’10 to Track’ Sunday (12/2) soccer match previews – Liga MX, Premier League derbies lead the way

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

Noob starts local and with Western Europe, but never ignores the world at large.  I hope that means there’s something here for any fan, not just Noobites.

Follow on the tweeterbox @SoccerNoobUSA.  Check back for match results.  And remember to never travel in a straight line.   Noob keeps things weird.

Note:  Noob’s sources for some CONCACAF things are…inconsistent.   The Ascenso MX (Mexican second division) Apertura Finals second leg may be today.  Really good league, probably one of the best five in CONCACAF.  Use your Google machine powers to find out more.

Also, there may be a Nicaraguan semifinal today.   Same CONCACAF weirdness issue on the interblag.

1. Pumas UNAM vs. Tigres UANL– Liga MX

Opening round of the playoffs, leg two! The top eight from the Apertura (first half-season) qualified. Pumas are the third seed, Tigres sixth. The first leg was at UANL and they won 2-1.

All the momentum is with Tigres. They’ve won four straight. Pumas have only managed one win in their last four tries. Winner will get either CF America or underdog Toluca.   (1:00 PM Eastern, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Pumas   3-1      And so they take the series 4-3 and advance

B. Arsenal vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier League

This is the North London derby. Remember to pronounce that “ar” instead of “er”. You wouldn’t won to sound literate! For the rawest of Noobites, a derby means they’re bigtime rivals.

Being one of Europe’s best leagues, four clubs will qualify from it for the next UEFA Champions League. Noob-dreaded Hotspur are #3, Arsenal #5 with the season just over 1/3 over.

Arsenal lost their first two league matches of the season but quickly righted their ship and haven’t lost since. This, despite the fact that they don’t play quite the same caliber of defense that the other title-contenders do.

Hotspur have won six straight across all competitions. They have proven capable of winning both high and low-scoring affairs, may well be the top threat to #1 Manchester City. They are also named for historic traitor to multiple kings Harry Percy, are worthy of our scorn. Not that this is likely to affect a match result. Noob just can’t help but throw it in there.   (9:05 AM, Telemundo)

RESULT:   Arsenal   4-2        for great justice

Image result for fat controller pissed off

 

 

 

Sir Topham Hatt is displeased by the Harry Percy fawners.

3. RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Bundesliga

Germany’s top league has had a topsy turvy table compared to normal this season. Things are starting to look closer to normal, but M’Gladbach is a club they’re not used to seeing so high up. The enter today #B in the table, and it’s no fluke. Good offense, sterling defense. And they’ve won four in a row over all competitions.

Leipzig either play whatever is better than sterling for defense or parks the bus and doesn’t worry much about scoring. Either way, it worked for them early in the season. They’ve lost three of their last four now though and they sit in 5th place. Top four get into the 209-20 Champions League.   (9:30 AM, FS1)

RESULT:   Leipzig   2-0

4. Alaves vs. Sevilla – La Liga

Spain’s is another top flite that’s table has been filled with less-familiar names at the top. Last year, these were the 7th and 14th-placed teams, respectively. Currently they sit #4 and #1. Top four here, too, qualify for the next CL.

Alaves have lost two of three. They’re not consistently dominating teams much further down the table. They appear to have the defense to perhaps flirt with a top-four finish, but Noob’s not banking on it.

Sevilla are really well-balanced. If it weren’t for hard-charging Barcelona, Noob might think they could truly contend for the title. Plus, Real Madrid appear to be waking from their early season slumber. They’re 5th and will climb higher. For the moment, we get enjoy a breath of fresh air, some new scenery at the top of the table.   (2:45 PM, beIN Sports en Español)

RESULT:   1-1

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Eventually we’ll need these again.

5. Celtic vs. Aberdeen – Scottish League Cup

FA Cup – every club that’s a member or associate members of the Scottish Football Association. Challenge Cup – teams from levels 2-4 of the Scottish football pyramid, plus some lower clubs and a few non-Scottish invites.

And then there’s this one! It’s been being contested by the teams from the top four leagues. This is their one-off Final match. It’s in Glasgow, but not at Celtic’s actual home stadium. Not like they need a home-pitch advantage probably, either. They’ve been leading the Premier League there, while Aberdeen are down in 7th.

Celtic have only allowed six league goals all season, 15 matches. That’s insane. But while Celtic should be favored no matter what, Noob doesn’t have a sense of how big a deal this particular Cup is there. Some tournaments, some places, clubs use these as chances to give playing time to bench players.

RESULT:   Celtic   1-0       trophy time!

6. Manchester City vs. Arsenal – England Women’s Soccer League

It’s a battle of the two undefeated teams in the ladies’ top league in England! No one’s even gotten a draw with Arsenal, either. No wonder, they average over four goals per match.

Three teams have gotten draws with Man City. They score over twice as often as any other team in the league – yet only ¾ as much as Arsenal.

RESULT:   Man City   2-0

Image result for White Castle funny

 

Wish I could find the match on TV.   

Ready to party with leftover White Castle.

7. Heredinao vs. Alajuense – Costa Rica Premier

The Final! Noob loves some Costa Rican soccer. This league is every bit as strong as MLS. This is for the Apertura (first half-season) title. And this is the first leg, so they’ll play another match at Alajuense in a few days to complete things.

Alajuense tied for 1st in the regular season table, but lost out on goal differential. They had a quirky 22 matches in that not a single one ended in a draw. No other club had fewer than three.

Herediano tied for 3rd, but entered these Playoffs as the #4 seed, also losing out on GD. They’re a more traditional power there, but weren’t as strong on either side of the ball as their guests today.

RESULT:   Herediano   2-1

8. Deportiva Lara vs. Zamora – Venezuela Premier

Like most or perhaps all Latin American leagues, Venezuela divides their soccer year into separate Apertura and Clausura half-seasons. And for each half, they have a playoffs, crown a champions. But unlike many of those others, here the two tournaments champions face off at year’s end to decide an overall champion. Noob like-y.

Lara won the Clausura playoffs, despite finishing just 4th in the regular season. Zamora finished #B and then won the Apertura playoffs, but weren’t nearly so strong during the Clausura. There, they finished just 7th.

This is a two-legged, home-and-away series for the title. Zamora gets the honor of hosting the second leg, presumably by having the better overall record on the year. Both teams have already qualified for the next Copa Libertadores, so this is strictly for the shiny trophy.

RESULT:   1-1

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The runner-up trophy.

