with two thirds of the season in the books.  Hiroshima had a chance to practically wrap up the league title with a win their last match out, but current #B beat them on their own pitch.

C.Osaka statistically aren’t really much better than average, and so are probably just an even shot to win or draw at home today.

RESULT:   Hiroshima   0-1

Image result for management funny

 

 

Do you see, do you see what Noob must live with?

  1. Atletico Junior vs. Independiente Medellin – Colombia Primera A

In Colombia, the top eight (of 20) clubs will make the postseason tournament.  These two are part of a three-way tie for 3rd just a few matches into the Finalizacion (second half-season, same as a Clausura in other leagues).

You probably need a pretty deep satellite package to get RCN Tele Nuestre, but the match will be there at 9:00 PM.

RESULT:   Junior   2-1

  1. BATE Borisov vs. FK Vitebsk – Belarus Premier

Let’s end the Track with a 1 versus B-matchup!

Just over halfway through the season, BATE are up seven points in the table on both their guests today and Dinamo Minsk.  All three play about the same defense, but these two are a load better than D.Minsk on offense.  This will be a two-horse race soon enough.

RESULT:   1-1     BATE gets the equalizer right at 90′

Image result for Barysaw Belarus

 

 

So long from Borisov Stadium!

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (8/12) – MLS, EPL, Liga MX, Soooooper Cups!

Look, Noob is all about full disclosure.   I admit it.  Things got a little weird yesterday previewing matches.  Yelling about Hotspur’s traitorous namesake.  Predicting a terrible fate for Orlando, the city, since it’s built on a swamp.  Re-publishing weeeird Japanese soccer photo…

Today will be SO different.  All serious as we ogle the ten most important matches to follow for us, the new American fans of the global game.  Honest.

*snicker*

  1. Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

After losing to Toronto in last season’s Playoffs, Seattle have looked anything but themselves.  Now, at least, a four-match winning streak has them within shouting distance (8th in the Western Conference) of the postseason (top six from each conference get in).  Their defense has always seemed pretty okay.  They’ve finally found their stride on offense.

Dallas are not only #1 in the West, they’ve built a five-point cushion in the standings over #B Portland.  This, despite their stunning 1-3 loss to San Jose.  Noob doesn’t care if it was a road match for FCD.  That’s horrible.

If Seattle want to continue to make a push, they need to keep getting goals from the midfield.  Forward Will Bruin has largely tried carrying the load all season, but help has got to keep coming from behind him as it has the last week.

Of course, since the first soccer fan Noob ever knew was a Sounders fan and an utter putz, I will not be pulling for this to happen.  Will Bruin must be left to struggle on his island!   (10:00 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   Seattle   2-1     Sounders are still in 8th, but now within three points of 6th place and the West’s final Playoff slot.

B.  UANL Pumas vs. Pachuca – Liga MX

Pachucha finished 9th in the last Clausura (second half-season), just missing the Liguilla (postseason tournament).  They played nearly the league’s worst defense, so if they can shore that up just a little without sacrificing goal-scoring, they can get above the line.

Pumas were 7th, not tons better on defense.  This could be a real shootout.  Find out at 5:00 PM on Univision Deportes.

RESULT:   0-0     So much for a shootout

Image result for letter B explore

 

 

Number B, that’s so random.

 

You really get me, don’t you.

  1. Arsenal vs. Manchester City – English Premier League

Only the rawest of Noobites should be without a sense of Man City.  Record-breaking 2017-18, crushing the league.

Arsenal were 6th, and won’t do better this year unless they start stopping goals like the biggest boys in this league.  They allowed about a third again as many as their peers.  This is the first match of the season for both clubs.   (11:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man City   0-2

  1. Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayern Munich – Germany Super Cup

Speaking of teams that crushed their leagues, will anyone be able to hold a candle to Bayern this year?  They were nearly every bit as dominant as Man City in England was.  Frankfurt won the nation’s FA Cup to earn their spot here, despite finishing just 8th in the league.  They play hosts today.

