Isle of Sodor Premier League – Featured game for matchday 26 – A “Clasico” of their own

“El Clasico” is known to every football fan in the world.   Here on Sodor,  Image result for Sodor map there are big rivalries as well, and they tend to be intracity.   Welcome to Knapford, where things will get nasty on Sunday (2/15). (Well, as nasty as things get on Isle.  Might see a slide tackle or two attempted!   Remember:  hard defense is considered here to be more than uncouth.)

For this year, they’ve settled on calling this the Yards-Sheds Classic.    Junction & Sheds have never been known as anything but.  Knapford Town changed from Knapford Yards FC when the FA came into being a year ago, wanting to differentiate themselves from the more purely blue-collar branding of J&S.

Knapford Town have had the better of things in league this season, just moved into 2nd place, five behind surprising league leaders Dryaw FCJunction & Sheds are in a tie for 8th.  Getting more than a couple positions higher will be hard for them, as the top few have some space in the table between them and the pack now.

How do the teams play?   Their League campaigns have pretty much reflected their FA Cup runs from this summer.

Image result for KTFC crestDuring the inaugural FA Cup of summer 2018, Knapford Town tended to win but lose close.  They made the Round of 16 before falling in the penalty shootout to E.C.D. (East Coast Diesel) of Vicarstown.

Junction & Sheds (#1 supporter Alexi Lalas) advanced just as far.  They suffered the same fate in losing to eventual champion Brendam Harbor, going down at the shootout.    They scored tied for second in Group Stage scoring at 17 goals over the three matches, with just tiny shocker Cabalnoo getting more (18).

Image result for Junction FC crestWin lose or draw, J&S work hard to score and that’s about it.   (They   conceded 14 in that Group Stage.   No team plays the classic Sudric 5-5-good luck back there! formation quite as religiously as Sheds.

 

Their first meeting this year ended in a 5-5 draw.  Rumor has it that J&S will pull the goalie at select times and play a 6-5-void formation.   When it comes to offensive-mindedness, good luck outdoing the Sudrics generally.  KTFC can keep up with a lot of teams in a game like that, but probably not against J&S and they know it.  They’ll look to play things comparatively closer to the vest most of the match, then try running wild if it’s tied or close late.

’10 to Track’ Relegation Monday (1/14) matches – more Suckitude than you can handle or deserve!

Monday’s world league scheds are exceptionally light today.  So, before we dig into Matches of Suckitude – ones that feature teams about to get Relegated for their poor performances – we start with some match mini-previews of happier import.  Enjoy.

1. Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – English Premier League
  • UEFA league rank: #B
  • Table positions: #B, #11
  • Stakes: top 4 go to Champions League
  • Time of season: middle

The defending runaway champs can retake the league lead today with a win. They’ve reeled off four straight wins since a two-loss speed bump that allowed Liverpool to move into 1st. The last two of those were by a combined score of 16-0, though over non-Premier foes in Cup tournaments.

Wolves are in 11th, but would move into the top half of the 20-team table with a draw and jump to 8th or 7th with a win. How is a team that was just promoted doing so well? Money infusion from the Chinese conglomerate that bought them. (Thank you to the Bros Talking Soccer podcast guys for the answer to that one on their Slack.) They win with smallish ball – low scores for everyone. It’s not likely to work today…but “defense travels” is an axiom for a reason!

RESULT:   City   3-0

B. U.A.E. vs. Thailand – Asian Cup

The Group Stage of Asia’s national team championships is nearly done. The pods of four are playing just a single round robin, all matches in the host Emirates. The top two from each Group automatically advance to the next round. The four best third place finishers will also move on.

U.A.E. have already mathematically advanced. Thailand are tied with India for runners-up, but down to them on head-to-head tiebreaker. The AFC ranks homers U.A.E. #4 and Thailand #8 (FIFA ranks #79 and #118). But no matter – the Thais are so far the best of the third-place sides, are all but certain to advance as well.

RESULT:   1-1        The Thais advance as the Group runners-up!

Image result for letter B cartoon sword

 

 

Number B is back, and the quest to be rid of Number Two in lists is ON.

3. Newtown vs. St. Paul’s – St. Kitts and Nevis Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank: they don’t really do them
  • Table positions: #B, #3
  • Stakes: top 4 play for the title
  • Time of season: over 1/3 done

Two similar teams chasing Village Superstars for the trophy!

RESULT:   1-1

4 and 5.

Gotta be honest. It’s late here on Sodor where Noob is wintering. Gotta save time for continuing to put together the coming Isle of Sodor Premier League page.

So. The Coppa Italia (FA Cup is in its Round of 16. Also, there’s also a second division Portuguese league match you can Google up, should the Spirit move you.

And now, Matches of Suckitude!

6. Aris Thessaloniki vs. Lamia – Superleague Greece
  • UEFA league rank: #13
  • Table positions: #8, #14 (of 16)
  • Stakes: bottom 3 Relegated
  • Time of season: middle

Lamia are a fair bit better than the bottom two teams. They are one of three teams realistically trying to stay out of the last Relegation slot. That said, the fourth-to-last place team will play the 4th-place D2 team for the right to play Superleague next year. Lamia can’t score worth a darn, are likely to stay right where they are.

Noob doesn’t think they can even compete for a draw today. Thessaloniki score twice as much, are just as good on D.

RESULT:   Thess   1-0

Image result for Lamia football

 

 

 

Aaaaand stab yourself in the head.

7. Alki Oroklinis vs. AEL Limassol – Cyprus Premier
  • UEFA league rank: #18
  • Table positions: #9, #3 (of 12)
  • Stakes: bottom half do Relegation playoff
  • Time of season: middle

Worst offense and defense in the league. How A.O. are higher in the table than three clubs is beyond Noob. They’ll be doing well to keep this to a one-goal loss against the #3 side.

Fun Fact:   The team owner re-named the club after a fave of his that had just gone bankrupt and dissolved.   What the cuss?

RESULT:   AEL L   1-3

8. Hapoel Tel Aviv vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv – Israel Premier
  • UEFA league ranking: #27
  • Table positions: #12, #1 (of 14)
  • Stakes: bottom 8 do Relegation playoffs
  • Time of season: middle

Side note: This league has dropped a tied-for-worst nine notches in the European rankings this last year.

HTA aren’t likely to escape the Relegation playoffs at season’s end. Their small-ball ways aren’t working out. Ten draws in 17 matches have kept them from the table’s very bottom. And MTA are going to put up with none of their nonsense. Undefeated, best offense and defense in the league.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for hapoel tel aviv funny

 

We’re not taking you seriously with those stretches, HTA.

Get a Peloton for warmups.   Something.

9. Glacis United vs. Boca Juniors – Gibraltar Premier
  • UEFA league ranking:          #51
  • Table positions:                     #7, #9 (of 10)
  • Stakes:                                        last place gets Relegated
  • Time of season:                      middle

#51 of 55 leagues? Hey, it’s a rock with about the pop. of Ames, Iowa and they’re not #55. Noob’s actually more impressed that they even have a Second Division to which a team can be sent down.

The 9th-place finisher will have a playoff with the #B from the second tier. I’d say their offense is the worst thing ever, but last place-Lions only have two goals on the entire season to Juniors’ six. Truth be told, Glacis aren’t light years better, but at least they’re not giving up buckets of goals.

Fun Fact:   Argentinian Boca Juniors called and they’d like their name back.  Like, now.

RESULT:   Glacis   6-1

10. Red Star vs. Lens – Ligue 2, France
  • UEFA league ranking: n/a, second-tier league
  • Table positions: last, #5
  • Stakes: bottom 3 get Relegated
  • Time of season: middle

Two other league clubs are as poor on defense as Red Star, but those play a little to a lot more offense. Red Star might climb to 19th over no-goals Nancy, but won’t get higher.

Lens are well-enough balanced to stay in the top five and participate in the Promotion Playoffs later, if not so good as to be a threat to the top two and get automatically moved up.

RESULT:   1-0

Image result for saint-ouen flea market huge

 

So long from Saint-Ouen (greater Paris), home of Red Star FC.

HUGE flea market, but is super-“professional”.

’10 to Track’ returns — Relegation Monday! plus CONCACAF and other goodness

After a semi-farewell and long holiday break, Noob returns!     Twitter: @SoccernoobUSA

The plan remains to feature exclusive Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage here.  Soon!  I’m still wintering on Sodor, putting things together, even as the season is half-finished.   To get a feel, check out this site’s Page for last summer’s inaugural Isle of Sodor FA Cup.

But I’ve missed doing the near-daily Tracks, previewing the most important matches from the U.S., all CONCACAF, Premier League, continental Europe, and the world!

So for now, I’m bringing back Relegation Monday and Globetrotting Friday – the most unique content I provided.   So enjoy!   Today, several matches feature teams about to be Relegated, from “important” leagues to those far-flung.  Then there’s a few matches of happier  import.    Dig in.

1. Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Club Bilbao – Spain:  La Liga
  • UEFA League Rank:     #1
  • Table positions:            #14, #18 (of 20)
  • Clubs relegated:             3
  • Time of season:             middle

Noob’s return to at least Tracking on “Relegation Mondays” starts with a realistic upset chance! Athletic have only lost one of their last six matches. I’m not saying they’re storming the league and going to make a move on a midtable position, but only allowing one goal in their last four matches is a big step forward.

Celta Vigo, at home, should be favored. Their goal differential even indicates they may be worthy of a higher table slot. But they’ve not scored in two matches. Noob senses this is a bad matchup for them.

Fun Fact:    Bilbao are The Lions.  Their stadium was built near a church which was named for Saint Mammes, a Christian saint thrown to the lions.  He pacified them.  

So they named themselves after tamed animals?   Never mind from before.  You’re getting Relegated.

RESULT:   Athletic   1-2        The Lions climb to 17th place, above the Drop Zone for now

B. Moreirense vs. Aves – Portugal Primeira Liga
  • UEFA league rank:        #7
  • Table positions:             #7, #17 (of 18)
  • Clubs relegated:             3
  • Time of season:              middle

Aves have the worst defense in the league, and it’s not particularly close. That said, they’ve only allowed one goal in each of their last to matches, against excellent competition. They didn’t win either, though, and haven’t done so since late November.

Moreirense seem to be overcoming a dreadful start to their season when it comes to goal-scoring. They’ve won three of four matches running and scored multiple times in all of them.

RESULT:   Moreirense   1-0

Image result for letter B pumped up

 

 

The Quest for Number B to displace worn out Number 2 in lists is back on!

Clearly, the people want their Number B.

3. Ermis Aradippou vs. Enosis Paralimni – Cyprus First Division
  • UEFA League Rank:         #18
  • Table positions:                last, second-to-last
  • # of Clubs Relegated:      1
  • Time of Season:                 middle

One of Noob’s first ever Twitter (@SoccernoobUSA) followers is a Cypriot mother of two First Division players. This league will always have a little piece of my heart. Thankfully for Mom, her boys play for far better clubs than these sad sacks!

Aradippou have earned points in just three matches all season so far. They won their last match, but that was in their FA Cup. Against a Second Division club that is considered a “refugee team”. That haven’t played in their home city since the Turkish Invasion of 1974. Aradippou haven’t beaten a league foe since November.

Paralimni have earned draws in their last two league matches, lead Aradippou by five points in the table. Road wins may be tough to come by, but Noob wouldn’t be able to call this in upset even so. Both teams are just so lousy.

RESULT:   0-0          That seems more than fitting

4. Mont Bleu vs. Muungano – DR Congo First Division
  • CAF league rank:        #3
  • Table positions:         #12, last place of 16
  • Clubs Relegated:         3
  • Time of season:           uncertain

Last season, the Linafoot may only have been about 14 matches. This season, some clubs have already reached 15. The format also seems to have changed from three league divisions to one.

So what does Noob know? That Muungano have won just once and drawn not at all in their 11 outings. This is one of three teams that play far worse defense than everyone else. None of them look likely to climb out of the Drop Zone no matter when the season ends.

Mont Bleu are a bit better on both sides of the ball, though not nearly good enough threaten climbing to midtable.

RESULT:      ppd

Image result for OC Muungano

5. Ndanda vs. Ruvu Shooting – Tanzania Premier
  • CAF league rank:        #24
  • Table positions:         #17, #16 (of 20)
  • Clubs Relegated:         4
  • Time of season:           middle

Ndanda may be on the edge of daylight, but their goal differential is the worst in the league. If they had a strength, maybe they could climb. But they’re bottom-three in both O and D.

Still, a win today would move them above the Cutline (for the moment). Ruvu score a lot more, but sport the league’s worst defense for it. If Ndanda want to prove Noob wrong, this is a home must-win.

Fun Fact:  Ndanda’s Nangwanda Sijaona Stadium has a capacity of 15,000.

RESULT:   Ruvu   0-1

6. Muslim FC vs. Karachi Port Trust – Pakistan Premier
  • AFC league rank:       #46
  • Table positions:         #11, #13 (of either 14, 15 or 16)
  • Clubs relegated:         2, 3 or 4
  • Time of season:          very late

The number of league teams is higher now than when it last seemed to have played, in 2014-15. Assuming they’re still playing a double round robin, this season is on the verge of finishing. It started with either 15 or 16 teams. One or two of them aren’t playing for financial reasons. Bottom line is, just 14 appear to be actually playing and two of those will be Relegated.

And so, welcome to the worst-ranked league in Asia! Hey, they’re playing. Love football? Want to see it develop, improve everywhere. Noob’s got your back, Pak.

KPT and one other team are vying to stay in the country’s top flite. Baloch Nushki are playing, but have long since been mathematically cooked. And if it weren’t for Baloch Nushki, KPT would have the worst defense in the league.

Muslim are not much higher, yet appear safe in their position. They play small-ball, neither scoring nor conceding many goals at all. KPT won’t get one on them today, and they will go down a league.

RESULT:   Muslim   2-0

KPT FC Logo

 

 

We hardly knew ye

7. Rayo Majadahonda vs. Las Palmas – Spain’s Segunda Division
  • UEFA league rank:         n/a – second-tier league
  • Table positions:             #19, #11 (of 22)
  • Clubs relegated:             4
  • Time of season:              middle

Majadahonda are in a three-way tie for 18th through 20th in points in the table. But they’re one of the four worst in goal differential, simply must score more if they want to stay afloat. Try for at least a goal per game, fellas. It’ll work wonders.

Statistically, Las Palmas are perfectly average in every way. Yet strangely, they haven’t won a match since October, mostly achieving draws. High or low-scoring, doesn’t matter. They can’t seal the deal. Look for a 0-0 draw today, and contain your excitement, Noobites 😛

Fun Fact:   This is the highest Majadahonda have ever been in the Spanish football pyramid, having just been promoted this year.

RESULT:   0-0

Non-Relegation Matches of Treeemendous Consequence!

OK, might’ve oversold that.

8. Lille vs. Sochaux – Coupe de France

The French FA Cup is in it’s Round of 64. This is the only match for the event today. Lille is the current #B team in Ligue 1, while Sochaux are barely above the Relegation Line in Ligue 2. The only reason this match might not be a blowout for the home side is that Noob’s read this FA Cup is considered by clubs even less important than other top European leagues’ clubs consider theirs, which is so-so at most.

Here’s the link for the event. Hopefully your technology translates it for you readily.

RESULT:   Lille   1-0

9. Waterhouse vs. Cavalier – Jamaica Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:        don’t think they do them; #B  Caribbean maybe
  • Table positions:                       #B, #3
  • Stakes:                                          top 6- league playoffs bracket, top 2 get byes
  • more Stakes                               Top two will have option to play Caribbean Club                                                           Championship.
  • Time of season:                        2/3 through regular season

#1 Portmore and Waterhouse have the offense. Cavalier boasts the top D. Unfortunately for them, Waterhouse is almost as good in that regard. The home team today is probably the most talented in the league.

Even given the relative table positions, a Cavalier win should be considered an upset. But given that they were just promoted to top flite this season, they’re performing incredibly.

RESULT:   Cavalier   0-1         So be it – upset!     These two are now tied in the table on points.  Cavalier is still in 3rd on GD.

10. UNDEBA (Banda Abou) vs. Scherpenheuvel – Curacao Sekshon Paga
  • CONCACAF league rank:                gotta think it wouldn’t be high
  • Table positions:                               #3, #1
  • Stakes:                                                 top six make the playoff subdivision
  • more Stakes                                      at least one club will have option to play in                                                                      new second-tier 2020 Caribbean Club Shield
  • Time of season:                                very early

Welcome to the former Netherlands Antilles! The top at some point the top six will be moved into their own Championship Subdivision. It’s unclear to me if at some point the top four from that will have their own bracketed playoff not. But the season is just a few matches in, so there’s all kinds of time to figure it out.

Scherpenheuvel are undefeated, outscoring opponents 12-1 to date. Banda Abou’s GD is 18-9. Can’t think their lack of defense will serve them well over a full season, but that 3+ goals per game average sure is shiny.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for stoba goat papaya

 

 

Be inspired to find or make some stoba, a traditional stew from these parts.

And be bold!   Do the goat with the papaya.

’10 to Track’ Relegation Monday (12/3) — previews for Matches of Suckitude

Noob always endeavors to bring us the ten most important matches to follow as newish American fans of the global game.

Monday’s, that “importance” takes a different turn – Matches of Suckitude!    Most of today’s featured games include at least one club on the verge of getting Relegated from their league, kicked out for poor performance.

As always, let’s start with a few matches of happier import —

1. Guiseley vs. Fleetwood Town – English FA Cup

This is the Second Round Proper of the tournament. There are Rounds before these two “Proper” ones, qualifying rounds for teams from levels 5-10 of the English football pyramid. At the First Round proper, teams from the third and fourth pyramid levels entered the competition.

