’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (12/4-6) soccer match previews – Copa Argentina Final completes our Track

The Midweek Edition now stands complete at ten.   There was just one match needed for Thursday to complete the set.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s matches and results now follow further down.

Please consider following Noob on Twitter @SoccerNoobUSA.com.  Inquire for details on how to possibly join footyball discussions with cool cats on Bros Talking Soccer’s new Slack.   And click an ad , if you are so inclined.  Some of the stuff is even soccer-related!

Back again tomorrow for Globetrotting Friday!

Thursday

10. Rosario Central vs. Gimnasia LP – Copa Argentina

The Final! And this match is a one-off in Mendoza – a neutral location. Noob is continually surprised that outside Europe in particular that such otherwise weak-seeming teams advance to title matches. Rosario are in 14th of 28 Primera league teams and Gimnasia in 21st. The winner gets much more than a few pesos and a trophy. There’s a qualification to the next Copa Libertadores up for grabs!

Trying to get excited for this one, but it may be tough to watch. Rosario doesn’t score much, and they look like an offensive juggernaut compared to Gimnasia. Catch this one at 7:10 PM Eastern on TyC Sports International if you dare. And have a deep enough satellite TV package.

RESULT:   Rosario   1-1  /  4-1 PK’s        All hail the Argentine champs!

Image result for Mendoza argentina weirdSo long from Mendoza!

At least you can stay in a cool vineyard “hotel” when visiting.

 

Wednesday

3. Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

Semifinals time in the Apertura (first half-season) Liguilla (playoffs)!

This this Round will also feature two-legged ties, same as the Quarters did. Regular season #1 Cruz Azul gets the honor of hosting the second leg of the home-and-away series, which means they open in Monterrey today.

Cruz Azul haven’t lost since October 20. They’d won five straight matches until finishing off their quarterfinal draw with a 1-1 draw last time out. Plenty of teams score as much or more than C.A., but none defend like them (just 13 goals given up in the 17-match regular season).

Monterrey haven’t proven to be quite as good on either side of the ball. But as one would imagine, they’re not that far off C.A.’s pace, given that they made the playoffs. They’ve not lost in five matches. But they’ve not beaten Cruz Azul in nine consecutive tries.

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0                 Make that once in their last ten tries!

4. Manchester United vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

Arsenal just had a big, God-ordained win in the North London derby. After doing the Lord’s work in defeating named-for-an-historical-traitor (Harry Percy) Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur, can they get pumped up again for Man Utd.?

Man Utd have had a dismal year compared to expectations, the usual-title contenders wallowing in 8th place right now. They haven’t won a league match in a month. None of this has been a fluke, either, as they’re struggling on both sides of the ball. For this team to rise again, the great goalkeeper David de Gea is going to need to lead the way. Defense has been even weaker than offense on the season.

Arsenal are in 4th, which is the number of clubs EPL will qualify for the next Champions League. One would point out their offense as the best around if it weren’t for league #1 Man City blowing everyone out of the water in that department. Defense has been spotty for them, too, at least compared to other table-top clubs. German international Bernd Lemo has decidedly been the weak link. Looking for a shootout today.   (3:00 PM Eastern, NBCSN)

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for Sir Topham Hatt happy

 

Sir Topham Hatt cannot be cross so soon after a Hotspur loss.

5. Atletico Junior vs. Atletico PR – Copa Sudamericana

The Final! And crap on a cracker, Noob would’nt have been passing on covering this event had I not had bad info stuck in my head.

This tournament is the equivalent of Europa League, a tournament below the level of Champions League – or, in South America – Copa Libertadores. Noob did not think the winner of Sudamericana automatically qualified for the following years Libertadores, but they do. And that’s some high stakes.

Columbia’s Junior started in the this year’s Libertadores. After finishing 3rd place in their pod in the Group Stage there, they were dropped into this event. They’ve been very strong in their domestic league statistically, yet are just in 6th place right now. Trouble closing out the close matches, anyone?

Atletico Paranaense only qualified for this event, were not dropped down from following a Libertadores round. They just finished the Brazilian season one spot (7th) out of qualifying for the next Libertadores already.

Based on general knowledge of the pecking order of domestic leagues in South America and Elo ratings from footballdatabase.com, it seems fair to say Junior are an even match at best at home today.

RESULT:   1-1

6. Zamora vs. Deportivo Lara – Venezuela Premier

This is the second leg of the Serie Final, which pits the playoff champions from the Apertura and Clausura stages of the season against one another. The first match was played at Lara and ended in a 1-1 draw.

If one is interested in a couple extra details, scroll down to the Leg One match preview from 12/2. Suffice it to say here and now that Zamora are the hotter team the second half of the year and most definitely favored today at home.

RESULT:   Zamora   4-1          2018 Venezuelan chamPEEENS will dance with that sexy disco robot from the future of 1984

Winners get to party at KirovBar, Barinas (home of Zamora FC) for disco and with this guy….thing!

7. Ulsan Hyundai vs. Daegu FC – (South) Korean FA Cup

The Final! First leg, anyway. Second one will be at Daegu. In Europe, FA Cup winners typically just qualify for the secondary Europa League tournament. Here, the winner not only qualifies for the next AFC Champions League, they’ll enter at the Group Stage (the latest any team enters).

Ulsan finished the K League 1 in third place. That’s just high enough to net them an AFC CL berth, but not as late as the Group Stage. They have to play their way into that as things stand now, via a “playoff round”.

Daegu finished just 7th, didn’t qualify for squat. They’re not nearly as good on either side of the ball as Ulsan, but particularly trail them in goal-scoring.

That said, Daegu haven’t lost in any of their last seven matches across all competitions. They enter vastly hotter than Ulsan. Noob thinks Daegu are easily an even match for Ulsan, maybe even should be favored, given all the momentum they have.

RESULT:   Daegu   1-2            #7 in the league, but #1 in our FA Cup-hearts!   

8. Northeast United vs. Bengaluru – India Super League

Reminder: India has two top-flite leagues. The other is the I-League. ISL is the one that does not have promotion/relegation. It was created under more of an MLS-like franchise model to promote soccer in the country. They do not qualify teams into international competition like AFC Champions League.

But that doesn’t mean this #B-#1 matchup is any less shiny and alluring! Top four will make the league playoffs. Bengalaru are still undefeated eight matches into the season. They have a game in hand on Northeast, on top of leading them by four points in the table. These teams are the cream of the crop defensively, so look for a low-scoring affair today.   (9:00 AM, Asianet Movies)

RESULT:   1-1        Bengaluru saved their undefeated record at 90′ with a goal

Image result for shiny things funny

 

That… doesn’t feel relevant…

Who’s doing images around here now, anyway? 

Noob missed Dan the Intern-Inferno.

9. Turbine Potsdam vs. VfL Wolfsburg – Frauen-Bundesliga

Lyon may be the #1 women’s team in Europe, but it’s Germany’s top league that ranks most highly. And no German team is mightier than Wolfsburg – 10-0-0 so far.

Top two will qualify for the next women’s UEFA Champions League. That second slot looks likely to either go to Potsdam or Bayern Munich. No one’ going to get Wolfsburg though. After all, they’ve outscored opponents 46-2 so far. Good golly.

RESULT:   1-1         The leaders can bleed, they’re human!

Tuesday

1. UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

Time for the second leg of the Apertura (first half-season) Semfinals! All four teams are in action today. This matchup intrigues Noob a little more because UANL are undefeated. Guadalajara got a 1-1 draw at their own place, no small feat.

Matching up with the league’s best on their own turf likely to be a whole other matter. UANL scored over three goals per match during the regular season, 2/3 again as many as Guadalajara, and while playing about the same caliber of defense.

RESULT:   UANL   5-3        On to the finals!

