Arlesburgh United target sacked Leicester FC coach Claude Puel

Arlesburgh, Isle of Sodor – February 26, 2019

Image result for Arlesburgh United crestBefore the rumor mill starts swirling over his next job possibilities, Isle of Sodor Premier League club Arlesburgh United are taking their shot at a big target – Claude Puel.

Image result for funny Claude Puel

“I’m a coaching target thihhhs bihhhg.”

Puel was sacked as manager on Feb. 24 by Leicester FC.   That same day, 96 year old Arlesburgh United coach Pete Mylchreest his retirement.  Coincidence?  (Almost certainly.  But what the hell.)

So how does a club from somewhere like Sodor go after a manager with a legitimate big league pedigree–  Lille, Lyon, Nice, Southampton, Sunderland, Leicester City…Arlesburgh?   You point out the pros and let the chips fall where they may.  With Noob’s help.

  • Claude, you’ve never been able to hang onto elite talent anywhere you’ve coached.  No problem in Arlesburgh!  The Pirates are in last here in the IoS PL’s inaugural season.  No talent to be found here, even by Sudric standards.  Image result for senior citizens soccer team
  • Arlesburgh are certainly getting demoted to the IoS Championship.   A year to get your feet under you in a new country should sound relaxing.
  • Then you get to be the hero probably getting the Promoted back to Premier!   Trust Noob.  Village teams like Cabalnoo and others that even devotees of “Thomas the Tank Engine” would be hard-pressed to find on a map won’t present a manager of your stature any problem.
  • You don’t like to give much to the press.  Noob’s the exclusive coverage guy here!   And I’ll leave you alone.   I’m more of a Sodor east coast kind of fellow.  Arlesburgh is too close to the Isle of Mann for me  The Manx smell awful and can’t be trusted.

Image result for suspicious looking old people

 

These Manx children have poisoned lips, I promise.   Manx children murder old ladies all the time.

  • Arlesburgh is the oldest settlement on the Isle.  The folk residing here run really old.   And the ones who aren’t old dress up as such for matches (supporters group is ‘The Ancients’).   At 57 years old, you’ll feel right at home, and they’ll likely find you a breath of fresh air.
  • Do you really want to get stuck in England’s Championship?  You’re not getting another Premier job right away, if ever.  Besides, the whole Brexit thing sounds nasty.
  • Would you really want to return to France?   Taking a non-PSG job in that farmer’s league is worse than England’s Championship.  Just say no. Image result for england vs france funny

 

 

But coach in Sodor.   You don’t want to wait up to a year and end up with the Philadelphia Union.   *shudders*

 

  • Think of this as semi-retirement.  Mostly retirement, less even “semi-“.  Everyone dies somewhere.
  • There’s a water wheel that’s cool to look at, and it’s bigger than “the world’s biggest” over in Laxey, Isle of Man, whatever they claim.   Again, you can’t trust those Manx louts.  Not ever.
  • The public transit is amazing, featuring state-of-the-art talking trains.  OK, no talking trains.  That’s the silly, fun tv show.  But it’s based on the real Isle, and the train system really is quite good.

When reached for a comment, Puel said through his representative: “Where?  That’s….unbelievable.”   So, um, you’re coming then?

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (12/4-6) soccer match previews – Copa Argentina Final completes our Track

The Midweek Edition now stands complete at ten.   There was just one match needed for Thursday to complete the set.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s matches and results now follow further down.

Please consider following Noob on Twitter @SoccerNoobUSA.com.  Inquire for details on how to possibly join footyball discussions with cool cats on Bros Talking Soccer’s new Slack.   And click an ad , if you are so inclined.  Some of the stuff is even soccer-related!

Back again tomorrow for Globetrotting Friday!

Thursday

10. Rosario Central vs. Gimnasia LP – Copa Argentina

The Final! And this match is a one-off in Mendoza – a neutral location. Noob is continually surprised that outside Europe in particular that such otherwise weak-seeming teams advance to title matches. Rosario are in 14th of 28 Primera league teams and Gimnasia in 21st. The winner gets much more than a few pesos and a trophy. There’s a qualification to the next Copa Libertadores up for grabs!

Trying to get excited for this one, but it may be tough to watch. Rosario doesn’t score much, and they look like an offensive juggernaut compared to Gimnasia. Catch this one at 7:10 PM Eastern on TyC Sports International if you dare. And have a deep enough satellite TV package.

RESULT:   Rosario   1-1  /  4-1 PK’s        All hail the Argentine champs!

Image result for Mendoza argentina weirdSo long from Mendoza!

At least you can stay in a cool vineyard “hotel” when visiting.

 

Wednesday

3. Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

Semifinals time in the Apertura (first half-season) Liguilla (playoffs)!

This this Round will also feature two-legged ties, same as the Quarters did. Regular season #1 Cruz Azul gets the honor of hosting the second leg of the home-and-away series, which means they open in Monterrey today.

Cruz Azul haven’t lost since October 20. They’d won five straight matches until finishing off their quarterfinal draw with a 1-1 draw last time out. Plenty of teams score as much or more than C.A., but none defend like them (just 13 goals given up in the 17-match regular season).

Monterrey haven’t proven to be quite as good on either side of the ball. But as one would imagine, they’re not that far off C.A.’s pace, given that they made the playoffs. They’ve not lost in five matches. But they’ve not beaten Cruz Azul in nine consecutive tries.

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0                 Make that once in their last ten tries!

4. Manchester United vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

Arsenal just had a big, God-ordained win in the North London derby. After doing the Lord’s work in defeating named-for-an-historical-traitor (Harry Percy) Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur, can they get pumped up again for Man Utd.?

Man Utd have had a dismal year compared to expectations, the usual-title contenders wallowing in 8th place right now. They haven’t won a league match in a month. None of this has been a fluke, either, as they’re struggling on both sides of the ball. For this team to rise again, the great goalkeeper David de Gea is going to need to lead the way. Defense has been even weaker than offense on the season.

Arsenal are in 4th, which is the number of clubs EPL will qualify for the next Champions League. One would point out their offense as the best around if it weren’t for league #1 Man City blowing everyone out of the water in that department. Defense has been spotty for them, too, at least compared to other table-top clubs. German international Bernd Lemo has decidedly been the weak link. Looking for a shootout today.   (3:00 PM Eastern, NBCSN)

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for Sir Topham Hatt happy

 

Sir Topham Hatt cannot be cross so soon after a Hotspur loss.

5. Atletico Junior vs. Atletico PR – Copa Sudamericana

The Final! And crap on a cracker, Noob would’nt have been passing on covering this event had I not had bad info stuck in my head.

This tournament is the equivalent of Europa League, a tournament below the level of Champions League – or, in South America – Copa Libertadores. Noob did not think the winner of Sudamericana automatically qualified for the following years Libertadores, but they do. And that’s some high stakes.

Columbia’s Junior started in the this year’s Libertadores. After finishing 3rd place in their pod in the Group Stage there, they were dropped into this event. They’ve been very strong in their domestic league statistically, yet are just in 6th place right now. Trouble closing out the close matches, anyone?

Atletico Paranaense only qualified for this event, were not dropped down from following a Libertadores round. They just finished the Brazilian season one spot (7th) out of qualifying for the next Libertadores already.