Like most Super Cups, this is a glorified friendly to kick off the impending league season. Soooooper!  Except that it doesn’t count.   (2:30 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   Bayern   0-5

Image result for super soccer

 

 

 

Get ready for all manner of super-ness.

  1. Barcelona vs. Sevilla – Spanish Super Cup

Same as above, almost.  Barcelona cruised to their 2017-18 La Liga title, and won the FA Cup there as well.  They get a Copa final rematch against Sevilla, who finished 7th in the league.  They played literally just half the offense and defense of Barcelona.  Ouch.  This one gets played at Moroccan club IR Tanger’s new stadium.   (4:00 PM, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   Barca   2-1

  1. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

Last year, Herediano won both the Apertura and Clausura half-seasons.  They’re an absolute beast on defense.  Both times, Saprissa was #B, and for the latter they were separated by just one point in the table.

Costa Rica and the U.S. top leagues are simply the two best in the CONCACAF region, after Mexico.   And THAT calls for musical interlude.

RESULT:   Saprissa   1-0

  1. Rijeka vs. Hajduk Split – Croatia First League

Croatia is on the mind of soccer fans the world over after their amazing run to the final in the World Cup.  Their league is rated in the top third of Europe (#16).

Last year, it was a three-horse race, and these two lost out do Dinamo Zagreb for the title and league’s only Champions League slot.  Rijeka were statistically the best team of them all, but a whopping ten draws left them short.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Alianza vs. Santa Tecla – El Slavador Premier

Noob’s tired of fighting the typo, going to embrace it instead.  Ehhhl Sllllllllavadoooohhhhr!

Alianza won both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments last year.  Santa Tecla was #B both times.  The race was much closer in the Clausura.  In fact, they had the better goal differential.  This league, too, is just getting its new season underway.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for El Slavador

 

 

 

If “El Slavador” is good enough for the CIA, it’s good enough for Noob.

  1. Luzern vs. Young Boys of Bern – Swiss Super League

The table was clearly stratified by the end of 2017-18 here.  YBB won the league by 15 points.  Luzern were 15 behind the #B club.  Today’s hosts can compete again for a Europa League berth.  But if they want a shot at the CL, they need buckets more goals than last year.

RESULT:   YBB   2-3

  1. Molde vs. Brann – Norway Eliteserien

In northern Europe, they’re over halfway through their league seasons.  Brann have only lost one match, but five draws have meant the title is anything but decided.

Molde have all the shiny stats to look like they should be competing even more closely for the title.  But their five losses are the most of any realistic contenders.  At eight points behind in the table, this home match is must-win for The Fighting Sea Char.

The Management:   Is that a kind of slamon?  What an awful nickname.  Good thing you just made it up, asshat.

The sllllllamon of El Sllllllllavahdoooooohhr!

The Management:  Rrrriiiight…

RESULT:   Molde   5-1

Image result for Molde Norway salmon

 

So long from Molde, Norway — home of contagious slamon!

The Management:  Where do we even start fixing you?…

’10 to Track’ Weekend Edition soccer matches – all the best from America, Mexico, UEFA, CAF CL

It won’t belong now until the big European leagues are in full swing and Noob likely expands back to doing separate Tracks for Saturday and Sunday.

For this weekend though, the ten most important matches to follow for us – the newish American fans of the global game – the best from our soccer perspective span both days.

That’s my way of saying these weekend is all trim meat, Noobites.  Slice of piece of the grade-A soccer.

  1. Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

KC spent most of the first half of the season leading the Western Conference, but now Dallas is on top (and LAFC is #B).  The difference.  KC has given up two or more goals in five straight matches, not winning any of them.

Dallas, meanwhile, have only conceded four in their last five games.   (And they won the one where they allowed multiple goals.)  Dallas’ defense is only surpassed league-wide by New York Red Bulls.  Jesse Gonzalez is their netminder and a title run is likely If he keeps playing at this level.   (8:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   Dallas   2-3     Michael Barrios with all three Dallas goals

Image result for Jesse Gonzalez FC Dallas

 

Jesse likes cold drinks, hot Texas nights, and wearing Mickey Mouse goalie gloves on dates.