Maybe…

9. Emelec vs. LDU Quito – Ecuador Serie A

Ecuador call their two half-seasons simply Opening and Closing Stages. Concept is the same as Apertura and Clausura though. Or maybe they use those words there and Noob’s sources are just goofy about not translating for Ecuador for some reason. The world is weird.

In any case, there are just two matches to go in the Closing Stage. Opening Stage champions LDU de Quito trail Emelec by two points in the table. As many as four other teams appear mathematically alive for 1st, but one of these two is going to win it.

Emelec haven’t lost in six straight matches. De Quito have also been on a tear. Well, save for a weird loss for soon-to-be-Relegated Tecnico Universitario.

This one’s a big enough match that GOL TV is actually airing it internationally. You’d have to have a deep, deep satellite package to get it here stateside, but it’s on at 12:00 PM.

RESULT:   0-0

10. Basel vs. Young Boys of Bern – Swiss Super League

We finish our Track back in Europe. Noob’s saved this one for last because while it’s an irresistible #B-#1 matchup, there’s no title race going on here.

YBB are ahead by a whopping 13 points in the table less than halfway through the season. That said, Switzerland are a highly-enough ranked league in Europe that they’ll qualify two club into the next Champions League.

Basel have been the more recent studs, but might really only be the fourth-best team this season. The defense is down this season, the offense not enough to make up for that lack.

RESULT:   YBB   1-3

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So long from the Christmas Market in Basel, Switzerland!

 

Home of creepy, nightmare-inducing holiday mushroom figurines.

You’re welcome.

 

Extra Credit:   Liverpool vs Everton – English Premier League, any of the Second Round English FA Cup matches, #3 Hearts vs #2 Rangers – Scottish Premiership,  #4 Anderlecht vs #B Genk – Belgian First Division A

#2 Vidi vs #3 Budapest Honved – Hungarian NB 1, #3 Academy Pandev vs. #B Vardar Skpje – Macedonian Prva Liga, #3 Feyenoord vs. #1 PSV Eindhoven – Dutch Eredivisie, #4 Besiktas vs #3 Galatasaray – Turkish Super Lig

#5 Independiente vs. #6 Boca Juniors – Argentinian Primera, a Peruvian Primera semfinal, #B Al Nassr vs. #4 Al-Wehda – Saudi Premier, #4 Etoile du Sahel vs. #B Sfaxien – Tunisian Ligue 1

Quarterfinal matches from El Salvador and Guatemala, a semifinal from Honduras, #1 Village Superstars vs. #3 St. Paul’s United – St. Kitts and Nevis Premier, plus maybe a final from Panama.  Info on Panama is the worst.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (11/27-29) soccer match previews – MLS Semis end the MWE!

The ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game” – hit their peak of importance today. MLS Semifinals! After tonight, we’ll know who’s playing for the big trophy.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s match results follow below. Remember you can always check back for results on every single day, plus often a note or two about who starred, or how the results affected what was at stake.

Thursday

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

Second leg of the Western Conference Finals! While any team would of course like to get a road win every time, #1 KC got the draw in Portland in the first match of this two-game series. Now they have the chance to take care of business at home.

But that scoreless draw has to be troubling for them. Goalkeeper Tim Melia of USMNT fame played well and Graham Zusi was a monster on the back defensive line. But Noob highlighted Daniel Salloi for that first match and instead of starring, he was the weak link, losing duels and not being terribly good with passes.

The 5th-seed Portland was better on passing, held the ball longer, and created more shots on goal. That didn’t and won’t matter if they can’t get better play from striker Jeremy Ebobisse though.

Ultimately, it’s hard to beat home cookin’. KC did what was necessary, if just, and should be a moderate to heavy favorite at home.   (9:30 PM Eastern, ESPN)

RESULT:   Portland    2-3           Diego Valeri with two Timbers goals, including the game winner at 90′

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

Some are calling the Eastern Conference finals the de facto league finals. Both teams had several more point in the the table than K.C.

#B Atlanta laid the smack down at their place in the first leg of this overall Semi, 3-0. Franco Escobar was the slightly-surprisng star with both a goal and an assist. This club has the best offense in the entire league. It will be interesting to see if they keep dancing with the girl that brought them and continue attacking, or try to take the air out of the ball with such a big lead from the first leg.

NYRB have a HYOOJ hole to dig themselves out of. Lots of goals will certainly mean the involvement of BrandonWright-Phillips, who looked like an MVP the first half of the MLS season. Not that he tanked after that, but his effectiveness definitely diminished. But if the right side of Red Bulls’ back line get manhandled again (Tim Parker, Michael Murillo), BWP’s possible resurgence won’t matter.   (7:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   NYRB   1-0         But it’s not enough!    ATL will host the single-match Final versus Portland.

Image result for the world of red bull funnySo long from…wherever the Red Bull box cart races were held.

Yeeeah.  Wow.

 

Extra Credit: Two Liga MX qf’s, a couple dozen group stage Europa league matches, Copa Sudamericana sf, El Salvador and Guatemala qf’s, second round Arab Club Championship

Wednesday

3. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur vs. Inter Milan – UEFA Champions League

You can scroll down to the Tuesday portion of the Midweek Track for a few extra details on the event, should you be a completely unseasoned Noobite.

Noob-reviled Hotspur is nearly out of Champions League, as is good, right and appropriate. When your club is named for an historic traitor (Harry Percy), good things cannot follow.

The scourge of England’s Premier League, Hotspur trail Inter by three points in the table and won the first match between them (tiebreaker). Since Hotspur’s remaining match other than this one is at #1 Barcelona, they’re in desperate need of a win today.

Hotspur are winners of five straight across all competitions. Inter are in just 5th in Italy’s Serie A. Where Hotspur lack a little offensive punch compared to many other top teams, Inter have been sagging on defense. Bad matchup for the visitors, sadly.   (3:00 PM Eastern, TNT)

RESULT:   Hotspur   1-0

Image result for sir topham hatt furious

 

 

Sir Topham Hatt — flexing the pimp hand.  Gotta keep it strong for those Hotspur COYS.

 

4. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Liverpool – UEFA Champions League

This is the most competitive Group going here. Liverpool and Napoli are tied for first. PSG are just a point behind and Red Star Belgrade only a point behind them in turn.

PSG are running roughshod over Ligue 1 – no losses or draws. Yet many people Noob reads suggest the league is not very good this year. Liverpool have yet to lose in Champions League, putting them in second place there. Neither team allow goals.