Based on general knowledge of the pecking order of domestic leagues in South America and Elo ratings from footballdatabase.com, it seems fair to say Junior are an even match at best at home today.

RESULT:   1-1

6. Zamora vs. Deportivo Lara – Venezuela Premier

This is the second leg of the Serie Final, which pits the playoff champions from the Apertura and Clausura stages of the season against one another. The first match was played at Lara and ended in a 1-1 draw.

If one is interested in a couple extra details, scroll down to the Leg One match preview from 12/2. Suffice it to say here and now that Zamora are the hotter team the second half of the year and most definitely favored today at home.

RESULT:   Zamora   4-1          2018 Venezuelan chamPEEENS will dance with that sexy disco robot from the future of 1984

Winners get to party at KirovBar, Barinas (home of Zamora FC) for disco and with this guy….thing!

7. Ulsan Hyundai vs. Daegu FC – (South) Korean FA Cup

The Final! First leg, anyway. Second one will be at Daegu. In Europe, FA Cup winners typically just qualify for the secondary Europa League tournament. Here, the winner not only qualifies for the next AFC Champions League, they’ll enter at the Group Stage (the latest any team enters).

Ulsan finished the K League 1 in third place. That’s just high enough to net them an AFC CL berth, but not as late as the Group Stage. They have to play their way into that as things stand now, via a “playoff round”.

Daegu finished just 7th, didn’t qualify for squat. They’re not nearly as good on either side of the ball as Ulsan, but particularly trail them in goal-scoring.

That said, Daegu haven’t lost in any of their last seven matches across all competitions. They enter vastly hotter than Ulsan. Noob thinks Daegu are easily an even match for Ulsan, maybe even should be favored, given all the momentum they have.

RESULT:   Daegu   1-2            #7 in the league, but #1 in our FA Cup-hearts!   

8. Northeast United vs. Bengaluru – India Super League

Reminder: India has two top-flite leagues. The other is the I-League. ISL is the one that does not have promotion/relegation. It was created under more of an MLS-like franchise model to promote soccer in the country. They do not qualify teams into international competition like AFC Champions League.

But that doesn’t mean this #B-#1 matchup is any less shiny and alluring! Top four will make the league playoffs. Bengalaru are still undefeated eight matches into the season. They have a game in hand on Northeast, on top of leading them by four points in the table. These teams are the cream of the crop defensively, so look for a low-scoring affair today.   (9:00 AM, Asianet Movies)

RESULT:   1-1        Bengaluru saved their undefeated record at 90′ with a goal

Image result for shiny things funny

 

That… doesn’t feel relevant…

Who’s doing images around here now, anyway? 

Noob missed Dan the Intern-Inferno.

9. Turbine Potsdam vs. VfL Wolfsburg – Frauen-Bundesliga

Lyon may be the #1 women’s team in Europe, but it’s Germany’s top league that ranks most highly. And no German team is mightier than Wolfsburg – 10-0-0 so far.

Top two will qualify for the next women’s UEFA Champions League. That second slot looks likely to either go to Potsdam or Bayern Munich. No one’ going to get Wolfsburg though. After all, they’ve outscored opponents 46-2 so far. Good golly.

RESULT:   1-1         The leaders can bleed, they’re human!

Tuesday

1. UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

Time for the second leg of the Apertura (first half-season) Semfinals! All four teams are in action today. This matchup intrigues Noob a little more because UANL are undefeated. Guadalajara got a 1-1 draw at their own place, no small feat.

Matching up with the league’s best on their own turf likely to be a whole other matter. UANL scored over three goals per match during the regular season, 2/3 again as many as Guadalajara, and while playing about the same caliber of defense.

RESULT:   UANL   5-3        On to the finals!

B. Montpelier vs. Lille – Ligue 2

Paris Saint-Germain are still undefeated, miles ahead of the pack. So the race is on for just two more Champions League berths. Lille have fallen to 4th, not having one in any of their last five outings. They’ve been outscored 8-3 over that time. Montpelier are #B in the table.

RESULT:   Lille   0-1        Lille jump up to # B

But wait, just two matches to start the week?  Yup.   Sounds like more high-quality content that soccer lovers everywhere want.   It’s time for a —

NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!

Last installment of NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB, Noob took Subway to task over there new steak sandwich on sunflower bread, a catastrophe if ever there was one.

Today’s featured sammich is much close to home for Noob.  My six year-old daughter – PersonNoob -created this one recently.

What you’re seeing is four pieces of wheat bread in a

 

single stack.   Each is liberally covered with strawberry jelly.  Here pictured, I’ve removed the top layer to show what she has smashed inside — a Little Bites “birthday cake”-flavored mini-muffin.

We know from “Fizzy’s Lunch Lab” television program that “wheat is sweet”.  But four pieces?   I applaud PersonNoob’s creativity, but one only needs more than two if you’re layering the sammich in different ways between slices.  I blame myself as a parent.

The mini-muffins are fine as prepackaged fare goes.  Certainly eaten my share of ones PN hasn’t finished on our way to her school.

To my surprise, the sweet jam and the “birthday” aspect of the muffin didn’t make this sickeningly sweet, at least not at the first bite.    Yes, I tried it, though only ventured that one bite.  As you might imagine, the texture was just straight up waaaay too much bread.

So does Noob dare really rate a sandwich his own sweet daughter created?   You betcha.   And while this is the highest rating I’ve yet given a sandwich, the finished product still didn’t do all that well.

On the Noob Sammich Review sammich rating scale of one to five Sammiches, I rate the “Extra-Tall Wheat Jelly and Birthday Cake Mini-Muffin Sandwich” at just 1.5 Sammiches.

’10 to Track’ Saturday (12/1) soccer match previews – Liga MX, Premier League lead the way

Noob could choose to define the mantra  here of “the ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game” any number of ways.

But in the quest to learn soccer, I’ve learned I want to embrace the game everywhere  its found.    Today’s Track proudly sports matches from all six continents and federations.

1. Santos vs. Monterrey – Liga MX

This is the second leg of the opening, Quarterfinal round of the Apertura (first half-season) Liguilla (postseason tournament). Tonight’s match completes the home-and-away series.

These are the #4 and #5 seeds. They finished in a three-way tie with another club during the regular season and statistically look very much alike. Monterrey won the first leg at their place, 1-0. Best aggregate score will advance in the bracket.

All the momentum is on the side of Monterrey right now. They haven’t lost in four matches and have conceded only two goals over that stretch. Santos haven’t win in four matches, only score three times over those games.

The winner will almost certainly face #1 Cruz Azul in the Semifinals. They’re up 2-0 in their Quarterfinal and have yet to host their match.   (10:00 PM Eastern, Univision)

RESULT:   Monterrey   0-2        on to the Semis to face Cruz Azul  

B. Manchester City vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

This may be the English match today involving the collectively two highest teams in the table, but it sure doesn’t look competitive. Man City are the world’s greatest club running at the moment.

Bournemouth are tied for 8th. More, Noob’s Fighting Cherries have lost three straight, all by 2-1 scores. They had an extremely hot streak to start the year, but that magic has cooled.   (10:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man City   3-1

Image result for letter B cherry

 

Noob’s been faithful to the quest for Number B.

