’10 to Track’ Sunday (11/25) soccer match previews – MLS semifinals lead the way!

The ten most important matches to follow, fur us – the newish American fans of the global game.   Hopefully with just enough kick from coverage of leagues occasionally far and wide to provide a little something for our more seasoned fan-friends as well.

Note:  No Isle of Sodor Premier League this week.   With the season there set to be a few matches shorter than most European domestic leagues, they’ve scheduled a break every few weeks.    Sodor’s a laid back place, if you’ve never been.

1. Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls – Major League Soccer

The Semifinals! Like the quarters, these will be decided with two-legged ties (home-and-away series). And it’s between the Eastern Conference’s two top finishers. Dreamy.

Red Bulls are your Supporters Shield winners, meaning they had the best record in the regular season for the entire league. They’ve won six of seven matches, the only loss being last round to Columbus Crew. They trailed Atlanta in the Eastern Division all season, catching them just at the end. Names to know are: Tyler Adams, young, talented US Men’s National Team midfielder; Brandon Wright-Phillips, star striker; and most of all, Luis Robles. This is the best defensive team in the league and he’s the goalie.

Atlanta blew the Shield on the last day of the regular season, getting routed by non-playoff Toronto 4-1. But it’s not like they entered on a losing streak or anything, have been as hot as NYRB. They’re the scoring juggernaut of the league. Josef Martinez is their record-setting scorer, Miguel Almiron the name to know in their midfield, and USMNT veteran Brad Guzan is the netminder.

There – enough to get you through water-cooler chat, watch the game and have some info to go on. Now go, be free! If you are desirous of more in-depth preview info, it’s out there. I’m going to! But this is Noob and this level of preview is our niche.   (5:00 PM Eastern, ESPN)

RESULT:   Atlanta   3-0         Franco Escobar with a goal and an assist

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

Don’t like to usually over multiple matches from any league on a given day, even MLS. Noob’s job is to filter. But it’s the Semis! An

Portland entered the Western Conference side of the playoffs as the #5 seed. They’ve been up and down since late spring, but never dropped out of the postseason mix thanks to an early, bigtime non-losing streak. But they won the Battle of Cascadia against runners-up Seattle last round. Can’t discount them.

One wonders when Kansas City might just drop from exhaustion. They were in a dogfight for the #1 seed all season long with FC Dallas. They won the U.S. Open Cup that ran concurrently with the MLS season. Noob feels winded just thinking about it. But it helps that this is the most balanced team in the league – second-best on O and D both.

They haven’t lost since September, hottest team remaining, doing it in both high and low-scoring matches. Danny Salloi might star with a goal and assist. Or USMNT man Tim Melia might and last year’s Defensive POY Ike Opara might put on a shutout.   (7:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for sleepy letter B

 

 

 

Very funny, Number B.   *yawn*   C’mon, knock it off.

3. Pumas UNAM vs. Santos – Liga MX

Match 17, the last for each in the Apertura (second half-season). Top eight teams make the Liguilla (postseason tournament). These two are tied for 3rd on points in the table, Pumas leading by a point on tiebreaking goal differential. In other words, a draw would be enough for Pumas to get that #3 seed.

UNAM have just once since September, and that was to #1 Cruz Azul. Santos are on a similar streak, though theirs is peppered with a lot more draws. It’s their offense that’d faded a bit.   (1:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   1-1      After this and all other results, there was a three-way tie in the table for 3rd.  But these two stayed where they were in the pecking order after GD tiebreaker.

4. AFC Bournemouth vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

Huzzah, Noob’s favorite two teams from EPL! Always a Fighting Cherry first. Go, home team. But Arsenal, you have a piece of my heart as well, as rivals to the traitorously-named and always-reviled Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur.

5th-place Arsenal are on a 12 match non-losing streak. Two early losses in league and no marks against them since. Top four finishers will make the next Champions League. Arsenal haven’t shown they can quite defend or score like the very best, but they’re lurking.

