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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   City   3-0

B. U.A.E. vs. Thailand – Asian Cup

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

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

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

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

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

Two similar teams chasing Village Superstars for the trophy!

RESULT:   1-1

4 and 5.

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

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

And now, Matches of Suckitude!

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

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

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

RESULT:   Thess   1-0

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Aaaaand stab yourself in the head.

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

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

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

RESULT:   AEL L   1-3

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

Get a Peloton for warmups.   Something.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Glacis   6-1

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-0

Image result for saint-ouen flea market huge

 

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

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

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday soccer matches – Liga MX, Bundesliga, then off to see the world!

With the weekend imminent, league schedules run a little lighter on Fridays.  These are no Soccer Sabbaths though!

We find what league and Cup matches close to home are best, move on to Europe, South American, and then goodness knows where.  Usually, that’s anywhere in the world, far and wide!   Today, Noob keeps most of the focus on Europe.  We’ll be checking out some hot D2 action.

Matches with clubs you won’t see everywhere online, plus Fun Facts about them, their leagues and locales.  Takeoff time is now.  The stewardess is closing the first-class curtain.  Noobites are on the champagne side of it.

  1. Atlas vs. Toluca – Liga MX

Two Mexican top-tier matches today, and three of the involved teams are from the very bottom of the table.  Atlas are lowest of all, having yet to win a match this Apertura (first half-season).  That’ll happen when you’ve only managed to score once in all ten matches.

Toluca are the one good team in action there today, sitting pretty in 3rd place.  That makes this match a “Hiccup Watch”.   Even on the road, Toluca should cruise.  But will they rest usual starters?  Might they just prepare for this match as hard?  Hiccup.   (10:00 PM EST, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Atlas   2-0     The nightmare is over!

B.  Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich – Bundesliga

Bayern just dropped their first points of the season to bottom-half Augsburg.  For the rawest of Noobites, that means it’s the first match they didn’t win.  They’ll win most of them.  They had several stars not play, gave up the equalizing goal at 87’.

Hertha Berlin are the more interesting story.  Part of it, anyway.   Once you get past the top two in the table, there’s a host of teams just behind that were nowhere close last season.  Top four will make Champions League, and a couple clubs not used to such rarefied airs may well make it!

As for today’s match, Noob thinks HB are good for a draw, especially if Bayern are resting players or dealing with injuries already.   (2:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Hertha Berlin   2-0        A sloppy, overly-aggressive match from Bayern seems HB pull into a 1st-place tie with them

Image result for letter B in the sky

 

 

I don’t mean to nitpick, Number B.

But it’s not “rarefied air” if you’re in outer space.

  1. Sheffield Wednesday vs. Leeds United – English Championship

England’s top league, noob as read, has been or is ranked as high as #13 in all Europe.  Add in the massive amounts money teams get for getting Promoted from here to Premier and it’s interesting two ways.

Looking to make that jump are current #1 Leeds.  They were deficient last year on defense in particular, but have made massive strikes, allowing fewer than a goal per game average.  Sheffield are in 10th, and so just average.  Noob counts them as a goal-underdog at home.

Fun Fact:   In the early 20th C., a player presented Sheffield Wednesday  with a monkey to be used as a mascot.   The idea did not catch on.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Dundalk vs. UCD – FAI Cup (Ireland)

It’s a battle of league #1’s in this one-off Semifinal!   Dundalk lead the Premier while University College Dublin are tops in the First League.  They’re different league for a reason, no matter how strong the U. has been playing.  Dundalk by a pair.

Winners get the defending league and Cup champs Cork City, unless Bohemians defeat them.   Unlikely, but it’s a road match for the current trophy-keepers.

RESULT:   Dundalk   1-0

 

 

The town of Dundalk is closely tied to the mythological hero Cu Chulainn.

In story, he earned that name over his birthname after taking the place of a guardian dog he killed in self-defense.

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

The Republic’s top league was getting close to a high enough UEFA ranking that they could’ve soon seen two clubs get Champions League invites.  Alas for them, they’re slipping from 13th to 17th in the rankings for 2019.

Still, this is a classic matchup for the country.  Sparta are undefeated, yet just #B in the table.  Viktoria Plzen are #3.  The latter’s goal differential looks a bit peakish, leading Noob to wonder if this league will be a two-horse race.  Already, Noob thinks they’re just an even match on their own pitch today.

Fun Fact:  Plzen’s best European finish was in 2013-14 when the qualified for Champions League and finished 3rd in the Group Stage.  After then getting dropped down to Europa League, they made the Round of 16.

RESULT:   Plzen   1-0

  1. Lens vs. Paris FC – France Ligue 2

Top two will be automatically Promoted to Ligue 1 at season’s end.  Next three will duke it out in a Playoff for one more to join them.  That’s where we find these two – #3 and #5.

Lens have made massive strides on defense since 2017-18 when they finished in the bottom half of the league.  Paris look about like they did last year, statistically anyway.  If that holds, they’ll be good, but not enough so to stay in the Promotion chase.

RESULT:   0-0

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Lens fans will raise their scarves and sing sang et or – “blood and gold” – after the club colors.

  1. NEC Nijmegen vs. Go Ahead Eagles – Netherlands Eerste Divisie

The Netherland’s top league is poised to nearly crack the top ten in Europe.  This is the Dutch second division.

NEC finished 3rd in the regular season last year before losing in a Promotion Playoff.  They’re defense is really suspect this season though.  And #1 GHE may be the club that can expose them.  Top-notch goal-scoring.

Fun Fact:  NEC was founded by its towns workers, lowest socioeconomic class.  This was very rare, as Dutch football was a very elitist sport at the turn of the 20th C.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. BW Linz vs. FC Leifering – Austria 2. Liga

Teams here are vying to move up to the Austrian Bundesliga, rated the #11 league in UEFA.   Only the top one gets to make that move though.

Linz is #1 and one of just two realistic-looking candidates.  Leifering are #3, but haven’t yet shown the firepower probably necessary to vie for the league title.

RESULT:   BWL   2-1

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The “Linzer torte” was thought for a long time to be the oldest recipe cake in the world.

  1. Sektzia Nes Tziona vs. Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem – Israel  Liga Leumit

Israel’s Premier is on the decline, will be down several notches to #25 next year.  But hey, that’s still above average!  SNT are #3, HKJ #B.

All the clubs in the top 2/3 of the league appear to play about the same defensively.  These two are among three that can score at a fair clip on top of that.

The top two finishers will get Promoted to Premier.  Before that happens, the going will get tougher for clubs like these, as the league divided into Championship and Relegation subdivisions.

Fun Fact:   The town of Ness Ziona was first known as “Wadi Channin”.

RESULT:    HJK   1-3

  1. Al-Wehdat vs. Al-Faisaly – Jordan Premier

At last, we head into Noob-uncharted waters!   Jordan’s top league – which you might just see as “The Jordan League” elsewhere soemtimes– is ranked 16th in Asia.  That’s about the 1/3 mark.  Just the winner will get into this federation’s Champions League.

Wehdat are the defending league champions.  No one could keep up with them on offense last year.   Or on defense.  But the difference was greater with the former.  Faisaly finished 3rd.  on the strength of their defense.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Al-Wehdat

 

Also known as Amman Refugee Camp, Al-Wehdat is a Palestinian refugee area.

’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

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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).

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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.