Number B stays loyal with me in support of the Fighting Cherries of Bournemouth.

3. Lille vs. Lyon – Ligue 1

Once you get past 14-0-0 PSG, there’s quite a race going on in France! Lyon are #B. Lille is one of three teams trailing them by just a point. Top three will make the next Champions league.

Noob doesn’t think Lyon have the defensive ability to maintain their table position, will be one of the odd teams out for a top three finish. Defense is Lille’s greater strength and so they should be expected to get a result here at home.

RESULT:   2-2

4. Flamengo vs. Atletico PR – Brazil Serie A

The last round of matches begins in Brazil now. #B versus #7 isn’t usually shiny enough to capture Noob’s fickle gaze, but this is one with specific meaning.

Flamengo can’t catch Palmeiras (and hail to the champs!), nor can they be passed by anyone. They’re headed to the next Copa Libertadores, qualifying straight through to the Group Stage.

Atletico Paranaense right now are the odd team out of the CL mix. Top six get in and they’re in 7th. APR have lacked on defense compared to teams like Flamengo all year. But with the hosts having essentially nothing to play for, who knows – they may start all scrubs.

Noob’s guess is that APR gets a result today and is still stuck in 7th, headed to Copa Sudamericana – South America’s version of Europa League.

RESULT:   Atletico PR   1-2          But Atletico MG also one, so no Copa Libertadores for Paraense

Image result for Flamengo youth soccer

 

 

Meet Flamengo’s U10 squad.

They’re probably starting this match.

5. Nigeria vs. South Africa – Africa Women Cup of Nations

Let’s get someone a trophy – it’s the Final! This is the most prestigious tournament for national teams in Africa and is held every other year. This match is a one-off in Ghana, where the whole tournament has been being hosted.

Nigeria are the defending champs and #1 team in the CAF, and it’s not even terribly close. South Africa rate fourth-best (#38 and #50 worldwide). It’s worth noting, however, that South Africa beat Nigeria 0-1 in the Group Stage.

RESULT:   Nigeria   0-0  /  4-3  pk                Nigeria are chamPEEENS!

6. Olimpia vs. Real España – Honduras National League

This is the second leg of the Apertura playoff Semifinals. Regular season runners-up Olimpia earned a 2-2 draw on the road in the first match of this home-and-away series. Real are high-octane – all O, no D. At home, the better-balanced Olimpia-ns should take care of business.

RESULT:   0-0        so with the aggregate score tied at two, Olimpia advances on away-goals

Image result for high octane funny

 

 

 

 

If he does “The Pigeon”, Noob’s going on a killing spree.

7. San Pedro vs. Verdes – Belize Premier

Is this match, this league “important” in the football world? Probably not by most anyone’s standards. It’s one of the weaker leagues of Central America. But Noob is bound and determined that we will gain at least a passing familiarity with all other CONCACAF member leagues. Hallooo, neighbors!

More, this is a Semifinal! As the lesser, #3 seed, San Pedro host the first leg of the home-and-away series. They’re not out of their class when comparing defenses here.

But Verdes tied for first in the Opening Stage (like Apertura) regular season, only missing 1st by lesser goal differential. And this league was never anything but a two-team race. Verdes are light years better on offense.

RESULT:         it now appears this was slated for 11/30 but was postponed 

8. Fiji vs. New Zealand – OFC Nations Cup

Oceania’s confederation host this tournament just once every four years. It serves as the qualifier for both World Cup and the Olympics.

And here’s your final! It’s a one-off match, being played in New Caledonia, as was the whole tournament. These are the only OFC teams to rank in the top 100 worldwide. New Zealand are the defending champs and 20th-rated team anywhere by FIFA. Fiji are ranked #89 and will have to try and be happy with second place. Because they’re about to get wrecked.

RESULT:   New Zealand   0-8                 Wrecked indeed

Image result for New Zealanders funny

 

 

 

Well that explains it then.

9. Consadole Sapporo vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Japan J1 League

Just like Brazil’s top flite, this league is now in it’s last round of matches. The top three all qualify for the next AFC Champions League. Only champs (and congrats!) Kawasaki qualify directly to the Group Stage there. The next two will have to play in earlier rounds.

Hiroshima are #B, up just a point in the table on newly-minted AFC CL-titleholders Kashima and two above Sapporo. And what the fruit happened to Hiroshima? At one point they led the entire league by nine points. They’ve now lost seven straight matches. If they can manage a draw today, they’ll finish no worse than 3rd place and still qualify for the next CL. Even if they lose, Kashima has to win to pass them and knock them out of the top three.

Sapporo have won three of four and been reported by the Japan Times to be seen licking their chops endlessly in anticipation of this match.

RESULT:   2-2        And so Kawasaki win the league, Hiroshima hold on to second, and Kashima finish 3rd.    Sapporo – no AFC CL for yooooou.

10. Ballymena United vs. Linfield – Northern Ireland Premier

We finish our Track today with a shiny #B-#1 matchup. Does Noob care that it’s in one of the weakest leagues in all Europe? Not at all! (OK, maybe a little. They’ve fallen behind Gibraltar for goodness’ sake, which has the population of like Ames, Iowa.)

Anyway, the season is halfway complete in this semi-pro league. The race is shaping up to be a dramatic one. Linfield lead their hosts today by just a point in the table. Glenavon are just a point farther back, and defending champs Crusaders are just six back of their familiar spot.

The top four all average about two goals per game. But in this offensively-leaning league, it’s only Linfield that can defend as well. They’re the only club giving up less than a goal per game average.

RESULT:   Ballymena    1-2           We have a new leader in the NIFL Premier!

Image result for Slemish Mountain Saint PatrickSo long from Slemish Mountain, Ballymena – said to be first irish home of Saint Patrick.

This guy’s just a Sean Astin-wannabe though.

 

Extra Credit:   Any of the many second round English FA Cup matches, #5 Sheffield United vs. #B Leeds United – English Championship, #5 Grenoble vs. #1 Metz – France’s Ligue 2

#B Legia Warsaw vs. #4 Korono Kielce – Poland Ekstraklasa, #3 Zilinia vs. #B DAC 1904 Dunajska Streda – Slovakia Super Liga, #3 Domzale vs. #1 Maribor – Slovenia Prva Liga, #3 Malaga vs. #4 Granada – Spain’s Segunda Liga, today’s AFF Cup and women’s EAFF-1 matches

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

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

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

Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeeeah.  Wow.

 

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

Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Hotspur   1-0

Image result for sir topham hatt furious

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   PSG   2-1

5. Porto vs. Schalke – UEFA Champions League

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Porto   3-1

Image result for schalke 04 funny

 

 

 

Is that the German Mr. Magoo?

 

6. Monterrey vs. Santos – Liga MX

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

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

RESULT:   Monterrey    1-0

7. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

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

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

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

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

Image result for costa rica premier logo

 

 

One foot-sport, one heart.  

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

8. Portmore United vs. Tivoli Gardens – Jamaica Premier

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

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

RESULT:   Portmore   2-0

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

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

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

Tuesday

1. Lyon vs. Manchester City – UEFA Champions League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Real   0-2

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

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

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

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

 

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday – Liga MX, Ligue 1, and soccer hinterlands of wonder

International Break is over.  Football club fans can breathe again.   Hey, UEFA Nations league turned out pretty hawt in its Group Stage though.