B. Montpelier vs. Lille – Ligue 2

Paris Saint-Germain are still undefeated, miles ahead of the pack. So the race is on for just two more Champions League berths. Lille have fallen to 4th, not having one in any of their last five outings. They’ve been outscored 8-3 over that time. Montpelier are #B in the table.

RESULT:   Lille   0-1        Lille jump up to # B

But wait, just two matches to start the week?  Yup.   Sounds like more high-quality content that soccer lovers everywhere want.   It’s time for a —

NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!

Last installment of NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB, Noob took Subway to task over there new steak sandwich on sunflower bread, a catastrophe if ever there was one.

Today’s featured sammich is much close to home for Noob.  My six year-old daughter – PersonNoob -created this one recently.

What you’re seeing is four pieces of wheat bread in a

 

single stack.   Each is liberally covered with strawberry jelly.  Here pictured, I’ve removed the top layer to show what she has smashed inside — a Little Bites “birthday cake”-flavored mini-muffin.

We know from “Fizzy’s Lunch Lab” television program that “wheat is sweet”.  But four pieces?   I applaud PersonNoob’s creativity, but one only needs more than two if you’re layering the sammich in different ways between slices.  I blame myself as a parent.

The mini-muffins are fine as prepackaged fare goes.  Certainly eaten my share of ones PN hasn’t finished on our way to her school.

To my surprise, the sweet jam and the “birthday” aspect of the muffin didn’t make this sickeningly sweet, at least not at the first bite.    Yes, I tried it, though only ventured that one bite.  As you might imagine, the texture was just straight up waaaay too much bread.

So does Noob dare really rate a sandwich his own sweet daughter created?   You betcha.   And while this is the highest rating I’ve yet given a sandwich, the finished product still didn’t do all that well.

On the Noob Sammich Review sammich rating scale of one to five Sammiches, I rate the “Extra-Tall Wheat Jelly and Birthday Cake Mini-Muffin Sandwich” at just 1.5 Sammiches.

’10 to Track’ Saturday (12/1) soccer match previews – Liga MX, Premier League lead the way

Noob could choose to define the mantra  here of “the ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game” any number of ways.

But in the quest to learn soccer, I’ve learned I want to embrace the game everywhere  its found.    Today’s Track proudly sports matches from all six continents and federations.

1. Santos vs. Monterrey – Liga MX

This is the second leg of the opening, Quarterfinal round of the Apertura (first half-season) Liguilla (postseason tournament). Tonight’s match completes the home-and-away series.

These are the #4 and #5 seeds. They finished in a three-way tie with another club during the regular season and statistically look very much alike. Monterrey won the first leg at their place, 1-0. Best aggregate score will advance in the bracket.

All the momentum is on the side of Monterrey right now. They haven’t lost in four matches and have conceded only two goals over that stretch. Santos haven’t win in four matches, only score three times over those games.

The winner will almost certainly face #1 Cruz Azul in the Semifinals. They’re up 2-0 in their Quarterfinal and have yet to host their match.   (10:00 PM Eastern, Univision)

RESULT:   Monterrey   0-2        on to the Semis to face Cruz Azul  

B. Manchester City vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

This may be the English match today involving the collectively two highest teams in the table, but it sure doesn’t look competitive. Man City are the world’s greatest club running at the moment.

Bournemouth are tied for 8th. More, Noob’s Fighting Cherries have lost three straight, all by 2-1 scores. They had an extremely hot streak to start the year, but that magic has cooled.   (10:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man City   3-1

Image result for letter B cherry

 

Noob’s been faithful to the quest for Number B.

Number B stays loyal with me in support of the Fighting Cherries of Bournemouth.

3. Lille vs. Lyon – Ligue 1

Once you get past 14-0-0 PSG, there’s quite a race going on in France! Lyon are #B. Lille is one of three teams trailing them by just a point. Top three will make the next Champions league.

Noob doesn’t think Lyon have the defensive ability to maintain their table position, will be one of the odd teams out for a top three finish. Defense is Lille’s greater strength and so they should be expected to get a result here at home.

RESULT:   2-2

4. Flamengo vs. Atletico PR – Brazil Serie A

The last round of matches begins in Brazil now. #B versus #7 isn’t usually shiny enough to capture Noob’s fickle gaze, but this is one with specific meaning.

Flamengo can’t catch Palmeiras (and hail to the champs!), nor can they be passed by anyone. They’re headed to the next Copa Libertadores, qualifying straight through to the Group Stage.

Atletico Paranaense right now are the odd team out of the CL mix. Top six get in and they’re in 7th. APR have lacked on defense compared to teams like Flamengo all year. But with the hosts having essentially nothing to play for, who knows – they may start all scrubs.

Noob’s guess is that APR gets a result today and is still stuck in 7th, headed to Copa Sudamericana – South America’s version of Europa League.

RESULT:   Atletico PR   1-2          But Atletico MG also one, so no Copa Libertadores for Paraense

Image result for Flamengo youth soccer

 

 

Meet Flamengo’s U10 squad.

They’re probably starting this match.

5. Nigeria vs. South Africa – Africa Women Cup of Nations

Let’s get someone a trophy – it’s the Final! This is the most prestigious tournament for national teams in Africa and is held every other year. This match is a one-off in Ghana, where the whole tournament has been being hosted.

Nigeria are the defending champs and #1 team in the CAF, and it’s not even terribly close. South Africa rate fourth-best (#38 and #50 worldwide). It’s worth noting, however, that South Africa beat Nigeria 0-1 in the Group Stage.

RESULT:   Nigeria   0-0  /  4-3  pk                Nigeria are chamPEEENS!

6. Olimpia vs. Real España – Honduras National League

This is the second leg of the Apertura playoff Semifinals. Regular season runners-up Olimpia earned a 2-2 draw on the road in the first match of this home-and-away series. Real are high-octane – all O, no D. At home, the better-balanced Olimpia-ns should take care of business.

RESULT:   0-0        so with the aggregate score tied at two, Olimpia advances on away-goals

Image result for high octane funny

 

 

 

 

If he does “The Pigeon”, Noob’s going on a killing spree.

7. San Pedro vs. Verdes – Belize Premier

Is this match, this league “important” in the football world? Probably not by most anyone’s standards. It’s one of the weaker leagues of Central America. But Noob is bound and determined that we will gain at least a passing familiarity with all other CONCACAF member leagues. Hallooo, neighbors!

More, this is a Semifinal! As the lesser, #3 seed, San Pedro host the first leg of the home-and-away series. They’re not out of their class when comparing defenses here.

But Verdes tied for first in the Opening Stage (like Apertura) regular season, only missing 1st by lesser goal differential. And this league was never anything but a two-team race. Verdes are light years better on offense.

RESULT:         it now appears this was slated for 11/30 but was postponed 

8. Fiji vs. New Zealand – OFC Nations Cup

Oceania’s confederation host this tournament just once every four years. It serves as the qualifier for both World Cup and the Olympics.

And here’s your final! It’s a one-off match, being played in New Caledonia, as was the whole tournament. These are the only OFC teams to rank in the top 100 worldwide. New Zealand are the defending champs and 20th-rated team anywhere by FIFA. Fiji are ranked #89 and will have to try and be happy with second place. Because they’re about to get wrecked.

RESULT:   New Zealand   0-8                 Wrecked indeed

Image result for New Zealanders funny

 

 

 

Well that explains it then.

9. Consadole Sapporo vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Japan J1 League

Just like Brazil’s top flite, this league is now in it’s last round of matches. The top three all qualify for the next AFC Champions League. Only champs (and congrats!) Kawasaki qualify directly to the Group Stage there. The next two will have to play in earlier rounds.