His number is…

B.  Montreal Impact vs. Atlanta United – Major League Soccer

And now to the East!

Impact haven’t lost in their last seven times out, pushing into the Playoff picture (5th place).  Noob’s betting they won’t stay there.  Their defense has been more than suspect on the season, though better lately.  It’s helped them into two four-game losing streaks in 2018 so far.

Atlanta are #1, and that’s some tough business with both New York teams breathing down their necks.  Josef Martinez is their offensive star.  Noob mentions him again because he scored all three scores in their last match and win against D.C. United!   (7:00 PM, ESPN+, Fox Sports Southeast)

RESULT:   Atlanta   1-2    Ueber-star Josef Martinez with two goals

Image result for letter B star

 

Number B thinks himself a star.

But has he replaced numeral 2 in your hearts?

He should.

  1. Benfica vs. Juventus – International Champions Cup

Fans at Red Bull Arena certainly have been hoping to see Italian league champs’ new acquisition in action – world’s greatest Cristiano Ronaldo.   Sadly, he won’t be involved today though.  Benfica had won four Portuguese Primeira titles in a row before missing the mark last year.

It’s hard to handicap events in this tournament, since reserves may start or get substantial playing time as teams tune up for domestic leagues with the friendlies that make up this tournament.  Both teams won the first of the three matches they’ll each play in this event.   (1:00 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   Juventus   1-1  /  2-4 pk

  1. Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC – National Women’s Soccer League

New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC have lost four in a tow and have yet to win a match all season.  They’ve allowed a dozen goals in their last for matches, all losses.

Despite losing only once in their last seven outings, Chicago are in 5th place, just outside the Playoff picture.  A likely win today will vault then all the way to 3rd though.

Sky Blue FC forward Nadia Nadim (9) celebrates her goal against the Houston Dash.

 

SBFC’s Nadia Nadim celebrates a goal.

Maybe someday she’ll get to celebrate a W.

  1. CF America vs. Atlas – Liga MX

Atlas is the city of Guadalajara’s “other team”, as the headliners there are Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Chivas).  Last Clausura (second half-season), Atlas actually outperformed their rivals.  That said, the two were just 15th and 17th place, respectively.

Liga MX is just starting it’s 2017-18 season.  But if things remain similar to last year, America’s defense should be able to get the three points today.   (8:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   CFA   3-0    Guido Rodriguez nets a pair

  1. Wydad Casablanca vs. Horoya AC – CAF Champions League

Ah, Wydad, Noob’s Moroccan favorite!  Only club I’ve found named for an actress/singer.  Or either one.  If either is a fan of the sport, maybe someday we’ll have a Club Timberlake or Joe Jonas FC…

Aaaanyway, Wydad are the defending champions of Africa’s CL.  Horoya qualified out of the unheralded top-flight league in Guinea. This event is in its Group Stage.  These two and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns are all tied for 1st out of the four teams in this Group.  Also, they all earned just draws against one another in their first matches in the Round Robin. After tiebreakers, the table goes Sundowns, Horoya, Wydad.

On paper, there shouldn’t be any reasonable way to expect Horoya to compete with Wydad.  But they play the matches on grass, not paper.  That would be weird and crumply-noisy probably.   (3:00 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:    Wydad   2-0

Image result for paper soccer players

 

 

 

What witchcraft is this??

 

 

Sunday

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

To whom can Noob write a strongly-worded letter about the boring and yet still misleading name for this event?  It’s not wrong, but there are just four teams participating.  Granted, these are really good national teams.

And so, reminder:  This is essentially a tournament of glorified friendlies.  With Women’s World Cup next year, this can be considered a tune-up for that.  They’re playing a round robin, no additional round.