Bournemouth are tied for 8th, have a game in hand over the two teams that passed them yesterday. This is a small market team performing incredibly well. Sadly for Noob, talk is that their current manager Eddie Howe is likely to get hired away by a big, big club sooner rather than later for his tremendous performance there.

The magic may be fading just a little, though, as they’ve lost two in a row. Not that a couple of 2-1 losses are redefining their season or anything. They’re another notch down the scale from Arsenal on offensive prowess, but defend about as well. And they have a knack for come-from-behind wins the last couple seasons. Even if Arsenal score first, they won’t be able to just sit on the ball.   (8:30 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   1-2   Arsenal          AFCB did come back from down the first goal, but Arsenal is a bit better on the attacking end.   Well-played match by both sides.

Image result for fighting cherries

 

 

Infighting Cherries…

5. Lazio vs. AC Milan – Italy Serie A

The top four in Italy also qualify for the next Champions league. These are two clubs very likely to be battling for that fourth and final spot in the table. Juventus is running away with the league already, and the next two have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

Lazio are lacking a bit of the scoring punch they had last year as they battled for the season title. Milan are more balanced, will give their hosts all they can handle and more. Before a loss to Juve last time out, they hadn’t lost in four matches.   (12:00 PM, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   1-1

6. Beijing Gouan vs. Shandong Luneng – China FA Cup

The Final! Unlike most or all European Cup tournaments, as well as America’s, this is a two-legged, home-and-away tie. This is the first match.

China’s Super League season just ended, and these two finished in 4th and 3rd place. Those spots are good for AFC Champions League berths.

What’s strange-seeming to Noob is that the winner of these Finals will qualify for straight through to the Group Stage of CL, with the loser having to first play in qualifying round before that stage. Would these have been the stakes were these Finals being contested between clubs in other parts of the Superleague standings?

In any case, this should be a very evenly-matched Finals. Beijing are the more defensively-focused side, so look for today’s match to be lower-scoring at their place.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for confused by CHinese

 

 

If Jackie can’t figure it all out, what hope does a Noob have?

7. La Guaira vs. Lara – Venezuela Premier

Mas Finals? You betcha. This is the Clausura (second half-season) tournament. Unlike some leagues, the Apertura and Clausura champions will not meet to play for an overall title for the year.

Last week, defensive whizzes Lara did their thing, holding La Guaira scoreless. But Lara didn’t score, either. Now the #4 seed has to travel to #B and outscore them in the second leg.

RESULT:   Lara   0-1          Hail to the victors!  Lara got the only goal of the two-legged tie at 90′ mark.

8. FC Olexandria vs. Dynamo Kiev – Ukraine Premier

#3 hosts #B in Europe’s 9th ranked league. That’s high enough that they qualify two teams into the next Champions League. Good thing for these two, too, as Shakhtar Donestk is way up on the field.

D.K. Only lead upstart Olexandria by two points in the table. Dynamo are a perennial power, but FCO didn’t even make the top half of last year’s standings. Dynamo also only give up a goal a little less often than once every other match. Noob’s doubtful FCO can pressure their guests enough to get a win today.

RESULT:   Olexandria   3-2          So much for no pressure!

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FC Olexandria, getting our Cyrillic on.

9. Copenhagen vs. Midtjylland – Denmark Superliga

UEFA’s #13 league gives us a shiny #B-#1 matchup.

They’re actually tied on points in the table, with the guests today leading on GD. They’ll both easily qualify for Champions League, having separated themselves by quite a bit halfway through the season.

Midtjylland are the defending champions and current scoring leaders, the only Danish team to be clipping along at more than 2.5 goals per match.

RESULT:   Copenhagen  2-1       Jan Gregus gave up an own-goal that tied that game before scoring the winner for the league’s new #1.

10. Lechia Gdansk vs. Jagiellonia Bialystok – Poland Ekstraklasa

We finish our weekend Tracking in the #25 league in Europe. That’s only good for one Champions League berth. They’ve got one whale of a race shaping up for it.

