’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!

Image result for letter B cartoon sword

 

 

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

Image result for Lamia football

 

 

 

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

Image result for hapoel tel aviv funny

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Phoenix   1-2

B.  Arsenal vs. Liverpool – English Premier League

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

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

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

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

Image result for sir topham hatt cross

 

 

Interact with the Noob, or face the crossness

  1. Kashima Antlers vs. Persepolis – AFC Champions League

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

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

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

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

Image result for Noobstradamus

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  CF America vs. Toluca – Liga MX

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Celtic vs. Hearts – Scottish Premiership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for silly man gif

 

 

David Schwimmer has the right of it.

  1. Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Dynamo Kyiv – Ukraine Premier

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

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

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

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

  1. Atromitos vs. PAOK – Superleague Greece

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for atromitos supporters riot

 

 

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

  1. Astana vs. Kairat Almaty – Kazakhstan Premier

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

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

RESULT:   Astana   3-2

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

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

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

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

The Chen Clan's Academy.jpg

 

 

So long from Guangzhou!

The Chen Clan’s Ancestral Hall and folk art museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for nemanja nikolic

 

 

 

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

B.  Liverpool vs. Manchester City – English Premier League

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for eating letter B

 

 

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

  1. Toluca vs. Pachuca – Liga MX

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

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

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

RESULT:   Toluca   2-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one has beaten or earned a draw against PSG.

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

RESULT:   PSG   5-0        Mbappe with four goals

Image result for that's too many gif

 

 

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

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

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

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

  1. Benfica vs. Porto – Portugal Primeira Liga

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

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

RESULT:   Benfica   1-0     the streak is ended!

Image result for FC porto funny

 

Noob does speak Portguese.

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

 

 

Noob?  That means “register”. 

Fine, The Management.  Spoil all my fun.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

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

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

  1. Verdes vs. Bandits – Belize Premier

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

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

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

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

Image result for benque viejo del carmen funny

 

So long from Benque Viejo, home of Verdes!

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/29) – MLS, EPL, El Clasico lead the way

Noob tries to bring something unique to the internet landscape —

A shared, live-action learning journey of mine also meant to be one for YOU.  Learning about the best clubs, leagues, and tournaments the world over.  how it all fits together.  BUT.  Coupled with the most oddball humor-angle.

Today, at least you’re rewarded with a treasure trove of high-quality matches from the biggest leagues.   But there will still be weirdness.  I promise.  And you’ve been warned.

  1. Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

Dallas and Kansas City keep going back and forth for the #1 seed in the Western Conference.  Electric boogaloo!  They’re back on top by two points with a tie to tough Columbus Crew bookended by nice (if predictable) wins versus Houston and Vancouver (who just fired their coach).   A great sign for them is that they’re succeeding playing low and high-scoring matches of late.

The #4 Timbers have trended the other way, losing two of three.  Both were on the road, but 4-1 thrashing by Houston has to be of particular concern.  Even in their home win over Columbus, they’ve played shite for defense.   At 32, is keeper Steve Clark getting a bit long in the tooth, feeling the late season lots more perhaps then his younger counterparts?   (10:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   0-0

B.  D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact – Major League Soccer

D.C. still have five points to make up on Montreal for the East’s last Playoff slot.  It’s been an impressive second-half season comeback for the former bottom-feeders.  Wayne Rooney money appears money well-spent.

But they’ve not beaten Montreal in their last seven tries (3D, 4L).  To break that streak, they’ll look to control the pace, make it a fast and flying match.  Montreal’s success of late has been on a suddenly improving defense, peaking at the right time of year.   (7:00 PM, ESPN+)

RESULT:   D.C.   5-0        Rooney with two goals.   Acosta with a goal and three assits

Image result for letter B bird

 

 

Not the fastest-flying bird, Number B.

Yet still, nice call namedropping the Bobolink.

  1. Queretaro vs. Tigres – Liga MX

You just have to love the format in Mexico (and other Latin, South American countries) where they divide the annual league soccer calendar into two separate tournaments.  Each match is -so- important.  In fact, Noob requires your love for this!   Liga MX WILL have it.

OK, that got weird for a bit.  Welcome to Noob, if you’re new.  This match features two teams right on the edge of qualifying for the Liguilla (postseason).  Top eight clubs get in, and there’s a three-way tie for 7th-9th right now.  Wave hi, combatants.

UANL Tigres are the story here.  They haven’t lost a match since mid-August.  They’re also coming into this key road match off two clean sheets.  They’re better on both sides of the ball than Queretaro.  Which makes this match being IN Queretaro so awesome.  Noob’s absolutely finding someone with ESPN Deportes in order to catch this one (6:00 PM).

RESULT:   Tigres   0-2    A.P. Gignac with both goals

  1. Chelsea vs. Liverpool – England Premier League

These two just played a few days ago, in the EFL Trophy tournament.  (Chelsea won 1-2).  You can learn a Noob-bit about it on the Vocab page for this site.