Both teams are stronger than the ones in Track Match three here. If either doesn’t qualify for the Knockout Round, that’s big news.   (3:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   PSG   2-1

5. Porto vs. Schalke – UEFA Champions League

Three matches from one event? Thought you were filtering event like these, Noob.

Oh, but I am. But I won’t ignore important ones this late in the Group Stage just for the sake of it. Porto is Portugal’s #1 team. That doesn’t make them one of the very strongest clubs remaining, but they won’t be a pushover for anyone next round. They’re dominating the Primeira Liga and can score and defend amazingly.

Germany’s Schalke trail Porto by two in the Group C table. An upset win today would guarantee them a berth in the Knockout Round. And it would be a remarkable upset at that. In the Bundesliga, they’re playing so darn badly that they’re fighting just to stay out of the Relegation Zone.

They don’t defend half badly, but they didn’t wow on offense last year and don’t score much at all now. Still, they lead the Group 3rd-place team by four, seem likely to sneak out of the Group Stage no matter how today goes.

RESULT:   Porto   3-1

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Is that the German Mr. Magoo?

 

6. Monterrey vs. Santos – Liga MX

Let the playoffs begin! This is the Liguilla. The eight best teams from the Apertura (first half-season) qualified. This is a bracketed tournament. Each pair of teams will play two-legged, home-and-away series.

It is seeded just like the NCAA basketball tourney would be, and this is your 4/5 matchup. Santos has been a shade better on both sides of the ball. More, they haven’t lost to Monterrey in their last three matches. But Monterrey haven’t lost in three matches, while Santos didn’t win in any of their last three.   (10:06 PM, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:   Monterrey    1-0

7. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

This is CONCACAF’s third-strongest league. They might argue they’re better than MLS. Mexicans might argue their second division league is better. Regardless, this is a sneaky-good football league.

And the Playoffs are already underway! The top four qualified for this postseason tournament. Apertura regular season champs Saprissa host this second match of the home-and-away Semifinal series. Herediano – the other perennial power here – finished 4th, won the first leg 1-0 at their place.

Saprissa was better on both sides of the ball all Apertura, but particularly so on offense. That one-goal deficit should be one they can overcome today, move on to the Final.

RESULT:   Saprissa   1-0       …which means the series was tied and they moved on to penalty kicks!    Herediano advances to the final on those, 2-4

Image result for costa rica premier logo

 

 

One foot-sport, one heart.  

But the logo’s more than a little puffy-nipply.   No.

8. Portmore United vs. Tivoli Gardens – Jamaica Premier

This, too, is one of CONCACAF’s stronger domestic leagues – almost certainly the best of the island nations in our federation. Hallooo, neighbors! Noob’s making a concerted effort to get to know ya. May I borrow a cup of sugar?

The top six finishers here will make the Playoffs, with the top two getting byes into the Semifinals. They’re a dozen matches into the season, and rhese two are #1 and #3. This is a classic best offense versus best defense scenario. An upset win wouldn’t move Gardens into 1st, but would tighten up an already good-looking race.

RESULT:   Portmore   2-0

Extra Credit:   the other UEFA Champions League matches, Costa Rican semifinal, Liga MX qf; 

Also, Spain’s Copa del Rey round of 32 match, Copa Argentina sf, Copa Sudamericana sf, Czech Cup Round of 16, Guatemala National League sf

Also, #1 Shkendija vs. #3 Academy Pandev in Macedonai’s Prva Liga, Russian FA Cup qf, very early round CAF Champions League, #3 Brittania vs. #2 Nacional in Aruba’s Division di Honor, second round Arab Club Championship

Tuesday

1. Lyon vs. Manchester City – UEFA Champions League

But make no mistake, I’m glad it’s back, baybeeeeee! A quick reminder for the newest Noobites what the it is:. League champions and other top teams of Europe in the crown jewel of all club tournaments. They’re currently in the Group Stage. Pods of four playing double round robins. Top two finishers from each will advance to the Knockout (single elimination, bracket-style) Stage. Everybody’s got two matches to go.

Man City is thought by many to be the #1 team in the world currently. They’re undefeated in Premier League play, lead Lyon by three point in the Group F table. But they’ve lost one match.

To Lyon. At Man City! The French team is a distant #B to undefeated Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 there, but #B nonetheless. They haven’t lost to anyone, anywhere, besides PSG since August. Yet strangely, that win over Man City is their only win in Group F. All their other matches have ended in draws.

So what’s at stake? Noob’s laser-focused of late on stakes, letting you know why any given match is important. Man City are almost 100% to advance to the Knockout Round now, and any result (win or draw) will seal that deal.

A win for Lyon would do the same. Anything else, and the door is very much open for the other two Group F clubs, trailing by three and four points, respectively. So yes, remaining undefeated with a draw would leave the, in jeopardy yet. What a tournament.

Oh, and based on ELO ratings (thank you, footballdatabase.com), Noob thinks Man City will win easily, 1-2 goal margin, in France.

RESULT:   2-2         Maxwell Cornet with a goal and an assist for Lyon as they blew two leads.  

B. AS Roma vs. Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League

Noob is often reluctant to feature multiple matches from the same league or tournament on a given day. I wish to act as filter for we newish fans, allow us to focus on the most important things, yet with a broad gaze. Eight matches today for UEFA CL. We can do two.

It’s an easy decision when the three-time defending champions are in the mix, too. Real and Roma are tied for the Group G lead. The next team down is five points behind. Look, these two are going through to the Knockout Stage no matter how the match ends today. But finishing 1st or runner-up matters for seeding in the next Round, so this match is still monster.

Defending champs or not, this isn’t the same Real team of recent years. Losing the greatest active player in the world – Cristiano Ronaldo – will have that effect. They’re in just 5th place in La Liga and just suffered a blistering 3-0 loss to Eibar. If you don’t know that name, that’s the point. And their newfound issues are on both sides of the ball.

Yet after a 3rd place Italian Serie A finish last year, Roma have slipped as many places as Real – down to 7th at present. They’d appeared to have the righted their ship to some degree of late, but than lost to Udinese last time out. Once again, if you don’t know that club, that’s the point.

Real’s crash back to earth this year has been the steeper fall. Still, Noob wouldn’t put Roma at any better than an even match for them at home.

RESULT:   Real   0-2

New feature! EXTRA CREDIT will appear with some frequency now – these are events, matches Noob scouted for a given date but that didn’t make the cut for the Track.

Extra Credit: Early round-Coupe de France, Scotland’s FA Cup, very early round 2018-19 CAF Champions League, later round EFL Cup (tournament of tertiary importance in England), and Semifinals of Africa’s women’s Cup of Nations – all are in action.