Now we’re back into the club scene.   On Friday’s, the scheds always run fairly light.  But that just gives is a chance to jet-set around the world together.

The Track starts close to home, as always.  Pretty Eurocentric all the way around, though we’ll bounce to some less-visited leagues there before we meander even farther.

Turn ON electronic devices, smoke ’em if you got ’em and don’t wait – help yourself to the drink cart in back.  Let’s take off!

1. Morelia vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

We ease out of International Break – when so many of the top domestic leagues everywhere have been off so that players can take part on their home National Teams’ matches – with a dandy in Mexico.

Every club is about to play their last match of the Apertura. (That’s the first half-season. Most of Latin America has two separate league tournaments each year.) The top half the league (eight clubs) will qualify for the Liguilla (postseason tournament).

Cruz Azul lead second-place CF America by three points in the table. That means if they can manage any kind of result (win or draw, worth three points and one, respectively), they will have wrapped up the #1 seed. True to form from all season, Cruz Azul has only allowed two goals in their last five matches, all wins and draws for them.

Morelia are currently #8, clinging to that last Liguilla berth. Obviously, this is a daunting last match, but at least they get to host it. With a win, they could actually climb as high as 5th place. A loss or even a draw opens the door for the two teams which are two points behind them.

Morelia are as good on offense as their defensively-leaning guests today. But they allow about twice as many goals. Noob thinks they’re good for no better than a draw on their own pitch today.   (8:00 PM Eastern, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Cruz   0-2

B. Lyon vs. St. Etienne – France Ligue 1

This is the best European match of the day, though there are only three being held in the top leagues there. It comes from a league that’s catching a lot of criticism this year. The league has been slipping in the UEFA rankings, and now only its top three clubs will qualify for the next Champions League (the pinnacle of international club tournament competition).

Also, it’s considered a one-club league for quality this year. Paris Saint-Germain are 13-0-0. The other 19 clubs are being referred to as a “farmer’s league”.

** A what? Noob had this answered for us on the Bros Talking Soccer podcast recently as a listener question they fielded. It’s a demeaning term for amateur or semi-pro clubs or leagues in which the players all have day jobs. Think “beer league” or “rec league” as a rough American equivalent from softball or other sports, though those aren’t quite as disparaging. **

In what is otherwise a very tight table, these two are in 4th and 5th place. Lyon have been the more successful team recently, as their competing in the currently-running Champions League. In their last 10 league matches, they only lost one to someone other than PSG. Still, the defense has only been meh.

St. Etienne get a lot of low-scoring draws, don’t appear to have the firepower to compete for a top-three spot. But they’ve not lost in their last four matches, and so can’t be discounted, even in on the road.   (3:00 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   Lyon   1-0       Though those around them now have a game in hand over Lyon, the win today puts them in #B.

Image result for letter B farm

 

 

 

Number B sees no issue with idea of a farmers league.

3. Go Ahead Eagles vs. TOP Oss – Netherlands Eerste Divisie

This is from one of Europe’s better footballing countries, though not its top league. Eerste is the Dutch second division.

Coolly-named Go Ahead Eagles (who were originally “Be Quick”. Really.) are in 1st. That’s the only table position guaranteed to get Promoted to Eredivisie (the Dutch Premier League). At least one other will move up, but there will be playoffs at season’s end to determine what club or clubs get to move up as well.

Top OSS are in 4th. They don’t play “small ball”, but concede the fewest goals in the league at the expense of scoring a very pedestrian amount of goals themselves. They’re not the direct threat for the title that #B Sparta Rotterdam is.

RESULT:   Oss   0-1          With the upset, Oss remain in 4th, but now only two points behind the three co-leaders.

4. Olimpija Ljubljana vs. Mura – Slovenia Prva Liga

Now we deep further down the UEFA domestic rankings to league #30. That’s a touch below average, but remember that Europe’s is the top confederation in the world. And hey – they’re playing. It’s Friday 😛

The majority of leagues qualify just one club to Champions League, which is the case here. Only two teams are at all competing for the title. Ljubljana and Maribor are the two perennial powerhouses and current leaders. Ljubljana trail them by four points in the table here at about the season’s halfway point.

The second-best European international tournament for clubs is the Europa League. Mura is in 3rd right now, just high enough to snag one of those slots. Noob thinks Domzale is going to pass them soon, after the drubbing Mura will endure today.

RESULT:   2-2       Mura with the come-from-behind W!     Goals for them at 89′ and 90′.   Your a bright, shining star, Tomi Horvat!

Image result for Slovenian comedian

 

Slovenia!  Come for the footyball, stay for the…stern-looking comedy clubs?

That’s comedian Marjan Sarec.

5. Flamutari vs. Partizani Tirana – Albania Super League

So the top 30 is about as far down the rankings as Noob looks in Europe for matches with which to intrigue and delight. But now is when we begin our true Friday Globetrotting, Noobites!

Albania’s league is just a little further down the ladder from Slovenia’s (#34). Naturally, they also get just one team into Champions League. Tirana are #1, two points up on Skenderbeu Korce. These are the only two realistic title-chasers.

If you recognize the name Skenderbeu, congratulations! They’ve been on Noob before, noteworthy for having been banned 10 years from international competion for match-fixing. Flamutari are in 6th.

RESULT:   Falmutari   1-0       Upset City!

6. Balzan vs. Hamrun Spartans – Malta Premier

Couple o’ midtable teams from Malta. #47 league in Europe. Let’s just Fun Fact these bad boys.

Fun Fact: The village of Balzan is only a few thousand people. But it’s part of an area known as Three Villages and borders the city of Birkirkara (country’s second-largest).

Fun Fact: Hamrun are also nicknamed tas-sikkina, meaning “of the knife”, roughly. It might refer to many people from there being stevedores on the docks, or to Sicilians living there illegally in the 1500’s who were known to do dances that involved pulling the stiletto knives from their socks and waving them around.

RESULT:   2-2

7. Gibraltar United vs. Glacis United – Gibraltar Premier

League #51 of 55! When you’ve only got a population of maybe 35,000 people, hard to climb very high. Gibraltar United is in 3rd. They’re fewer than ten matches into the season, but it already appears they won’t have the defense to keep up with the usual championship suspects – Europa FC and Lincoln Red Imps. Glacis are in 7th.

RESULT:    United   2-1

8. Ferizaj vs. Prishtina – Kosovo Premier

Kosovo’s league is #53. That’s so low, the country only gets two clubs into the Europa League instead of the more usual three.

But this may be mostly due to how new specifically-Kosovar football is. They’ve only had their own recognize football federation since the 2016-17, and didn’t start earning points for ranking until a year after that. With a population of about two million, they should be able to raise the league to a a higher profile in time.

Ferizaj are in second-to-last place, a position that would get them Relegated at season’s end. So yes, there is at least one more level if football there. Prishtina wouldn’t know. They’re in 1st, having only given up four goals in fifteen matches.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Прва савезна лига у фудбалу

 

 

Prishtina was the best club from what is now Kosovo back in the Yugoslav First League days.