Just a few teams from Level 6 (and none lower) remain now. Those are considered Minnows – underdogs. Folks like to root for them to make surprising, deep runs in this event. Guiseley, from West Yorkshire) will take all the support they can garner. They were Relegated from the National League (level 5) last year after a last-place finish and they’re doing little better this year a level down. The defense is okay, but the offense is nearly non-existent.

Fleetwood are from the third tier, League One. They’re below average there. But they’re fully professional and so should be heavy favorites today.

RESULT:   Fleetwood   1-2

B. APOEL Nicosia vs. Apollon Limassol – Cyprus First Division

Surprise, the Cypriot league is in the top 20 in all UEFA! If they rise a few more spots, they may soon qualify multiple teams for UEFA Champions League.

Noob has a soft spot APOEL, as one of my earliest Twitter followers is a mom of one of their players.

They’re in 3rd. Much as Noob wishes it were otherwise, I suspect this league will eventually be a two-team race between Apollon (the best team in the league) and #1-for-the-moment AEL Limassol.

APOEL are only an even match at best for their guests today.

RESULT:   APOEL   5-1        Oh MY

Image result for soft letter B

 

 

Noob also has a soft spot for soft Number B.

3. Bhayangkara vs. PSM Makassar – Indonesia Liga 1

Noob can never be accused of not being a citizen of the world. #27 league in Asia? Sure! The season there is nearly done and the title is undecided. Just one team may even possibly qualify for the next AFC Champions League from here. The champ may also end up in the AFC Cup, a secondary tournament for teams from what the AFC considers “developing football nations”.

Only two matches remain for all clubs there, and Makassar trail Jakarta by two points in the table. No other team is close enough to possibly catch them.

Unfortunately for Makassar, Bhayangkara still have something to play for. They can still catch the #3 club, and that slot might qualify for an AFC Cup berth. Bhayangkara don’t have the defensive PSM do, but the score about the same. At home, Noob considers them a slight favorite.

RESULT:   0-0

And now, your Matches of Suckit000000000d —

4. Levante vs. Athletic Club – La Liga

Three clubs will get Relegated from Spain’s top league at season’s end. Currently, Athletic Club are 18th of 20 teams. They’d be even deeper in the hole with their just one win, but they’ve earned draws in a mind-boggling eight of their dozen other matches.

Levante are 11th, as average as it gets. At home, that should easily be good enough to beat Athletic Club. Though I guess a ninth draw might be in order for the guests today.   (3:00 PM Eastern, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   Levante   3-0

Image result for wearing lots of ties

 

 

Lots of ties, Noob gets it.

The tiny soul patch is the more troubling facet.

5. Nurnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Bundesliga

Germany’s is a another that gives three teams The Boot. Nurnberg is third-to-last, courtesy of not playing a goalie ever. Well, their stats make it look like that, anyway. Even so, they might have a coin-flip’s chance at a win at home today. #12 Leverkusen are better on both sides of the ball, but not by tons.

Fun Fact:    Nurnberg have been Relegated from Bundesliga eight times, most all-time.

RESULT:   1-1

6. Bubali vs. Estrella – Aruba Division di Honor

Aruba? Surely nothing could suck in that paradise. But they have Relegation even there. One team will be automatically sent down. We’re getting to know our CONCACAF brethren, even in states of Suckitude. Hallo, neighbors!

The next two in the table are pegged to participate in a Relegation Playoff. To be honest, Noob’s not sure if they play one another and the loser also goes down to Division Uno (second-tier league) or if they play teams from Division Uno for a chance to stay up.

Regardless, Bubali are in 9th of the ten teams. The season is just a few matches in there, but ti’s not too early to say that if they can’t up their scoring to better than one goal per, they’re going down. Estrella are in 4th, but don’t defend a ton. Still, they have the firepower to handle Bubali, even on the road.

RESULT:   Estrella   0-2

Image result for Bubali aruba

 

 

 

 

There’s Bubali on the western coast.

7. Tigre vs. Godoy Cruz – Argentina Premier

Tigre are in 19th of 28 teams. Not bad, if nowhere near good. Unfortunately for them, this league uses a three-year table for determining who goes down.

And Tigre were so awful the last two, there’s little they can do to save themselves from getting Dropped. They’re in last in that aggregate table, would have to jump three teams to stay up. Perhaps they might get a draw against 10th-place Godoy Cruz.   (3:10 PM, TyC Sports International)

Fun Fact:    Tigre made the Copa Sudamericana final in 2012, but refused to finish the match after falling behind 0-2 at the half (questionably citing “security concerns”).

RESULT:   GC   1-3

8. Yeni Malatyaspor vs. Akhisarspor – Turkey Super Lig

Y.M. just got Promoted to top flite this season, but it’s not them that’s Sucking. They’re in 7th. They’re parking the bus a little, not scoring or getting scored upon lots. It won’t get them higher in the table, but so far it’s easily keeping them afloat.

Akhisarspor are in third-to-last, and Turkey’s is yet another league that kicks three out annually. Their offense is almost average, but the defense is tied for worst.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for turkey floating

 

Floating turkey.

 

No apologies.

9. AGF Aarhus vs. Velje Boldklub – Denmark Superliga

The Danish top league divided into Championship and Relegation subgroups later in the season. Top six play for the title. These two aren’t going to be among those.

Aarhus are in 11th. They show enough of a spark on defense to give hope that they’ll ultimately survive, not actually be Relegated. Velje, on the other hand, are just plain awful. They don’t score even a goal per match on average, and not because they pack it in on D by any stretch.

Fun Fact:  Aarhus were founded in 1880, primarily focused on gymnastics and fencing.

RESULT:   Aarhus   2-1

10. Dibba Al-Fujairah vs. Al Ittihad Kalba – U.A.E. Pro-League

We finish our Track today in the #4 league in all Asia. That shiny ranking is no thanks whatsoever to DAF. They’re the mirror opposite of well-balanced, sporting both the second-worst offense and defense. Kalba are below-average, but should be favored by a goal even on the road against this lot.

RESULT:   Kalba   1-3

Image result for Dibba Al fujairah stadium

 

So long from Dibba Al Fujairah Stadium!

It doesn’t meet the Pro-League’s reqs though, so they play in nearby Fujairah City.

 

Extra Credit:   matches from the women’s EAFF E-1 tournament (East Asia), #3 Dynamo Kiev vs #11 Chornomorets Odessa – Ukrainian Premier, #8 Astra Giurgiu vs. #9 Botosani – Romania Liga I, #12 Opava vs #1 Slavia Prague – Czech First Division, #10 Enosis Paralimni vs #4 AEK Larnaca – Cyprus First Division.

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

The Midweek Track, where instead of ten matches each day, Noob teases out the same number over three days.  Ooh la LAH.

But what IS  Noob?    Noob is introducing the newish American fans of the global game to the leagues and tournaments of the world.  Local first, but ogling everywhere.

The Tracks are the backbone of the project.  Ten matches that can matter most for us.   More, Noob tells you the stakesWHY each match matters.  And I like to think sometimes that’s even new and fun for seasoned fans of the game.

And it’s Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs!    That madness lurks below (and after that, previous days’ match results.

Thursday

10. FC Goa vs. Bengalaru – India Super League

We finish the Midweek Track in a country with two “top-flite” leagues. (The other is the I-League.) ISL is similar to America’s Major League Soccer in that it is not part of a promotion/relegation system. (The I-League is.) Like MLS, it is run on more of a franchise-system. This is just the league’s fifth season, and it only received formal recognition by the Asian Football Confederation last season.

The AFC ranks “India club competitions” as #14. Noob’s not certain yet if that is a reference to both India’s leagues or just I-League, and so I am uncertain of the quality of this particular league. But this is Noob and this is part of what we do, learning the game from all over, and learning is a process.

Goa are currently #1 this young season, but they’ve played two more matches than #B Bengalaru. It’s the latter who are undefeated so far.   Just like last year this is a clash of styles. Bengalaru can do it all, but lean more on defense. Goa don’t seem to believe in defense even a little, but score seemingly at will.

RESULT:   Bengalaru   1-2          High drama in the battle for first!      The visitors led 0-1.   Then Mohamed Ali (yep) got yellows at 36′ and 47′ to get redded out.  Then Bengalaru had a player get a straight red at 59′.  

Equalizer for Goa at 72′, but Bengalru gets the decider at 77′.

And since the Midweek was frontloaded on matches, let’s flesh things out here on the back end, indulge in yet another —

NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!

Indeed, it’s time for the Noob to give his take on another sammich.  Because if there’s one thing Noob’s two target niche audiences want more than the footyball goodness here, it’s… whatever the cuss this has been.

But this time, s**t’s about to get real —

Image result for steak and cheese subway sandwich sunflower bread

Yup, Noober’s taking on a brand name.   This is Subway’s new Chipotle Steak and Cheese on Sunflower Crunch Bread.