Gdansk are the current leaders, but J.B. and one other team trail by just three points in the table. A total of six teams are within single-digit points of the lead. Still, these two are statistically the best, if not by leaps and bounds. Particularly for Gdansk and the margin they’d get, a win today could be season-defining.

RESULT:   Gdansk   3-2            Noob’s pick of Wisla Krakow to win the league is looking seriously in jeopardy 🙂

Image result for Gdansk funny

 

 

So long from Gdnask, Poland!

Come for the footyball, stay for the time of your life.  Apparently.

’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 – MLS and USL playoff hunts lead the way

it’s International Break for much of the league world.  That means we get MORE America and extra CONCACAF-feination in today’s Track!

Today’s Track may not be up much in advance, but I’m now Nine-Fingered Noob.  Went all Gollum on my own left ring finger at work last night.  OK, not really, did just slice off the tiniest bit.  Typing’s been hard.  Almost left all the inadvertent caps-lock stuff in just for fun.

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

With three regular season matches to go, #1 Dallas lead KC and LAFC by four points in the Western Conference.   Kansas City is and has been the better team on paper all season.   But they’re getting draws late, whole Dallas hasn’t lost in about six weeks.   In fact, only one team has even managed to get a goal on them in the last four matches.

Wayne Rooney & Co. are now only two points out of 6th place and the East’s final playoff berth.  They, too, haven’t lost in six weeks.  They’re success has been realized on the offensive end.  But it troubles Noob that they haven’t kept a single clean sheet in that entire stretch.

Defense travels, so I’m saying Dallas gets the road win in what is likely considered an even matchup in the District.  As badly as MLS likely wants DCU in the playoffs, today is when they’re comeback dreams die.   (4:55 PM EST, Univision)

RESULT:   D.C.   1-0

B.  Netherlands vs. Germany – UEFA Nations League

This is a League A match.  There are four separate Groups of three in League A.  In each one, the teams play four matches, double-round-robins.

France leads this one with four points after two matches.  This is the second match for these two today.  If they draw, France ends up in the driver’s seat.  Only the winner of each Group makes the Playoffs.

Since League A is pretty much the dozen best clubs on the continent, they’re all likely making the 2020 European Championships anyway.  But this event is another avenue towards qualifying for that.  In the world, they’re ranked #17 and 12.   In the Netherlands, this should be a toss-up.   (2:45 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Netherlands   3-0      

Image result for font invented in 2018

 

A new tournament deserves a new-look Number B!

(Braille typeface front)

  1. Ireland vs. Denmark – UEFA Nations League

These two are part of League B.  Mirror image of A, just the next dozen down the rankings in Europe.

Denmark are actually 10th ranked in the world today.  UEFA rankings were used from a specific date, so the Danes must’ve been more down on their luck.  If the win this Group, they get promoted for League A when this event happens again, presumably, in two years.  And they’ll win it.

Ireland are FIFA-ranked just 30th.  They lost badly to Wales in their first match in this tournament.  Eire should be considered at least a full-goal underdog today.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Reno 1868 vs. Orange County – United Soccer League

Usually Noob gives the American second division it’s due other times of week.  But so much of the world is on International Break, we have room.  With the Playoffs nearly here, perfect timing!   Teams have just this last regular season match to go.

Top eight finishers in each Conference make the Playoffs.  OC all but has the #1 seed wrapped up, home field advantage galore.  They’d have to lose today and Phoenix would have to win their last game by five goals for another tiebreaker to even come into play between them.

Reno have more on the line.  They’re #5 in the West.  They’re only a point behind Real Salt Lake, so they could still end up with the four-seed and a home game to start the postseason.  In fact, it wouldn’t necessarily even require a win.  A tie and an RSL loss-combo would do the trick.

RESULT:   Reno   3-1

Image result for reno 1868 supportersSo Noob’s jumping on the Reno bandwagon today!

Anything to go against stupidly-named Real Salt Lake.

