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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate – Copa Libertadores

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Hotspur   1-0

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

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Puebla – Liga MX

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

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

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

RESULT:   Tigres   6-1

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Newport   0-2

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

  1. FC Porto vs. Braga – Portugual Primeira Liga

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

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

RESULT:   Porto   1-0

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Audax Italiano vs. Palestino – Copa Chile

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

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

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

RESULT:   Palestino   0-1

Image result for odd chili

 

Mediterranean Chickpea Chili

C’mon, that’s odd chili.

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   2-2

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for Electrofringe newcastleSo long from Newcastle!

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

experimental electronic and technologically-based art

’10 to Track’ Saturday (11/3) soccer matches – USL playoffs, Liga MX, Premier League lead the way

Noob endeavors to both help us learn about American soccer and the sport from points around the globe, but also to make it weirdly funny throughout.

Saturdays are hardly devoid my inanity, but MAN are the matches but good.  USL playoffs, Liga MX, Premier League, and a bevy of #1-#B matches.

And resident prognosticator Noobstradamus pops in to share what he knows today!

  1. Orange County vs. Phoenix Rising – United Soccer League playoffs

It’s the Western Conference Final in America’s second division playoffs!

These were the West’s top two scoring clubs during the regular season, and they’ve scored a dozen goals between them in four postseason matches.   Look for a shootout, look for it on ESPN+ (10:00 PM EST).

Winners gets defending champs Louisville FC in the Final   Noob thinks the team with the better seed will host.  O.C. are #1, Phoenix #3.   LFC were #B in the East.

RESULT:   Phoenix   1-2

B.  Arsenal vs. Liverpool – English Premier League

Liverpool is one of the three remaining undefeated teams in the league.   Last year’s star Mo Salah isn’t scoring at nearly the record-breaking clip he did last year, and the goals aren’t being replace elsewhere.

This might be a game where they can break out, though.  Arsenal are in 4th, yet play shite for defense.   That may be hyperbolic.  But not by lots.

On a Noob note:  Tenured Noobites know the scorn I have for Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur.  Named for a two-time historical traitor.   And they name a club after him.  Heathens.

Arsenal is their primary rival.  Yet Noob doesn’t hold them in much higher esteem than any club Hotspur is playing on a given day.   Is Noob doing the soccer wrong?   You can comment on this Post or hit me up on Twitter – @SoccerNoobUSA.   (1:30 PM, NBC)

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Interact with the Noob, or face the crossness

  1. Kashima Antlers vs. Persepolis – AFC Champions League

Time for another final!    This is the first match of a home and away two-legged tie.

Their domestic leagues are ranked closely together.   Japan’s J1 league is deeper than the Persian Gulf Pro League.  Noob would’ve guessed this meant the Iranians were to be favored.   But Noob’s fave site for Elo ratings (footballdatabase.com) is back up after a few scary days down.  It indicates these two are about perfectly equal.

Kashima play more quality competition.  But Persepolis plays fabulous defense.  Noob cannot handicap such an even-looking match!

It’s time to call on the prognostication powers of Ancient and All-Soccer Seeing Noobstradamus.

Image result for Noobstradamus

 

 

It’s strange when a vision takes hold, what seems clear and what is mist.  Even without the hanging scrolls dedicated to Takemikazuchi,  I would know this for Kashima Shinto Shrine.   

 

Kunii Zen’ya I were sparring in classic Kashima Shinryu fashion.  Our swords were appropriately thick bamboo, with large hilts.  The spiraling nature of the discipline’s movements had us starting and finishing in identical positions.  It was a dance, even as we strove to strike one another.

Motion and Stillness.  Origination and Manifestation.  We danced the beginnings of the Universe through the FiveFold laws.  Offense and Defense.  Emptiness and Reality.  Each pairing always as One, just as our whirring swords seems to be One as well.  Yin and Yang as One.  More clacking bamboo.

I let my concentration slip when one of the many birds on the torii we practiced under moved.  CLACK.  Kunii Zen’ya had perfect control of his weapon, specifically chose to strike a whip-fast blow to my sword-arm.  A lesson.  

I bent down to retrieve my own dropped sword when a scroll wafted down in front of me.  The bird had knocked it loose from its hanging, the distraction.

The Shinto teachers say birds are messengers of the gods.   The Scroll read, “Kashima 3, Persepolis 1.”

So shall it be, Noobites.  Unless it’s not.  That’s happened once or twice before.  Don’t bet the farm.   But that’s a true Vision.  Yeah.

RESULT:   Kashima   2-0           Well, got the winner and margin right, anyway.

4.  CF America vs. Toluca – Liga MX

CF America are finally on top of the Mexican top flite table.   Noob says “finally” because e they’ve only lost two matches, yet have been merely lurking just outside that position all Apertura (first half-season) long.   They’re tied with Santos on points, but ahead on tiebreaking goal differential.

Toluca are in 5th.   They were undefeated in September and looking like they could contend for the title until they dropped a 2-0 match to putrid Atlas to end the month.  They’re going to make the Liguilla (postseason, top eight-finish) just about no matter what happens these last three matches.  They’re base stats are nearly as good as CFA’s.