Full disclosure:  Noob ordered steak, sans cheese and chipotle.  I added spinach, black olives, tomatoes, and a little lite mayo.  And I didn’t get it toasted.  Repeat.  I DECLINED THE TOASTEDNESS.  Some of what’s to follow is on me.

The vegetable-condiment combination is a standard for me and was not problematic here.  But the steak had no flavor.   Not bland flavor.  -None-.  It was like chewing water as far as taste.  Noob’s never experienced the like.  I thought perhaps I was having a stroke.

Subway — don’t make sammiches that make someone think he’s having a damn stroke.

And this was nowhere near the greater sin of this sandwich.

Sunflower Crusted Bread – mmmmmm…thanks for coming up with something a quarter-notch better than pencil shavings for to put in my mouth.

It looks like wet bird seed.  Well, it might literally be wet bird seed.   Crunch?   Zero.   Bitter taste.  While a little of that can be an interesting foil to another primary flavor, remember:  nil-flavor steak.

As added punishment, Noob was on the road and got this to go.   That meant wet bird seed ALL over my car.   Like need-to-have-it-detailed all over.   No cohesion between the bird seed and bread.

In a nutshell, sadness reigned.  Again, toasting — would this have married the bird seed and bread more closely?  Noob’s no culinary-physics expert.   Still learning soccer, dang it.  Would toasting have given a hint of flavor to the steak?   Hard to say.

Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs run on a 0-5 Sammich scale.  I give this sandwich 1 1/2 sammiches.

The vegetables and lite mayo couldn’t save this atrocity.  While I could credit myself there, I’m calling it a wash for my critical non-toasting error in judgement.

Thank you reading Noob Sandwich Reviewoob.  Join the…again, whatever this is by commenting here on the site.  Or find me at SoccerNoobUSA on Twittter.

Wednesday

9. Flamengo vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

Just one match for your Wednesday Track portion. It comes from South America’s top league, and things are heating up there.

With three league matches to go each, #B Flamengo and #4 Gremio have assured themselves of at least top-six finishes. That means they’ve qualified for next years Copa Libertadores – South America’s version of Champions League.

Neither is guaranteed a top four finish yet, though. Ending the season that high means entering the CL right at the Group Stage, not having to play any prior qualifying stages. More, Flamengo still have a realistic – if not probable – shot at the league title. They trail Palmeiras by five points in the table.

Flamengo have beaten a couple of also-rans 1-0 their last two outings. Before that, they hadn’t won in three matches. Gremio haven’t lost in four matches.

To look at the season-long stats, Gremio haven’t had the offense to quite compete for the trophy. But if recent trends for these two continue, this will be a tactical, low-scoring affair.   (6:45 PM, Rede Globe TV International, Premiere Futbol Clube)

RESULT:   Flamego   2-0

Tuesday

1. Italy vs. U.S.A. – friendly

The U.S. surely didn’t look like world-beaters when they lost 3-0 in England a few days ago. Their European tour continues now in Italy. The teams are ranked #19 and #23, respectively, by FIFA.

Italy have been playing in the UEFA Nations League. They have finished #B in their Group and not qualify for the Playoffs there.

After missing out on the World Cup, neither side has been doing a lot of winning, as they retool rosters with younger players. It’s all part of getting ready for future international competitions and even the next World Cup cycle.

A key matchup to watch will likely be in the midfield between New York Red Bull Tyler Adams and Jorginho of Chelsea.

Jorginho is a pass-happy fah-reeak, and clearly a talented one to be playing for a top club in the Premier League in England. Adams didn’t play in the U.S.’ last friendly, getting some rest after an MLS playoff match.

RESULT:   Italy   1-0            Minor note:  turns our the game was held in Genk, Belgium.     Major note:   This score could’ve been soooooo much worse.    U.S. were awful, only holding possession about a quarter of the match.

Image result for too American funny

 

Beers and eagle heads and American flag-beachwear.

Here we come, Italy!

B. Argentina vs. Mexico – friendly

If this match rings a bell, it’s because it should. The two faced off in Argentina just three days ago, with the home side taking the match 2-0.

Mexico made the World Cup quarterfinals, but have had little success in friendlies since then. Argentina also made the WC quarters, but they’ve only lost once since then. The two are ranked #12 and #16 by FIFA.

RESULT:   Argentina   2-0       Mexico actually looked pretty solid on may stat lines

3. Sweden vs. Russia – UEFA Nations League

Once again, here’s a link to Noob’s ‘Explainer’ of what this event is:

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

This is a League B matchup. Russia lead the Swedes by three in points and in goal differential. That means Sweden needs a big, big win in this last match to overtake the Russians.

They carry FIFA-rankings of #17 and #41. Given that the Russian Premier League is rated well in the top-10 of Europe, Noob was surprised to find their MNT rank so comparatively low. But these things don’t always corelate.

RESULT:   Sweden   2-0          And that is just enough – the Swedes advance!

4. Scotland vs. Israel – UEFA Nations League

These League C combatants are tied for the lead in their Group. Last match and winner takes all. Scotland only need a draw to advance, as they hold the GD tiebreaker.

It will be interesting to see how the Scots play this. Their success has been just as much on offense as their D, yet given the situation, playing for a low-scoring draw is certainly defensible.

RESULT:   Scotland   3-2          Three goals for Celtic club member James Forrest as the Scots move on!

Image result for Scottish Jew

 

 

Um, what?   Why?….No…

5. Montenegro vs. Romania – UEFA Nations League

This is another league C matchup. Unlike the previous Groups – including the one in Match #4 above, this Group has four teams.

In truth, this match only matters at all if last-place Lithuania somehow beats or draws with Group leader Serbia. At Serbia. Unlikely.

Serbia lead Montenegro by two points in the table and their tied on GD. So here’s the breakdown: Romania have to win today to have any shot at 1st. If that happens and Serbia merely draw with (or lose to) Lithuania, Romania wins.

Montenegro and Romania are ranked #39 and #26 worldwide. Noob figures this to be a tossup since it’s in Monenegro.

RESULT:    Romania   0-1       Did their part…

6. Kosovo vs. Azerbaijan – UEFA Nations League

Here in League D, all the Groups have four teams. But in this Group, only two are in play for 1st. Kosovo lead Azerbaijan by two heading into this last match. So a win for the visitors and they win the group. Any other result and Kosovo advances to the Playoffs.

This Group has been a bit of a surprise. Faroe Islands came in with the nest FIFA ranking, the only one in the top 100. And Azerbaijan are 30 notches higher than Kosovo.

RESULT:   Kosovo   4-0       …but it’s Kosovo in a rout, so on the playoffs for them!

Image result for Faroe Islands sad

 

 

 

Faroe Islands realty – a wee bit Hobbit-y?

7. Curacao vs. Guadeloupe – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Scroll on up to yesterday’s post if you need a small refresher on what’s going on, at stake with this tournament.

Curacao have one their first two matches by a combined score of 15-0. That’s good for 5th place, and looks even better when you recognize most teams around them have already played three of their four games.

Guadeloupe are in 16th after their first to matches. Based on where these two rank in CONCACAF (not FIFA, as not a member, being a French territory), one might’ve expected their places to be turned around. But that’s part of the fun of this tournament. Four matches are all each of the 34 participating teams get, so there’s a lot of volatility.

RESULT:   Curacao   6-0       wowzerz       (also, this match may have been played yesterday)

8. Billericay vs. Chesterfield – England FA Cup

The “qualifying” stages done. Between teams advanced through those q-rounds and ones just now entering the tournament, there will have been 32 playing here in the First Round Proper.

Most of the 1RP matches are already done. It’s a Knockout event, meaning that they just play one game, host decided by random draw. But if the match ends in a draw, they have a Replay. This time, it’s at the other team’s place though. That’s how we get to this featured match. These two tied 1-1 in their first try.

Billericay are from the sixth level of the English football pyramid, making them very much a Minnow – an underdog. Looking for Minnows that make deep runs in the whole event is part of the fun of following this. They’re from Essex, and play out of the Ishthmian League’s premier division, to which they were just promoted this year. And they’re #B in their current league, meaning they have a very good chance to get Promoted once again!

Chesterfield play one league up, the National League. They’re not having a very good season there. In fact, if they do much worse, they might get sent down. These two may essentially end up switching places.

Noob thinks Billericay still isn’t quite an even match today at home, but wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re able to get another draw after 90′. If that happens, this time there will be no more Replays. They’ll play extra time, go to penalty kicks if need be, decide who advances today.

RESULT:   Chesterfield   1-3

Billericay Town F.C. Logo.png

Thursday

coming soon!

’10 to Track’ Sunday (11/18) 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’ Sunday (11/11) soccer matches – MLS playoffs lead the way

Don’t forget to check back on any Track’s matches later for results!

Also, the newest of Noobites may always check the Vocab page to the right on the main page.

  1. New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew – Major League Soccer

After leading the field most of the regular season, Atlanta United slipped late and lost the Supporters Shield to NYRB.  That means Red Bulls had the most points in the standings of any team in the league.  And in most leagues in the world, that club would be the champions for the season.