I’d love to be able to truthfully say I didn’t include in on that day’s Track because I knew they were playing a more important league match today.  But that would make me a lie-ahh!  Noob scouted it.  Fully intended to do a mini-preview.    Crapped the bed, skipping right over it on the ol’ spreadsheet.

Oh, how long will Noob suffer his own Noobishness!  Will this Dantean circle of hell ever be written out of the accursed book?

Get a grip, Noob.  There’s no soccer in “The Inferno”. 

Oh, The Management, you cannot pull Noob from the fire and anguish in my own mind, brought on by my own footyball incompetence!

Just – do the damn mini-preview.

Right!  Liverpool are #1.  6-0-0.  Two other clubs are 5-1-0.  Chelsea is one of those.  Neither has the overall offensive striking capability of defending champs Man City, so this match is super-duper key to the league race.  Also, Liverpool hasn’t beaten them in their last four attempts.

Names to Listen For:  For Liverpool, Mo Salah is the smexy name, as he broke the league scoring record last year.  But it’s striker Daniel Sturridge that’s been keeping that engine firing of late.  Eden Hazard remains the focal point of everything Chelsea does.

There.  Feel better?  Hey now!  Put your shirt back on and that wire coat hanger away! 

The Management apologizes for needing to redact the next would-be portion of the blog, as Noob punishes himself so catastrophically as to make this the internet’s first-ever “snuff blog”.   (12:30 PM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   1-1     And guess who scored?  Hazard and then the very late one to tie it from Daniel Sturridge!

  1. Juventus vs. Napoli – Italy Serie A

Last year’s runaway #1 and #B teams from 2017-18 occupy the same two spots this year early on.  With world’s greatest player-Cristiano Ronaldo, Juve are 6-0-0 and looking unstoppable.

Napoli were soooper fun to watch for their wide-open offensive style last season, may once again pose the only real threat to Juve.  They’ve netted six goals their last two games, getting back into form.   (12:00 PM, Rai Italia)

RESULT:   Juve   3-1      Ronaldo with a pair of assits

  1. Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid – Spain La Liga

It’s “El Clasico” – two of the mighty powers of Spain’s always top-heavy league.  Real are tied for 1st with the current world dominator Barcelona.   They’ve had heaps of trouble with #3 Atletico in recent matches though.

Atletico like to keep the scores low, were and are a very defensive-minded group.  But if Real can find the back of the net early today at home, this is their match to lose.   (2:45 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for El Clasico funny

That actually looks like a fight scene from the Elijah Wood Movie “Green Street Hooligans” to Noob.

  1. USBM vs. Phare du Canal – Guadeloupe Division d’Honneur

How serious is Noob of late about us getting to know our CONCACAF brethren?   I didn’t look up and don’t even feel the need to double check my spelling of this league’s name.  Boom!

This league is unusual.  1)  They’re in CONCACAF despite being an overseas department of France. B)   They’re even part of the French football system while being in our local federation.  3)  Teams get four points for a win, two for a draw, and one for just being on the schedule (by which I mean a loss).

Ooh, and check out how close this title race was last year.  CSM beat both these teams out by a single point.  These two finished #B and #3 and were themselves separated by just one tiebreaking goal in differential for the entire season.

The season just started a week or so ago.  Noob is curious to see if the league race is wide open year to year if the same teams will be front-running again.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Thun vs. Young Boys of Bern – Switzerland Super League

FC Basel is the name Noob consistently hears on satellite radio shows regarding Switzerland.  But it’s YBB who are 8-0-0 to start.  (Check out Noobstradamus’ vision regarding YBB’s last home game to learn some history on the naming of city-Bern.  If you can pick it out through the sheer inanity!)  They’re scoring well over three goals per match and sports the league’s top defense early on.

#B Thun score second-most in the land, but have to sacrifice D to do it.  Still, this may be the top contender to Bern’s likely title.  No other club in the league even has a positive GD to date.

RESULT:   YBB   1-4

Image result for Thun Switzerland funny

 

Noob’s going to start playing lottery, win, and buy Oberhofen Castle on Lake Thun.

You’re invited to party.

  1. Riga vs. RFS – Latvia Higher League

Noobites will also see this as “Virsliga” some places.  Because Noob knows you’re going to look for Latvian football content multiple places.  *bonnnnngggg*  It’s the 42nd-ranked league in UEFA, after all.

But what can Noob say?  I’m attracted to shiny things, and nothing glistens like a 1-B matchup.   And every member country gets at least its champ into Champions League.  Noob actually does know you’ll be looking at that.

They’re about 2/3 of the way through their season already.  Riga have opened up a four-point lead on both Riga and Ventsplis.  While not unique, it is rare to see a team on top that leans so heavily on their defense only.  Their offense is actually below average compared to the entire eight-team league.

Riga had won 13 matches in a row until their scoreless draw last outing.  If not for a tough start to their season, they’d already have bought polish for the league trophy.