  1. Ottawa Fury vs. Charleston Battery – United Soccer League

Charleston can’t lose or move up from the four-seed in the East.  Noob suspect they’ll rest starters given that.

Ottawa has been gritty and gutty all year – not truly good though.  They’re in 9th place, two points and a ton of tiebreaking GD behind Bethlehem for the last Playoff berth.  They should be able to net a win against the Battery reserves.  Unfortunately for them, Bethlehem hosts the hapless Tampa Bay Rowdies.  And the Steel will be motivated.  They could jump as many as three spots in the standings with a win.

RESULT:   Charleston   0-2

  1. Puerto Rico vs. Martinique – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

You can catch a few particulars in yesterday’s and previous posts.

This match is the first of four for these two teams.  Martinique aren’t members of FIFA, being part of the French football system.  But they’re in our region’s federation and they’re pretty good, considered 12th-best among national team here.

PR are just #175 in the world, well in the bottom half of CONCACAF.

RESULT:   Martinique   0-1

Image result for Puerto Rico national football team 2018

 

 

And since Puerto Ricans are Americans, Noob gives them the “gofightwin” cheer.

  1. Vorkuta vs. SC Scarborough – Canadiaian Soccer League

Welcome to the Track, CSL!   Don’t be fooled by the name though.  This league is really mostly or entirely Ontario-based teams.  Starting next year – unless it is pushed back again – the Canadian Premier League begins.   These teams won’t be a part of it, not unless they’re changing names and Noob’s missed it.

In any case, this is the playoff final for the current top league in Canadia!  It’s at a neutral stadium in Ontario, though since all the teams are from greater Ontario  *shrug*  They finished #B and #4 in the regular season, respectively.  The league was kind of top heavy.  Scarborough will do well to keep this within a goal.

RESULT:   Vorkuta   1-0

  1. Vorkuta II vs. Halton United II – Canadiaian Soccer League Division II

And here’s the undercard!   Also the playoff championship.  Same stadium, just two hours before the D1 championship.   These were the top two in the division regular season.  This match should be a little more competitive, but once again is Vorkuta who are moderately heavy favorites.

RESULT:   V II   3-2           chamPEENS!

Image result for so much canada

 

 

 

Just how much Canadia can you handle at once?

  1. DR Congo vs. Zimbabwe – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

Once again, Noobites can look at yesterday’s or past posts for some specifics on this event.

These two are both tied for the lead in their four-team Group (top two finishers make the Knockout Stage.  Congo (not DR) are tied with them, but have played one more match than these two so far.   They are ranked #40 one of Africa’s best – and #117 by FIFA.  So naturally, DRC are expected to lay waste to their guests.

RESULT:   Zimbabwe   1-2        Upset city!

  1. Central Cordoba de Santiago vs. Gimnasia LP – Copa Argentina

FA Cups are all about looking for Minnows – non-premier league underdogs.  And here in the quarterfinals we get one to root for.  Cordoba were relegated to the second division last year.  In fact, they’re below average even there early this league season.

Gimnasia are just a midtable team.  But they’re top -flite, should be considered a 1-2 goal fave on the road in this one-off match.  The winner will face River Plate in the Semis – an historically excellent team, but one that’s been more midtable themselves of late.   (2:00 PM, TyC Sports International)

RESULT:   Gimnasia   1-1  /  3-4  PK

Image result for santiago del estero funny

 

 

So long from Santiago del Estero!

Noob’s terrified to translate the parts he doesn’t know.  Blessedly rusty Spanish for meeeee.

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

Noob tries to bring something unique to the internet landscape —

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

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

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

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

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

Image result for letter B bird

 

 

Not the fastest-flying bird, Number B.

Yet still, nice call namedropping the Bobolink.

  1. Queretaro vs. Tigres – Liga MX

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

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

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

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

  1. Chelsea vs. Liverpool – England Premier League

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

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

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

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

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

Just – do the damn mini-preview.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Juventus vs. Napoli – Italy Serie A

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for El Clasico funny

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   2-2

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

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

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

RESULT:   YBB   1-4

Image result for Thun Switzerland funny

 

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

You’re invited to party.