Hiroshima are #B, up just a point in the table on newly-minted AFC CL-titleholders Kashima and two above Sapporo. And what the fruit happened to Hiroshima? At one point they led the entire league by nine points. They’ve now lost seven straight matches. If they can manage a draw today, they’ll finish no worse than 3rd place and still qualify for the next CL. Even if they lose, Kashima has to win to pass them and knock them out of the top three.

Sapporo have won three of four and been reported by the Japan Times to be seen licking their chops endlessly in anticipation of this match.

RESULT:   2-2        And so Kawasaki win the league, Hiroshima hold on to second, and Kashima finish 3rd.    Sapporo – no AFC CL for yooooou.

10. Ballymena United vs. Linfield – Northern Ireland Premier

We finish our Track today with a shiny #B-#1 matchup. Does Noob care that it’s in one of the weakest leagues in all Europe? Not at all! (OK, maybe a little. They’ve fallen behind Gibraltar for goodness’ sake, which has the population of like Ames, Iowa.)

Anyway, the season is halfway complete in this semi-pro league. The race is shaping up to be a dramatic one. Linfield lead their hosts today by just a point in the table. Glenavon are just a point farther back, and defending champs Crusaders are just six back of their familiar spot.

The top four all average about two goals per game. But in this offensively-leaning league, it’s only Linfield that can defend as well. They’re the only club giving up less than a goal per game average.

RESULT:   Ballymena    1-2           We have a new leader in the NIFL Premier!

Image result for Slemish Mountain Saint PatrickSo long from Slemish Mountain, Ballymena – said to be first irish home of Saint Patrick.

This guy’s just a Sean Astin-wannabe though.

 

Extra Credit:   Any of the many second round English FA Cup matches, #5 Sheffield United vs. #B Leeds United – English Championship, #5 Grenoble vs. #1 Metz – France’s Ligue 2

#B Legia Warsaw vs. #4 Korono Kielce – Poland Ekstraklasa, #3 Zilinia vs. #B DAC 1904 Dunajska Streda – Slovakia Super Liga, #3 Domzale vs. #1 Maribor – Slovenia Prva Liga, #3 Malaga vs. #4 Granada – Spain’s Segunda Liga, today’s AFF Cup and women’s EAFF-1 matches

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday – Liga MX, Ligue 1, and soccer hinterlands of wonder

International Break is over.  Football club fans can breathe again.   Hey, UEFA Nations league turned out pretty hawt in its Group Stage though.

Now we’re back into the club scene.   On Friday’s, the scheds always run fairly light.  But that just gives is a chance to jet-set around the world together.

The Track starts close to home, as always.  Pretty Eurocentric all the way around, though we’ll bounce to some less-visited leagues there before we meander even farther.

Turn ON electronic devices, smoke ’em if you got ’em and don’t wait – help yourself to the drink cart in back.  Let’s take off!

1. Morelia vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

We ease out of International Break – when so many of the top domestic leagues everywhere have been off so that players can take part on their home National Teams’ matches – with a dandy in Mexico.

Every club is about to play their last match of the Apertura. (That’s the first half-season. Most of Latin America has two separate league tournaments each year.) The top half the league (eight clubs) will qualify for the Liguilla (postseason tournament).

Cruz Azul lead second-place CF America by three points in the table. That means if they can manage any kind of result (win or draw, worth three points and one, respectively), they will have wrapped up the #1 seed. True to form from all season, Cruz Azul has only allowed two goals in their last five matches, all wins and draws for them.

Morelia are currently #8, clinging to that last Liguilla berth. Obviously, this is a daunting last match, but at least they get to host it. With a win, they could actually climb as high as 5th place. A loss or even a draw opens the door for the two teams which are two points behind them.

Morelia are as good on offense as their defensively-leaning guests today. But they allow about twice as many goals. Noob thinks they’re good for no better than a draw on their own pitch today.   (8:00 PM Eastern, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Cruz   0-2

B. Lyon vs. St. Etienne – France Ligue 1

This is the best European match of the day, though there are only three being held in the top leagues there. It comes from a league that’s catching a lot of criticism this year. The league has been slipping in the UEFA rankings, and now only its top three clubs will qualify for the next Champions League (the pinnacle of international club tournament competition).

Also, it’s considered a one-club league for quality this year. Paris Saint-Germain are 13-0-0. The other 19 clubs are being referred to as a “farmer’s league”.

** A what? Noob had this answered for us on the Bros Talking Soccer podcast recently as a listener question they fielded. It’s a demeaning term for amateur or semi-pro clubs or leagues in which the players all have day jobs. Think “beer league” or “rec league” as a rough American equivalent from softball or other sports, though those aren’t quite as disparaging. **

In what is otherwise a very tight table, these two are in 4th and 5th place. Lyon have been the more successful team recently, as their competing in the currently-running Champions League. In their last 10 league matches, they only lost one to someone other than PSG. Still, the defense has only been meh.

St. Etienne get a lot of low-scoring draws, don’t appear to have the firepower to compete for a top-three spot. But they’ve not lost in their last four matches, and so can’t be discounted, even in on the road.   (3:00 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   Lyon   1-0       Though those around them now have a game in hand over Lyon, the win today puts them in #B.

Image result for letter B farm

 

 

 

Number B sees no issue with idea of a farmers league.

3. Go Ahead Eagles vs. TOP Oss – Netherlands Eerste Divisie

This is from one of Europe’s better footballing countries, though not its top league. Eerste is the Dutch second division.

Coolly-named Go Ahead Eagles (who were originally “Be Quick”. Really.) are in 1st. That’s the only table position guaranteed to get Promoted to Eredivisie (the Dutch Premier League). At least one other will move up, but there will be playoffs at season’s end to determine what club or clubs get to move up as well.

Top OSS are in 4th. They don’t play “small ball”, but concede the fewest goals in the league at the expense of scoring a very pedestrian amount of goals themselves. They’re not the direct threat for the title that #B Sparta Rotterdam is.

RESULT:   Oss   0-1          With the upset, Oss remain in 4th, but now only two points behind the three co-leaders.

4. Olimpija Ljubljana vs. Mura – Slovenia Prva Liga

Now we deep further down the UEFA domestic rankings to league #30. That’s a touch below average, but remember that Europe’s is the top confederation in the world. And hey – they’re playing. It’s Friday 😛

The majority of leagues qualify just one club to Champions League, which is the case here. Only two teams are at all competing for the title. Ljubljana and Maribor are the two perennial powerhouses and current leaders. Ljubljana trail them by four points in the table here at about the season’s halfway point.

The second-best European international tournament for clubs is the Europa League. Mura is in 3rd right now, just high enough to snag one of those slots. Noob thinks Domzale is going to pass them soon, after the drubbing Mura will endure today.

RESULT:   2-2       Mura with the come-from-behind W!     Goals for them at 89′ and 90′.   Your a bright, shining star, Tomi Horvat!

Image result for Slovenian comedian

 

Slovenia!  Come for the footyball, stay for the…stern-looking comedy clubs?

That’s comedian Marjan Sarec.

5. Flamutari vs. Partizani Tirana – Albania Super League

So the top 30 is about as far down the rankings as Noob looks in Europe for matches with which to intrigue and delight. But now is when we begin our true Friday Globetrotting, Noobites!

Albania’s league is just a little further down the ladder from Slovenia’s (#34). Naturally, they also get just one team into Champions League. Tirana are #1, two points up on Skenderbeu Korce. These are the only two realistic title-chasers.

If you recognize the name Skenderbeu, congratulations! They’ve been on Noob before, noteworthy for having been banned 10 years from international competion for match-fixing. Flamutari are in 6th.

RESULT:   Falmutari   1-0       Upset City!

6. Balzan vs. Hamrun Spartans – Malta Premier

Couple o’ midtable teams from Malta. #47 league in Europe. Let’s just Fun Fact these bad boys.

Fun Fact: The village of Balzan is only a few thousand people. But it’s part of an area known as Three Villages and borders the city of Birkirkara (country’s second-largest).