Perhaps Noob’s not allowing that Toluca simply fell asleep for what they thought would be a cakewalk with Atlas.  But with the half-seasons only being 17 matches each, I’d think teams would be on top of their s**t at all times.   (9:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Celtic vs. Hearts – Scottish Premiership

This isn’t one of Europe’s very strongest leagues, but they’re cracking the UEFA top 20 right now!  Also making this match intriguing is who’s #1 in the league right now.

In Noob’s admittedly brief time (a year and change doing this site), this league has always been about Celtic and Rangers.  And it may return to that again soon.  But for now, I’m enjoying seeing some new blood atop the table.  Thank you, Hearts.

Celtic are #B and will remain so no matter who this match turns out.  Both teams are well-balanced, but Celtic really are a shade better on both ends of the field.  At home, they should prevail, pull within a point of the league leaders.

RESULLT:   Celtic   5-0        Edsonne Edouard with a pair of scores

  1. Genk vs. Club Brugge – Belgium First Division A

Brought to you by the Dept. of Redundancy Department, it’s First Division A-time!

Perhaps Noob should not mock so.  It is the #8 league in UEFA, after all.  And lookit!   They brought is a shiny #1 versus #B matchup.  I know just where to display these in my blog-home.

Brugge are your defending champions, but it’s Genk who are undefeated.  Both score an absolute of crapton of goals, far more than any other clubs in this league.  See if you can find yourself an internet stream for this one.  And if their commentary available, let Noob know if the Belgians also enjoy non-standard measurements like “crapton”.

RESULT:   1-1

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David Schwimmer has the right of it.

  1. Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Dynamo Kyiv – Ukraine Premier

No new blood atop the table here In the #8 league in Europe.  Yup!   And for being so awesome, they get two slots in the next Champions League.   Unless FC Olexandria continue to surprise, these two will be the recipients of those CL invites.

Donetsk lead #B D.K. by five.  Their 36 goals scored in just 13 matches is so outrageous Noob had to doublecheck.   That’s twice as many as D.K.

Dynamo Kiev do sport the league’s top defense, but barely.  Just above – you guessed it.   Donetsk.  But!  The Dynamo have beaten Donetsk in all three of their last matches.

RESULT:   Shakhtar   2-1        Come from behind win, with the winner being scored at 90′

  1. Atromitos vs. PAOK – Superleague Greece

last season, Atromitos finished 4th, just behind the historic “Big Three” in Greece.   That triumvirate is rarely cracked.  this season so far, They’re #B, and four points up on two of the giants.  Today, they host the other titan, current #1 PAOK, in a battle of the last two undefeated clubs here.

This league will get two CL berths.  Noob thinks the usual suspects are just to balanced to let an interloper like Atromitos stay there long.   Perhaps they can earn a draw at home today, keep the dream alive for another week or more.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for atromitos supporters riot

 

 

As always, the Vegas line on will their be rioting and police in gear to stop it is OFF.

  1. Astana vs. Kairat Almaty – Kazakhstan Premier

Our last leg here in Europe takes us down the table to a very average league, but one that is on the rise (#28).

This isn’t a terribly meaningful match, but the siren song of #1 vs. #B is too much for Noob.  The season is already almost done here.  Astana has wrapped up the title and K.A. are cemented at #B.   This is the way of things, at the very least of late, in Kazakhstan football.

RESULT:   Astana   3-2

  1. Guangzhou Evergrande vs. Shanghai SIPG – China Super League

We finish our Saturday Track with one more #1 versus #2.   China’s league gets the maximum two slots in the next Champions League, and these two are all but mathematically locked in.  And to no one’s surprise.  Perennial powerhouses.

But Evergrande only lead SIPG by two in the table, so the title is very much up for grabs!  And SIPG have beaten their guests today in three straight.  Neither team has lost since forever, except three weeks ago when SIPG beat G.E.

RESULT:    SIPG   4-5       SIPG Are now your league #1.    And did you know they have a player who simply goes by “Hulk”?

The Chen Clan's Academy.jpg

 

 

So long from Guangzhou!

The Chen Clan’s Ancestral Hall and folk art museum

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

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

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

Gorge, Noobites.  Feeeast!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for bbb

 

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

And so three of you.  Well-done.

  1. CF America vs. Monarcas Morelia – Liga MX

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   CF America   2-1

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

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

Last year’s #3 and #4 face off.

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

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

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

RESULT:   Liverpool   1-2

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

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

This is the first leg of a Quarterfinal tie.

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

  1. FC Olexandria vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – Ukraine Premier

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

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

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

RESULT:   Donetsk   0-2

Image result for fc olexandria

 

 

 

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

  1. Stjarnan vs. Breioablik – Iceland FA Cup

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Stjarnan   0-0  /  4-1   pens

  1. Santa Gema vs. Independiente – Panama Football League

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for pay attention soccer funny

 

Noob just said CONCACAF leagues are getting more attention here.  

Warning unwarranted.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Kawasaki   7-0    not a typo

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

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

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

  1. Maldives vs. India – SAFF Championship

The Final!

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

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

RESULT:   Maldives   2-1    Upset city!

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

Come back, Bear Grylls!

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday soccer matches – exploring our football world

The ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game.  This is Noob’s reason for being.  Learning and sharing are fuhn!

Fridays, scheds tend to run a little lighter.  So Noob takes us on a planet-crossing trek of footyball wonder!   As always, we’ll start closer to home, then jet-set off to soccer hinterlands unknown.