  1. Riga vs. RFS – Latvia Higher League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for Catacomb of Faneromeni Church

 

 

So long from the Catacomb of Phaneroni Church, Larnaca!  

 

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

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/15) – 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!

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

“Soccer Noob rockin Amuricuuuhhh! /

Mini-previews!  *clap clap* /

Insight!  *clap clapclap* /

O.K.notreallythatsecondwuuhhhhn!   /  *crickets*

Soccernoob rockin’ Amur-I-CUHHH!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B.  Cincinatti vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – United Soccer League

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for tom Cruise weird

 

Cruise without teeth.

Good LAWD.   This was an error in judgement.

Should’ve put in a Number B-image.

  1. Leon vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

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

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

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

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

  1. Chelsea vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

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

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

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

Image result for aFC bournemouth funny

 

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

Noob is worried.

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

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

RESULT:      ppd

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

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

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

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

Image result for waiting gif

 

They must wait, Inigo.  

We must all wait sometimes.

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

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

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

RESULT:   Germany   0-2       Svenja Huth with two scores

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

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

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

(League #1 versus #2)

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

Image result for wreckx n effect

 

 

 

Rest in Power, Brandon Mitchell.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Metz vs. Lens – France Ligue 2

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for cathedrale st etienne metz stained glass

So long from Metz, Lorraine!

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

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – filtering the finest footyball beans for YOU

The soccer scheds are getting fuller, the Track’ed matches all the sweeter.

Tuesday’s matches are below Wednesday’s here now.  Thursday’s are coming soon.

Thursday

Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

10.  It’s hard to fathom that Houston could win the U.S. Open Cup.  They’re hosting the Final against Philly in late September.  A good thing they’ve put all their eggs in that basket, because their league basket is mildewy and coming unwoven.

They’re in 10th in the Western Conference after five straight league losses.  The competition’s been strong over that stretch, true.  But this is the big league and you’ve got to pick some points. Now they’re 10 points behind 6th place and the last playoff spot.  The Dynamo are cooked.  The offense is gone.

Dallas, meanwhile recovered from a two-game skid last time out with a W over Minnesota.  Good thing, too, as KC has won three straight and was looking prime to take 1st place back.   (9:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for HOuston weird

 

So long from the Art Car Parade in Houston!

(Don’t worry.  Noob knows it’s an atrocity.  The town was built on a swamp.  It will all sink into oblivion soon enough.)

Wednesday

  1. NYCFC vs. New York Red Bulls – Major League Soccer

#3 hosts #B in the Eastern Conference.  Both are almost certain to make the Playoffs (top 6 in each conf.).  But since the top two seeds will get a bye in the postseason, this edition if the Hudson River Derby is particularly important.

NYCFC just got ambushed in Philly, 0-2.  They’ve given up nine goals in their last four matches.  NYRB have been simply taking care of business this month, with results in their last three outings.  They’ve played one less match than The Blues – an advantage in the table, if not on the pitch today.

Sean Johnson hasn’t been helped by his back line much of late.  They’ve not leaned on the defense much all season, truth be told.  But the goalkeeper’s got to staunch this bleeding if they’re to stop this fade.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for sean johnson nycfc funny“I will hug it and squeeze it and call it George.”

(Random? Sure.  Does Noob care?  Not a whit!)

  1. Portland Thorns vs. Sky Blue FC – National Women’s Soccer League

Sky Blue have two draws in last three matches!

New Jersey’s last place NWSL club hasn’t had much to celebrate this season.  They still only have five points, half as many as second-to-last place Washington.  So they’ll take these little successes and run with them.

The Thorns are in 3rd with just three matches to go before the Postseason.  Four clubs are within four points of them in the table, so they shouldn’t be sleeping today.  A win today would all but guarantee them a top-four finish, which means playoffs.