Meanwhile, RFS just got off a three-match, scoreless losing streak.  If they can get a W today, this league race is going to be a dandy to follow, #42-rank or not.

RESULT:   Riga FC   1-2     Noob had the home and away sides turned around

  1. APOEL Nicosia vs. AEK Larnaca – Cyprus Super Cup

One of Noob’s first-ever Twitter (@SoccerNoobUSA) followers was a proud mama of two boys who both played or maybe even still play for APOEL.  Cypriot soccer will often win a tiebreaker for Track inclusion.

Also, please join Noob in shock and amazement at not realizing how strong this league is.  I’d have guessed closer to eighteenth from the bottom than actual #18 in UEFA.

After 20 years of the event being held in Nicosia, the times have changed.  Larnaca hosts today.  They won the country’s FA Cup last season to earn their place here.  APOEL won the league title, as is often the case.  With apologies to that lovely APOEL mom, Noob thinks Larnaca’s rise will continue.  They’re winning today in AET or penalty kicks.

RESULT:   Larnaca   1-1  /  1-4  pens       Wow.  Called that one!

Image result for Catacomb of Faneromeni Church

 

 

So long from the Catacomb of Phaneroni Church, Larnaca!  

 

The city name most likely means “coffer”, referring to the massive number of sarcophagi found at this and other sites in the city.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – complete! Welcome, Greek hooligans.

Time for Noob to drop the cherry on this delicious Midweek Edition football cake.   Bring us, Numbah Teyn!!

(Results from Tue. and Wed. are further down.)

* *Clarion ring of silver trumpets* *
We have a Noob c**k up alert!

Match #10, PAOK vs. Arsenal, was not real.     PAOK hosted English Premier League club Chelsea, losing to them 0-1.  Arsenal hosted Ukrainian club Vorskla, winning in a 4-2 rout.

Thursday

  1. PAOK vs. Arsenal – Europa League

Wednesday

  1. Seattle Sounders vs. Philadelphia Union – Major League Soccer

Nine in a row.

Ooooh, how it riles Noob to type that!   Would someone please beat Seattle?   That haven’t even lost in twelve matches.  This is supposed to end with Sounders having peaked to soon, fade late and lose early in or miss the Playoffs.

For less-tenured Noobites, the first hardcore soccer fan I ever met was a university T.A. who was a bandwagon-jumping Seattle fan.  He was neither from nor were we at the time anywhere remotely near Washington state.  It sickened Noob then and now.

The Union had been a nice little streak of their own.  Five wins in a row.  A road draw to crappy Orlando City was understandable perhaps.  The road is the road.  But getting your butt spanked monkey-red 1-4 in your own house to admittedly, surprisingly, and suddenly frisky Montreal is far less so.  In tandem, giving up six goals in those two matches is disconcerting.

The teams are both in 5th place in their respective conferences, though Seattle has a team tied with them on points.  Top six make the Playoffs.

RESULT:   Philly   0-1      Noob’s Sounders nightmare is finally over!

Philly scored at 90′, right after getting a man sent off by red card.   Let there be joy!

Image result for seattle sounders fight and win

 

 

He’s an even bigger d-bag than this “Fight and win”- screaming Sounders ultra.

  1. Young Boys of Bern vs. Manchester United – UEFA Champions League

The most competitive CL match today with an English team may be the other one – Manchester City vs. Lyon.  But Noob did England versus France yesterday, so I’m taking some liberty and switching things up.

Based on their football database.com ELO ratings, Man Utd should hypothetically win this match on a neutral site about 75% of the time.  Converting that in Noob’s and the match being in Switzerland, I figure them to be a goal and a half fave today.

But, as stated above, the road is the road.  Never as easy as it should be.  And while they seem to have recovered from bad losses at bad B&H Albion and then whipped at home 0-3 by Hotspur, the two wins since have been against meh teams at best.

Meanwhile, YBB have started their league season 6-0-0.  Plus, they had to earn their way into the Group Stage here via some qualifying matches.   The whole stew has Noob wishing very much this game were being broadcast stateside.  If Bern were to pull an upset, and with Valencia and Italian champs Juventus lurking here in Group H…

RESULT:   Man Utd   0-3        So much for that Noob-theory

  1. Toronto FC vs. Tigres UANL – Campeones Cup

Never heard of it?   Neither had Noob.   This isn’t a tournament, just a one-off match.  But it’s got American and Mexican clubs playing and there’s a shiny trophy to be presented at the end.  That means I’m in like Flynn!

So let’s get into a few particulars.  This features the reigning MLS champion and the winner of the Campeon de Campeones.  That thing was a match between last season’s winners of the Apertura and Clausura (first and second half-season).

So how have they been doing in their respective leagues seasons this year?  Tigres are in the top half, in the postseason picture.  Not bad.   Toronto, OTOH, is in 9th in the Western conference, nine points out of the playoffs.  Their record is actually above .500, but that’s all they’ve got going for them.   They’re easily a goal underdog, even at home in Canadia.