(And yes, tenured Noobites – the “Jetsetting Friday” moniker has been scrapped after two weeks.  We’re back to Trotting the Globe, baybeeee.)

  1. Pachuca vs. Toluca – Liga MX Femenil

Listing the ladies first isn’t about political correctness.  Noob has little room for such the quest for learning and sharing.  This is about two teams tied for first!  In their Group, anyway.  Mexico’s top league is divided into two for the entire season.

In truth, there’s a chance this ends in a blowout.  Toluca score over twice as much as their hosts today, and play just as well on defense.  This could well be Pachuca’s one chance to keep true Group title hopes alive.

Top two from each group make the playoffs, but there are four good to great teams in this Group 1.  A home loss would sting more than a little for Pachuca.

RESULT:   Toluca   1-2

B.  Veracruz vs. Toluca – Liga MX

Copy and pasted from yesterday, when Noob thought this match was being played.  Turns out there was a meaningless Copa MX match yesterday instead.   (One team was already advancing as from the Group stage as a runner-up, the other already eliminated.)

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

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

Toluca, at least, could be liguilla (playoffs)-bound.  They’re tied for 7th, and eight teams will qualify.  Defense hasn’t been a virtue across the table this Apertura (half-season) for the most part.   If they or any team can shore theirs up even a little, that will be the difference-maker.   (10:00 PM EST, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Toluca   2-3       It’s double-dipping into the guac bowl of victory for Toluca today!

Veracruz came back to tie it from down 0-2 before losing someone to a red card late.  Whoops.

Image result for letter B sexy

 

 

 

Number B, a sexy part of the all-caps font created by Irina Baktova

  1. Birmingham City vs. West Bromwich Albion – English Football Championship

Time to check in on one the Premier League teams that was banished to second division!  Last we saw our heroes, WBA were dead last in the PL.   They weren’t the worst on offense or defense, or even overall GD.   Perhaps they lacked some grittiness, guttiness that could’ve kept them above the line.

These days, they’re 9th in the ECL table.  Best offense down there, but still struggling on D.  But Birmingham are solid chance for a road win.  They’re winless, in 20th place (of 24).  That’s not the Relegation Zone, but they can feel it lurking close beneath them.

Noob smells an 0-2 road win for “The Baggies”.  And remember:  While only the top two get automatically Promoted, the next four have a playoff for one more move up.

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

It’s the Semifinals in Africa!   This is the first match of a two-legged tie.

Wydad, out of Morocco, are the defending champions.  Their league season is just one match on.  Algeria’s ES Setif are in first place in their domestic league, though theirs is only a few games in.

Setif is probably only an even match at home against Wydad.  They need to make some hay on their own ground before the return leg road trip.

It’s worth noting that Africa’s most highly-rated club – Egypt’s Al Ahly – are also in action today.  They get overachieving Guinean club Horoya though.  That match will only be as close as Ahly let it be, even on the road.

Image result for making hay funny

 

 

 

You’re doing it wrong.

No matter what the “it” is.

  1. Guangzhou Evergrande vs. Beijing Gouan – Chinese Super League

B.G. are #1 at just past the 20-match mark in this league’s season.   Excellent, especially considering they were just 9th-place in 2017.

At some point, their lack of defense is going cost them dearly.  Today is likely that day.  The defending champs play host, and their GD is 50% better.  They score nearly every bit as much.

Top two will make the AFC Champions League group stage.  3rd-place finisher will get in, but have to play a qualifying round.

Fun Fact:   City Guangzhou is perhaps more familiar to us by an alternate name – Canton.

RESULT:   Evergrande   1-0       G.E. are #B now, while B.G. have dropped to #3.

  1. Cerezo Osaka vs. Jubilo Iwata – Japan J1 League

This match doesn’t quite pass Track muster for inclusion (~both clubs in top quarter of a league).  But Noob likes to throw The Management a bone many a time, and he’s a Japanophile.  (In fact, he’s vacationing in Tokyo right now, post-Seoul business trip.)

C.Osaka finished 3rd last year, making the AFC CL group stage.  Iwata were 6th.  Both teams are a bit lower in 2018 though – 5th and 10th currently.

Still, even the 4th-place team gets a qualifying stage CL berth, so C.Osaka are not irrelevant.  But they need to get over the hump in some matches, as they lead the league in draws.  Get tough, “Cherry Blossoms”!

RESULT:   1-1       C.Osaka remain in 5th, Iwata moves into 9th.

Image result for madame lobina

 

 

 

Lobby and Madame Lobina are both official mascots of Cerezo Osaka.

 

  1. Navbahor vs. Pakhtakor – Uzebekistan Super League

Welcome to Asia’s 10th-ranked domestic league.  Where they know how to create some league drama.

Like many across the world, this league divided into Championship and Relegation subdivisions about 2/3 of the way into its season.  But like a minority of those, they throw out the records at that point.

Navbahor finished 4th, but are in 1st now.  They lagged on offense, but now are on par with the other best clubs.  Pakhtor finished 1st, are a close 3rd now.  And they still are best on GD.  They’re not scoring at the astonishing clip they once were, but play stonewall defense.

Noob believes just one qualifies for 2019 AFC CL.

Fun Fact:   Navabahor means “new spring”; their home city is Namangan.

RESULT:   3-3

  1. Khatlon vs. Kuktosh – Tajikistan Vysshaya Liga

This league climbed to #12 in the AFC rankings, and so will get a team into the next CL.   This year, they don’t have even one.  Instead a couple of their clubs qualified for the Asia Cup.