ALSO! Congrats to Guadalajara, UANL, America and Pachuca of Liga MX Femenil. They all just qualified for the Semifinals of the Apertura (first half-season) there.

Noob’s trying to learn women’s and more CONCACAF soccer in general, but the site I use (for the moment) screws up dates something fierce. I’d scouted the Quarterfinals I thought were today, but they’re in the books already. Part of the learning for Noob is finding the best resources.

 

’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!

Image result for fc olexandria

 

 

 

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

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

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

Tuesday and Wednesday matches and results are further down.

More Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Louisville    1-0        Hail to the champions!

Image result for close call soccer gif

 

Noob’er with the save!

 

If barely…

 

 

Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-1

Image result for America gif funny

 

Murican treasure Danny McBride is revved up for the game.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Argentina   4-0     

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

  1. Vidi vs. PAOK – Europa League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Vidi   1-0

Image result for harold and kumar at white castle

 

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

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

 

Wednesday

  1. CSKA Moscow vs. Roma – UEFA Champions League

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Roma   1-2

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

Stay for the chessboxing.  Yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. CD Aguila vs. Alianza – El Salvador Premier

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Alianza   1-2

Image result for el salvador gif

 

El Salvador Jr. – Mexican luchador.

Yeah,. Noob doesn’t get that, either.

 

Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

Might be “turrible”, but so what.

B.  Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX Femenil

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

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

RESULT:   Pachuca   3-2

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

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

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

RESULT:   Tigres   2-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Portland   2-1

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

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

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

RESULT:   Atl   0-1

Image result for grouchy soccer

 

 

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

 

3.  Wellsworth vs. Ffarquhar – Isle of Sodor Premier

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Ffarquhar   1-5

  1. UNAM Pumas vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the Final!

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

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

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

RESULT:   Dundalk   1-2      hail to the victors!

Image result for FAI Cup Trophy 2018

 

 

Soooo shiny

  1. Olimpia vs. Cerro Porteño – Paraguay Pro Division

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

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

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

  1. Portmore United vs. Tivoli Gardens – Jamaica Premier

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

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

RESULTL   Tivolo   0-1

Image result for Jamaican crush

 

 

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

T.E. McField Sports Centre, George Town

 

 

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

home of Scholars

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (10/30-11/1) soccer matches — MLS playoffs begin!

The ten most important matches to follow, for us — the newish American fans of the global game.   For the Midweek, Noob teases out ten over the three days instead of a full slate on each.

More first round MLS Playoffs action!   *action flex pose*

But Noob isn’t all America all the time.  We’ll also get to know some more about our CONCACAF neighbors as we finish up the Midweek Track.  Tomorrow — Globetrotting Friday!

Thursday

  1. D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew – Major League Soccer playoffs

Battle of the Saved!   To keep things to Ten on the Track, just previewing this one.  The other match today is #3 LAFC versus #6 Real Salt Lake.  It’s important, absolutely.  But Noob likes to spread the love around, so just doing this one.

If you’ve followed this site or American soccer in general, you know the story arc of these two clubs’ seasons:

D.C. – stunk out loud, signed an all-time great from Europe, Saved their season.

Columbus – high-end average all year, looked like ownership would move them to Austin, Cleveland Browns swooped in recently and Saved the Crew.

Columbus looked so entrenched in #4 spot in the Eastern Conference for so long, Noob called their position a done deal weeks ago.   Then they started mostly losing and drawing matches.  Nearly all their matches.  So with their offense AWOL, they slipped into a tie with D.C.

D.C. has the same number of wins as Columbus, but wins out for the opportunity to hose this match as the #4 by virtue of the second tiebreaker – goal differential.  They haven’t lost a match since late August.  And as much as all-world Wayne Rooney was the big reason early on in their turnaround, there’s no denying it’s the defense that’s carrying them now.  They’ve conceded just two goals in their last six outings.

If Columbus are to have a shot tonight, they’ll likely need another incredible performance from striker Gyasi Zardes.  He netted all three of the Crew’s goals in their regular-season 3-2 finale over Minnesota.

Kind of funny – If Columbus had lost, they’d instead be travelling to struggling #3 NYCFC.   they’d probably have preferred that matchup over one with red-hot D.C.   (8:00 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   Columbus   2-2  /  2-3  PK        What a match!  Federeico Higuain with both goals for the winners.  D.C. equalized at 116′ to send it to penalties.

 

Some Ohio edumuhcation for you.

(Buhhht where’s Columbus?)

  1. Motagua vs. Herediano – CONCACAF League

It’s the second leg of the Final!   Here are some of the event details from the post a week ago.  What is this tournament?

That can be better answered to start by telling you who is (and isn’t) in it.   This is 13 really good Central American teams and three top clubs from the Caribbean region.

Who this is not are the league champions from the five best Central American leagues.  Those qualified directly for the CONCACAF Champions League.  The winner of this event gets the 16th and final spot in the Champions League

Herediano qualified for this tournament by having the best aggregate record between the Costa Rican Apertura and Clausura (first and second half-tournaments) last season.  Motagua were the runners-up in both those stages In Honduras.

Herediano are the better team in paper, but wow are they struggling in their current league season.  They’ve lost four straight, only scoring in one of the matches and dropping to midtable.

Herediano have been the favorite, despite struggling in their current league season.  They’d lost four straight matches before winning the first leg here, beating Montagua 2-0.

This had looked like a real opportunity for underdogs Motagua.  They’d not lost in six matches.   In league, their D has been A+.  But two goals is a lot to make up against Herediano today, even at home.

RESULT:   Motagua   2-0        But that means Herediano wins the tie 3-2.  Hail to the victors!   And congrats on your Champions League berth.

  1. Santa Tecla vs. Alianza – El Salvador Premier

Just six matches left in the Apertura (first half-season of the year) and Alianza are still undefeated!  But nearly half their matches have ended in draws, so they’re only two points up on #B Santa Tecla.

Noob isn’t overly impressed with Santa Tecla.  The top eight of twelve league teams make the playoffs, so sure, they’re clearly getting into that.   But title contenders?

They’re tough, gritty, but ultimately their offense is only have as good as Alianza’s.  And Aguila’s.  That club just going to be #B.  S.T. may be able to get a draw at home today, but no better.

RESULT:   Santa Tecla   2-1         Well color Noob surprised!

Image result for el infiernillo el salvadorSo long from El Infiernillo, Santa Tecla, El Salvador!

(Local club supporters now want to throw Noob into wherever that steam comes from.)