For all that, they’re still airing it on ESPN2 (8:15 PM).   Yay, footsieball!

RESULT:   Tigres   1-3      UANL in a rout.  Jesus Alberto Duenas with a pair of goals.   

Image result for Campeones Cup funny

 

 

Champions are in Noob’s house?

Tigers are in my house?

  1. Suwon Bluewings vs. Jeonbuk – AFC Champions League

This is the second leg of a Quarterfinal match in Asia.  The winner gets Kashima Antlers in Semis.

Jeonbuk ran away and hid from the rest of the pack this now-completed South Korean K League 1 season.  They won half again as many games as the runners-up.

Defending titleholders don’t auto-qualify, so even if Suwon win this whole shebang, they’re out in 2019.  And they only finished 4th in K League 1 – not high enough.

Sooooo you can imagine how the first match of this two-legged tie went.   Suwon won 0-3.  Yup!  Completely against logic.  Again Noob says, yay footsieball!

RESULT:   Jeonbuk   0-3     And so the scrip got flipped.   But then Suwon won the penalty shootout to advance.   Victory!

  1. Orange County F.C. vs. Real Monarchs SLC – United Soccer League

OK, there’s an argument to be made that the Portland Timbers-Columbus Crew match in MLS is more important.   Make yer own darn footsieball site, Noob’s sticking with the scouted second division match!  It was a Western Conference #1 vs. #B matchup when I scouted it a few days ago.

RM SLC have slipped to 3rd since then.  That suits Noober fine.  You must know by know how I feel about Amuricuhn clubs with “monarchs” or anything “royal/real” in their names.  Down with them!  No kings and queens here.  We fought and won a war up New England way a long while back, and that result still holds!

The Monarchs have treated of late as is good, right and appropriate – 0-1-3 in their last four matches.   They may not fall all the way out of the top eight and miss the Playoffs, but a couple more notches and at least they won’t have any home pitch-advantage.

The O.C. are 2-1-1 over the same stretch.  The competition has been soft, but it’s more winning than not.

RESULT:   O.C.   5-2        Aodhan Quinn with two for the home team

Image result for toddler soccer

 

Maybe not as soft as a toddler seemingly in a fat suit.

But soft.

  1. Real Esteli vs. Diriangen – Nicaragua Premier

While I don’t think CONCACAF ranks domestic leagues themselves, Noob did find a webpage related to both SBNation and perhaps the Philapdelphia Union (via thebrotherlygame.com) which does.  It uses historical international play results, much the same as other federations so.   Eggzalent.

So Nicaragua’s appears to be the #12 league in our world region.  While that’s not very strong compared to the Central American leagues, it bests all but a couple of the Caribbean ones.

These are the current #1 and #3 clubs in their young season.  Esteli’s position is particularly impressive since they’ve played 1-2 fewer matches than the other top teams.  They’re also the only undefeated team remaining.

Diriangen’s been getting featured in the Track recently based on a top-three finish last season.  They’re #B now, just a point off the pacesetters.

Goal differential:   Diriangen 9:7;  Real Estili 9:2.   Tale told.

RESULT:   Esteli   1-0

Thursday

coming soon!

Tuesday

  1. North Carolina Courage vs. Chicago Red Stars – National Women’s Soccer League Playoffs

After being postponed Tuesday because of Hurricane Florence, the Semifinal is back on.   The winner will get Portland, which beat visiting Seattle in the other one-off Semi.

Courage are the best women’s club team on the planet.  They destroyed the NWSL throughout the regular season.   There are a ton of names you could/should know.   But this is Noob, so we take smaller bites.  Lynn Williams, while not being the very biggest star, has been on a scoring streak.  Impress friends with her name.

Chicago have two things going for them.  Sam Kerr leads the league in scoring, has nabbed six goals in the last four matches.   The other is that this game will not be a true home one for NC.   It’s been moved to Portland.   (9:00 PM EST, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   NC   2-0      On to the Final!

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

It’s back!   And now it’s time for the “competition proper” to begin.  On and off in previous months, Noob’s featured games from the pre-Group Stage rounds.

Now we’re in it.  Eight Groups of four each playing a double-round robin, home-and-away series.  Top two finishers in each advance to the Knockout Round.  3rd-place finishers get dropped into advance rounds of the Europa League.

This is one of eight matches today, and it’s hard to call one more “important” than another.  But that’s Noob’s self-assigned task.  We lean England here, since the American soccer fan naturally does when it comes to European soccer.

These two should be the ones to come out of Group C.  Napoli is solid, here as last season’s Italian runners-up.  Red Star Belgrade out of Serbia is sneaky-good, but not that good.  Citing footballdatabase.com and the ELO formula usage there to rate and rank teams,

It’s a quirky call to handicap this one.  If you’re a gambler and can get PSG and a goal, take that.  But don’t bet the farm.  Or more than a chicken or three even.