Fun Fact: Hamrun are also nicknamed tas-sikkina, meaning “of the knife”, roughly. It might refer to many people from there being stevedores on the docks, or to Sicilians living there illegally in the 1500’s who were known to do dances that involved pulling the stiletto knives from their socks and waving them around.

RESULT:   2-2

7. Gibraltar United vs. Glacis United – Gibraltar Premier

League #51 of 55! When you’ve only got a population of maybe 35,000 people, hard to climb very high. Gibraltar United is in 3rd. They’re fewer than ten matches into the season, but it already appears they won’t have the defense to keep up with the usual championship suspects – Europa FC and Lincoln Red Imps. Glacis are in 7th.

RESULT:    United   2-1

8. Ferizaj vs. Prishtina – Kosovo Premier

Kosovo’s league is #53. That’s so low, the country only gets two clubs into the Europa League instead of the more usual three.

But this may be mostly due to how new specifically-Kosovar football is. They’ve only had their own recognize football federation since the 2016-17, and didn’t start earning points for ranking until a year after that. With a population of about two million, they should be able to raise the league to a a higher profile in time.

Ferizaj are in second-to-last place, a position that would get them Relegated at season’s end. So yes, there is at least one more level if football there. Prishtina wouldn’t know. They’re in 1st, having only given up four goals in fifteen matches.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Прва савезна лига у фудбалу

 

 

Prishtina was the best club from what is now Kosovo back in the Yugoslav First League days.

9. Aiglon vs. New Star – Martinique Division d’Honneur

That southern European weather was dreamy for a couple matches there. Kosovo? Eh. So to the Carribbean we go!

Powerhouse league?  Nah.   But despite being a French Overseas Territory (and so non-FIFA member), in CONCACAF.  Hallooooo, neighbors.

The top two finishers in this league will qualify for the Caribbean Football Union (subgroup of CONCACAF) Club Championship.  That event, in turn, serves as a qualifier for the CONCACAF Champions League.  It’s very early, but Aiglon are #B and the numbers indicate they’ll stay there and have only one threat for the title.   New Star are 5th place.

RESULT:   Aiglon   2-1

10. Al Hudod – Al Quwa Al Jawiya – Iraq Premier

We finish our Trekking Track in Asia! This isn’t quite a top-ten league there, but close, and high enough that they qualify the maximum two teams into the AFC Champions League.

Al Jawiya were runners-up last year, 6-0-0 so for this season. Early results indicate Al Shorta likely to be their top threat. It certainly won’t be Al Hudod, wallowing down in 13th. Why so bad? See that there? Noob just scored on Hudod. There, it happened again. Bless you. Someone sneezed and scored on ’em. You get the idea.

RESULT:   Hudod   1-0     A clean sheet?  Well, well!

Kahramana

 

 

 

So long from Baghdad, home of Al Hudod!

 

Statue of Karahmana and the forty jars

’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 (11/2) – USL playoffs, LigaMX, then we’re off to see the world

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

On Friday’s, schedules run a little lighter.  Noob takes the opportunity to hit up the best local games, and then it’s off to soccer hinterlands less-known!

Come, jet-set with Noob.  The bags of peanuts in-flight are HYOOJ.

  1. Louisville FC vs. New York Red Bulls II – United Soccer League playoffs

Time for the Eastern Conference Final!  Defending champions Louisville host the Red Bull reserve teams.  They finished the regular season #2 and #5, respectively.

Louisville’s been clicking on both sides of both for weeks so, to the tune of nine straight wins.  The defense has been quite good, the offense – phenomenal.

NRYB Jr. have won five straight.    They’ve been comparable on defense, if not quite as dominant on offense.

It’s an interesting twist.   Through most of the regular season, they were both scoring like gangbusters, but with NYRB doing so very much at the expense of defense.  Now Red Bulls have switched their habits around.

No matter which style NY2 play, LFC are the clear fave.  Winner gets either Orange County or Phoenix for the title.   (7:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:    L’ville  5-1       Devon Williams with two goals in two minutes

Image result for letter B tiger

 

 

 

Looks like we know which club Number B is rooting for.  Awwwww!

B.  Morelia vs. UANL Tigres – Liga MX

Three matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season).  And since each of the two half-seasons are only 17 matches long, it means things in the table are tight.  Top eight make the Liguilla (postseason tournament).

Morelia’s in 7th, but their numbers don’t make them look like a Playoff team.  The offense is borderline, but the defense is bottom quartile-caliber.  Still, they’re trending the right way.  After not winning a match for more than a month straight, they’re now winners of three in a row.  Those three were against bottom-half teams, but it’s still something.

Tigres are #8.  Two teams trail them by just a point.   They’ve not won in their last four, the defense having completely fallen apart (11 goals allowed).

9th-place Pachuca is going to pass at least one of these two.  So if one of these two loses today, Noob considers it an elimination match of sorts.   (9:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

  1. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lille – France Ligue 1

Hard to believe PSG is looking like they might get eliminated from the current Champions League at the group stage.   They’re not having any trouble in their domestic league.   11-0-0, eight points up on #B Lille in the table already.

Lille sport an above average offense and defense.    No reason to think they’ll have any trouble finishing in the top three and qualify for the 2019-20 Champions League.  They just won’t look like it today.   PSG 3-1 today.

RESULT:   PSG   2-1     Mbappe with a goal and an assist

  1. Al Ahly vs. Esperance – CAF Champions League

The Final!    Two matches, home and away, for the club title in Africa.

Al Ahly are the #1 team in all Africa.  It doesn’t even seem to be particularly close.   Noob’s Elo ratings-source footballdatabase.com indicated it.  So does my newer one for Elo-ish numbers – soccerverse.com.  (The former has been down for long enough recently that I’m worried it’s gone for good.)

They’re well down the table in their domestic league so far this year, but that’s mostly by virtue of having played far fewer matches than most teams there.  The international play leads to a lot of postponements for them.   Extrapolate their basic stats out and they’re easily performing like a top-four club.

They host what may well be the #2 club on the continent.  This looks like an awful matchup for the Tunisians.  They’re struggling on defense in their league, and Ahly is just relentless on offense.   Ahly by two on their own pitch today.

RESULT:   Ahly   3-1           Walid Soliman scored twice on penalties in a match that also featured a third penalty score

Image result for math is dumb

 

Mathing.

 

I know, right?

  1. El Entag El Harby vs. Smouha – Egyptian Premier

You know, as long as we’re here!

Top two finishers qualify for the next Champions League.  Right now, these two are #B and #3, respectively.  ENEH have played a game or two more than the teams around them in the table.  They’re not going to stay this high in all likelihood.   They don’t score enough, plain and simple.

Smouha, however, look to have the firepower to at least flirt with a top-two finish.  They will be hard-pressed to catch #1 El Zamalek (best O and D in the country) or hold of Al Ahly.  But so far, Smouha looks very balanced and sound.

RESULT:   2-2        Smouha blows an 0-2 halftime lead

  1. URA vs. Nyamityobora – Uganda Premier

Uganda’s top flite Is a league on the move.  They just cracked the CAF rankings for the first time recently, appearing at #18.   They’d have to move up a few more notches to qualify two teams to Champions League, but it’s a start.

It’s too early to perhaps say much, fewer than a half dozen matches into the season.  but #5 URA appear to be a Small Ball team – pack it in on defense, don’t try to even score much themselves.

Noob believes The Nyamity-ville Horror-obora just got Promoted to top tier this year.  Judging by their utter lack of defense, they’ll be headed right back down.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for that was horrible gifWhat, the play on words there?

Quiet, Adam Scott!   Don’t you have a “Krampus” sequel to go shoot?