9. Aiglon vs. New Star – Martinique Division d’Honneur

That southern European weather was dreamy for a couple matches there. Kosovo? Eh. So to the Carribbean we go!

Powerhouse league?  Nah.   But despite being a French Overseas Territory (and so non-FIFA member), in CONCACAF.  Hallooooo, neighbors.

The top two finishers in this league will qualify for the Caribbean Football Union (subgroup of CONCACAF) Club Championship.  That event, in turn, serves as a qualifier for the CONCACAF Champions League.  It’s very early, but Aiglon are #B and the numbers indicate they’ll stay there and have only one threat for the title.   New Star are 5th place.

RESULT:   Aiglon   2-1

10. Al Hudod – Al Quwa Al Jawiya – Iraq Premier

We finish our Trekking Track in Asia! This isn’t quite a top-ten league there, but close, and high enough that they qualify the maximum two teams into the AFC Champions League.

Al Jawiya were runners-up last year, 6-0-0 so for this season. Early results indicate Al Shorta likely to be their top threat. It certainly won’t be Al Hudod, wallowing down in 13th. Why so bad? See that there? Noob just scored on Hudod. There, it happened again. Bless you. Someone sneezed and scored on ’em. You get the idea.

RESULT:   Hudod   1-0     A clean sheet?  Well, well!

Kahramana

 

 

 

So long from Baghdad, home of Al Hudod!

 

Statue of Karahmana and the forty jars

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday (11/2) – USL playoffs, LigaMX, then we’re off to see the world

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

On Friday’s, schedules run a little lighter.  Noob takes the opportunity to hit up the best local games, and then it’s off to soccer hinterlands less-known!

Come, jet-set with Noob.  The bags of peanuts in-flight are HYOOJ.

  1. Louisville FC vs. New York Red Bulls II – United Soccer League playoffs

Time for the Eastern Conference Final!  Defending champions Louisville host the Red Bull reserve teams.  They finished the regular season #2 and #5, respectively.

Louisville’s been clicking on both sides of both for weeks so, to the tune of nine straight wins.  The defense has been quite good, the offense – phenomenal.

NRYB Jr. have won five straight.    They’ve been comparable on defense, if not quite as dominant on offense.

It’s an interesting twist.   Through most of the regular season, they were both scoring like gangbusters, but with NYRB doing so very much at the expense of defense.  Now Red Bulls have switched their habits around.

No matter which style NY2 play, LFC are the clear fave.  Winner gets either Orange County or Phoenix for the title.   (7:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:    L’ville  5-1       Devon Williams with two goals in two minutes

Image result for letter B tiger

 

 

 

Looks like we know which club Number B is rooting for.  Awwwww!

B.  Morelia vs. UANL Tigres – Liga MX

Three matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season).  And since each of the two half-seasons are only 17 matches long, it means things in the table are tight.  Top eight make the Liguilla (postseason tournament).

Morelia’s in 7th, but their numbers don’t make them look like a Playoff team.  The offense is borderline, but the defense is bottom quartile-caliber.  Still, they’re trending the right way.  After not winning a match for more than a month straight, they’re now winners of three in a row.  Those three were against bottom-half teams, but it’s still something.

Tigres are #8.  Two teams trail them by just a point.   They’ve not won in their last four, the defense having completely fallen apart (11 goals allowed).

9th-place Pachuca is going to pass at least one of these two.  So if one of these two loses today, Noob considers it an elimination match of sorts.   (9:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

  1. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lille – France Ligue 1

Hard to believe PSG is looking like they might get eliminated from the current Champions League at the group stage.   They’re not having any trouble in their domestic league.   11-0-0, eight points up on #B Lille in the table already.

Lille sport an above average offense and defense.    No reason to think they’ll have any trouble finishing in the top three and qualify for the 2019-20 Champions League.  They just won’t look like it today.   PSG 3-1 today.

RESULT:   PSG   2-1     Mbappe with a goal and an assist

  1. Al Ahly vs. Esperance – CAF Champions League

The Final!    Two matches, home and away, for the club title in Africa.

Al Ahly are the #1 team in all Africa.  It doesn’t even seem to be particularly close.   Noob’s Elo ratings-source footballdatabase.com indicated it.  So does my newer one for Elo-ish numbers – soccerverse.com.  (The former has been down for long enough recently that I’m worried it’s gone for good.)

They’re well down the table in their domestic league so far this year, but that’s mostly by virtue of having played far fewer matches than most teams there.  The international play leads to a lot of postponements for them.   Extrapolate their basic stats out and they’re easily performing like a top-four club.

They host what may well be the #2 club on the continent.  This looks like an awful matchup for the Tunisians.  They’re struggling on defense in their league, and Ahly is just relentless on offense.   Ahly by two on their own pitch today.

RESULT:   Ahly   3-1           Walid Soliman scored twice on penalties in a match that also featured a third penalty score

Image result for math is dumb

 

Mathing.

 

I know, right?

  1. El Entag El Harby vs. Smouha – Egyptian Premier

You know, as long as we’re here!

Top two finishers qualify for the next Champions League.  Right now, these two are #B and #3, respectively.  ENEH have played a game or two more than the teams around them in the table.  They’re not going to stay this high in all likelihood.   They don’t score enough, plain and simple.

Smouha, however, look to have the firepower to at least flirt with a top-two finish.  They will be hard-pressed to catch #1 El Zamalek (best O and D in the country) or hold of Al Ahly.  But so far, Smouha looks very balanced and sound.

RESULT:   2-2        Smouha blows an 0-2 halftime lead

  1. URA vs. Nyamityobora – Uganda Premier

Uganda’s top flite Is a league on the move.  They just cracked the CAF rankings for the first time recently, appearing at #18.   They’d have to move up a few more notches to qualify two teams to Champions League, but it’s a start.

It’s too early to perhaps say much, fewer than a half dozen matches into the season.  but #5 URA appear to be a Small Ball team – pack it in on defense, don’t try to even score much themselves.

Noob believes The Nyamity-ville Horror-obora just got Promoted to top tier this year.  Judging by their utter lack of defense, they’ll be headed right back down.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for that was horrible gifWhat, the play on words there?

Quiet, Adam Scott!   Don’t you have a “Krampus” sequel to go shoot?

  1. 1 de Agosto vs. Hulia – Angola Girabola

Congrats to Angola’s domestic top league!   Big jump coming in the 2019-20 rankings – #17 all the way to #9.

1dA didn’t need the league to have an extra berth into Champions League last season like it will get soon.  They only lost one match all last season.   How?  By only giving up eight goals in 28 matches.   Stifling.

Hulia finished 6th, as perfectly average as they could be, statistically.

RESULT:         is now slated for Sun., 11/4

That African stint can be so draining.  Let’s take a break for the third-ever installment of —

Noob’s Sandwich Reviewoobs!

@MLS on Twitter asked the important, obvious question.  Essentially, is a hot dog, in fact, a sandwich?

Among most noble apes, a sandwich is defined as any meat or other filling between two SLICES of bread.  Buns are NOT slices, or Noob’s name is John Montagu.

To be fair, one can find definitions and contexts where any pieces of bread – sliced or otherwise – are called “sandwich”.  I’m not here to argue against that.