But in Amuricuh, we do Playoffs!  They’ve reached the Conference Semifinals, the second round.  Here (and next round), the opponents face off in two-legged, home and away ties.  The East’s #5 seed, Columbus, won their home match 1-0.

Red Bulls scored nearly half again as much than the Crew throughout the season.  It’s hard to imagine them being held done a second match in a row, especially in the Big Apple.

New York’s last seven goals have all been scored by different players.  Noob thinks early-season leader Brandon Wright-Phillips will reemerge.  But all the momentum belongs to the visitors.  Columbus haven’t lost to Red Bulls in their last four matches.   (7:30 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   NYRB   3-0      On to the Conference Finals for Red Bulls!   Daniel Royer with two goals and an assist.

B.  Manchester City vs. Manchester United – English Premier League

Derby time!

After a dreadful start to the season, Man Utd are perhaps finally snapping out of their funk.  They’ve climbed into 8th place, won three matches in a row across all competitions, including a massive Champions League victory over Juventus.  All have been 2-1 or 1-2 wins.

Meanwhile, Man City just jeeps trucking along, undefeated in league.   Over the course of their six-match win streak, they’ve outscored opponents by a staggering 23-1 margin.  It’s hard to believe they only lead the next three clubs by two points each in the table.   (11:30 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man City   3-1       Bernado Silva with a goal and an assist

Image result for alphabet race

 

 

 

Now THAT’S a derby.

Number B, victor!

  1. Santos vs. CF America – Liga MX

With two matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season), these two have already guaranteed themselves top half-finishes.  That means they’ll play in the Liguilla (postseason tournament) no matter what.

But seeding matters a lot.  They trail #1 Cruz Azul by five and four points in the table, respectively.  In all likelihood, they’re fighting for the runners-up position.

CF America’s defense is the tale today.  They’ve ratcheted that up a notch their last three matches, allowing just one goal over that span.  They’re a regular league powerhouse.  Noob thinks they get the road upset today and will win the Liguilla no matter what seed they go in with.   (7:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

  1. AC Milan vs. Juventus – Serie A

Remember that Champions League loss Juventus took to Manchester City?  Well, no one’s managed that in Serie A all season.  They’re second-best in Italy on both sides of the ball, three points up on Napoli, and likely to win on the road today.

Milan are tied for 5th and just don’t have the backline to withstand Cristiano Ronaldo & Co.   (2:30 PM, Rai Italia)

RESULT:   Juve   0-2

Image result for cristiano ronaldo funny

 

 

Artist thought Ronaldo had taken one too many headers.

  1. Sevilla vs. Espanyol – La Liga

Espanyol are the city of Barcelona’s “other team”.  Barcelona-the club are still #1 in the league, but their little sisters are on the rise!

Last year they finished just 11th, but now they sit in 3rd place.  Their success comes on defense, though they’re not completely deficient when it comes of scoring.  That’s where they look a little stronger this year.

Sevilla are just one notch back in the table.  They’re high-end scoring comes at the expense of giving up too many goals to perhaps compete with Barcelona for the title.  At home, however, they’re not likely to have trouble with upstarts Espanyol.  It’s a bad matchup for today’s guests.   (12:30 PM, beIN Sports en Español)

RESULT:   Sevilla   2-1      Ever Banega with two assits

  1. Vicarstown vs. Crovan’s Gate – Isle of Sodor Premier

Crovan’s Gate made the Semifinals of the first-ever IoS FA Cup this summer.  As the three Divisions were being planned for this inaugural PL season, The Gate were slated for the second tier.  More, it was thought they wouldn’t even be in the top half of clubs there!  But play on the Isle, historically, has been loosely organized at best.

The new FA knew it might be tough to really gauge relative club strengths, regardless of town or village sizes.  To their credit, they decided to place all the Quarterfinalists in Premier level to start out.

In typical Sudric fashion, neither team plays a ton of D.    Bigger Vicarstown comes in the favorites today.   But there’s a reason British betting houses haven’t started offering lines on Sodor matches.  There’s just no league history and performance for them (or us) to go off of.

RESULT:   4-4        

 

  1. Arsenal vs. Moulien – Guadeloupe Division d’Honneur

Noob’s quest to get to know all our CONCACAF neighbors a little better rolls on!  The “other Arsenal” are #1, Moulien #B.  Amical Club are just behind them and all three are undefeated after six league matches.   It’s too early to know much, but worth pointing out that Arsenal have only beaten Moulien once in their last six matches.

The top two finishers will qualify for the Caribbean Club Championships.  That, in turn, is a qualifying event for CONCACAF Champions League.

  1. Nacional vs. Peñarol – Uruguay Premier

The Final!

Uruguay’s season is divided into two main stages, just like much of Latin America.  These two each won one of those.  They won 26 matches each, with Peñarol scoring all of one more point on the whole year.  Both teams call Montevideo home.  This is where today’s one off Final is being played, though not on either club’s home pitch.

The second half of the year, Peñarol started to really flex, becoming the best team on both sides of the ball.  No reason to think that won’t make them the favorite on a neutral grounds.   (2:30 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   Peñarol   1-2        Congrats to the national champs!    Cristiano Rodriguez with the go-ahead goal via penalty in AET.

Image result for so many letter U

 

 

 

Sooo many U’s…

  1. NK Lokomotiva vs. Dinamo Zagreb – Croatia First Division

Statistically, the teams look nearly identical.  but it’s Zagreb who are still undefeated with close to half the season in the books.

It’s not exactly must-win for Lokomotiva, but if they drop this home match, they’re then eight behind Zagreb.  That’s a lot for any team to make up in a half season in any league.  Either team can score in bunches, but defense is where both really set themselves apart.

Croatia’s top flight is ranked #16 by UEFA.  Were they just one spot higher, the league would qualify two teams into the Champions league.  As is, just one.

RESULT:   Dinamo   0-1

  1. Suduva vs. Zalgiris Vilnius – Lithuania A Lyga

We finish our Track much farther down the European league rankings.  But it’s still a #1-#B matchup, no matter the Lyga is just #41 in UEFA.

There is no competition there for these two.  Suduva lead everyone’s favorite Superman movie villain-sounding club by five points in the table with the season winding down.  The next best team is two dozen points farther back.

Unlike Croatia’s best, these two are much more offensively-minded.  Both average more than two goals per game, so a shootout looks to be in store.

RESULT:   Z.V.   1-2          Domantas Simkus with the game-winner at 90′

 

 

So long from Marijampole, home of club Suduva!

 

The Millennia Monument

’10 to Track’ Saturday (11/10) soccer matches – Champions Leagues, give us more!

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

Quirkly little slogan for the Track, the backbone feature of this project.  What does it mean, what is Noob?

The goal is to give starter-level preview several times a week on the most important matches for newer fans to follow.   Nothing taxing, yet informative on what’s going on in America, North America, England and beyond.  Local first, never local only.

And it’s all done with hopefully enough weirdness to bring something to even more seasoned fans.  The Quest for Number B.  Sandwich Reviewoobs.  Scorning “real” named teams that aren’t deserving.  Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage.  Hopefully soon a Stolen Mailbag feature soon.

Saturdays are a little less weirdness, a little more footyball.  Dig in!

  1. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate – Copa Libertadores

South America’s Champions League has reached its Final!   This is the first match of the two-legged, home and away tie.  Not that either will be travelling far.  Both are based in Buenos Aires.

This is one of the fiercest rivalries in sports anywhere in the world.  The fact that the teams are only in 8th and 10th, respectively, in the Argentine Premier so far means nothing here and now.  These are two historical powers in the country and on the continent.

They’re only about ten matches into the league season.  River Plate will climb.  The offense might not be quite everything it could be, but the defense is #1 in the league.  Juniors have gone the other way so far – top four-offense, struggling on D.

Two quick Fun Facts about this matchup.  A year ago, it couldn’t have even happened as a Final.  Previously, if two teams from the same country reached the Semis, they had to face one another.  The goal was to try and ensure the Finals were a multi-nation affair, help the ratings.  That rule was just removed.

Also, both teams were formed in Boca, the same barrio of Buenos Aires.  River Plate are now based in Belgrano, a northern barrio.   (3:00 PM EST, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:     suspended due to rain; now slated for 2:00 PM EST tomorrow on Deportes

B.  Persepolis vs. Kashima Antlers – AFC Champions League Final

Another Final!   And this time, the trophy’s being handed out.  Japan’s 2016-17 J1 League runners-up Kashima won the first leg 0-2.

Today, they try and finish things off against the defending Iranian domestic league champions.  By Elo rating, Kashima is the better team.  But the difference is small enough that Persepolis should be considered the favorite at home.   But by two goals?  Not likely.

RESULT:   0-0      Kudos to the champs!  Kashima takes the title

  1. Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier League

Three clubs remain undefeated in England.  Hotspur is not one of them, but rather right behind them in 4th.   If they can maintain a position at least that high in the table, they’ll qualify for next year’s Champions League.   Palace are down in 14th.