  1. 1 de Agosto vs. Hulia – Angola Girabola

Congrats to Angola’s domestic top league!   Big jump coming in the 2019-20 rankings – #17 all the way to #9.

1dA didn’t need the league to have an extra berth into Champions League last season like it will get soon.  They only lost one match all last season.   How?  By only giving up eight goals in 28 matches.   Stifling.

Hulia finished 6th, as perfectly average as they could be, statistically.

RESULT:         is now slated for Sun., 11/4

That African stint can be so draining.  Let’s take a break for the third-ever installment of —

Noob’s Sandwich Reviewoobs!

@MLS on Twitter asked the important, obvious question.  Essentially, is a hot dog, in fact, a sandwich?

Among most noble apes, a sandwich is defined as any meat or other filling between two SLICES of bread.  Buns are NOT slices, or Noob’s name is John Montagu.

To be fair, one can find definitions and contexts where any pieces of bread – sliced or otherwise – are called “sandwich”.  I’m not here to argue against that.

Because it’s already been establish in Amuricuhn court of LAW.

In 2006, A Worcester, MS judge ruled against Panera in a heated case regarding a non-compete clause in a mall food court.  The judge allowed the mall could rent to Qdoba, that tacos and burritos were NOT sandwiches.  His or Her Honor formally told Panera, “Sit on it, Potsy” in the ruling and summary.

What’s fun is that most of that is true.

So — is a hot dog a sandwich?  No.  Heretical.  Illegal!

@MLS, thanks for the picture of the cute kid.  But Noob rates your sandwich question  at a mere two and a half out of five sandwiches on the Noob Sandwich Reviewoob sandwich rating scale.

  1. Ballymena United vs. Glenavon – Northern Ireland Football League Premiership

Next, we jet-set to Europe.  This is one of Europe’s very weakest domestic leagues.  In fact, it’s only semi-professional.  But hey — they’re playing!

They get just the one berth into Champions League.  Glenavon are #1 now, but they only lead Linfield by a point.  They lead the league in scoring, and trail just Linfield in defensive prowess (albeit by a lot).

#3 Ballymena are nicely balanced, but are ten points behind their league-leading hosts.  At least they’re in a position to perhaps get one of the league’s two automatic invites to Europa League.

RESULT:   Bally   2-1

Image result for flying first class funny

 

 

Mr. Bean always flies first class for NIFL Premiership.

  1. Kukesi vs. Flamutari – Albania Superliga

Our second and final stop on our European league takes us to the #34 league in UEFA.  Below average, but a damn sight higher than Northern Ireland.  Wheeeeeeee!

These are the #3 and #5 clubs there currently.  Kukesi are only four points in back of league leaders Skenderbau Korce, but that team’s been the power there for forever.  Even recently getting a 10-year ban from FIFA over match-fixing hasn’t seemingly slowed that bunch much.

If recent history holds, Kukesi won’t catch the Banned Ones or #B Tirana.  Flamutari are far less likely.   When the defense gets down to league average, those clubs won’t be able to stop the perennial title contenders.

RESULT:   Flamutari   1-2

  1. Melbourne City vs. Sydney FC – Australia A-League

The league season is just getting (Down) underway in OZ.  Yet already a big trophy has been awarded.   League defending champs Sydney FC just lost in the FFA Cup final to Adelaide.

Melbourne City finished #3 last year, a nice push for a team that’s historically only average there.  They were either lucky or tough or both, too, as they didn’t score a lot compared to their peers.

RESULT:   Sydney   0-3     Paulo Retre with a goal an an assist

Image result for Melbourne australia funny

 

 

So long from Melbourne!  

Apparently so violent, their club may soon get a Copa Libertadores invitation.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sun. (10/7) – MLS playoff hunt, and an EPL doozy!

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

And today, introducing the efforts of a new staff member,  sort of.  🙂

  1. D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire – Major League Soccer

Saturday, #6 Montreal clubbed Columbus.  This leaves 7th-place D.C. United five points in back of that last Eastern Conference playoff berth.

But as late as the season is getting, this is in no way a done deal.  Montreal may have only two matches left now, but D.C. have five.  And speaking of five, that’s how many in a row DCU haven’t lost.   Chicago are down in 10th.   They haven’t won on the road since June.

But the Fire pulled a home upset last match out against the West’s #3, LAFC.  If they want to make it two surprises in a row, Serbian international Nemanja Nikolic needs to follow up on his super September.  He’s their scoring leader.  The star last in the last win was American Djordje Mihailovic.   (1:00 PM EST, ESPN)

RESULT:   D.C.   2-1       Wayne Rooney strikes again.  And then again.

Image result for nemanja nikolic

 

 

 

In Amuricuh, Nemanja, we keep the pants on to play the footyball.

B.  Liverpool vs. Manchester City – English Premier League

6-1-0.  The last two undefeated clubs in England face off.  Raspberry scones for everyone!   It’s a watch party.

Defending champs Man City have to be licking their chops though.  Undefeated in the league Liverpool may be, but they’re just 0-1-2 across all competitions in their last three.  The offense has stagnated badly.

Man City have one four in a row.  They’re scoring like the pitch is a pinball machine.  That said, they haven’t faced a difficult league team mid-August.   (11:30 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for eating letter B

 

 

SoccerNoob’s six year-old daughter — PersonNoob! –thinks this bee is licking it’s chops and about to eat Number B.

  1. Toluca vs. Pachuca – Liga MX

Top eight will make the Liguilla (postseason).  Toluca are tied for 5th, while Pachuca lead a four-way tie for that eight-spot.

Toluca should be in better shape, but they just handed Atlas their first win of the season.   When each half-season tournament is just 17 matches long, can’t give up “easy” points.

Pachuca do look like the best of their clump of four, but Noob thinks their margin for error is extremely thin.  I don’t expect them to climb any higher than 8th.  Tigres lead them by three for 7th, are better on both sides of the ball.   (1:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   Toluca   2-1

  1. Panama vs. U.S.A. – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

Earlier this week, the American women pummeled Mexico 6-0 to open the Group Stage.  Noob’s primary source site still doesn’t list that match on the correct date.   But mea culpa.  No excuses, only reasons.  Part of my learning journey is where to get the raw info.

So!  The top two from each Group of four will advance to Knockout Stage, where three of the teams will earn their World Cup berth.  The Americans are the #1-ranked team in the world and will advance easily.

Panama is ranked just #66.  They did pull a minor upset in their opening match of this stage, taking down Trinidad and Tobago.  But the US are a whole different deal, even without being the hosts (the match will be in Cary, NC).  Noob favors them by 9.5 goals.   (5:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-5          Wow, they held up better than Mexico

For your mid-Track listening pleasure – Panama!   But covered by Foo Fighters, so as not to be entirely cliche.  (FFW to 0:40 if you like)

  1. Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

So if either of these teams loses the nightcap in Cary, that’s about all for them.  A draw would give both a little hope, presuming Panama doesn’t pull off an all-timer miracle in the above match.  They are ranked #24 and #52.

Given the lack of parity in the women’s game, that should mean Mexico is a two-goal fave.   (7:30 PM, FS2)

  1. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon – Ligue 1

No one has beaten or earned a draw against PSG.

Lyon are in 5th.  Noob thinks they’re at least the third-best team in the league, but it’s hard to see them proving that today.  Both teams allow just under a goal per match, so defense hypothetically gives the visitors a shot.  The problem?  PSG average’s 3.5 per of their own.

RESULT:   PSG   5-0        Mbappe with four goals

Image result for that's too many gif

 

 

Sorry, Edward Norton.  The number is what it is.

  1. Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Krasnodar – Russia Premier

Noob was surprised to see Krasnodar helping headline a #1-#B match.   But upon further review, I see they’ve finished 4th in the league three straight years.  That doesn’t put them in the league leader’s class, but not far out!   The #6-ranked league in Europe deserves and will keep getting more of our attention.