Because it’s already been establish in Amuricuhn court of LAW.

In 2006, A Worcester, MS judge ruled against Panera in a heated case regarding a non-compete clause in a mall food court.  The judge allowed the mall could rent to Qdoba, that tacos and burritos were NOT sandwiches.  His or Her Honor formally told Panera, “Sit on it, Potsy” in the ruling and summary.

What’s fun is that most of that is true.

So — is a hot dog a sandwich?  No.  Heretical.  Illegal!

@MLS, thanks for the picture of the cute kid.  But Noob rates your sandwich question  at a mere two and a half out of five sandwiches on the Noob Sandwich Reviewoob sandwich rating scale.

  1. Ballymena United vs. Glenavon – Northern Ireland Football League Premiership

Next, we jet-set to Europe.  This is one of Europe’s very weakest domestic leagues.  In fact, it’s only semi-professional.  But hey — they’re playing!

They get just the one berth into Champions League.  Glenavon are #1 now, but they only lead Linfield by a point.  They lead the league in scoring, and trail just Linfield in defensive prowess (albeit by a lot).

#3 Ballymena are nicely balanced, but are ten points behind their league-leading hosts.  At least they’re in a position to perhaps get one of the league’s two automatic invites to Europa League.

RESULT:   Bally   2-1

Image result for flying first class funny

 

 

Mr. Bean always flies first class for NIFL Premiership.

  1. Kukesi vs. Flamutari – Albania Superliga

Our second and final stop on our European league takes us to the #34 league in UEFA.  Below average, but a damn sight higher than Northern Ireland.  Wheeeeeeee!

These are the #3 and #5 clubs there currently.  Kukesi are only four points in back of league leaders Skenderbau Korce, but that team’s been the power there for forever.  Even recently getting a 10-year ban from FIFA over match-fixing hasn’t seemingly slowed that bunch much.

If recent history holds, Kukesi won’t catch the Banned Ones or #B Tirana.  Flamutari are far less likely.   When the defense gets down to league average, those clubs won’t be able to stop the perennial title contenders.

RESULT:   Flamutari   1-2

  1. Melbourne City vs. Sydney FC – Australia A-League

The league season is just getting (Down) underway in OZ.  Yet already a big trophy has been awarded.   League defending champs Sydney FC just lost in the FFA Cup final to Adelaide.

Melbourne City finished #3 last year, a nice push for a team that’s historically only average there.  They were either lucky or tough or both, too, as they didn’t score a lot compared to their peers.

RESULT:   Sydney   0-3     Paulo Retre with a goal an an assist

Image result for Melbourne australia funny

 

 

So long from Melbourne!  

Apparently so violent, their club may soon get a Copa Libertadores invitation.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (9/2) – MLS, Liga MX, more theme song work

The ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game.  A theme song is deserved.   Yesterday’s attempt was… well, let’s try again.

“Soccernoob rockin’ Amur-IH-cuh-huhuh /

Analysis!  *clap clap*/

Ten matches! *clap clapclap* /

Ordid Noobmiscooowwwwwnt?!  /  *crickets*

Soccernoob rockin’ Amur-IH-CUUUHHHHH!

  1. D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – Major League Soccer

Atlanta’s non-loss streak is up to seven, and yet New York Red Bulls have overtaken them for 1st place.  That they haven’t kept one clean sheet in their last six is mildly troubling, but mitigated by them scoring 2+ in them all.

Ever since Noob pointed out DCU’s unbeaten streak since playing all time English great Wayne Rooney, they’ve done nothing but lose.   It’s only two matches, but they were the only two in this period where they’ve faced really good competition.  It was a nice run up from the Eastern Conference basement to 8th, but the playoffs are looking unlikely now.

(Oh, and next D.C. travels to NYCFC.  Good luck with that.)   (7:30 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   D.C.   3-1     Rooney scored or assisted on every goal

Image result for Wayne Rooney annoyed

 

Got something to say to Noob, Rooney?

Go beat a Playoff-caliber team.

B.  Toluca vs. Santos – Liga MX

#10 hosts #4 in match Noob wouldn’t try picking if you threatened him with a whack-a-mole mallet.   (1:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   Toluca   2-1

Image result for Noobstradamus

 

I’ll make a prediction.  MY calling, after all, Noob.  Don’t make me come over there.

Noobstradamus divines  a win for Santos after their three consecutive draws.

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

Reminder:  This is also the CONCACAF championships.  Two great footyball tastes tasting great together.  The top three finishers from this Caribbean Zone group of five advance to the “competition proper”, where the North American teams enter this event.

Jamaica is hosting all the matches and their national team leads the Group.  In fact, with just this fourth and final match to play in this stage, they’ve already qualified to advance.  T&T only need a draw to secure their own berth.  A loss and they leave the door open for Bermuda.

These two are FIFA-ranked #’s 50 and 71, respectively.  Jamaica has run roughshod over everyone so far.  T&T must keep the score low to hope for any kind of result.

RESULT:   Jamaica   1-4       Both teams advance to the next round

  1. Burnley vs. Manchester United – English Premier League

Last season, Man U had a fine enough season finishing #B, even as their intracity rivals at City were having a record one.

But right now they are a hot mess.  Starting the season with a home win over Leicester was expected.  A road loss to Brighton and Hove Albion was far less so.  Giving up three goals was a red flag.  Then getting crushed at home by Noob-reviled and traitorously named Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur 0-3 has to have them wondering if their new head coach is paying attention.

Burnley have stunk.  Who will right their ship?   0-0 draw anyone?   (11:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man Utd.   0-2

Image result for Sir Topham Hatt pissed off

 

 

Wow, just think how cross Sir Topham Hatt gets when Hotspur’s actually playing.

  1. Celtic vs. Rangers – Scottish Premiership

There are basically ever two named to know in Scotland – these.   #1 and #B last season.  It’s very early in this campaign, but they’re both just sitting midtable.  The issue for both has been middling defensive play.

RESULT:   Celtic   1-0

  1. Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Spartak Moscow – Russian Premier

Here in Europe’s 6th-ranked league, traditional powers are performing as they should.  Zenit are running people over, 5-0-0 with a 10-1 GD.  Spartak are tied for #B, have played one less game than peer Rostov.  Their offense is not Zenit’s, but the defense has been just as good.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Russian football funny

 

 

Is it too late for Noob to get 2018 World Cup souvenir Matryoshka dolls?

  1. Dinamo Zagreb vs. Rijeka – Croatia First Division

For al Croatia’s success in the World Cup, their domestic league is still trying to catch up a wee bit with the bigger boys.   At UEFA-ranking #16, they are the best league that still gets just one invitation to Champions League.

With one less match played than Osijek, D.Z. is still tied with them for #1.  Rijeka are also a match off and are just two points back in 3rd.  These two will overtake the table’s top, and sooner rather than later.    Dinamo sport the top D in the land, while Rijeka have the best balance.  (Osijek’s mediocre defense will catch up to them.)

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv – Israel Premier

Last year’s #1 and #B face off here at beginning of Europe’s (well, UEFA’s) #18 league.  If little to nothing has changed, MTA will have a hard time scoring today.  Everyone had that trouble last year with HBS.