 

Wednesday   

B.  FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers – Major League Soccer Playoffs

Nitty Gritty:   Top six in each of the two Conferences qualified for the postseason.  The top two seeds in each get byes to the Second Round.  The format is single elimination matches hosted by the club with the better seed.

Noob initially typo’ed with “Playoofs”.  Dallas made a very loud oof-ing sound as they got figuratively kicked in the gut in their last regular season match.  They came into the match at lowly-Colorado Rapids #B in the table, with a shot at the #1 seed.

Now, #1 Kansas City didn’t lose like Dallas needed for #1 to happen for them.  But a win still leaves them #B and with a Playoff bye.   Even a draw gets them the #3 seed.

Aaaaand they crapped the bed, allowing the Rapids two goals in the last ten minutes of the match.  Colorado wins 2-1.  “The Toros” slip to #4 on the heels of a three-match losing streak.  At least they still get to host this match.

The only good news for Dallas fans is that #5 Portland has been inconsistent most of the season.  The Timbers started 2018 hot, but were up and own the last 2/3 of the year. They lost their last match toi non-Playoff-bound Vancouver, but it’s hard to read too much into that.  Portland went into the game with nothing at stake.  They were going to be the #5 seed no matter the result of the last days’ matches around the league.

The biggest Dallas name to know on offense is Maximilian Urruti.  But if you really want to impress coworkers around the water cooler, tell them Swiss international defender Reto Ziegler needs to get some energy drink going.  The center of Dallas’ defense has been awful down the stretch, but he’s been the weakest link.

For Portland, they key to their success has been midfielder Diego Valeri.  He leads the team in goals and assists both.  Striker Jeremy Ebobisse has been controlling space up front well for them late.  If this tandem are both on – and Noob thinks they will be against their fading hosts – look for a Portland road upset today.

RESULT:   Portland   1-2       Valeri with both goals.  Urrturi was up front, if not dominant.   Reto Ziegler may actually have been the strongest defender for Dallas on the night.

Image result for double letter b funny

 

 

 

Tandem Number B’s are about to make a grievous error.

 

  1. NYCFC vs. Philadelphia Union – Major League Soccer Playoffs

It’s déjà vu all over again.  These two just played in their last match, NYCFC taking it at home 3-1.  That’s particularly disconcerting for the Union because they had something to play for.  They end up with the #6 seed, but could’ve and would’ve climbed two notches up the standings with a W.

NYCFC were going to be the #3 seed no matter how that or any match went Sunday.  Perhaps they were simply motivated to get off a two-match losing skid before the postseason began.

In fact, they’d only won one match in their last nine heading into that one.  (Draws staunched some of the bleeding, and they were never going to drop far since Columbus was also dropping matches left and right.)

So what’s going to happen today?  Goodness only knows.   Philly’s once-vaunted offense pulled a Houdini act the last five weeks.  But NYCFC ‘s did the same thing.

RESULT:   NYCFC   3-1      Maxi Morales with a goal and an assist

  1. Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul – Copa MX

The Final!   And so, one last reminder of what we have here.  The two Copa tournaments each football-year align timewise with their two league half-seasons.  They aren’t like most other nations’ FA Cups, which let in teams from many or all leagues in some way.  Here, only teams from the top two tiers ever compete.

This is a single-elimination Final match, being hosted in Monterrey.  These two are #6 and #3, respectively, in the Liga MX (top tier) standings.  This should be a defensive-affair.  Cruz Azul concede the league’s fewest goals.  And Monterrey has been surprisingly quiet on offense all year.

This isn’t one Noob would want to put pesos on – very even matchup on paper.  But if you are so inclined, Monterrey is at home and the more traditional recent power.

RESULT:   Cruz Azul   0-2        Aaaaand Noob now sees that Cruz are 10-8-2 in their last 20 against Monterrey.  oopsie

Image result for funny Mexican pesos

 

That doesn’t seem ri–

No, never mind.

  1. Fiorentina vs. Chelsea Ladies – UEFA Women’s Champions League

Like the men’s version, this is the top international women’s club tournament in Europe.  They’re now in the Round of 16.  Opponents face off in two-legged home-and-away series to determine who advances.

All the R16 series are heading into their second matches.  Chelsea won 1-0 at home to begin this one.  It looks, therefore, to be the most competitive series going this round.   There’s not often a lot of parity in the women’s game.  A lot of the series are already blowouts.

Fiorentina pulled a Maverick and Goose and slid into someone else’s qualification spot.  Cue up the Kenny Loggins soundtrack.  You’re welcome, “Top Gun” fangirls.

Last year, Brescia finished #B and qualified for this.  But they sold their Serie A rights to AC Milan, who were starting a new women’s team.  That meant #3 Fiorentina gets to play CL.   But they’re not even doing that well early in their new league season.

No one beat Chelsea last year in England, but they’ve not started the new season all that well, either.  I am loath to call a winner here.  Noob’s still on a steep part of the learning curve for the women’s game.  Part of why I’m doing this nutty site!

RESULT:   Chelsea    0-6      Oh dear, that escalated quickly.

  1. Guastatoya vs. Xelaju – Guatemala National League

If one guesses there is a co-relation between how a country’s National Team stacks up against others in their confederation and how their domestic league compares, then Guatemala’s is nearly the weakest of the Central American ones.  But hey – they’re playing!  And when have you ever known Noob to not be mesmerized by the shine of a #1 versus #B matchup?

Guastatoya are responsible for most of the sparkle.  With six matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season), they lead Xelaju by seven points in the table.  Best O in the league by a little, and best defense by a wide margin.  They don’t even concede a goal every other match on average.

Xelaju are tied on points with Malacateco, lead them by one little tiebreaking goal on differential.  Top six will make the Playoffs, and top two will get byes there.  So every match is still vital for Xelaju.  Noob think’s they’ll get that #B spot when all is said and done, but at least a draw and a point today might be a necessary starting point.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for angry guatemalansCrap!  Ticked off the Guatemalans.

Is that a plastic green vuvuzela?  If so, Noob surrenders right -now-.

  1. Al-Ain vs. Sharjah Cultural Club – Arabian Gulf League

This – also often seen as “The UAE Pro-League” – is the top flite in United Arab Emirates, ranks as the 4th-best league in all Asia.  In fact, here’s how things shake out in the AFC top ten, just for fun:

China and Qatar are the two clear best club football nations.  South Korea and U.A.E. are the clear next best two.   Iran, Japan and Saudi Arabia are #5-#7.  After that, there’s a massive chasm before you get to Thailand and Australia.  Uzbekistan currently rank 10th, but Iraq and Tajikistan are very close.