The season is 20 matches in, and it appears to be a two-horse race.  Kuktosh are 3rd, but a dozen points behind the leaders.  They’d need an historic run to jump both teams.  Even one of them, really.

Khatlon are in 6th and probably a bit better than that.   They’re no worse than an even match for their guests today.

RESULT:   Khatlon   1-0

Image result for ajina-tepa

 

A Buddhist cloister (Ajina-Tepa) near Khatlon club’s home city of Qurghonteppa.

  1. Kopetdag Asgabat vs. Merw – Turkmenistan Yokary Liga

In Asia’s perfectly average (#23) league, even the champ doesn’t get a sniff of the AFC CL.  They head to the secondary Asia Cup.  Not that either of today’s combatants will be there, either.   #7 hosts #5.  The good news for them is no one gets Relegated from this league.

Fun Fact:   OK, these guys are just looking to mess up my Scrabble game now.  Merw??  Srsly?

RESULT:   K.A.   2-0

  1. Mwadui vs. Azam – Tanzania Premier

After that extended run through Asia, we finish today’s Globetrotting Track in Africa.  This league cracks the top 24, but needs to be twice as good to get two berths into the CAF Champions League.

Their season is just getting started.  Azam finished #B last year.  1st-place Simba SC outscored them by nearly a 2:1 margin.  Mwadui were 10th of 16.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for shinyanga diamond mine

 

So long from Shinyanga, Tanzania!

Home of FC Mwadui and where the first big diamond find was made outside S.A.

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

“Soccer Noob rockin Amuricuuuhhh! /

Mini-previews!  *clap clap* /

Insight!  *clap clapclap* /

O.K.notreallythatsecondwuuhhhhn!   /  *crickets*

Soccernoob rockin’ Amur-I-CUHHH!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B.  Cincinatti vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – United Soccer League

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for tom Cruise weird

 

Cruise without teeth.

Good LAWD.   This was an error in judgement.

Should’ve put in a Number B-image.

  1. Leon vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

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

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

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

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

  1. Chelsea vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

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

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

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

Image result for aFC bournemouth funny

 

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

Noob is worried.

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

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

RESULT:      ppd

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

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

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

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

Image result for waiting gif

 

They must wait, Inigo.  

We must all wait sometimes.

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

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

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

RESULT:   Germany   0-2       Svenja Huth with two scores

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

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

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

(League #1 versus #2)

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

Image result for wreckx n effect

 

 

 

Rest in Power, Brandon Mitchell.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Metz vs. Lens – France Ligue 2

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for cathedrale st etienne metz stained glass

So long from Metz, Lorraine!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for andrew farrell new england revolution funny

 

 

Somehow, Andrew just doesn’t look… ready.

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

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

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

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

Image result for BB

 

 

Twice the Number B?

What’s not to love?

  1. Monterrey vs. Morelia – Liga MX

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

RESULT:   2-2

  1. AFC Bournemouth vs. Everton – English Premier League

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

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

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

AFC Bournemouth home

 

 

Josh King, sporting the new AFCB kit

  1. Juventus vs. Lazio – Serie A

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

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

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

RESULT:   Juve   2-0

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   T&T   2-3

Image result for Trinidad and Tobago women's soccer 2018

 

 

T&T women’s national team

  1. Benfica vs. Sporting CP – Portugal Primeira Liga

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Hiroshima   0-1

Image result for management funny

 

 

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Junior   2-1

  1. BATE Borisov vs. FK Vitebsk – Belarus Premier

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

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

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

Image result for Barysaw Belarus

 

 

So long from Borisov Stadium!

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (8/11) – MLS, NWSL, soccer eye candy galore

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

Weekends are where Noob has a cornucopia of delicious match choice to offer.  Welcome to the Splendid Footyball Buffer.  Take a clean plate up, please, when Noob puts up Sunday’s Track matches.

  1. LAFC vs. Sporting Kansas City – Major League Soccer

The top two seeds in each contest will get byes in when the Playoffs come around.  These two tied for 3rd in the Western Conference right now.   Both have been even higher, but had or have been slipping of late.

LAFC still sports the most goals scored in the West.  They suffer for it defensively though.  They just lost a thrilling US Open Cup semifinal to Houston Dynamo, have not won any league matches out of their last four.

Kansas City was on a three-match losing skid themselves.  But they got out of their tailspin last match.  Which was against and at Houston.  They hadn’t allowed fewer than two goals and won since June before this 0-1 win.

The Management, what which his KC tied, will be pulling for Sporting.  Noob thinks it will be a happy day for him, that LAFC will do no better than a draw at home today.  Legs just won’t be as fresh after the Cup match.

RESULT:   KC   0-2

B.  Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns – National Women’s Soccer League

The Pride are in 3rd, but have played the most league matches.  Portland is 4th and just a point back.  Top four clubs in the league make the Postseason, where North Carolina will squash everyone like bugs.

OK, here’s what’s really on Noob’s mind here at Number B.  I was recently vacationing in Florida and wound up at the Orlando Science Museum.  It was very nice.  I astonished at what could be done with a tax base like that city has.  I would go back.