MTA were the second-best D, so this match may not see lots of goals.  But it’s a desperately important match, even this early in their season.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for geography wrong funny Israel

Hey, you let Israel play in UEFA and all bets are OFF.

  1. Ferencvaros vs. MOL Vidi – Hungary NB 1

Not that Hungarian football is on the radar of many (UEFA rank #36), but just in case:   MOL Vidi was Videoton last year.   Sponsorship change = name change.

These two finished 2017-18 #B and #1, and that is always on Noob’s radar!  Statistically they were nearly carbon copies of one another.  No other clubs threatened them.  They’re also both undefeated early this season.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Nomme JK Kalju vs. Flora Tallinn – Estonia MeistrilIIga

The capital I’s in the league name are Noob’s own addition.  Just look at them.  A symmetrical, beautiful pair.  Perfection.

With ¾ of the season in the books, Kalju have a five-point lead in the table on today’s visitors.  The only other team in contention is FCI Levadia.   This match is the classic best offense versus best defense.  If Flora loses, that may mean the title is all but decided.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for pope john paul ii eyes

 

 

 

 

Pope John Paul II is down with the double i’s.

  1. Gyeongnam vs. Jeonbuk – South Korea K-League 1

What madness is this?  11??

Occasionally, it’s just too hard to pare down to ten.   Just look at the matches I had to cut:

Three USL matches (though none of highest import; AS Monaco vs. Marseille (last year’s Ligue 1 #B vs. #4); Alajuense vs. Saprissa (Costa Rica’s #1 and #3); Brondby vs. Midtjylland (Denmark’s #3 and #B); Siroki Brijeg vs. Zeljeznicar (Bosnia and Herzegovina’s #3 and #B); and two top-four matchups from Norway’s Eliteserien.

This is yet another #B versus #1 match.  Even though Jeonbuk have already sown up 1st place, such still gets Noob’s salivary glands watering.

Plus, The Management is in South Korea right now!  He flew into Incheon, which has the worst football club there this year.  I tried to tell him where the better footyball was being played, but does he listen to Noob?

RESULT:   Jeonbuk   0-3

Image result for eurwangni beach

 

 

So long from Erwangni Beach, Incheon, Korean Republic!

’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 Sunday (8/26) – the best of footyball, home and abroad!

Noob tends to get more than a bit silly covering and learning about soccer.

Noobstradamus, in-house prognosticator.  Always fighting with The Management.  Screaming about Tottenham Hotspur being named for an historic traitor.  Lamenting teams from cities built on Swamps.  The quest to displace Number Two with Number B in all lists…

But weekends, things get (comparatively) serious.   End your weekend relishing in the umami-like rich goodness of Sunday’s mini-previews.  You’ll laugh a little, you’ll learn more.

Please considered following Noob on twitter: SoccerNoobUSA.com, and remmeber to check back for match results.

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

Rivalry Week has saved one of it’s heartiest hate-matches for last.  On top of the intra-regional malice, there’s a lot at stake.

Six from each conference make the Playoffs.  Right now, Portland sits in 6th, just two points up on Seattle.

Please, Timbers, turn things around!  Long-tenured Noobites may recall that my first ever experience with a hardcore soccer fan was a college TA/Sounders bandwagon jumper.  I want that wagon to fall off a cliff!  Noob may not be stable or normal, but I am consistent and sincere.

The problem is, Seattle’s been playing extraordinary ball for two months, not having lost a match since late June.  No one’s scored twice on them over this period. Portland, meanwhile, has lost three straight games.  Two of those were against teams not likely to make the Playoffs themselves.  Timbers have conceded nine goals in those matches.

If Portland are to do as they should, they’ve got to get the heart of their defense right.  International centerback Larrys Mabiala has been épouvantable, while goalkeeper Jeff Attinella has been just as abysmal.   (9:30 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   Seattle   0-1

Image result for larrys Mabiala funny

 

Larry’s started believing he’s Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix”.

May be the issue.

B.  New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United – Major League Soccer

English all-time great Wayne Rooney has been everything D.C. could’ve dreamt.  Since he’s arrived midseason, they’ve won five, drawn one, and lost no matches.  They’re still six points out of the six and final Playoff slot in the East, but are now 8th.  Given that they were in the basement for the entire first half of the season, that’s incredible.

The Red Bulls were playing like the league’s best team midsummer.  And they haven’t lost in their last four outings.  And they’re still #B in the conference.  Still, are they fading a tiny bit?  Road draws against NYCFC and non-playoff Vancouver are okay.  A workmanlike road win against awful Chicago is good enough, just.  A close home win over good-but-fading-themselves LAFC…

Maybe it’s just the road being hard.  Yes, Noob’s imagining NYRB’s imminent demise.   (7:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   NYRB   1-0

Image result for imagine letter BNumber B, doing some messed up reimagining of self.

Is it not enough to merely be usurping Number Two’s place?

  1. Newcastle vs. Chelsea – English Premier League

Last season, Newcastle surprised with a 10th-place finish, having just been Promoted from the second division.   But they’ve followed up on that so far.  A loss Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – even at home – is clearly forgivable.  The home, scoreless draw to just-Promoted Cardiff is less so.

Chelsea have won their first two against pedestrian competition.  After a disappointing 5th-place finish in defense of their previous league title, they won’t be sleeping on anyone.  Missing out on Champions League (top four get invites) will have that effect.   (11:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Chelsea   1-2

  1. Santos vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

What a gigante match!  #3 hosts the only undefeated remaining and #1.  They’ve scored 22 goals in their six matches.  This doesn’t guarantee a shootout though.  Cruz Azul have only allowed one.   (7:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for giant soccer ball

 

 

Gigante!!

Hey, no hands.   I don’t see you in-net.

  1. Cray Valley Paper Mills vs. Ashford Town – English FA Cup

It’s not so much that this individual math is “important” that it’s neat to know that the FA Cup has already begun.  The big-league clubs won’t enter the competition for some time.

In truth, teams from this far down the football pyramid are unlikely to get anywhere near the Round where the Premier League clubs start playing.  But who knows, maybe we’ll have a history-making Minnow!

CVPM play out of the 9th-tier Southern Counties East League (formerly known as “Kent League”), in which they finished 6th in the higher of its two divisions.  They’re from Eltham, which is in the Greenwich Borough (southeast greater London).

Ashford town finished 12th in the 8th-tier Southern League Division One last season.  This year, they’ve made a lateral move to the Isthmian League.  They’re from Stanwell – just northeast of greater London – in the Surrey area of Spelthorne Borough.

RESULT:   Cray Valley   4-1

  1. Marseille vs. Rennes – Ligue 1

The French top league is already three matches into their season, but this is the first one that’s featured two teams from the top quarter of last season’s table.  These two finished in 4th and 5th, meaning they were the best two to not get invites to Champions League.

At least Marseille only missed the CL berth by a point in the table.  There was a massive gulf in the table between them and Rennes.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for you are not invited

 

 

Would it make a difference if Noob and Rennes brought delicious scones?

 

  1. Jamaica vs. Antigua and Barbuda – women’s World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)

Reminder:  This is also the women’s CONCACAF Championship, doubling as qualification for next year’s WC.