They’re on a three-match win streak across all competitions, but haven’t kept a clean sheet in five.  That’s rather the opposite of their league season to date.   The defense has been quite solid, but the offense isn’t what the truer title contenders have shown.

Tenured Noobites know how Noob feels about Hotspur.  The club is named for historical multi-king traitor Harry Percy.  Rather than spew my usual bile and vitriol over this fact, I’ll use this as an opportunity to preview a hopefully-upcoming feature.  Noob is working on an interview with Will Rivard, creator of website Tottenham Hotspur World (Twitter: @WorldHotspur).

I hope it will be a chance at a slightly deeper dive than Noob gives for individual clubs, the sort of site to which newer fans graduate from Noob.  Perhaps a little club history, news on the current state of the team and where it’s headed, maybe even an explanation on why it’s named for such a cretinous yahoo as Harry “Hotspur” Percy.

Whoops.  I said no bile and vitriol.  Just look for it soon, Noobites.   It should be a treat.

RESULT:   Hotspur   1-0

Image result for sir topham hatt

 

 

Wow, Sir Topham Hatt looks something other than cross for once!

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Puebla – Liga MX

Two matches left for these two in the Apertura (first half-season).  The top half of the league (eight clubs) will qualify for the Liguilla (postseason tournament).

Puebla are in 11th place.  They’re just three points behind 8th-place Pachuca.  Still, they likely need to win both they’re remaining matches to leapfrog the necessary clubs and climb three steps in the table.  Trouble is, they’ve allowed 2+ goals in seven consecutive matches.  They’ve been bottom-four defensively to date.

Tigres are in 7th.  They just broke a three-match non-winning streak with a road W over midtable Morelia.  Before that clean sheet, they’d allowed 11 goals over their last four matches.   (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Tigres   6-1

  1. Metropolitan Police vs. Newport County – England FA Cup

Yesterday, Noob featured a Minnow Watch and here we get another!   This is the first round of the “Competition Proper”, where teams as high as the third-tier of English football enter the tournament.  Previously, teams from the lower divisions have been battling to get to this point.

Metropolitan Police are one of three seventh-tier teams to have survived those qualifying rounds.  They are out of the Southern League Premier Division South, based in Surrey.  They’re just midtable there, and playing dreadful defense.

Newport Town come calling today, from level four of the English football pyramid.  They’re tied for 5th in League Two, though it’s hard to see how.  They make their host’s defense look divine.

Too just look at stats in their respective leagues, this could be a shootout.  Or given the gap in pyramid level, Newport may just come in and crush them.

RESULT:   Newport   0-2

SmallMetPolicelogo.png

 

 

Higher-league teams could take a lesson from the fine crest-work.

  1. FC Porto vs. Braga – Portugual Primeira Liga

Braga are the lone undefeated team remaining here in UEFA’s #7-ranked league.  Tied with them – FC Porto.   Both lead the rest of the league on both offense and defense.  Top two finishers make the Champions League next year.

A draw would leave both vulnerable to fellow powerhouse Sporting CP just behind.  A win for either gives them a real leg up in the title race, even here early in the season.

RESULT:   Porto   1-0

  1. Connah’s Quay vs. Barry Town – Welsh Premier

The Welsh top flite may be one of Europe’s weakest, but Noob’s always down for more tied-for-1st place action!

Connah’s Quay is no surprise.  They finished 3rd last year, about as low as Noob’s seen in my brief time closely following the footsball.

Barry Town?  Yeah, they were in 7th last year.  They’ve won seven of eight matches running, though every win but one by a single goal.  Soccer may not be a high-scoring affair typically, but that’s unusual even in this sport.  They’re not strong enough up front to keep this up all season long, will drop to midtable.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Audax Italiano vs. Palestino – Copa Chile

What an odd Final.  With a Copa Libertadores berth going to the FA Cup winner, one would think the best teams would be getting here.  Audax and Palestino are well down the Premier League table in Chile, 11th and 13th, respectively.

Heck, Palestino is only two spots clear of the Relegation Zone!   Noob wonders if a team has ever qualified for the CL and been Demoted in the same season.

This is the first leg of the two-legged, home and away Final.  Between the higher table position and actually having a positive goal differential, Noob supposed Audax has to be the favorite.

RESULT:   Palestino   0-1

Image result for odd chili

 

Mediterranean Chickpea Chili

C’mon, that’s odd chili.

*sigh*  Who’s running images here with Dan the Intern-o Inferno gone?

  1. Zrinjski Mostar vs. FK Sarajevo – Bosnia and Herzegovina Premier

We return to Europe for a #B-#1 matchup.  The league is only ranked #40 (of 55) by UEFA, yet that only rachets up the drama.  Only one club can earn a Champions League invite.

Sarajevo made a late push to finish even 3rd last season.  Now, they lead the pack by five points.  They’ve averaged over two goals per match, which is astounding.  More so, because they’re among the league leaders at goal-stopping, too.

This isn’t must-win for Mostar, as the season is only halfway done.  Yet falling behind by eight points should they take the L at home today would have them in a bad way.  They’re the #B offense in the league, but by a lot.  It will be curious to see if they try pushing the pace at home, or take some of the air out of the ball.  Noob thinks if they make the game wide-open, they’re going to go down.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Newcastle Jets vs. Sydney FC – Australia A-League

We finish the Saturday track down under in a top-ten Asian League.   Yes, Noob knows they’re their own continent.  They left the OFC for the AFC some years ago.

The season is so young Down under that we’re better served looking at last year’s table.  it was a weird one.  Sydney FC blew everyone out.  Even so, Newcastle had no close competition for runners-up position.

Three matches in this year, Sydney have yet to lose.  Newcastle sits in dead last.  They’ve only scored twice.  Maybe they should try wresting Usain Bolt away from Central Coast Mariners since he hasn’t yet completed a contract with them.   (Yes, that Usain Bolt.  He’s been training with CCM for a while now.)

RESULT:   1-1            Jets’ Nicholas Cowburn equalizes at 87′

Image result for Electrofringe newcastleSo long from Newcastle!

Home of Electrofringe, part of the annual This Is Not Art festival.

experimental electronic and technologically-based art

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – MLS, oodles of CONCACAF lead your Wednesday

Midweek time – that means ten matches over three days instead of ten each.

What can Noob say?   There are just so many hours in the day, and we’re expanding, adding great new features soon!

We’ve already added “Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs”.   Scroll back a couple of Tracks to see the first installment.

Also, Noob is slated to appear on the Bros Talking Soccer podcast Sunday.  We’ll keep you posted on when it’s available on the various platforms.   And no, despite being Twitter-familiar with one another, Noob’s is not sure the Bros know what they’re getting into.  It may go very “normally”.  It may be very “Noob”.   God help us either way.

Finally, Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage will begin this weekend!

Noob hasn’t negotiated exclusive rights or anything.  But no one else is covering it, so we WILL.     Noob covered their inaugural FA Cup which ended a couple months ago.  Thought someone more mainstream would grab the baton and cover IoSPL.  Nope.

So Noob’s packing his bags, ready to split some time between here and some of my fave B&B’s and such on Sodor.  It’s going to be….well, it’s going to be content.  Yay!

(Tuesday and Wednesday matches and results follow further down.)

Thursday

No real preview work today.   Real Salt Lake plays for Playoff seeding against eliminated-New England.   Remember, Noobites:  Real Salt Lake means “royal” and we carry no truck with monarchy on our soil.  None!

Wednesday

  1. D.C. United vs. Toronto FC – Major League Soccer

Not only did D.C. do it – climbing back from the Eastern Division basement, but they’ve climbed into a playoff spot (6th place) with three matches to go.  His massive price tag aside, anyone who thought it wouldn’t be worthwhile to get former all-time European great Wayne Rooney was mistaken.

This all said, there are those three matches to go.  They could climb one more spot up the table, but they could get passed by Montreal (just one point back).

How does their schedule compare with Montreal’s?  Defending champs Toronto FC and their last regular season opponents Chicago fire are bad and worse.  Sandwiched in between they’ll host much tougher (#3) NYCFC.  Montreal play Toronto and newly-eliminated from contention New England.  So Noob thinks the difference may come down to can D.C. get at least a home draw against NYCFC.

I’ve only started learning all but the biggest stars’ names here the second half of the season.  If you’re a tenured Noobite, you’ll know Rooney’s right-hand man is Luciano Acosta.   But look for impact from Russell Canouse, a young midfielder who got the only goal their last outing – a massive win over the West’s #1 FC Dallas.  He was rewarded with a slot on the MLS Team of the Week.  Which I hadn’t known was a thing.  Learningess!   (7:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   1-0   D.C. Utd.          Who else by Mr. Worth-Every-Pound Wayne Rooney

Image result for russell canouse

 

 

A ball, for Noob?  Thanks, Russ!

(Now where are Rooney and Lucky Acosta… get some serious signatures up in here.)