Actually, if you’ve found a betting house that accepts rural property or domestic fowl as currencies, just leave the whole thing be.   (3:00 PM, TNT)

RESULT:   Liverpool   3-2      Liverpool blew a 2-0 lead before getting the winner at 90’+3

Image result for gambling for chickens

 

 

Gambling with chickens will not go your way, any which way you try.

  1. Atletico Tucuman vs. Gremio – Copa Libertadores

Quarterfinals time in South America’s version of Champions League.  Here, they play two-legged ties, home and away.   This is the first leg.

Tucuman are here by virtue of a runner-up finish in Argentina’s last FA Cup.  They’re only the 8th-best team in the country.   Gremio are the defending Copa champions, yet actually not an absolutely overwhelming favorite today.  They should get a draw today, advance on a 1-2 goal win on the return leg.   (8:45 PM, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:   Gremio   0-2

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (6/3) – ConIFA World Cup rolls on, FIFA WC teams keep friendly-ing

The Track continues to pay homage to the ConIFA World Cup, featuring four of the eight matches today.   Your not imagining things, these teams are playing for the second straight day.  The timeframe for this event is really compact.

To learn a little about this event (and some of the other teams), scroll down to yesterday’s Track.

But don’t worry, FIFA afficionados!  The rest of the previews are MLS, NWSL, Bolvian final, and WC warmups.

  1. Tamil Eelam vs. Cascadia – ConIFA World Cup

Tamil Eelam are already guaranteed last place in Group A, cannot advance to the next stage.  Let’s get to know a touch about them before they head home from London.

The team is made up of players residing in Canada, Switzerland, and the U.K.  They are all Tamil (or perhaps of Tamil descent.  The Tamils are the indigenous population of Sri Lanka.  They would like to have their own country on the island nation, and in fact parts of it are under control of the Tamil Tigers political-military group.

RESULT:   Cascadia   0-6    They and Barawa advance out of Group A, both just beating Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man Manx team) on GD tiebreaker.

B.  Abkhazia vs. Northern Cypress – ConIFA World Cup

Abkhazia is a disputed state in northern Georgia.  Russia is one of the only countries that recognize it formally.  Georgia’s federal government considers it to only be an autonomous region within the nation.  Their representative football team is ranked 8th and they won this event in 2016.

RESULT:   2-2     Abkhazia nets the equalizer with a penalty at 90′, but it doesn’t save their tournament.  Northern Cypress and Karpatalja advance from Group B.

Image result for abkhazia football 2018

  1. Padania vs. Szekely Land – ConIFA World Cup

Szekely Land is an area within Romania that is populated predominately by the Szekelys – an ethnic subgroup of Hungarians.  There are movements there working to gain autonomy for the region.  Noob’s uncertain if this means they want an independent state or to still remain politically part of Romania.  Their team is ranked #5.

RESULT:   Padania   3-1     Both advance out of Group C.

  1. Western Armenia vs. Kabilya – ConIFA World Cup

Kabilya is a cultural and ethnic region of Algeria, in the north of the country.  There is a movement there for independence, which started many decades ago when the post-colonial, single-party governmental system was in place.  The Kabilye team is not ranked.

RESULT:   Western Armenia   4-0     They and Panjab advance from Group D.

Image result for kabilya football 2018

  1. Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United – MLS

Red-hot FC Dallas have passed KC for #1 in the Western Conference.  Not that KC has been playing poorly – they’re unbeaten in their last four matches.  Minnesota are in 9th, yet not entirely out of the playoff picture (top six in conference).

If Minnesota are to make a move towards the postseason, they’ve got to crank up their offense.  19 year-old forward Christian Ramirez (“Superman”) led the team in scoring last year – the club’s first season.  He also leads this year, but that’s with just three goals.  He may need more help from current forward and former midlfielder (and much older, 28) Ethan Finlay.  (8:30 PM Eastern, FS1)

RESULT:   KC   4-1     So for now, they return to the top spot

  1. Seattle Reign vs. Orlando Pride – NWSL

North Carolina Courage are decimating the league.  The race is tight for the other three playoff spots, as six of the eight other clubs are within four points of one another.

#B Seattle only managed to split their last two matches, against two of the league’s least teams.  But they have the defense to take care of business at home against #3 Orlando.  (Boooo, Swamp-City!)

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Swamp monster funny

 

 

 

Even this cute little swamp monster can’t make us cheer for Orlando

  1. Jorge Wilstermann vs. The Strongest – Bolivia Premier

The Final!   Bolivia’s Apertura (first half-season) is coming to a close.  These two have already played the first match of a two-legged tie to decide the champion.  The Strongest (such the douchebaggy name) won that 2-1.  JW are the far stronger offensive unit, should be able to come back and take hardware on their own pitch.

RESULT:   JW   2-1    Since the tie is even, they will play one more time, at a neutral stadium in Sucre on 6/6.