RESULT:   Portland   2-1

Image result for Sky Blue FC funny

 

 

 

“If you go into their net more than ours -just this once- I’ll take you to the Shore.  Please??”

  1. Cruz Azul vs. Toluca – Liga MX

After making the Liguilla (postseason) in the 2017-18 Apertura (first half-season), they fell into the table depths in the Clausura.  They are back.  They’ve allowed just one lone goal in their five matches this new season.  No other team has conceded fewer than four.

But now they get their first tough test of the season.  Say hello to the last Clausura’s regular season champion.  Toluca is in 6th, but with their offense, they’ll rise.   (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Cruz Azul   1-0

  1. Young Boys of Bern vs. Dinamo Zagreb – UEFA Champions League

Switzerland’s and Croatia’s European league-rankings aren’t far apart – both in about the teens.  Still, YBB is only just now entering the competition.  (See Tuesday’s UEFA CL match below for Round details.)

D.Z. have had to advance through two rounds already.  They walloped a club from Israel and skunked one from Kazakhstan.

Based on the Elo ratings Noob uses, YBB would be favored even at a neutral site.  While I don’t think formal football gambling works this way, I would still take Dinamo if given a goal.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for soccer gambling funny

  1. Portland Timbers II vs. Orange County FC – United Soccer League

Given that the top eight in each conference of America’s second-tier league, these two are looking very good.

Portland’s reserve side has climbed to 5th in the West on the back of three straight high-offense victories.

The O.C. have also been getting goals like gangbusters, winning three in a row as well.  In fact, they haven’t lost since July 7 and have scored twice or more in all their contests.    Noob ends the Wednesday portion of the Midweek Track with what could look like a pinaball-ish score.

Tuesday

  1. Seattle Reign vs. Houston Dash – National Women’s Soccer League

Welcome to the only top-division match in America today.  This match is sneaky-important for both teams.

Seattle seem to have a firm grip on #B in the table with three matches to go, yet that four-point lead over the Portland only looks big because of how close the next several teams are to one another.

That’s where we find the Dash.  They’re tied for 6th, yet trail Chicago for the fourth and final Playoff berth by just two points.

Houston have scored six goals their last two matches, but Seattle maybe be more impressive of late on the other side.  The Reign haven’t conceded a goal their last three games.

RESULT:   Seattle   2-0

Image result for where did you go funny

 

 

Can’t find offense anywhere here!

(And no, Noob is not above using cute aminahl pictures to lure in readers.)

B.  UNAM Pumas vs. Queretaro – Liga MX

Noob would mock 12th-place UNAM without end for their lack of goal-scoring, but Atlas haven’t scored once this Apertura (first half-season).

Pumas are scoring twice a game on average, sit in 5th place.  But they scored all those goals the first couple games, haven’t found the back of the net in their last three outings.  Check this one out on ESPN Deportes at 8:00 PM to see if either can get on the board.

RESULT:   Queretaro   0-1

Image result for letter B wild animal

 

 

 

Sorry, Number B.

No B in “puma” anywhere.

  1. Benfica vs. PAOK – UEFA Champions League

They’ve reached the “Qualification Round” in Europe.  12 clubs paired off, the survivors of these two-legged ties all make the Group Stage.   That’s where the competition is considered to truly begin.

PAOK finished #B in Greece’s Superleague last season, had to make it through two Rounds already just to get this far.  They most recently beat Spartak Moscow.

Benfica also finished #B in their league.  But since it’s a more highly-ranked league, they’ve only had to play one Round so far.  They defeated Fehnerbace out of Turkey to get here.

True to the league strengths, the Elo rankings this two have on footballdatabase.com indicate to Noob Benfica is easily a one-goal favorite at home.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Independiente vs. Santos FC – Copa Libertadores

South America’s version of Champions League is in its Round of 16.  These are the last pair of clubs to not have played the first match of their two-legged tie.