Is Noob an unforgiveable hypocrite?  One of this site’s very open sub-quests has been to denounce cities built on swamps.  Bad urban planning!   I’ve done nothing but spew bile and vitriol at Orlando and cities like them, awaiting the days when they suddenly start sinking into he moors below, never to return.

Orlando Science Museum, at the very least, thank you for reminding Noob that not everything in life is black and white.  You’re something wonderful in a place where Noob expected nothing of the sort.

But you’re still going to sink with the rest of the ill-fated city.  Run, Orlando Science Museum!  Your fate is already set.  Can’t fight science.

RESULT:   Portland   0-2

Image result for letter B swamp monster

 

 

Number B agrees that a Swamp City’s fate is terrifying to behold.

  1. CF America vs. Monterrey – Liga MX

In the 2017-18 Clausura (second half-tournament), these two tied for runners-up in the league, separated by only one goal in differential.  They’re just three matches into the new season, but these two are near the top again.

Monterrey is the really fun team to watch, assuming a Noobite enjoys offense.  You can do just that tonight at 10:00 (EST)  on Univision.

RESULT:   CFA   3-0

vs Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier

Premier League is back!

These two finished 10th and 3rd last season.  Both will need to have procured more offensive firepower to make the leap to their next goals (vying for Europa League invite, winning the league).

For Noobites who weren’t with us last season, here’s the most crucial need to know.  Hotspur was the nickname of Harry Percy, an historical English figure who was a traitor several times over.  If Novichok had been around, someone would’ve sneaked it into his liquor.

Noob carries no truck with such!  Name your club after a spineless coward?   How their star Harry Kane hasn’t demanded a trade anywhere else for the shame of it all is beyond Noob.

RESULT:   1-2   Traitorous Ones   *shakes fist*

Image result for sir topham hatt angry

 

 

Noob refuses to use Hotspur’s full name.

They make the Fat Controller very cross.

  1. Phoenix Rising vs. Orange County FC – United Soccer League

Perhaps noob can control his blood pressure after that fit by returning to some soothing second division American footyball.

Orange County is on a hot streak, not having in over a month.  Phoenix have come off of their midsummer run, been up and down here during the dog days.   They are #B and #3 in the tougher Western Conference.  The top eight in each make the Playoffs, so today for them is about doing more to secure some home pitch advantage.

RESULT:   the O.C.   3-4

  1. CD Marathon vs. CD Olimpia – Honduras National League

CONCACAF me, baybeeeee.   Noob always likes to shine the light on teams from our confederation.

Marathon narrowly won both the last Clausura and the postseason tournament.  But thery’re nowhere near a runaway-best.  And Olimpia finished 3rd and had the best GD, so this should be a dandy matchup.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for honduras funny

 

 

It’s going to be a long season for some Noobites.

  1. Shakhtar Donestsk vs. Vorskla – Ukraine Premier

Noob always feels the need to defend spending space on Ukraine.  It likely comes from not having myself been aware just how good the league is before starting this site.  Theirs is the #8-ranked league in UEFA, ahead of nations like Netherlands, Turkey, Belgium and Denmark.

That said, it is very much a top-heavy league.  Today’s hosts and Dynamo Kyiv are the only powers there.  Donetsk won the 2017-18 campaign.

Vorskla finished a distant third, the best of the rest.  If they gave any chance of an upset today, it will be playing their trademark defense.  They’re not holding their breath in Potlava on this possibility.

RESULT:   Donetsk   4-1

  1. Blarney United vs. Derry City – FAI Cup (Ireland)

Ireland’s FA Cup is in its First Round, though this is actually the second round of the event.  32 teams remain in the competition.

Blarney play out of the second division of three in the nationally third-tier Munster Senior League.  If you like Minnows, this is a team for you.  They got a fortunate draw and get to host this single-match knockout match.  They’ll still be mighty underdogs to midtable Premier side Derry.

RESULT:   Derry   2-12     See, guys — that’s just mean.

Image result for blarney united fc

 

 

Noob’s no engineer, but it feels like maybe sound structural principals were tossed to the wayside here.

  1. Union La Calera vs. Universidad Catolica – Chile Premier

OK, so maybe some MLS match featuring a couple also-rans might still be “more important” to Noob’s mission statement-target demo – “the newish American fans of the global game”.   The word “global” in there is no accident, more than just filler.  Here, we’re always going to be soccer-citizens of the world, learn a little about leagues and teams everywhere.

So without further adieu, welcome to the Track, La Carera!  First-time here, almost certainly since they were just promoted from the second division this season.  And here they are in 3rd, and just four points behind the two league leaders in the table.  Impressive debut!

This league’s season is halfway through.  La Carera didn’t beat either of the top two clubs, and U. Catolica is one of those.  Even though that first match went just 1-0 to the traditional powerhouse, it’s hard for Noob to imagine ULC can hang on to this table position a whole year.  It’s been a nice run, and Noob hopes he’s wrong about the demise I think you’re about to meet.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Consadole Sapporo vs. Cereso Osaka – Japan J1 League

Despite finishing in the bottom half of the league last year, Cerezo Osaka won the Emperor’s Cup and League Cup both.  As winners of the latter, they got to play in a money match with Argentina’s Independiente, the Sugura Bank Championship (but lost).  They’re currently just 7th in the league.

Sapporo are in 4th place, though well back of the league’s two primary leaders.  This isn’t normally a match Noob would Track, based on their table positions.  But The Management must be appeased.