  1. Spain vs. Switzerland – friendly

Here’s a surprise – the Swiss national team actually holds the higher ranking between these two!   They are 6th to Spain’s 8th.  Both have qualified for World Cup.   (3:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

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Noob’s daughter’s fave Swiss surprise

  1. Costa Rica vs. Northern Ireland – friendly

WC-bound and #25-ranked Costa Rica takes on FIFA #27 in this one.  Costa Rica and the U.S. are about even in league strength.  They’ve lost four of their last five matches, managing a win against only Scotland.

RESULT:   Costa Rica   3-0

  1. Brazil vs. Croatia – friendly

Here we get a peek at one of the favorites going into Russia in #B-ranked Brazil.  Croatia are no slouches at #18, are headed to WC as well.  They’ve been winning most of their matches – including their most recent, a win over Mexico. They’re playing it at Liverpool’s home stadium.   (10:00 AM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   Brazil   2-0

Image result for Liverpool funnySo long from Anfield in Liverpool!  

The yellow and Where’s Waldo-clad supporters may or may not attend.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (5/26) – UEFA Champions League final is upon us!

It’s practically a holiday in much of the world  – UEFA Champions League Final-day!

The ten most important matches for us – the newish American fans of the global game – to follow still includes nine other games worthy of your ogling, Noobites.  Let your gaze wander over them all.

  1. Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – UEFA Champions League

To see Noob’s preview of the, prediction and the culinary methodology used, scroll down one post or click here:

http://www.soccernoob.com/2018/05/25/uefa-champions-league-preview-and-surefire-prediction-noob-examines-the-cities-traditional-stews/

RESULT:   Real Madrid    3-1     So much for stew.  Maybe next year we’ll try desserts.

B.  New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union – MLS

Even after scoring six goals in their last two games, 7th-place Philly has the statistically worst offense in the Eastern Conference.  Yet perhaps they’ve found their stride.  They’ll need everything they can muster against the league’s top offense tonight.

The #4 Red Bulls will likely go after Union defender Mark McKenzie.  He’s just 19 and the weak link of Philadelphia’s back line.

RESULT:   0-0     Noob needs to be careful.  20 seconds into the match, the radio commentators on SiriusXM were saying the exact same thing about McKenzie and the back line.   Noob’s is supposed to be Noob.

Image result for Philly letter B

 

 

Noob was unaware there was such a thing as “Philly Font”.  But there’s Number B in it.

  1. Chicago Red Stars vs. Orlando Pride – NWSL

A Public Service Announcement from The Management:

Friends don’t let friends build cities on swampland.  Go, Chicago.  Down with the silly mice-people of swamp-Orlando.  Thank you for your attention.

If this has been an actual PSA, you wouldn’t have been on this Website.

#5 hosts #4.

RESULT:   Orlando   2-5

  1. Cincinnati vs. Louisville – USL

Cincinnati looks wrong no matter how many N’s or L’s Noob does or doesn’t put into spelling it.   Can we just all agree it should be “Cincinnnattti”?  Three of each on the back end works.  Three is a magic number.

Oh yes, and this match is the current Eastern Conference #1 versus the defending league champion and current division #B.  Louisville doesn’t score much, but they’ve not needed to.  Exquisite defense.

RESULT:   L’ville   0-2

Image result for spelling is hard meme

 

 

 

Hush, Marion.

  1. Aston Villa vs. Fulham – English Championship

Welcome to “The Most Expensive Game in Football”.  A second-division soccer match in England?  Really, Noob?   Yup.

This is the Final of the Promotion Playoffs, determining which club with join the top two finishers in being promoted to Premier League.  Which is worth something like a quarter billion pounds in TV rights-money and such.

Fulham had a slow start to their season before taking off, are likely the superior team.  Aston Villa’s a little tougher on defense, a mite weaker in goal-scoring.

RESULT:   Fulham   0-1     Welcome to the Premier League giant pot of money.

  1. Atletico MG vs. Flamengo – Brazil Serie A

They’re just a half dozen games into the season here, but this is #B hosting #1, and Noob digs it very much.  Flamengo are the only club averaging a full two goals per match.  but Atletico hasn’t lost since their opening match.  This match will be a… what’s Portuguese for “doozie”?

RESULT:   Flamengo   0-1

Image result for portuguese to english dictionary

 

 

Sua mamãe.

 

Really?  That doesn’t seem right somehow.

 

  1. Arsenal Sarandi vs. Club Cipolletti – Copa Argentina

The FA Cup in Argentina is now in its Knockout phase, the Round of 64.  Third-tier Minnows Cipolletti meet a Premier division club today, albeit a weak one.

Cipolletti is in Patagonia.  Noob’s young daughter named one of her stuffed penguins Patagonia.  Let us root for them for this arbitrary reason.

RESULT:   Cipolletti   0-0  /  2-3 pk     We’re Adopting Cipolletti!  You did it, Noobites!

  1. Universidad Catolica vs. Antofagasta – Chile Premier

#1 hosts #4 in a league from which three teams will qualify for next year’s Copa Libertadores.  Antofagasta co-lead the league in offense, but UCatolica are best defensively, and it’s not close.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for catholic soccer funny

 

 

Noob may have grown up a Lutheran, but this is…surprising.