Could it be Krasnodar’s time?  They’ve won seven straight over all competitions.  Meanwhile, Zenit just lost to bottom-feeder Makhachkala before sneaking out a home win over a Czech team in the Europa League.

  1. Benfica vs. Porto – Portugal Primeira Liga

Portugal’s top domestic league is just a notch behind Russia’s, but it means they only get two into the CL.  These two perennial powerhouses are #B and tied for #3.

Despite being behind two teams, Benfica are undefeated.  #1 Braga and their guests today have each been just a touch better on offense to date.  But – stunningly to Noob – Porto haven’t lost to Benfica in seven consecutive matches.   (12:30 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   Benfica   1-0     the streak is ended!

Image result for FC porto funny

 

Noob does speak Portguese.

But I’m pretty sure “inscrever” is a foul, foul verb…

 

 

Noob?  That means “register”. 

Fine, The Management.  Spoil all my fun.

  1. Kashima Antlers vs. Kawasaki Frontale – Japan J1 League

The Management puts in long hours keeping Noob’s inanity in check.  Solid job today.  Bet ya’ sweated off five pounds.  Our Japanophile’s reward?   J1 match stays just above the honorable mention-line.

And this is an important match.  With just a half dozen matches to go, Kawasaki have pulled into a tie with suddenly-spiraling Hiroshima.  They’ve not lost in four straight matches.  But the two matches before that?  0-1-1 in the League Cup, with both matches against Kashima.

The Antlers just won the first leg of their AFC Champions League semifinal tie.  But even winning that whole shebang doesn’t get them entry into next year’s.  They’re #3 in the league and need to finish at least that high to get in.   They’ve won five consecutive domestic matches, peaking at exactly the right time.  They haven’t even allowed a league-goal in two weeks.

RESULT:   0-0

Honorable Mention:    Canadiaian Soccer League (non-FIFA, Ontario-nased)- two playoff Semifinals;  #2 Vega Real vs. #3 Atletico de SF – Dominican Republic Liga Mayor ligulla;  #1 Racing Club vs. #6 Boca Juniors – Argentina Primera;

#3 Stumbras Kaunas vs. #1 Suduva – Lithuania A Lyga;  #4 Muang Thong United vs. #2 Bangkok United – Thai League 1;  #3 Ulsan Hyundai vs. #1 Jeonbuk – South Korea K-League 1;  #1 Al-Sadd vs. #3 Al-Sailiya – Qatar Stars League

  1. Verdes vs. Bandits – Belize Premier

No mere honorable mention for Belize – we finish the track with more CONCACAF-feination!

Even just eight games in, these two are about finished with the rest of the league.  It’s #1 versus #B and the rest of the back is eight points back of the latter.  Bandits haven’t lost, but two draws have them a point behind the pacesetters.

Both score three times a game on average and give up about jack squat.  Hard to think there will be an internet streaming of this match, but let’s all try to find one.  Pirate it if you must!  Yaaaargh.

RESULT:   Bandits   0-1       And we have a new #1!    (Oh, and for the record, this match may well have been played Saturday it turns out.)

Image result for benque viejo del carmen funny

 

So long from Benque Viejo, home of Verdes!

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church.

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday soccer matches – Liga MX, Bundesliga, then off to see the world!

With the weekend imminent, league schedules run a little lighter on Fridays.  These are no Soccer Sabbaths though!

We find what league and Cup matches close to home are best, move on to Europe, South American, and then goodness knows where.  Usually, that’s anywhere in the world, far and wide!   Today, Noob keeps most of the focus on Europe.  We’ll be checking out some hot D2 action.

Matches with clubs you won’t see everywhere online, plus Fun Facts about them, their leagues and locales.  Takeoff time is now.  The stewardess is closing the first-class curtain.  Noobites are on the champagne side of it.

  1. Atlas vs. Toluca – Liga MX

Two Mexican top-tier matches today, and three of the involved teams are from the very bottom of the table.  Atlas are lowest of all, having yet to win a match this Apertura (first half-season).  That’ll happen when you’ve only managed to score once in all ten matches.

Toluca are the one good team in action there today, sitting pretty in 3rd place.  That makes this match a “Hiccup Watch”.   Even on the road, Toluca should cruise.  But will they rest usual starters?  Might they just prepare for this match as hard?  Hiccup.   (10:00 PM EST, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Atlas   2-0     The nightmare is over!

B.  Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich – Bundesliga

Bayern just dropped their first points of the season to bottom-half Augsburg.  For the rawest of Noobites, that means it’s the first match they didn’t win.  They’ll win most of them.  They had several stars not play, gave up the equalizing goal at 87’.

Hertha Berlin are the more interesting story.  Part of it, anyway.   Once you get past the top two in the table, there’s a host of teams just behind that were nowhere close last season.  Top four will make Champions League, and a couple clubs not used to such rarefied airs may well make it!

As for today’s match, Noob thinks HB are good for a draw, especially if Bayern are resting players or dealing with injuries already.   (2:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Hertha Berlin   2-0        A sloppy, overly-aggressive match from Bayern seems HB pull into a 1st-place tie with them

Image result for letter B in the sky

 

 

I don’t mean to nitpick, Number B.

But it’s not “rarefied air” if you’re in outer space.

  1. Sheffield Wednesday vs. Leeds United – English Championship

England’s top league, noob as read, has been or is ranked as high as #13 in all Europe.  Add in the massive amounts money teams get for getting Promoted from here to Premier and it’s interesting two ways.

Looking to make that jump are current #1 Leeds.  They were deficient last year on defense in particular, but have made massive strikes, allowing fewer than a goal per game average.  Sheffield are in 10th, and so just average.  Noob counts them as a goal-underdog at home.

Fun Fact:   In the early 20th C., a player presented Sheffield Wednesday  with a monkey to be used as a mascot.   The idea did not catch on.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Dundalk vs. UCD – FAI Cup (Ireland)

It’s a battle of league #1’s in this one-off Semifinal!   Dundalk lead the Premier while University College Dublin are tops in the First League.  They’re different league for a reason, no matter how strong the U. has been playing.  Dundalk by a pair.

Winners get the defending league and Cup champs Cork City, unless Bohemians defeat them.   Unlikely, but it’s a road match for the current trophy-keepers.

RESULT:   Dundalk   1-0

 

 

The town of Dundalk is closely tied to the mythological hero Cu Chulainn.

In story, he earned that name over his birthname after taking the place of a guardian dog he killed in self-defense.

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

The Republic’s top league was getting close to a high enough UEFA ranking that they could’ve soon seen two clubs get Champions League invites.  Alas for them, they’re slipping from 13th to 17th in the rankings for 2019.

Still, this is a classic matchup for the country.  Sparta are undefeated, yet just #B in the table.  Viktoria Plzen are #3.  The latter’s goal differential looks a bit peakish, leading Noob to wonder if this league will be a two-horse race.  Already, Noob thinks they’re just an even match on their own pitch today.

Fun Fact:  Plzen’s best European finish was in 2013-14 when the qualified for Champions League and finished 3rd in the Group Stage.  After then getting dropped down to Europa League, they made the Round of 16.

RESULT:   Plzen   1-0

  1. Lens vs. Paris FC – France Ligue 2

Top two will be automatically Promoted to Ligue 1 at season’s end.  Next three will duke it out in a Playoff for one more to join them.  That’s where we find these two – #3 and #5.

Lens have made massive strides on defense since 2017-18 when they finished in the bottom half of the league.  Paris look about like they did last year, statistically anyway.  If that holds, they’ll be good, but not enough so to stay in the Promotion chase.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for sang et or

 

Lens fans will raise their scarves and sing sang et or – “blood and gold” – after the club colors.