This is the second round of Group Stage.  To get here, each had to win their previous group.   FIFA-ranked #133 A&B didn’t allow a goal in the previous stage’s three matches, but only scored five themselves.  #71 Jamaica, meanwhile, had a GD of 18-2.  Home team by a couple goals today, easily.

RESULT:   Jamaica   9-0         not a typo

  1. Dorados de Sinaloa vs. Correcaminos UAT – Ascenso MX

Welcome to the Track, Mexican second division!   Noob’s making a concerted effort to stay closer to home, with more CONCACAF/Western Hemisphere/North Amuricuhn matches than ever before.

Sinaloa are in 12th of 15 teams this Apertura (first-half season).  UAT are in 8th.   Noob sources are conflicted as to whether seven or eight team will qualify for the postseason Liguila, but either way, Correcaminos are right on that line.

Los Dorados have yet to win a match, but it’s early.  Noob thinks they will get a result at home today.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for welcome and fuck off

 

 

Yes, um, it’s Ascenso league coverage.

Do what now?

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

Club Brugge more or less ran away and hid from the pack over the regular season.  When it came time to play the last 10 matches in a Championship division, they fell back to earth a little, but still win the title.

Anderlecht went from second to third over that same stretch, seemingly having hit a wall, finishing those last ten matches with a negative GD even.  If they want to have a shot of their own at the hardware, they’ll have to have improved defense in 2018-19.  The were easily the worst in that regard of all the top clubs, and didn’t have offense that made up for it.

RESULT:   Brugge   2-1

  1. Qarabag vs. Neftchi – Azerbaijan Premier

We finish today’s Track in UEFA’s #23-ranked league.  Like most other European domestic leagues, they’re just getting started.

If you don’t already, get to know the name Qarabag.  They are the perennial power in here, easily the favorite to once again decimate all before them and get the league’s one CL berth.  Their offense is good.  They’re defense was about impenetrable.  They conceded less than a goal every other game on average last season.  Neftchi was 3rd.

RESULT:   1-1

 

So long from Baku, home of Qarabag!

Is that a Death Star they’re building or a seven-star hotel?

(Both!)

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (8/4) – MLS back from All-Star break

After months of compressing the weekend matches into a single Track!  No more!  MLS in full swing again, the best of Europe rousing from its slumber.  Back to full Tracks for Saturday and Sunday.  Let’s dig in.

  1. Orlando City vs. New England Revolution – Major League Soccer

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.  The Management and Noob waggle our fingers at you and laugh, Orlando.  You can’t exist in a city built on a swamp and expect anything but bad ends.  Losers of four in a row.  Only one win in the last, oh, two months and change (and that over over-aged Toronto).  9th place in the Eastern Conference.

Not that New England’s doing much better of late, losers of three straight.  At least they’re still holding onto the East’s 6th and last playoff berth.  Matt Turner and that back line have allowed seven goals over those losses.  Philly will catch them posthaste if that doesn’t get shored up pronto.   (7:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   3-3

Image result for matt turner new england revolution funny

 

 

Turner might consider turning his superpowers back on.

B.  Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City – Major League Soccer

The Management will be breaking out the pork rinds and sushi boat for this one.  Add his KC ties to the righteous loathing of Swamp Cities and you’ve got him pulling out all the stops.

He should be bringing out any lucky charms he has as well.  Sporting’s lost three in a row and didn’t win a league match all June.  They’ve fallen from 1st to 5th in the West.

While the road is never easy, they could be catching Houston at the right time though.  Dynamo have lost two in a row, courtesy of some porous defense.  They’re down in 9th now, four points out of a playoff slot.   (8:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   KC   0-1

Image result for letter B on the go

 

 

Number B is all about the road.

And won’t swerve to avoid Number Two if it comes to it.

  1. Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX

Pachuca improved their offense over the course of 2017-18, moving from 12th in the Apertura (first half-season) to 9th in the Clausura.  Not quite enough to make the Liguilla (postseason tournament).  It’s their defense CFA will look to exploit as they look for another top-three finish.

RESULT:   CFA   1-3

  1. Inter Milan vs. Lyon – International Champions Cup

These may two of the weakest teams in this event, but there are no slouches to be found anywhere.  Inter finished fourth in Serie A last year while Lyon was third in Ligue 1.

While some clubs have already finished their three matches in this shiny pile o’ friendlies- tuneups for the impending league season starts – Inter is playing just their second now.  They lost to Chelsea in penalty kicks.  Lyon has played just once so far as well, topping Portugal’s Benfica.   (2:00 PM, ESPN)

RESULT:   Inter   1-0

Image result for pile of panda bears

 

 

 

Pile o’ friendly pandas

  1. FC Cincinnati vs. Nashville FC – United Soccer league

Cinci haven’t lost a league match since May, and so now lead the Eastern Conference and are tied for the most points in the entire league.  The only losses they’ve suffered over that stretch have been in penalties to MLS’ Minnesota United and a narrow one to Spanish La Liga club Espanyol.

After a fabulous spring and early summer, expansion cub Nashville are wilting in the dog day-heat.  They haven’t beaten anyone outside of lowly Toronto II since early June.  The offense is flat-out gone.  That said, they’re still in 7th and in line for a Playoff berth.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Paris Saint-Germain vs. AS Monaco – France Super Cup

The “big” European leagues are all about to start up.  That means it’s Sooooooooooooper Cup time!  These don’t count towards league standings or anything else, but a shiny trophy will still be awarded.

PSG won both Ligue 1 and the FA Cup last year.  As the league runner-up, ASM gets to make the trip.  Trip?  Yep.   They’re playing it in the Guangdong province of China for some reason.   (8:00 AM, beIN Sports En Espanol)

RESULT:   PSG   4-0

ShenZhen Universiade Sports Centre.jpg

 

 

Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre, Guangdong province

  1. FC Porto vs. Deportivo das Aves – Portugal Super Cup

This one will almost certainly go to Porto, the defending league champion.  Aves had a magical run to the FA Cup title, but finished just 13th in league play, woefully on goal-scoring.  This one’s in Portugal, though at a neutral site.

RESULT:   Porto   3-1

  1. PSV Eindhoven vs. Feyenoord – Netherlands Super Cup

They’ll play the Dutch version at PSV’s place, their reward for winning the Eredivisie last year.  Feyenoord won the FA Cup, finished 4th in the league.

RESULT:   Feyenoord   0-0  /  5-6  pk

Image result for dutch football funny

 

 

 

Good thing the fans won’t get weird…

  1. Gremio vs. Flamengo – Brazil Serie A

Gremio are tied for 4th and host the league #1 today.  The top six will all get invites to the next Copa Libertadores, but only the top four will get ushered through right to the Group Stage.  These two allow fewer goals than any other clubs in the league.

RESULT:   Gremio   2-0

  1. HJK vs. RoPS – Finland Veikkausliga

We finish our Track with a 1-2 matchup!  It may be just the 38th-ranked league in Europe, but this and other northern European summer leagues are over halfway through.  The stakes are heating up.

HJK are the defending league champs and lead all others in offense by a mile.  RoPS are ten points back now.  The desperately need a road upset today to keep any credible hope alive for catching the leaders.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for Helsinki weird

 

 

So long from Helsinki (HJK’s home city)!

Noob’s still trying to “read” the Sibelius Monument.