The Management is a Japanophile. Noob likes to keep him sated by tossing him the occasional bone when it’s been too long since this league has offered up a premium matchup.

On a side note, he just got to meet or at least see Japanese soccer legend Keisuke Honda.  Keisuke is the only Japanese player to have scored in three different World Cups, including one against Senegal just a couple months ago.  He was most recently with CSKA Moscow, but signed with Aussie juggernauts Melbourne Victory just days ago.

Noob’s waiting on getting a signed something-or-other.  A napkin, but of toilet tissue – Noob’s has no pride.  And I will be holding my breath awaiting its arrival.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for keisuke honda funny

 

 

So long ’til tomorrow, from Noob and Keisuke!

 

Um, should we put on an R. Kelly slow jam, Mr. Honda?

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (5/20) – MLS, La Liga Final lead us!

Gotta be honest.  Noob’s as weird here as ever with the match previews, and pretty scattershot to boot.   Madonna, Grover, a love-lorn Noob.   None of it related, all of it bizarre.

Still, these are the ten most important matches for us – the newish American fans of the global game – to follow.  Noob will never compromise, despite the packaging. 🙂

  1. Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls – MLS

#1 hosts #5 in a matchup that’s even more exciting than that!  NYRB have played 1-4 fewer games than most teams in the Eastern Conference, will very likely climb the table.

But likely not today.  Atlanta’s home field advantage – thanks to league-leading attendance – has to loom large.  If Red Bulls are to pull off a road upset today, they’ll need to keep scoring like they’ve been, get a big game from British national forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.   (7:00 PM Eastern, FS1)

RESULT:   1-3   NYRB     Two goals for Wright-Phillips.  Red Bulls climb to 4th place.

Image result for Bradley Wright-Phillips

 

 

 

Congratulations…?

B.  Toluca vs. Santos – Liga MX

The Final!   League #4 Santos won the first leg 2-1.  But now they get to deal with the league’s regular season-leading defense and champs in Toluca.  In their last meeting outside this Liguilla (postseason tournament),Toluca stymied Santos’ usually-impressive offense 2-0.   (6:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   1-1    Your Clausura champions are Santos!  1-2 on aggregate

Image result for letter B singing

 

Number B is in a musical mood.  Super.

Noob’ll work in some Madonna for no reason whatsoever!

  1. Lazio vs. Inter Milan – Serie A

Italy gets four clubs into Champions League and Lazio is sitting on that last one.  Inter only trail them by three.  If Inter win, then they win the first tiebreaker, which is head-to-head points.  (They drew in their other match this season.)

Catch this one on beIN Sports (2:45 PM) if you can, Noobites.  Lazio lead the league in scoring, but also gave up way more goals than any other team anywhere near top of the table.

Image result for lazio defense

 

 

“Strike a pose/ there’s nothing to it…”

  1. Aves vs. Sporting CP – Taca de Portugal

It’s an FA Cup Final!   They’ll play it in Lisbon, if not on Sporting’s home pitch.

Desportivo das Aves have had a wonderful run in this event, but it looks to end here.  They finished 13th in Primeira Liga for a reason.  #3 Sporting are more defensively-styled themselves, but should have little trouble permeating Aves’ poor defense.

RESULT:   Aves   2-1    After finishing 3rd in the league, Sporting CP fans basically rioted at the team HQ.   Noob is terrified what they’ll do after this result.

Image result for desportivo das aves funny

“I can feel your heart beat/ for the very first tiiiime…”

*head bop*

Enough of that now.

  1. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

A Final!   Noob may not understand how exactly Saprissa qualified for it, but they’re here!  Herediano won both the Apertura and Clausura (first and second half-season tournaments).  Saprissa finished #B in the aggregate table for both.  The first leg between these two went 1-1 at Herediano.

Noobstradamus Sees:  …needing to find someone to edumuhcate me on Costa Rican league format.  Que lastima.

RESULT:   Saprissa   0-0 /  4-3 PK      So away-goals wasn’t a tiebreaker in Costa Rica.  In any case, kudos to the champs!

  1. Alianza vs. Santa Tecla – El Salvador Premier

This Final is interesting because it’s played as a two-legged tie, but both ties are at a neutral site.  Well, technically.  It’s not their home pitch, but they’re in San Salvador, Alianza’s home city.  Perhaps that helped them win the first leg 2-0.

These two finished in #1 and #B in the Clausura, respectively.  A bit strangely, it’s #B Santa Tecla that boasted both the top offense and defense.   (5:00 PM, Centroamerica TV)

RESULT:    Alianza   1-0     

Image result for El Salvador football funny

Noob thinks this is a zing of some kind.  I wish Grover there would translate.  (Grover??)

  1. Universidad de Concepcion vs. Universidad Catolica – Chile Premier

Catolica are #1, having only allowed eight goals all season.  That’s almost twice as good as the next-best teams.  Meanwhile, #3 Concepcion have won an astounding nine consecutive matches.

Noobstradamus Sees:  Concepcion moving into a tie for the league lead, 2-1.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Hammarby vs. AIK – Sweden Allsvenskanliga

Pass the pitted drupes, it’s #1 vs. #B!  Neither has lost yet, though AIK has drawn in nearly half their games.  Hammarby finished merely 9th last year.   This season, they’ve ramped up the offense and then some.  Their defense is still sketchy at best, so perennial power AIK can’t be counted out.