 

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

Actually, but virtue of making this Final, these two have now already qualified for next tear’s WC.  Congrats, gals!   Not that they or anyone are surprised.  They’re ranked #5 and #1 the world.  Only Canadia even allowed a single goal to be scored against them.

Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, Drunk-Disney Alex Morgan — we know the USWNT team some.  So here’s a shoutout to Canadia’s Christine Sinclair.   She’s a veteran, still a superstar, and trails retired U.S. player Abby Wambach by seven for all-time most international goals scored.  That’s men’s or women’s side.

She won’t get seven today.  Canadia may not score here in Frisco (greater Dallas) today.  But her presence gives them a real chance.  Noob still favors the Americans by two, but we could finally see both teams get their first competitive match in a while.   (8:00 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-2         Hail to the victors!

  1. Panama vs. Jamaica – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

This match still matters in terms of WC entry.  The winner gets in, the loser gets absolutely none fruit cup.  None at all!  Friscoans (Friscites?) will deny them at all opportunities before the loser goes home.

They’re tanked #62 and #64.  Whichever wins, it’s that team’s first ever time making World Cup.  High drama!   (5:00 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   Jamaica   2-2  /  2-4  PK

Image result for soccer drama

 

 

Real board game.   

Noob just up started the ol’ Christmas list.

  1. Canadia vs. Dominica – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Double-dip Noob Canadiaian!

All the men’s teams in CONCACAF playing actually “qualify” for Nations League next year.   But the top ten finishers will make the next Gold Cup.  Those are our region’s championships.  There, they’ll join the six teams that made the final six for World Cup qualifying last year.

Canadia should be there.  They’re ranked #7 in all CONCACAF (if only 79th in the world), trailing only #6 Jamaica in terms of teams that have to play this event to make said Gold Cup.

Dominica are in the bottom half of CONCACAF, ranked #177 by FIFA.  In their first match, they got a draw against higher-ranked Suriname.

Noob is so torn!   Two workplaces ago, I worked with a guy both from Canadia and from Dominca.  Both were cool d00dz.  Funny, I’ve forgotten Canadiaian Ty’O’s first name.   Not sure I ever knew Dominican Julie’s last name.  But he was a laugh riot, even without my being able to understand half of what he said in his thick accent.

I remember one time having to help Julie decipher a speeding ticket, one he got for going so far over the speed limit that a court appearance was mandatory.   Ah, memories.

Wait, soccer, what?

  1. Cruzeiro vs. Corinthians – Brazil Cup

It’s the Final of the Copa do Brasil!   Second leg.  Cruziero took the first leg 1-0.

This is especially important compared to so many FA Cups the world over.  For example, in Europe, the winner is typically qualified for the second-tier Europa League.  Not Champions League.  Here, however, the winner gets into Copa Libertadores, S. America’s version of Champions League.

It’s extra super important this year because Brazil’s top league sends only six teams from there into the CL.  And these two traditional powers are somehow down in 10th and 11th place currently.  And the season there is in its home stretch.   This could be both these clubs’ only reasonable shot at CL.   (8:45 PM, Fox Soccer Plus)

RESULT:   Cruzeiro   1-2      Whoopsie!    Listed Cruzeiro as home team.  They were the visitors for today’s second leg.  Congrats, hombres!

Image result for copa do brasil 2018

 

 

Noob’s diggin’on the trophy, too.

  1. CD Aguila vs. Santa Tecla – El Salvador Primera

Aguila are tied for #B with undefeated Alianza.  Santa Tecla lead them both by two points in the table, but have played one more match than Alianza (the best team in the league in reality).

The soccer year here is divided into Apertura and Clausura (first and second-half seasons). Of the two winners, the one with the better aggregate record will qualify for the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.  The other champion and the runner-up with the better aggregate record will get into the CONCACAF League, a tournament through which teams can qualify for the Champions League.

The three teams listed are way ahead of everyone else here in the Apertura.

RESULT:   Aguila   1-0     Aguila and Alianza are now in a tie for 1st

  1. La Equidad vs. Tolima – Colombia Primera A

In Colombia, the two stages of the season are Apertura and Finalizacion.  The winner of the postseason knockout tournament following each makes the Copa Libertadores.  So it’s not nearly as strong a league as Brazil.  But hey – they’re playing!

Tolima finished 3rd in the Apertura regular season before winning the postseason.  They’re part of a three-way tie for #B.

Leaders La Equidad have been a surprise this Stage, as they were below average during the Apertura.  They still don’t score like the biggest boys.  Noob thinks they’re primed to get upset at home.

RESULT:   Tolima   0-1       There is now a four-way tie for 1st

Image result for insurance team funny

 

A club nicknamed “The Insurance Team” just isn’t destined to stay at the top.

 

 

Tuesday

  1. U.S.A. vs. Peru – international men’s friendly

USMNT lost last week to Colombia 4-2.  It was a match in which they came from behind, but lost in the end.  It’s a very, very young roster, and in particular the backline was raw as could be.  Today, Coach Sarachan is switching back to a veteran, former Premier League goalkeeper – Sporting Kansas City’s Brad Guzan.  Critics argue the team should push nothing but youth.

The inclusion of veteran Michael Bradley is drawing ire from this crowd.   That’s not a defensible stance.  But Noob thinks that there are enough friendlies to go around.  If you want the players to learn, experience against great opponents, is, well, great.  But mixing in some seasoned folks to teach them from their own side, in their own locker room has to be valuable, too.

Today’s match is being held at UCONN’s soccer field, an oft-used venue for USMNT.  The two teams here are ranked #22 and #21 by FIFA.  Peru just finished pounding Chile 3-0 at the Hard Rock venue in Miami.  That team is ranked #12.    (7:30 PM EST, ESPN2)

RESULT:   1-1        U.S. looked decent when pressing forward.  When they could maintain possession at all.

Image result for too much america

 

 

Noob doesn’t get it.

Get to the footyball matches any way you can, Amuricuh.

B.  Mexico vs. Chile – international men’s friendly

And Mexico’s is ranked 15th, so it’s another quality matchup!  On paper.   That 0-3 loss was telling, and what it turns out it tells us is that Chile did not bring its top stars.    It’s being held at Liga MX club FC Queretaro’s home stadium in

But that’s okay, we’re here to support our CONCACAF neighbors.  Raul Jimenez scored the winning penalty kick-goal for Mexico in their last outing over Costa Rica.   This match will feature a lot of youth on both sides of the ball, so we’re not expecting a ton of goals, but perhaps another dramatic finish just the same.   (9:45 PM, Unimas)

RESULT:   0-1   Chile          The visitors score at 90′ in what was a pretty even match

Image result for mexican neighbors funny

 

Noob’s not going political on this site.  Just not in my ken.

But it seems a border wall might be susceptible to a Ned Flanders attack.

  1. France vs. Germany – UEFA Nations League

Groups of three, top finisher only from each advance to the Playoffs.   This is a League A matchup, meaning these two are from one of the Groups that are ranked by UEFA in top dozen.

They’ve both played two of their four matches.  Germany have yet to score, though they still earned a draw in one of those games.  France lead the Netherlands by a point in the table.

These two teams are ranked as tied for #1 and #12, respectively, in the world by FIFA.   Noob’s becoming less convinced those numbers matter in this tournament.

This is a new event, one designed to add some meaning to parts of the calendar that were previously filled with simply international friendlies.  It’s a pathway to getting into the 2020 European Championships, but that may not be motivating teams of this caliber.  They’re almost certainly going to be there no matter how they do here.   (2:45 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   France   2-1      Antoine Griezmann with both goals for the home side in the come-from-behind win

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/15) – the most footyball ever covered on Noob

“The ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game”.  Oh ho, Noob’s cheating today.

The list of the previews-proper are still ten   But we’re directly acknowledging three times as many Track-worthy matches today!

Gorge, Noobites.  Feeeast!!

  1. Portland Thorns vs. Seattle Reign – National Women’s Soccer League Playoffs

At last, the postseason!  These are the #B and #3 seeds of the four teams participating.

In their last match of the regular season, Portland beat Seattle to secure their runner-up status.  Their reward is getting to host today’s one-off.  There will be no return trip to Seattle.  The other two times they met in 2018, the matches were in Seattle, which won them both.

Portland is the more offensively-minded group by far, will look to push the pace hard.  The most likely names to see pairing up for scores are Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath, second and first in league goals and assists, respectively.

For Seattle, their defensive player of the year Rebekah Scott will have her hands full.   She plays outside back, a position from which she can often feed their offensive threat, Megan Rapinoe.  Noob’s not sure she’ll be anything but pinned back on defense today though.   (3:00 PM EST, Lifetime)

RESULT:   Portland   2-1       Horan and Heath each scored.  

B.  FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew – Major League Soccer

This is just one of three Track-worthy MLS matches on the day.  Noob’s highlighting this one for a couple reasons.