  1. AIK vs. Norrkoping – Sweden Allsvenslanliga

Sweden’s top league has nearly now cracked the top 20 in UEFA’s rankings.  #2 hosts #3 here.  AIK barely allow a goal every other game.  Noob doesn’t think Norrkoping has the firepower to take this match on the road.

RESULT:   3-3

  1. Buducnost Podgorica vs. Sutjeska – Montenegro First League

Congratulations Sutjeska!

This is the league’s last match day of the season, and The Blues have a whopping 19-point lead on #B BP.  And not that Podgorica is a slouch by any means.  They have that #B wrapped up already themselves.  MFL is only the 44th-ranked league in UEFA, so they’ll only get Champions League berth.

RESULT:   Sutjeska   2-3

Image result for niksic montenegro funny

So long from Nicsik, Montenegro!

Forget footyball, Noob’s going ‘canyoning’.

UEFA Champions League preview and surefire prediction! Noob examines the cities’ traditional STEWS!

Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – UEFA Champions League – The Final!   Kiev will rock for one of the great spectacles of sport.  Let’s do in-depth preview stuff!

Real Madrid have won it a bunch in recent years.  Had a tough start to their league season, but have rounded into form.  Liverpool surprised perhaps ever so slightly by making the final, but they did finish top four in Premier League.

Real Madrid attack really well.  Ronaldo and Messi are primo.  Liverpool are likely the greatest counterattacking team in the world.  Mohammed Salah set the Premier League record for goal-scoring,

That’s it.

This is Noob, as am I.  If you want comprehensive coverage/guessing, it’s easy to find a million places.  This is enough to get a raw Noobite through light pregame convo should you find yourself in such.

For Noob, there’s only one way to determine in advance which team to root for/who will win.   You must examine the traditional stew of each club’s home city!

Liverpudlians love their scouse.  As one might imagine for stews, there are many variants, and what is traditional in this one has changed a lot over time as well.  Today, it is made with lamb (or beef), vegetables (usu. potatoes), carrots and onions.  Side dishes traditionally include pickled beetroot (or red cabbage) and bread.

Image result for scouse with pickled beetroot

Review:  Looks like a straightforward boiled stew.  Noob’s going to look askance at much that is pickled beyond cucumbers, but as side dishes, these are not dealbreakers.  If soda bread were the specific sort, would be big in scouse’s favor.   Noob does love lamb.  Potatoes are hearty.  Scouse scores solidly.

In Madrid, most especially on Tuesdays, the dish to be had is cocido madrileño.  The main in gradient is not the meat, but rather, chickpeas!  Potatoes are the most common other vegetable, though cabbage, carrots and turnips are hardly uncommon additions.

There is meat involved, usually pork, and more often pork belly specifically.  Onion morcillo, too.  That’s blood sausage.  More, you get jamon seranno, which is dried or cured ham of the black Iberian pig.  When cooking, one tosses in a hambone and beef spine bone to enrich the broth.

Image result for cocido madrileño

Review:  Noob enjoys falafel, but that’s where chickpeas belong.  Noob’s an adventurous eater, and pork belly is fine.  In knowing black Iberian pig is a thing already exhausts Noob’s knowledge of that.  Blood sausage – sorry, but we’re getting into an aesthetics issue.  The vegetables are a wash against scouse.

Wait, what’s this?  The broth, vegetables, and meat are served separately?  This may be a stew when it’s cooked, but it’s not a served-stew, not as far as Noob is concerned.   And good LAWD!  The truly traditional way to prepare the pork is to not only cure it, but to the point of nearly being rancid??

Image result for nasty pork belly

 

Is pig stomach whetting your apptetite, Noobites?  Now let it spoil…

 

 

Folks, scouse wins by default, and yet by a landslide.  Liverpool will win the day on the football pitch.  And if we’re going for a score based on the stew review, they win 0-6 today.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (5/13) – led by MLS double-feature!

The ten most important soccer matches for us – the newish American fans of the global game – to follow.   For all the rampant caaamedy, there’s actual football nougat inside this candy bar!   Come, savor it, Noobites.

  1. Orlando City vs. Atlanta United – MLS

The Management and Noob shake our collective fist at you, Orlando City!   Constructing a city on a swamp is the worst idea ever, but footyball facts are undeniable.  The #3 team in the East is en fuego.  They’ve won six consecutive matches, including an impressive 4-3 win over New York Red Bulls.

Can Atlanta rekindle their fire after a road loss to Western #1 Sporting Kansas City?  Probably!  They’re #1 for a reason.

Noobstradamus Sees:   MLS #1-ranked (tied with Tim Howard, COL) Brad Guzan standing on his head today and shutting down The Orlando City Lions Bad Urban Planners.   ATL 0-2.

RESULT:   ATL   1-2.   Any man alive were Orlando fans upset at the end of that one.  Throwing bottles all over the field.  Stay classy, central Florida.