RESULT:   AIK   0-1

Image result for pitted drupes

 

 

They know their stone fruits in Sweden.  Snack on.

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

Japanophile The Management must be appeased!   Well, plus Noob likes to spread his coverage-love around geographically.   And this is a sterling matchup.

Hiroshima have won 13 of their 15 matches.  They barely missed being Relegated a year ago!  The difference?  Defense.  Just five goals conceded in thus far.

Noobstradamus Sees:   Well, more feels that C.Osaka have overachieved in winning three straight matches.  Hiroshima continues it’s league onslaught, 4-1.

RESULT:   Cerezo Osaka   0-2

  1. Tampines Rovers vs. Albirex Niigata – Singapore S. League

Double I’s.  Noob is once again transfixed.  Why do you torture me so?  I know my love for you is unreturned, double I’s.  Do you even know Noob?  Would you look at me if we passed each other along the Marina Bay waterfront?

Oh yes, and #B faces #1.

RESULT:   Albirex Niigata   3-4

Top 7 Romantic Attractions in Singapore

 

So long from Marina Bay, Singapore!

Where Noob waits beyond hope for double-i’s…

’10 to Track’ for Saturday (5/5) – MLS goodies and Liga MX Liguilla lead the way

Ah, the weekend!  Where Noob takes his soccer coverage (comparatively) seriously).

Let’s dig right into the ten best matches for us – the newish American fans of the game – to follow.  Commence!

  1. LAFC vs. FC Dallas – MLS

Which will be the better expansion club in their first season – LAFC or the NHL’s Golden Knights?  LAFC are #B in the Western Conference while Dallas lurk in 4th, just three points behind.   (1:00 PM Eastern, NBA League Pass 6)

Noobstradamus Sees:  Dallas   0-1    Defense travels, and Dallas has the best in the West.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for rodeo soccer gif

 

 

No defense for this in Dallas…

 

B.  New York Red Bulls vs. NYCFC – MLS

It’s Hudson River Derby.   That’s cool.  Not as cool as Hudson River School, but cool.

#6 hosts #1 in the East.  Red Bulls score just about as much as their hosts today, and are just as good on defense.

Noobstradamus Sees:   NYRB   3-2     And every goal will be scored in the second half.  *bonnngggg*   (10:00 PM, ESPN)

RESULT:   NYRB   4-0

Image result for hudson river school

 

 

Noob- where footyball and art history collide.

 

  1. Monterrey vs. Tijuana – Liga MX

It’s a Quarterfinal in the Liguilla.  #3 Monterrey achieved a draw in the first leg, 1-1, can now take care of business at home.  Tijuana finished the regular season 6th.

Noobstradamus Sees:   An upset!   Once again, defense travels.  Tijuana goalie Gibran Lajud stands on his head, and time ends with 0-0.   Then the Xolos take it in pk’s!

RESULT:   Tijuana   1-2    Los Xolos advance to the Semis!

  1. Sporting vs. Benfica – Primeira Liga

These two are tied for #B in Portugal, and only two will get invited to Champions League – high drama!

They look about the same on paper.  They trail #1 Porto by five in the table.  Someone has to win to stay in the title chase.  Loser is out.  If they draw, both are likely finished.

Noobstradamus Sees:   Sporting 3-2 in a shootout!   Offensive whirlwind Bas Dost scores two for Sporting, including the game-winner.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Bas Dost goal

 

Bas wants to know if you are entertained.  Are you not?

 

  1. Newcastle Jets vs. Melbourne Victory – Australian A-League

The Semifinals featured a stunner as league behemoth Sydney FC went down to the Jets.  Now they get to host the Final!  Melbourne V. finished 3rd in league play.

Noobstrdamus Sees:   …that this was a two-team league.  Newcastle 3-1.

RESULT:   MV   0-1    “Half your luck” to MV!  Champeeeens

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

The Plzen-ers have the league title nearly wrapped up, leading #B Slavia Prague by nine points in the table with four matches to play.  S.P’s more worried about hanging onto the league’s second Champions League invite, as Olomouc are just two points away.

Noobstrdamus Sees:   Plzen win 1-2 in pk!

RESULT:   Slavia Prague   2-0

  1. Beitar Jerusalem vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva – Israeli Premier

Plzen-er?  Be’er?   Noob’s looking for a sponsor, and has no problem with it being a boozahol producer.

Since the league divided into championship and relegation subdivisions, Beitar Jerusalem have only expanded their small lead over today’s gusts.  Four matches to go, and that change in the air you feel is a changing of the guard coming.

Noobstradamus Sees:   Beitar Jerusalem 2-1

RESULT:   Be’er Sheva   1-4

Image result for you're not funny

 

 

 

Quiet, tot!  You’re not old enough to be judging my boozahol jokes.

 

  1. Trnava vs. Dunajska Streda – Slovakia First League

Three league matches to go, and Trnava lead D.S. by seven in the table.   A win today all but mathematically wraps up the title and only CL slot.

Trnava are a rare breed, as they’re winning it all without having anywhere near the league’s best offense.  And their league-leading defense isn’t that impressive on paper (20 goals given up in 29 matches).

Noobstradamus Sees:   0-0    *sad sound effect*

RESULT:   Trnava   2-0

  1. Videoton vs. Ferenczaros – Hungary NB 1

#B hosts #1 in a two-horse race for the title and only CL berth!  They’re separated by only a point in the table, and about statistically even as well.