#1 FIFA-ranked U.S.A. beat #6 Japan 4-2 in their first match, in which Alex Morgan netted a hat trick (three goals).  #8 Australia (“the Matildas”) pulled the minor upset over #7 Brazil 3-1 in theirs.  Those matches were in Kansas City.  Both matches today are being played in East Hartford Connecticut, at UConn’s home field.   (7:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   1-1

  1. North Carolina Courage vs. Lyon – women’s International Champions Cup

Another four-team event, all matches being played at Miami Gardens.  Noob doesn’t know enough yet to say that NC’s victory over Paris Saint-Germain was an upset or now.  Courage are easily the best American women’s team.  PSG is the secondary power in perhaps Europe’s top league.

Today, NCC get the real test.  Lyon as won three straight World Cup’s, and their own league 12 straight seasons.  Noon suspect’s the Courage will need even more than a career day from Alex Morgan.  Their other big star is Rapinoe, who also scored in the win over PSG.   (9:00 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   Courage   1-0

Image result for alex morgan funny

 

 

And when you score three goals in a match, you can rock whatever coif you want.  Right, Ms. Morgan?

  1. L.A. Galaxy vs. Orlando City – Major League Soccer

At time of this writing, Real Salt Lake is in action.  By the time some of reading this, they may have passed the Galaxy for 4th.  No matter what happens there, what a turnaround it’s been for the home team today.

Noob featured the Galaxy on Thursday.  “El Trafico” – the intracity rivalry match with LAFC – ended 2-2.  LAFC stormed back with two very late goals.  Will Zlatan & Co. be able to rev up after that derby?

Will it matter?  9th-place Orlando stink out loud.  This is good, right and appropriate.  The Management and Noob consider it a priority to espouse the evils of bad urban planning.  Nothing – NOTHING – good can ever come from building a city on a swamp.   (9:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Galaxy   4-3

  1. UANL vs. Tijuana – Liga MX

It’s early in this league’s new season.  These are two teams that made last year’s playoffs for the Clausura (second-half season).  OK.

What Noob really can’t stop thinking about is how embarrassed I should be about the fact that I didn’t know until I started covering soccer that Tijuana is spelled without an A before the J.  That pronunciation is cited as common and perfectly acceptable.  Still, Noob feels more shame heaped upon shame.  Just thought I would’ve picked up that there was a phantom sound in there long before now.   (7:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Tigres   1-0

Image result for shame funny

 

 

Use the phrase “chromosomally-challenged”.    It’s more PC.

  1. Cruziero vs. Sao Paulo – Brazil Serie A

To be a truly knowledgeable soccer citizen of the world. gotta follow Brazil.  South America’s best.  Sorry, Argentina.

Six clubs from here will qualify automatically for the Copa Libertadores Group Stage next year.  Cruziero are in 6th now, despite struggling a little on offense for a top club.  Noob would say their just-OK defense won’t make up for that lack, but they had similar stat lines a year ago and finished 5th.

Sao Paulo just keep continuing to surprise.  They’re #B in the league now, after a dismal 13th-place finish last year.  They’ve shored up their defense some.  Not enough to maintain a spot quite this high in the table for the whole season, but they sure look CL-bound at the very least.    (3:00 PM, Premiere Futebol Clube)

RESULT:   Sao Paulo   0-2

  1. MLS Homegrown vs. UANL U20 – MLS All-Star week

The MLS All-Star game will be on Aug. 1 in Atlanta.  This game is a lead-in, and in some ways maybe the more interesting affair.

Noob’s not exactly sure how MLS defines a “homegrown” player.  Could mean that the player is a U.S. native, or refer to anyone who came through an MLS soccer youth academy.  Or both, or neither, or involve some other variable.  Think I’m on the right track though, roughly.

They’ll be taking on UANL Tigres Under-20 team, their Mexican league’s champions.   This is matchup is part of a broad, multi-year partnership effort between America and Mexico to promote and develop the youth game.

Players to watch and who have been in this before are Kellyn Acosta from FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams, and Justen Glad who plays for Real Salt Lake.   (8:30 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1    Mexican kid got a red card at 78′, just a minute after his team got the equalizer.

Image result for Lil Jon soccer

 

So long, from Noob and ATL soccer fan Lil Jon.

A-what?  Okay.