  1. NEC Nijmegen vs. Go Ahead Eagles – Netherlands Eerste Divisie

The Netherland’s top league is poised to nearly crack the top ten in Europe.  This is the Dutch second division.

NEC finished 3rd in the regular season last year before losing in a Promotion Playoff.  They’re defense is really suspect this season though.  And #1 GHE may be the club that can expose them.  Top-notch goal-scoring.

Fun Fact:  NEC was founded by its towns workers, lowest socioeconomic class.  This was very rare, as Dutch football was a very elitist sport at the turn of the 20th C.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. BW Linz vs. FC Leifering – Austria 2. Liga

Teams here are vying to move up to the Austrian Bundesliga, rated the #11 league in UEFA.   Only the top one gets to make that move though.

Linz is #1 and one of just two realistic-looking candidates.  Leifering are #3, but haven’t yet shown the firepower probably necessary to vie for the league title.

RESULT:   BWL   2-1

Foto.Linzertorte.JPG

 

The “Linzer torte” was thought for a long time to be the oldest recipe cake in the world.

  1. Sektzia Nes Tziona vs. Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem – Israel  Liga Leumit

Israel’s Premier is on the decline, will be down several notches to #25 next year.  But hey, that’s still above average!  SNT are #3, HKJ #B.

All the clubs in the top 2/3 of the league appear to play about the same defensively.  These two are among three that can score at a fair clip on top of that.

The top two finishers will get Promoted to Premier.  Before that happens, the going will get tougher for clubs like these, as the league divided into Championship and Relegation subdivisions.

Fun Fact:   The town of Ness Ziona was first known as “Wadi Channin”.

RESULT:    HJK   1-3

  1. Al-Wehdat vs. Al-Faisaly – Jordan Premier

At last, we head into Noob-uncharted waters!   Jordan’s top league – which you might just see as “The Jordan League” elsewhere soemtimes– is ranked 16th in Asia.  That’s about the 1/3 mark.  Just the winner will get into this federation’s Champions League.

Wehdat are the defending league champions.  No one could keep up with them on offense last year.   Or on defense.  But the difference was greater with the former.  Faisaly finished 3rd.  on the strength of their defense.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Al-Wehdat

 

Also known as Amman Refugee Camp, Al-Wehdat is a Palestinian refugee area.

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday soccer matches – a world of footyball awaits!

Fridays tend to be a little lighter for soccer scheds around the world.  So we pack our bags and hit the tarmac!   Let’s Trot – learn some Fun Facts about teams and leagues from far and wide.

As always, we start close to home, then expand our soccer horizons.

  1. Atlanta United II vs. North Carolina FC – United Soccer League

Welcome to the only high-end match in America.  No MLS today, but do get one second-tier game.

ATL2 is down in 14th in the Eastern Conference.  For all the success Atlanta’s MLS side is having, their reserve team is lousy.

North Carolina is one of the USL clubs Noob has a soft spot for.  They moved over from the almost seemingly-defunct North American Soccer League.  To know why, please check out the Interviews D-Twosday page on this site.  Those are a gas, and so unreal you’ll hardly believe they’re believable.  Yup!  That came out right.

Anywho, NCFC is in 10th place.  Not scintillating, except a little when you remember each conference gets it’s top eight into the Playoffs.  They’re only three points out of 8th.

There’s a massive gulf in the table between ATL2 and those below and everyone else.  NC probably wins by a goal or two here on the road.

RESULT:   NC   1-6    Not a typo.   Cameroonian forward Ulrich Donovan Ewolo has four goals.

B.  Puebla vs. CF America – Liga MX

They’re about halfway through the Apertura (first half-season) in Mexico.  Unsurprisingly, CFA is near the top (3rd).   Puebla are in 10th.  They’re likely better than that and will climb.  They win a lot but almost never draw, which is painful in the table.

RESULT:   CF America   2-3       Puebla lead twice before giving up the winning score at 90′.  And CFA had even just lost a man to a red card at 88′.

Image result for letter B hurt

 

 

 

Can’t tell if Number B is mildly scolding or in pain, a la Puebla.

  1. Necaxa vs. Monterrey – Liga MX Femenil

Little Billy Donovan from Springfield writes:

Dear Mr. Noob,

Why do you list the Mexican men’s league before the women’s?  My mom says it’s because you’re a misogynistic – well, she’ll wash my mouth out with soap if I use the word she did.

Billy, thanks for writing in.  Wait, how did you know Noob would — know what?  Never mind.

But since you’re writing, wouldn’t your mom just end up harmlessly washing your hand if you wrote the bad word she did?  Also, she sounds like quite the hypocrite, and you can tell her Noob said so.  I’ll bet she’s not even hot.

When Noob featured matches from both leagues in the same Track, I list first whichever match is more intriguing and/or features teams that are collectively higher in their table.

Necaxa are in last in their Group.  (The league is divided into two.)  Monterrey are in 4th, need to climb two spots to make the Playoffs.   That quest moves forward today.  Visitors by a couple, easy.

RESULT:   Monterrey   0-2

  1. Wydad Casablanca vs. ES Setif – CAF Champions League

Africa’s version is in its Quarterfinals, where each matchup is a two-legged, home-and-away affair.

Noob Tracked the first leg not long back, and ES Setif took care of business at home with a 1-0 win.  Now it’s the defending champions’ turn to host.  Based on their ELO ratings (thank you, footballdatabase.com), Noob figures Wydad is easily a goal favorite at their own place, probably a 3:2 favorite with take it by two goals and advance.

RESULT:   0-0     And so the champs are OUT.  ES Setif moves on to the Semis.

Image result for Wydad Casablanca

 

 

Apparently, Wydad supporter’s know or assume Gerard Butler is a supporter, too.

  1. Cork City vs. Dundalk – League of Ireland Premier

It’s the pair of clubs longer-tenured Noobites knew would be at the top at the end, if not the order.

Defending champs Cork City are down seven points in the table.  They need a win today or the race is over.  Since it’s on their pitch, that’s more likely than not to happen.  But only by a tiny bit.  Dundalk have the advantage of only needing to play for a draw.  And they’re better on both sides of the ball, really put it all together this season.

Fun Fact:  Cork City are supporter-owned, by FORAS.  It stands for Friends of the Rebel Army and is Irish for “development”.

RESULT:   Dundalk   0-1      While it’s not a mathematical certainty, Noob’s ready to call the league finished!  Congrats to the fighting ‘Dalks!   I’m sure that’s their nickname…

  1. HJK vs. RoPS – Finland Veikkausliga

It’s all but over in Finalnd as well.  HJK lead #B RoPS by nine with just a few matches left to play.  These two play very good if not quite great D.  The difference has been HJK scores nearly twice a game on average while RoPS is only average in that department.   Today is probably coronation day for the defending titleholders.

RESULT:   HJK   3-0     Give HJK another crown!

Image result for hjk

 

 

For about two seconds, Noob didn’t notice this was a split image.

Yup.  Thought HJK fielded a giant.

  1. Zalgiris Vilnius vs. Suduva – Lithuania A Lyga

This league isn’t quite a true summer one like the above two, is only about 2/3 of the way through.  And the title race is closer.  Suduva won last year narrowly over ZV, and the margin is about the same now.

Still, ZV at home is the play if you’re such a gambling addict that Lithuanian soccer is part of your fix.  Degenerate!

Fun Fact:  Zalgiris’ supporters group are Pietų IV.   Noob has no idea how to begin to pronounce that.

RESULT:   ZV   1-0

  1. Al-Wahda vs. Al-Wasl – Arabian Gulf League

This is the top league in United Arab Emirates.   They’re just a couple matches into the season.  These were last year’s #B and #3 squads.  Wasl will have to accelerate on offense a little more to play for a second-place spot.  They’ll need a miracle to surpass Al-Ain.  Both would.