Noobstradamus Sees:   Nothing.  I’m blocked mentally by the idea that Videoton sounds like a place where I can rent “Better Off Dead” on VHS.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Kawasaki Frontale vs. FC Tokyo – J1 League

This is a slight The Management-sop.  Not that this isn’t a quality matchup – #3 hosting #2 – but there are plenty of equally good and important matches around the globe to follow.  But The Management is a Japanophile and must be appeased.

FC Tokyo luuuhhhv a wide-open game.  Score aplenty, let the other side try and keep up.  And it’s worked to date.  Kawasaki play some amazing defense, giving up about half a goal per game average.

Noobstradamus Sees:   …having to restrain The Management to keep him out of seedy soaplands if and when we ever go East at the same time.

RESULT:   FC Tokyo   0-2

Image result for soapland police

 

Aftermath of soapland fire in Saitama, Tokyo.

Listen to the Noob.  They are bad.

Goodbye from Japan!

‘10 to Track’ for Sat., 4/27 – from MLS and Liga MX to Europe and beyond, it’s a Noobstradamus-day!

Noobstradamus, did you hit the Sativa instead of the Indica?   It’s a tidal wave today of prognostication excellence (*cough cough*) from our resident ancient seer!

Here are the 10 most important games to track today, for us, the newish American fans.

  1. New England Revolution  vs Sporting Kansas City – MLS

KC has a five-point lead in the West, but the next two behind them have played two fewer games.   Things will tighten up. The Revs are in 4th in the East, a far sight better than last season.

Noob looks for the high-powered Kansas City side to score early and often.  New England’s defense is solid, but KC lead the entire league in goals made.       (7:30 PM Eastern, NBA League Pass 6)

RESULT:   New England   1-0

Image result for noobstradamus

 

 

Why hate when I can prognosticate?

1-2 Kansas City is the today’s future.

 

B.    Orlando Pride vs Seattle Thorns- NWSL

Noobstradamus says 0-1, Seattle over Swanp City.  Down with bad urban planning!

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for noobstradamus

 

I foresee Number B replacing that archaic Number to in lists, thanks to this quest.  Archaic things, meh!

Wait, I’m archaic…

 

3.  Tigres vs. Monterrey – Liga MX

Both have qualified for the postseason Liguilla heading into this final regular season match.  But seeding is still very much in the air.  They are 4th and 3rd now, but either could jump to #B with a win tonight.

Tigres will try to keep the pace slow.  They can’t take Monterrey in a goal-fest.   Noobstradamus sees all, sees a 1-1 draw.  (8:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   2-2

4.  Inter Milan vs Juventus – Serie A

Juve is only a point up on #B Napoli.  Inter is in 5th, just outside the Champions League slots.  But they trail the next two teams up by just one in the table.  Juve are better on both sides of the ball, and loads better on offense.    (2:45 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   Juve   2-3    Good LAWD!   Juve was watching their title slip away, down 2-1 with three minutes plus added time to go.  They scored twice more before 90′.

Image result for noobstradamus

 

 

Inter will run out of gas now and going forward.   0-1 Juve today

5.  Bayer Leverkusen vs Stuttgart – Bundesliga

Will the pressure get to Leverkusen?  They’re 4th, barely in a CL slot  they SHOULD handle 10th place Stuttgart.  (12:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Stuttgart   0-1

Image result for noobstradamus

 

2-1 Leverkusen.  Stuttgart is German for “stuttering child”.  You don’t need other-worldly powers to see their going to lose.

The Management here:  Noobstra-dumbass doesn’t know German.

6.  Swansea vs Chelsea – English Premier

Four matches to go and 5th place Chelsea still trails #4, Noob-reviled Hotspur by five points in the table.

Meanwhile, Swansea are fighting for their Premier lives at the other end of the standings.  They’re only one slot above the Relegation line, though at least they have a four-point lead on the next club down.  They can’t score.  They have the best defense among the league’s worst teams, but that’s quite the qualifier.   (12:30 PM, Universo)

RESULT:   Chelsea   0-1

Image result for noobstradamus

 

1-3 Chelsea.

I also predict Hotspur will  be Relegated for being named for a historic traitor.

7.  Lyon vs Nantes – Ligue 1

Hiccup Watch match for #3 Lyon. France only gets three into CL nowadays   Pummeling #9 Nantes will give them relief.   Noobstradamus says Lyon 3-0.

RESULT:   Lyon   2-0

8.  Herediano vs Saprissa – Costa Rica Premier

The top two collide in the postseason!  Noobstradamus predicts concussions.  Ouch.

RESULT:   Herediano   1-0

9.  Sendai vs. Sapporo – J 1 League

The Management must be given his Japan-fix.   The league is just far enough in now for Noob to pay attention.

Noobstradamus has no score prediction, but prognosticates The Management will today bring up in conversation a culturally subversive animated show from there that features an office worker Red Panda that fights off existential ennui by performing in a death metal band at night.

Noob isn’t kidding.  It’s so disorienting, all I can do is figuratively projectile-vomit out number #10 – Reno and OKC in USL action.  Reno scores LOTS. They’ll win…14-3 today. Maybe.

RESULTS:   J1 League match ends 2-2;  Reno   2-0