#1 Sharjah are one of two undefeated clubs remaining early in this league’s season.  Al-Ain are not the other, but they’re #B just the same.    Al-Ain are the defending champs, whereas Sharjah were just average in 2017-18.

Al-Ain were tremendous on defense last year and remain so know.  But Sharjah so far have been every bit as dominant at goal-stopping.  Go, Sharjah!  it’s fun to see newer blood at the top and tight title races.

And Noobites, you’re welcome for not sticking in some stock 80’s pop music Culture Club reference.  My pattern is to put the zany images and videos on the evenly-numbered matches.  But if Sharjah stay atop the table, I make no future promises regarding restraint!  The future may hold “Church of the Poisoned Mind” references.

(“Karma Chameleon” is too easy, overdone.  Never travel in a straight line, Noobites.  Never ever.)

RESULT:   Sharjah   1-2

Tuesday

  1. Adelaide United vs. Sydney FC – FFA Cup (Australia)

The Final!

Australia’s calendar set up is unusual this way.  Most countries play their FA Cup tournaments concurrently with the league season.  Down Under, they’re only two matches into the league season, yet here they are, handing out a trophy already.

This is the first time the federation there has ever used a random draw to determine who will host.  Previously, they FFA made deliberate selections.  Probably it always went in favor of the larger of the two teams’ venues.

But Adelaide won the coin toss, or got a favorable reading of entrails or whatever upside down hoodoo they might do there.  And the Reds need the advantage.   They were a perfectly average team last year, look not much different early on now.  Sydney destroyed the league, best in the biz on both sides of the ball.

Adelaide are a bit better on defense than goal-scoring, will likely look to take the air out of the ball.  Noob’s guessing they’d be thrilled with it being 0-0 and see things decides by penalty shootout.

RESULT:   Adelaide   2-1         Congrats to the victors!    And perhaps should not be so surprised.  Despite Sydney FC being the usually dominant power in Oz, Adelaide are actually now 15-7-9 in the series’ recent  history.

Image result for upside down soccerNo, Ronaldo.

This is now how to prepare for soccer in Australia.   

You’re not leaving Juve so soon anyway.

’10 to Track’ Sunday (10/14) soccer matches – CONCACAF galore, plus new Sandwich Review(oob) feature!

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

And now, the perfect pairing – Sandwich Review Feature.

There’s real soccer info in here.  Somewhere.   But s**t’s about to get weird, y’all.

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

And then there were four.  Time for the Knockout Stage.  Three of the four will qualify for next year’s World Cup.

One will be #1 USA.  No one’s even scored on them all tournament.  Jamaica won’t.  They’re ranked #64 in the world.   (8:00 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   6-0      Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan with two goals apiece.   Now officially headed to 2019 World Cup.

B.  Panama vs. Canadia – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

The other Semifinal!  #66 vs. #5.   The Final and consolation matches will be far higher drama.   (5:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Canadia   0-7       Christine Sinclair and Adriana Leon with two goals each for the now officially World Cup-bound Canadiaians

Image result for dramatic letter B

 

 

Number B, rocking it as “dramatic dark sunset” Number B today.

Sultry.

  1. Poland vs. Italy – UEFA Nations League

This is a League A matchup.  Portugal is the third team in this Group within that league and they’re waaaay ahead after two games.   If either of today’s two want to have chance two in the group and make the playoffs, it’s vital they get a win today.

They’re ranked 18th and 20th in the world.  In their last ten collective matches, they have one win.  Therefore, Noob’s guess is they draw today.   (2:45 PM, ESPN)

RESULT:   Italy   0-1      While it wasn’t a draw like Noob predicted, Italia didn’t get their score until after 90′.

  1. New York Red Bulls II vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – United Soccer League

Last regular season match in the second division league.  These teams have cumulatively won their last 12 matches.  Talk about peaking at the right time!

#3 Pittsburgh can only drop down.  Even a draw and their three-seed is secure.  NYRB is in a three-way tie for 5th.  They can’t do better than #5, but could fall very far – even out of the top eight at the Playoffs entirely!

This will be a wide-open affair if Red Bulls control the pace.   They score like gangbusters, play the third-worst defense in the entire division.  Pittsburgh has always tried taking the air out of the ball.  Noob thinks Red Bulls score early, force Pitt to actually push forward for a change.  I think this is a home rout today.

RESULT:   NYRB II   2-1        And so Red Bull B-side do get the #5 seed

Image result for red bull funny

 

 

 

If I could walk on water/ if I could find some way to prove/

If I could walk on water would you believe in me/ ‘Cause I believe in yooooou.”

  1. Saint Martin vs. Saint Kitts and Nevis – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

The hosts today are from the northern, French part of the island country.  The Dutch half has its own team.  They are both very weak.  SKN are one of the top 20 teams in in the federation, though just 134th in the world.

RESULT:   SKN   0-10         not a typo

TIME OUT FOR A NEW FEATURE!

Noob Sammich Reviewbs.  Reviewoobs?    TBD

Not sure how often Noob will do this, but it starts NOW.   It’s not enough to just talk soccer.  Let’s talk about what soccer fans talk about.  And eat.  I’m talking SAMMICHES.

Corned Beef and Swiss Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Bread

 

 

Corned Beef and Swiss Shamrock Sandwich.

 

 

This is a Nature’s Own-bread sandwich recipe.   Noob decided to find a corned beef sammich to compare to my all-time fave.

This is diced corned beef on whole wheat bread.  Swiss cheese.  A little Dijon mustard.  A little more horseradish sauce.  Plenty of reduced-fat cream cheese.

Noob’s all-time fave corned beef has the meat sliced.  Tomatoes, pickles, black olives, a little mayo.  Leaf lettuce is better.  I had it with shredded and that’s okay.

This sandwich is an affront to everything Noob believes in.  Diced meat of any kind, anywhere, is gross.   Put it in with all those soft ingredients and I start to doubt the possible existence of an omni-benevolent god in the universe.

Look, the Swiss cheese is fine.  Noob doesn’t need any on a cold sammich, but whatever.  Horseradish?   Like the music of Journey, I get what others like about it, but I don’t need to hear/eat it.  Cream cheese on any bread that soft?  Denied.

Put it all together and it’s…well, it’s diced meat in mouthful of mush.  That bread doesn’t look hearty enough to offer any respite from the rest of the awful texture.