First – Dallas are still #1 in the Western Conference, having wrested the spot away from Kansas City midseason.  Surprising – their play has been incredibly spotty.  They just had a nice home win over rivals Houston last match, yet have lost twice to San Jose since August.  (The ‘Quakes can’t beat almost anyone else.  Ever.)  The offense and defense both come and go.

Second – how much longer will Noob get to type “Columbus Crew” without it being an historical reference?  Their ownership moving them to Austin is hardly a done deal, but it remains a likelihood.

As for their current season, they’re #4 in the East with plenty of table-space above and below.  They just got a big confidence boost taking down #3 NYCFC.  Noob wonders if they might night find today’s a trap game of sorts.    (8:00 PM, ESPN+)

Other MLS matches:   *Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact – The East’s #5 and #6 fight to stay there, the conference’s final playoff spots;  *Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – the West’s #6 and #7, separated by one little point in the table.  Seattle have won eight straight.

Image result for bbb

 

Yes, Number B.  You got to feature three matches.

And so three of you.  Well-done.

  1. CF America vs. Monarcas Morelia – Liga MX

It warms the cockles of a Noob-heart to see Morelia struggling.   While I feel far more strongly anti-royalty with American-named clubs than Mexico, there’s still no kings and queens in N.A.  Foolishness!  Go, CFA!

Club America are in a four-way tie for 3rd place at nearly the halfway point here in the Apertura (first half-season).  They’re the strongest of them, too, in goal differential and INHO.  They’d been struggling a touch, but a trip to lowly Lobos BUAP was just what was needed last match (0-2 win).

Morelia hasn’t won in a month.  Their defense makes the sad.   (8:00 PM, Univision)

Other Mexican matches of note:   *Pumas UNAM vs. Tijuana  — in Liga MX Femenil, Pumas are #4 in their Group.  Top two from each will make the playoffs.  They’re in the mix, but the least of the best there.   Tijuana are in 6th;   Zacatecas vs. Atlante – second-division Ascenso MX #1 and #3.

RESULT:   CF America   2-1

Image result for soccernoob buap

 

 

Credit to Dan – the former Intern-o Inferno – for showing us just how lowly BUAP truly is.

  1. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur vs. Liverpool – English Premier League

Last year’s #3 and #4 face off.

Liverpool have won all four of their early matches this season, though the toughest team they’ve faced is probably Leicester (meh).   Hotspur thrashed Man Utd – on the road, no less – then turned right around and threw it away with a loss to Watford.  They’re both likely to be in the title chase for a while, contend for top-four finishes, Champions League berths.

Since it’s a new season, allow Noob to explain to less-tenured Noobites about the strikethrough.   Tottenham Hotspur is named for Harry “Hotspur” Percy.  He was an historic traitor, flipflopping multiple times with his loyalties.  He was a scalawag and ne’er-do-well and Noob will carry no truck with such!

Good thing that didn’t get weird at the end…   (7:30 AM, NBCSN)\

RESULT:   Liverpool   1-2

Image result for harry hotspur percy traitor

 

 

Shewsbury – the site of Percy’s death by arrow – is hallowed ground 

  1. 1 de Agosto vs. TP Mazembe – CAF Champions League

This is the first leg of a Quarterfinal tie.

Angola’s representative host first.   Their domestic league is on the rise, looks to jump from 17th to a top-10 spot in the African rankings next year.  TP Mazembe plays out of DR Congo’s top league, #3-best in Africa.  1dG would be doing well to get a draw at home.  To have a chance at advancing, they’ll have to.

Today’s other QF:   Esperance vs. Etoile du Sahel Tunisia’s two best clubs face off.  They don’t keep them apart in the draws there I guess.  They’re both a lot better than the two featured teams above.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. FC Olexandria vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – Ukraine Premier

Ukraine’s top flight have climbed to #8 among domestic league in Europe.  Noobites should know something about this bunch.  We feature matches from their frequently.

And so, welcome to the Track, FCO!   Almost 100% sure this is the first time they’ve been featured.   They were mid-table all last season.  Seven matches into 2018-19, they’re #B.  But the current and historic #1 comes to town today to test their mettle.    Shakhtar average 2.5 goals a match, roughly.

Other top #1-#B UEFA matchups*Slovan Bratislava vs. Dunajska Streda — #1 hosts #B in what should be a shootout in Slovakia’s Super Liga;  Ferencvaros vs. Budapest Honved — #1 hosts #B in the Hungarian NB 1.  Honved will try and slow down the only team in the league averaging over two goals per match.

RESULT:   Donetsk   0-2

Image result for fc olexandria

 

 

 

No, FC Olexandria – Noob applauds YOU for being Track-worthy

  1. Stjarnan vs. Breioablik – Iceland FA Cup

Their league might not be even as highly-rated as the honorable mentions in Track match #6, but Noob’s always down for a Cup Final!

A question plaguing Noob is:  how much do these clubs care about the FA Cup?   It can be legitimately asked anywhere, at least by those of us who are truly noob.  Nowhere have I heard or read thy’re considered anything but a moderate to distant second in importance to the league title.

It’s especially relevant here, as Iceland’s Urvalsdeild league gets only one Champions League invite and these two are #B and #3.  Stjarnan, in fact, is just a point behind league-leaders Valur.  Will they play all starters in pursuit of this trophy, or save energy for the home stretch of their league season?

Today’s championship match is at the National Stadium in Reykjavik.  If they’re both playing full strength, Stjarnan have to be considered at last a 3:2 fave to win in regulation.

RESULT:   Stjarnan   0-0  /  4-1   pens

  1. Santa Gema vs. Independiente – Panama Football League

Noob’s been making a concerted effort here during the second year of this site to pay greater attention to all CONCACAF leagues.  And #1-#B matches shine like the sun.   This is one!

If the current pattern holds, this league is going to have one heckuva title race in 2018-19.   They’re just a few matches in, but good golly these teams end their matches in lots of draws!   Noob’s not sure if the league as a whole lacks offensive talent or if the general strategy employed there is defense.  Either way, they don’t see a ton of goals.

Saint Gema are the only undefeated team remaining, but have won just four of seven.  Independiente trail them by three points in the table.

RESULT:   Independiente    0-2       And we have a new #1!

The other #1-#B CONCACAF matchup*Fruta Conquerors vs. Guyana Defense Force – Guyana’s GFF Elite League – The Conquerors have an outrageous 48-5 GD.  Still, halfway through the season, they lead GDF by just five in the table.

Image result for pay attention soccer funny

 

Noob just said CONCACAF leagues are getting more attention here.  

Warning unwarranted.

  1. Kawasaki Frontale vs. Consadole Sapporo – Japan J1 League

The defending champs from Kawasaki are #B now, 2/3 of the way through the 2018 season.  Even so, they’re way off Hiroshima’s pace.

Sapporo were below mid-table last year, have improved mightily to be the current #4.  Last season, that would’ve been good enough to get them into the AFC Champions League.  Not this year.  Just the top three now.

Noob’s uncertain if the AFC is distributing more bids to lower-ranked countries’ leagues now, or if J1 League lost a slot due to a drop in confederation ranking.  Regardless, Sapporo need to play far better defense if they want to be in any postseason discussion.

RESULT:   Kawasaki   7-0    not a typo

Before we hit #10, Noob’s including some Honorable Mention matches.  Every one one of them involves two teams in the top quarter (or top three) of their leagues (at least as of five days ago), or there are specific playoff implications:

*USL – conference #2 Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. #4 Louisville FC, plus #6 Swope Park Rangers vs. #9 Saint Louis FC;  Poland Ekstraklasa — Wisla Krakow vs. Lechia Gdansik was a #1 vs. #B when scouted a few days ago, but two teams which have played an extra match leapfrogged W.K.;  English Football Championship — #6 Bristol City and #3 Sheffield United would be in the second-divisions Promotion playoff tournament were the season over today.

Belgium First Division A — #B Genk vs. #3 Anderlecht;  Norway Eliteserien – #B FK Haugesund vs. #3 Brann;  Belarus Premier – #4 Shakhtyor Soligorsk vs. #3 Dinamo Minsk;  Slovenia Prva Liga — #B Aluminij vs. #3 Gorica;  Uruguay Primera – #B Nacional vs. #3 Montevideo Wanderers; two other Cup tournaments in early action include Portugal’s Taca de Liga and the Swiss FA Cup.

  1. Maldives vs. India – SAFF Championship

The Final!

Asia’s continental football confederation also has several sub-associations.  The South Asian Football Federation holds a Championship every other year.  It’s a standalone event for the current seven member nations, meaning it has no effect on qualifying for any other tournaments.

These are national teams that just aren’t going to see much of any success in most any other field of play.  Three of the seven are in the bottom ten in all Asia.  Two are the very bottom.  Our Finalists are the most-highly ranked in the world, just #150 and #96.  India would be even better, but.  You know.  Cricket.

RESULT:   Maldives   2-1    Upset city!

Image result for Dhaka weirdThey’ve been hosting this tournament Dhaka, Blangadesh.

Come back, Bear Grylls!