The world is a big place. There’s always a few soccer matches important for us, the newish American fans, to follow each day. And so it is now, on a Friday.
But it’s hard to fill the Track with good ones from our usual leagues. So we Trot the Globe! We’ll start in familiar locales, but soon be on a magical footyball adventure. Lace your boots tight, Noobites!
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Real Salt Lake – MLS
The best (ok, only) Major League Soccer game today! They may not be quite title contenders, but a quarter of the way into the season they’re in the last two playoff spots (#6, #5) in the Western standings.
Let’s put the spotlight on RSL, since they didn’t make the playoffs in ’17. What’s changed for them this year? Defense. It’s not lights out, but it’s better. And truth be told, it wasn’t that awful last season. Their goal differential looked more like teams’ from further up the table.
More importantly, though, is what hasn’t changed for them this year. They are still “Real” – royal! Few things get Noob’s dander up like homages to royalty we don’t have here! ‘Muricuh! So today, it’s “Go, Canadia!” (10:30 PM Eastern, NBA League Pass 6)
RESULT: Vancouver 2-0
“The Weirdness of King George”
Quickly-rejected movie script idea.
B. Tijuana vs. Toluca – Liga MX
Time for the final round of regular season matches in the Clausura (second half-season) in Mexico! One must love the format. Only 17 games means a tight table. Toluca have wrapped up the #1 seed for the Liguilla (postseason playoffs) already, so it will be interesting to see if the rest starters for this one.
Tijuana would love love love to face a reserve side. They are in 8th – the last playoff spot. They could jump to as high as 6th with a win tonight. If they get a draw or lose, as many as three four teams could pass them, ending their season.
These two sport the stingiest defenses in the league. Tijuana doesn’t score enough for this to be any better than an even matchup at home. Unless Toluca plays their water boys and equipment managers.
RESULT: Tijuana 1-0 Success! This pushes them to 6th, and guarantees them a Liguilla slot.
Toluca might get lazy like Number B.
Las Vegas Lights vs. San Antonio – USL
Your ‘Muricuhn soccer undercard comes from out West as well. Las Vegas Lights are a new expansion team. They’re just in 10th right now, but that’s largely a product of scheduling. They’ve only played four matches so far, while other clubs have had as many as eight. The success they’ve had in limited action so far has been founded on defense. That’s a bit unusual for a new club, and a good sign.
San Antonio are in 12th, with six games under their big-buckle belts. They have trouble scoring, haven’t done so their last two games. That includes an 0-3 beat down they suffered hosting Orange County FC.
RESULT: San Antonio 1-3
Tapachula vs. Universidad de Guadalajara – Ascenso MX
Noob has been derelict in his duty to you, newish American soccer fans. As we learn the world game together, I’ve tried to keep our eyes close to home, then on England, continental Europe, South America and beyond. I’ve been remiss in ignoring the second-division league in the best soccer country in North and Latin Amerca. Mea culpa.
Just like Liga MX, there are 16 teams, eight of which make the Liguilla there. Their annual season is likewise divided into separate Apertura and Clausura seasons. And their seasons start a little earlier than Liga MX. So…
Welcome to the Liguilla Final!! This will be a two-legged tie. As the higher seed from the regular season results (#3), UdG will host the second match. Tapachula barely squeaked in at all (#8). They have issues on defense, yet at home give UdG all they can handle and maybe more.
RESULT: Tapachula 1-0
1899 Hoffenheim vs. Hannover 96 – Bundesliga
This match makes the Track strictly based on Hoffenheim’s position. And it’s a Hiccup Watch game. Hannover is in 12th, ho-humming their way through the end of the season.
The Hoff are in 5th, one slot and two points outside a Champions League berth. And two clubs are hot on their tail, in turn. They’re better than their guests and shouldn’t struggle. Unless the pressure is too much.
RESULT: Hoffenheim 3-1 This puts the Hoff in 4th for the moment. Most league teams have now played one fewer game than them.
Newcastle Jets vs. Melbourne City – Australia A-League
As the regular season #B finisher, Newcastle got a bye into the league playoff Semifinals. #3 Melbourne City topped #6 Brisbane Roar to get here. This is a Knockout playoff format, one match only. The winner likely gets Sydney FC and loses badly.
RESULT: Newcastle 2-1
It’s time for kangaroo-boxing.
Noob has no reason. Noob needs no reason.
Tishreen vs. Al Ittihad – Syria Premier
Welcome back to the Track, #14 league in Asia! That’s just above the 1/3 line, right between Malaysia and India (cricketheads).
With just eight matches to go, #4 Tishreen has no real chance of catching #1 Ittihad for the league’s only Champions League invite. That said, this match is a tossup today, INHO. Ittihad lead Al-Jaish by just two in the table.
Fun Fact: Tishreen means October or November in Arabic. The months then are distinguished by indicating First or Second Tishreen.
Wad Hashim Sennar vs. Merreikh El-Fasher – Sudan Premier
5th-best league in Africa. Would get a touch more regular coverage if Noob spread his interest and gaze equally over the globe.
Sudan this year has divided its league into two Groups. The top four of each of these eight it appears make a title playoff. WHS are just a point on the wrong side of that line in theirs. Al-Fasher are #B, and Noobstradamus thinks they’ve been overachieving!
I tossed some pepperoni slices into the air. When they fell, I divined today’s result by meditating on them severely, like over animal entrails in ancient times. Sennar is destined for victory. 2-0.
RESULT: WHS 2-0
Crystal balls are a bunch of poppycock.
Kiyovu Sports vs. Miroplast – Rwanda National League
Rwanda’s league is ranked in the top half of CAF, if not by much. They’re about halfway through the season there, and Kiyovu Sport are #4 in one heckuva tight table. Well, tight at the top. They should handle Relegation candidates Miroplast with ease.
Fun Fact: Kiyovu are the only team in RNL history to go undefeated (1990).
RESULT: Kiyovu 2-0
St. Nevis and Kitts vs Jamaica – international friendly
Where better place to end the Track then in the Caribbean. Relax. Rest up for the midweek Edition coming tomorrow. Have a ginger ale. Grab a chair.
Noob’s still learning every day, even with close-ish to home-footyball. Jamaica’s men’s national team is rated #48 in the world and fourth-best in CONCACAF. There’s a steep dropoff between them and #3 Costa Rica, but still! St. Nevis and Kitts are #13 in the confederation, FIFA #126.
RESULT: Jamaica 1-3