Noob’s decided for now that the rating system will be on a 1-5 star system.  But instead of stars, the unit will be…Sammiches.

So!   This sandwich gets One Sammich from Noob.  It would get zero, but Noob has to leave room potentially finding an even lousier sandwich at some point.

Actually, let’s knock it down to just a half Sammich.  This sandwich pisses off the Irish by being shamrock-shaped on top of everything else.

Please respond with your reviewoob thoughts on Twitter @SoccerNoobUSA.  I’m also taking suggestions of sandwiches for future reviews.

  1. Chelsea Ladies vs. Arsenal – England Women’s Soccer League

Chelsea went undefeated in this league last year.  Still, they didn’t completely dominate on either side of the ball compared to their peers.  Arsenal finished 3rd, missing out on the Champions League by one point in the table.  The season is just getting going.

RESULT:   Arsenal   0-5        Changing of the guard?   Vivianne Miedema and Jordan Noobs with two goals each

  1. Marathon vs. Real Espana – Honduras National League

Marathon are tied for 1st in the table, though they’ve played two more matches than Olimpia.  Noob likes them to win the league though.  Not the very best on either side of the ball, but incredibly balanced.

Real Espana are in a three-way tie for 3rd.   They score more than anyone, but the utter lack of defense will make them midtable.  That trek starts today.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Palmeiras vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

Going to be moving day today in Brazil potentially!  The league leaders host #5, which are also the defending Copa Libertadores champions.

This may not be the most exciting game to watch, not if you’re looking for goals.  But only four points separate them in the table.  And only the top four teams qualify to start the next CL at the Group Stage level.  So it’s still very high drama.   (3:00 PM, GOL TV)

Palmeiras   2-0        Deyverson with two goals.    Botch clubs stay in same spots in table

Image result for so exciting gif

 

 

Craig Robinson, at least, appreciates defensive footyball.

  1. Internacional vs. Sao Paulo – Brazil Serie A

#3 hosting #4 as well today is what makes it so special for the league.

Sao Paulo led the league for quite a while, but have come back to earth, as expected.   They’ve stayed afloat with a few draws, but haven’t won a match since early September.  The offense has trickled away for them.

Inter are coming off a curious loss to meh-at-best Sport Recife.  They’ve won just one of their last four, which have all been draws or decided by a goal either way.   (3:00 PM, Premeire Futebol)

RESULT:   Inter   3-1          Leandro Damiao with two goals.  So much for “Moving Day”.   These two also stayed in same table positions.

  1. Kenya vs. Ethiopia – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

The top two finishers in each Group of four make the Cup next year.  All four in this one have won a match, so the race is super tight.  These two lead the others by a point in the table, but have already played one more match than them.

They are FIFA-ranked 107 and 149, respectively.  but Ethiopia’s actually only scored one goal in their three matches.  Noob thinks this is where the higher-ranked Kenya’s have their breakout match.

RESULT:   Kenya   3-0

Image result for Nairobi weirdSo long from Nairobi!

If the animals look weird, it’s because they’re scrap metal sculptures.

The world is weird.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – USMNT, El Tri lead the way

Noob’s had to quick-and-dirty the Thursday mini-previews.   My new work sched continues to wreak havoc with my sleep sched.  It os, of course, the fault of The Management.

Um, Noob?  That’s your “real” job.  The only sched I try to keep you to is the one related to taking your clearly under-dosing head-meds.

Just because you’re right, The Management, doesn’t mean you don’t need to pipe down.

Tuesday and Wednesday match results follow further down now.

To arms!

Thursday

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

#22 and #14-ranked in world by FIFA, facing off for the nineteenth time since 1961.  Americans have one just four.

After the U.S. failed to qualify for World Cup, new, interim coach Sarachan has been mixing in a lot of youth.  This may be a particularly challenging evening for the U.S. on the defensive side.  Three of the backline players are getting their first USMNT experience tonight.

With top offensive threat Christian Pulisic out with an injury, the player to watch may be his fill-in.  Fafa Picualt played six years for Italian club Cagliari before returning stateside where he has remained.  He currently stars for the Philadelphia Union.   (7:30 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   Colombia   2-4         The U.S. actually fought back to take a 2-1 lead after falling behind 0-1.

  1. Mexico vs. Costa Rica – men’s international friendly

#15 hosts #37.   Mexico is mixing in a lot of youth as well.  They made the world cup, and even had a win over Germany.  Still, they feel it’s time for something of a changing of the guard as well.

A couple interesting side notes on this one.   Mexico typically prefers to play the in the U.S. (which they just did) as much as possible during the annual international break during October.   They sell an absolute crapton of tickets.

Also, this is the first time in three years their men’s team has played a friendly anywhere but Mexico City.   This match will be at club team UANL Tigres’ stadium in Monterrey.   (9:30 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   Mexico   3-2

  1. Costa Rica vs. Canadia – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

Canadia the second Group of four clubs here in the Group Stage.  Heading into this last match, they haven’t mathematically wrapped up a top-two finish, which would send them to the Knockout Stage.  But they’re 2-0 and have outscored opponents 14-0.  They’re going.

To not make it, they’d have to lose by 8+ today.  it’s more likely to be the other way around.  Also, Jamaica would have to beat Cuba by 15+.  Given how awful Cuba’s team is (outscored 0-20 so far), that’s not an impossibility.

Costa Rica and Jamaica are tied on points in the table, but C.R. lead by eight on tie-breaking GD.  These two are ranked #34 and #5, respectively, by FIFA.   (Edinburgh, TX – 10:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Canadia   1-3

  1. Israel vs. Scotland – UEFA Nations Cup

UEFA’s newest league returns!   Noob is pressed for time at this hour, so Noobites will want to do a site search (or span the interwebs) for some details on this tournament, what and why it is.

These two are in League C of this event.  32 men’s national teams ranked above them are playing in A and B.  The three-team Group they’re assigned to within their League also features Albania.  They’re playing a double-round-robin.  The winner will get promoted to League B for next year, provided UEFA decides to continue with this event.

Scotland beat Albania 2-0 in their first and only match so far.  Israel lost to Albania 0-1.  FIFA ranks them #94 and #39, respectively.  In Europe they may be close-ish together ordinally, but that’s quite a gulf really.  Israel should consider it a moral victory if they can keep with a goal of the Scots.

RESULT:   Israel   2-1      Come from behind upset

Wednesday

  1. Trinidad and Tobago vs. U.S.A. – CONCACAF Women’s Championships / World Cup qualification

Teams are now heading into their last matches of this Group Stage.  The world #1-ranked U.S. women have already advanced to the Knockout Stage, outscoring their two opponents so far 11-0.  T&T carried the third-best FIFA-ranking (#52) in this group of four, but are already eliminated.  They’ve been outscored 7-1.