RESULT:   Al-Wahda   4-1

Image result for snobbish funny

 

Al-Wahda are nicknamed “Excellencies”.

Ooh la la!   

Here is your rrrroast. Duck, Al-Wahda.

  1. Partizani Tirana vs. Flamutari – Albania Super Liga

Partizani finished 5th last season.  Normally that would get you squat, but perennial powerhouse Skenderbeu Korce got hit with a record ten-year ban from international play by UEFA.   That moved the tournament invitations down a rung in table each, so allowed P.T. to eke into Europa League.  Where they got skunked over two matches in the first qualifying round.

If you’d like to know a little more about the S.K. match-fixing nawteeness, Noob recommends checking out Bros Talking Soccer, podcast episode 90.  The question comes at the 35’, but why not listen to the whole thing?  One of only three podcasts on which I spend time.  Look, they’re Bros.   They talk.  And it’s about soccer.  In this day and age, it’s hard to find such transparency in the offering!   Muy bueno.

Oh yeah, Flamutari was 6th last year.  OK.

Fun Fact:  Brostalkingsoccerpodcast.com is the website  where Noobites can get mucho info.

RESULT:   Tirana   2-0

  1. Go Ahead Eagles vs. Jong Ajax – Netherlands Eerste Divisie

Noob finishes our ‘Trotting Track in the Netherlands second division!   Both teams this very early season are high enough in the table to be in the Promotion conversation.  Jong (Young) Ajax are disallowed though, as reserve teams there can’t move up to top flite.

Only the top finisher will move up automatically.  GHE are #B, which places them atop the spots that will qualify for the postseason Promotion playoffs.  They’re leading the league in offense, and Noob considers them to easily be a goal favorite today.

RESULT:   Eagles   2-1

Image result for speelgoedmuseum deventerSo long from the Toy Museum, Deventer — home of Go Head Eagles!

The city.   They don’t live with the toys.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (9/16) – DC Utd just keep a’comin’!

Yesterday, Noob cheated.  I snuck in ~30 matches into the ten mini-previews.   It was gluttonous, and that’s sinful.  Today, we’ll stick with the ten.

Pretty varied for a Sunday, not just the usual suspects.

  1. North Carolina Courage vs. Chicago Red Stars – National Women’s Soccer League Playoffs

Tthoughts, heartfelt prayers to all affected by Hurricane Florence.  This match has been moved to Tuesday.

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

Conference matches are in progress as Noob composes, but at this moment, this will be #7 hosting #B.

The D.C. story has been remarkable.  Signing all-time great Wayne Rooney has turned there season around to a degree only the most hopeful could’ve, well, hoped for.  Last place to one slot out of the playoffs, with enough games to easily climb further.

Haven’t talked about this, but the Rooney signing also plays into a discussion about league makeup.  Many think it’s not a good thing for MLS to serve as a “retirement league” for European stars.  They may say it doesn’t specifically improve the product, and/or might take away a spot from a developing American player.

Rooney’s not the first to move stateside after his prime (though he’s only in his early 30’s), won’t be the last.  Noob’s in favor of such.  Let’s have stars!    If the game is going to get really big here, it needs to be shiny, get people interested.  Perhaps American player growth can then follow.

Aaanywho.   NYRB just got drubbed by the suddenly and surprisingly feisty Montreal Impact.   That’s their first loss since July.  It will be interesting to see how they react.   (1:00 PM EST, ESPN)

RESULT:   3-3      NYRB’s Wright-Phillips will all three goals for his side

Image result for old letter B funny

 

 

Number B – young, vibrant, not retiring anytime soon

  1. Santos vs. Leon – Liga MX

Another for which the standings might’ve changed by match time.  Right now, Santos are in a four-way tie for 5th, Leon in a tie for 12th.  They’re about equally-skilled defensively.  Leon short on offense, though, and that puts them in a bad way on the road today.   (5:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Santos   3-0

  1. Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Burnley – English Premier League

The two EPL matches today each feature a winless team.   Noob’s going with this one for two reasons.

#12 Wolverhampton were just Promoted this year, and it’s fun to see how those clubs hold up.  WW are staying well above the cutline early, .500 record.   However, they’re doing it with small ball.  They pack it in on defense in lieu of trying to score much themselves.   It might work to keep them in the PL another season, but no more than that.

Burnley finished 7th last season, getting the league’s last qualify spot for Europa League.  And they did it playing small ball themselves.  So what does Noob know.

This season, they’re still not scoring, but on favor of more than mediocre defense.   Noob’s got a feeling we’ll be seeing Burnley on some Relegation Monday editions of the Track.   (8:30 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Wolverhampton   1-0

Image result for Burnley funny

 

 

 

Perhaps Noob is being premature.

  1. Diriangen vs. Managua – Nicaragua Primera

Noob’s enhanced focus on CONCACAFfeination continues!   it’s not a ton of info to start, but we’re going to get some familiarity .

Last year’s #B and #1.   it’s very early in their new season, but Managua are at it again – undefeated.  Diriangen are in 4th, scuffling on the defensive side.

RESULT:   Diriangen   1-0

  1. Derry City vs. Cobh Ramblers – League of Ireland Cup

Noob’s impression is that this is a secondary tournament in prestige to the FAI Cup.  Still, when Noob sees a Final, it’s on!

Derry City are a midtable team from the Irish Premier.  Cobh are actually below average in the second division.   Let’s see that shiny trophy.

RESULT:   Derry   3-1    Hail to the victors!

Image result for funny soccer trophy

 

 

Noob doesn’t think so.

But here’s to hoping!

  1. Midtjylland vs. Copenhagen – Denmark Super Liga

Last season, Copenhagen finished 4th and had to win a playoff match for the league’s last entry into the Europa League.  This season – 1st, so far.  Midtjylland are the defending champions, #B right now.

It’s early, but GD is indicating these two might both create some real separation between them and the rest of the pack.

RESULT:   Midtj   3-1

  1. Norrkoping vs. AIK – Sweden Allsvenskanliga

It’s probably too late for #4 Norrkoping to make a run at the league title, 20 matches into the season.   But they’re only a point out of 3rd, which would get them into the next Europa League at least.

Noob thinks they’ve overachieved, will fall badly to #1 and defending champs AIK.  The league leaders only give up a goal every other match on average.  Champions League-bound.

RESULT:   Norrk   2-0

Image result for don't google this warning

 

1)  “Sweden” and “bound” as part of any search parameters.

Terrifying.

  1. Once Caldas vs. Atletico Junior – Colombia Primera A

These two are #3 and #4, but things are very tight at the top in Colombia.   Statistically, both teams look like they belong.

Tolima and Equidad above them in the table are not club names that resonate with Noob.  Atletico Junior does, and they’ll find the cracks in O.C.’s defense, get a W today.   (6:15 PM, RCN Nuestra Tele)

RESULT:   O.C.   1-0

  1. Alianza Lima vs. Sporting Cristal – Peru Primera

Peru’s season is divided into three parts, unlike so in much of South America.  Cristal won the first two stages.  Alianza were forgettable during the Verano, but rose to #B in the Apertura.  The third, Clausura stage is barely begun.

The winner of each Stage qualifies for both national championship Playoffs (and the next Copa Libertadores), so Cristal is already in.  Not only that, but by winning two Stages, Cristal will get a bye into the Championship Final.

Alianza will have to win the Clausura to qualify.   The fourth team that will get in is the best non-winning team from all three Stages combined.  Alianza’s much too far down that aggregate table to get in that way.  Good luck to the, trying to even score on Cristal.  No one in Colombia ever does these days.

RESULT:      ppd

Image result for La Victoria District LimaSo long from La Victoria District, Lima, home of Alianza!

image of the Lord of the Miracles of La Victoria

’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

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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′

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So long from Borisov Stadium!