Independiente finished just 6th in Argentina’s Premier last season – not quite good enough to qualify for CL.  They’re here by virtue of having won the 2017 Copa Sudamericana, the continent’s second-tier competition.  They’re a sound, defensive-minded bunch.

Santos finished 3rd in Brazil, CONMEBOL’s best league.  They’re considered the fifth entrant from Brazil.  Santos also plays a tight defensive game typically.  Look for this to go 1-0 or 0-1 at most.  Independiente is a full-goal fave based on the Elo ratings.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Copa Libertadores cartoon

 

 

Noob’s not sure what harpooning a rabbit has to do with CL or Santos FC.

But I’m down with it.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   KC   3-0

Image result for Ike Opara

 

Defense:  Top-notch

Ike’s head wear choice:

YOU make the call.

B.  Philadelphia Union vs. NYCFC – Major League Soccer

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

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

RESULT:   Philly   2-0

Image result for B is for bag

 

 

 

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

Tres chic, Number B.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Monterrey vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

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

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

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

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0

Image result for that's a thing?

 

 

Yes, Fox Sports 2 is a real channel.

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

  1. Chelsea vs. Arsenal – English Premier

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

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

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

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

  1. Lazio vs. Napoli – Serie A

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

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

RESULT:   Napoli   1-2

Image result for lazio funny

 

 

 

Plastic bottle-gladiator guy on the Lazio Plaza.

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   El Jadida   2-0

  1. Royal Pari vs. The Strongest – Bolivia Premier

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

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

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

RESULT:   R.P.   1-0

Image result for pirates computers

 

 

 

Yup.  Went there.

  1. Corinthians vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

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

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

Noob learned a few interesting things though:

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Gremio   0-1

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

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

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

RESULT:   Cinci   3-0

Image result for Cincinnati weird

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

*snicker*

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

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

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

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

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

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

B.  UANL Pumas vs. Pachuca – Liga MX

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

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

RESULT:   0-0     So much for a shootout

Image result for letter B explore

 

 

Number B, that’s so random.

 

You really get me, don’t you.

  1. Arsenal vs. Manchester City – English Premier League

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

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

RESULT:   Man City   0-2

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

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

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

RESULT:   Bayern   0-5

Image result for super soccer

 

 

 

Get ready for all manner of super-ness.

  1. Barcelona vs. Sevilla – Spanish Super Cup

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

RESULT:   Barca   2-1

  1. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

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

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

RESULT:   Saprissa   1-0

  1. Rijeka vs. Hajduk Split – Croatia First League

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Alianza vs. Santa Tecla – El Slavador Premier

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for El Slavador

 

 

 

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

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

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

RESULT:   YBB   2-3

  1. Molde vs. Brann – Norway Eliteserien

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

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

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

The sllllllamon of El Sllllllllavahdoooooohhr!

The Management:  Rrrriiiight…

RESULT:   Molde   5-1

Image result for Molde Norway salmon

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for Jesse Gonzalez FC Dallas

 

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

His number is…

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

And now to the East!

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

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

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

Image result for letter B star

 

Number B thinks himself a star.

But has he replaced numeral 2 in your hearts?

He should.

  1. Benfica vs. Juventus – International Champions Cup

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

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

RESULT:   Juventus   1-1  /  2-4 pk

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

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

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

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

 

SBFC’s Nadia Nadim celebrates a goal.

Maybe someday she’ll get to celebrate a W.

  1. CF America vs. Atlas – Liga MX

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

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

RESULT:   CFA   3-0    Guido Rodriguez nets a pair

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

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

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

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

RESULT:    Wydad   2-0

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What witchcraft is this??

 

 

Sunday

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

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

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

RESULT:   Courage   1-0

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Galaxy   4-3

  1. UANL vs. Tijuana – Liga MX

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

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

RESULT:   Tigres   1-0

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

  1. Cruziero vs. Sao Paulo – Brazil Serie A

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

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

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

RESULT:   Sao Paulo   0-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A-what?  Okay.