This match will not be competitive.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a treat to watch!   Catch the blowout in Cary, NC on FS1 at 7:30 PM EST tonight.

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-7       Ms. Morgan and Rose Lavelle with two goals apiece

Image result for Alex Morgan drunkLadies, keep Alex Morgan from trying to catch a flight to Orlando to celebrate after.

(Kicked out of Disney World last year, drunk and screaming.)

 

(Google you up some particulars on this 2017 gem of a story at your convenience, Noobites.)

  1. Panama vs. Mexico – CONCACAF Women’s Championships / World Cup qualification

Now this one is a lot more meaningful.  Only the top two advance to the Knockout Stage, and these two are in the same Group as the teams above.

#66 Panama and #24 Mexico are knotted up at three points each.  Panama leads on goal differential by one teeny tiny goal.  If they draw tonight, Panama gets the surprise berth in the next Round.  Meanwhile, the Mexican women will wear the sad pants.  No World Cup.   (5:00 PM, FS2)

RESULT:    Panama   2-0       They’ll still have to win a match in two tries in the Knockout Round to earn a bid to World Cup.   But what a year for Panama!    First, their men’s team makes their first-ever WC, and now the ladies are on the doorstep.

Image result for wearing the sad pants

 

 

What does Noob mean by “the sad pants”?

Let’s address more important pants-questions first.

  1. Cruziero vs. Corinthians – Copa do Brazil

Brazil’s FA Cup has reached its Final!   This is the first match of a home and away two-legged tie for the title.  The winner automatically qualifies for next year’s Copa Libertadores (S. America’s version of Champions League).

This should be fiercely fought.  These are storied clubs, but neither is nearly high enough in their league table to qualify for CL without this title.  Both have struggled mightily to score all season, leaving them in 9th and 11th place, respectively.

Cruziero just fell to Argentinian Boca Juniors in the current CL, managing just one goal in the two matches.  And Juniors aren’t even playing that well in their own league this year.  Corinthians haven’t scored a goal since three outings ago.  It may be a defensive slog, but the action is available on Fox Soccer Plus at 8:45 PM.

RESULT:   Cruziero   1-0

Tuesday

  1. Louisville FC vs. North Carolina FC – United Soccer League

No MLS matches these three days, so we turn to the second division for our fix of American league action.  None of the matches over the Midweek feature playoff-slotted (top eight in conference) clubs.   So instead we have a Hiccup Watch.

Defending champs Louisville are currently #B in the East, which should be good for two home postseason matches.  They’ve scored 14 goals in their last four matches, of which three were on the road.

North Carolina are down in 10th.  But they should be plenty motivated – only two points behind 8th-place New York Red Bulls II.  And their GD is positive, even higher than Indy Eleven’s, and that club is in 4th!

So, we Track to see if Louisville can avoid having a Hiccup here, potentially falling behind Pittsburgh.

RESULT:   L’ville   2-1      Come-from-behind win for the favorites.  Cameron Lancater with two second half goals.

B.  Monterrey vs. Queretaro – Copa MX

Second-tier Juarez lost here in the Quarterfinals Round, so we’re down to all Liga MX clubs.   The winner of this last QF match will face 11th-in-the-league Pachuca in the Semis.

Monterrey and Queretaro are 6th and 8th-place in the league currently.  Given that only the top eight teams make the league’s postseason tournament, Noob is forced to wonder if Queretaro will partially or completely rest some starters.  League seems to always trump club in importance, anywhere you go.

On the other hand, Monterrey have been on a skid of late.  They’ve only won once in their last six matches across all competitions.   This could be a wild match and Noob dares not make any kind of prediction.

But guess who would?!   Resident prognosticator Noobstradamus has had a Vision.    Lay it on us unseeing mortals, oh, ancient one.

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0        Guess it was the raw goat meat and cervezas after all, eh, Noobstradamus?

Image result for Noobstradamus

 

 

I am, indeed, older than dirt.   Thanks for the reminder.  But the setting of my Vision regarding this game was set in modern Monterrey. 

 

I was jamming with famous local alt-rock band Plastina Mosh, right on the Santa Lucia Riverwalk.  We were pounding out “los Oxidados” – the opening song from “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”.  I was on bongos, extending that instrumentation beyond the traditional intro and wailing away throughout!

Suddenly Jonás and the boys shifted into a slow, surprisingly sad, nameless norteño tune.  The bongos didn’t belong in this.  I shrugged my silent question of why at Alejandro.  A tear ran down his eye as he nodded towards the drum kit.  The bass drum now had painted on it “Queretaro 1-2”.

It was a powerful seeing, one I trust completely.  Except that I vaguely remember pounding Tecates the night before, and partaking in what was surely undercooked cabrito.   I often confuse food-related illness-born hallucinations  and Visions.  No one’s perfect.

OhhhhKAY.   While we try to ourselves divine what the fruit THAT was, please enjoy a musical interlude.  “Los Oxidados!”

  1. Switzerland vs. Belgium – UEFA Women’s World Cup qualification

The Group Stage is done and the winners of those seven pods of four have qualified for World Cup next year.  The top four second-place finishers from that round now start competing for one final berth.

So in these semifinal “Playoff Rounds”, the series will be two-legged ties, home and away.  Switzerland carried the higher FIFA ranking (#18), but they’re hosting this first leg.  Belgium aren’t far behind with a #23 ranking.  But given the lack of parity often seen in the women’s game, the Swiss should be considered a full-goal favorite today.

RESULT:   1-1       The two-legged tie ends 3-3.  Switzerlands advances on away-goals tiebreaker!

Wednesday and Thursday

coming soon!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B.  Liverpool vs. Manchester City – English Premier League

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

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

  1. Toluca vs. Pachuca – Liga MX

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

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

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

RESULT:   Toluca   2-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one has beaten or earned a draw against PSG.

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

RESULT:   PSG   5-0        Mbappe with four goals

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

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

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

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

  1. Benfica vs. Porto – Portugal Primeira Liga

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

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

RESULT:   Benfica   1-0     the streak is ended!

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Noob does speak Portguese.

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

 

 

Noob?  That means “register”. 

Fine, The Management.  Spoil all my fun.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

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

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

  1. Verdes vs. Bandits – Belize Premier

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

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

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

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

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So long from Benque Viejo, home of Verdes!

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church.