Image result for bad urban planning funny

 

 

 

Orlando, FL Urban Planning Office

B.  LAFC vs. NYCFC – MLS

The Alphabet Soup Derby – could it catch on as a moniker?  Noobites, let’s get this silliness done.  Today, it’s a battle of #B’s, too.  They’re both second place in their respective divisions.

LAFC has been so impressive for a first-year expansion club.  Uruguayan national Diego Rossi is their big goal-scorer to have an eye on.

Noobstradamus Sees:   …that the early season crown of being #1 lay too heavy on the heads of NYCFC.  They’ve lost two of three, including an 0-4 curbstomping by NY Red Bulls.  Momentum.  LAFC 1-0.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for letter B swarm

 

 

No need to fear Number B’s.

Unless you like Number Two.

Then you shall feel the stinging wrath!

3.  Toluca vs. Tijuana – Liga MX

Tijuana mildly surprised by winning the first leg of this postseason Liguilla semifinal, 2-1.  Going to ten-time champions Toluca’s house today is another matter entirely though.

Noobstradamus Sees:  …the defensive battle I thought the first leg would be.  Toluca 1-0, with a goal just before the half.

RESULT:   Toluca   4-1   They advance!

  1. Newcastle United vs. Chelsea – English Premier

Chelsea really screwed the pooch last match, drawing lowly Hudderfield come to their stadium and achieve a draw.  Now they’re two points behind Liverpool for 4th and the league’s final Champions League berth.  To be fair, they’d been on a five-win tear right before that.

Newcastle seem to have thrown in the towel on the season two weeks ago, losing four straight.  But all Liverpool need to hang on to 4th is a draw at home against the Brighton & Hove Albion Nobodies.  (Nickname verified.)

(The Management here:  Nickname verified as false, asshat.)

Noobstadamus Sees:  Trouble brewing at the office between me and The Management.  Let’s rumble!

RESULT:   Newcastle   3-0     And The Management and Noob ended up doing a test run of a movie review podcast, so all is well.

Image result for fighting with management funny

 

 

 

Quarter neither asked nor given, The Management!!

  1. Maritimo vs. Sporting CP – Primeira Liga

Things are looking grim, if not impossible, for Sporting CP and their CL aspirations.  Portugal’s league gets two berths.  They’re tied for #B, but down insurmountably on goal differential.  And today they get a reasonably tough test on the road at #7 Maritimo.  Far worse, Benfica (fellow #B) have a gimme against low-run Moirirense at home.

Noobstrdamus Sees:  …Europa League in Sporting’s future, even with a 1-2 win today.

RESULT:   Maritimo   2-1    So it’s Europa League for Sporting CP

  1. Standard Liege vs. Club Brugge – Belgium First Division A

This has become won of the best title races in Europe!

Standard Liege just took down Anderlecht, now get their shot at the #1 club.  But they trail by four points in the table, and there’s just one league match to be played after this.  This is must-win for SL regarding title hopes.  Of more concern might be that they’re only ahead of Anderlecht by a point for the second and only other CL invite.

Noobstradamus Sees:  …that Standard Liege has been unbeatable since the league split into championship and relegation subdivisions.  They ratchet up the high drama with a 4-2 win today!

RESULT:   1-1     And so, congrats to Club Brugge, your 2017-18 league champion!

Image result for stoner drama funny

 

 

There may be confusion about “high drama”.

  1. Nurnburg vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf – 2. Bundeliga

For the league title!  So what if it’s second-tier.  This still may well be one of the top-half quality leagues in Europe.

These two are tied and this is the last match of the season.  Someone in charge of scheduling knew what they were doing a year ago!  Nurnburg lead on GD, so FD has to have the win to get the hardware.   But they’re both Promoted to Bundesliga next year, so they’’ll probably go out drinking together afterwards no matter what happens.

Noobstradamus Sees:   …hangovers for everyone!

RESULT:   Dusseldorf   2-3    The game-winner at 90′!   Kudos, champions.

  1. Motagua vs. Marathon – Honduras National League

The Final!  Leg one anyway.  They were #B and #1 in the Clausura (second-half) regular season, deservedly made it through the postseason bracket to duke it out here.

Noobstradamus Sees:   …that, once again, defense travels!  0-1 Marathon.  They’ve the best in the country.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for honduran military funny

 

Honduran defense confused by clown.

It doesn’t HAVE to make sense.  This is Noob.

  1. Saprissa vs. Alajuense – Costa Rica Premier

It’s the last game of the season, and these two are tied in the “Quadrangular”.  The top four from the Clausura regular season have been playing a double round robin.  Saprissa leads on GD, so Alajuense must win on the road to net the title.

Noobstradamus Sees:  Saprissa taking the title, 2-0.   Saprissa are one of North America’s sneaky-best clubs.

RESULT:   1-1  

  1. Corinthians vs. Palmeiras – Brazil Serie A

They’re only a few matches into the season in Brazil, so Noob features last seasons #1 and #B titans facing off!

RESULT:   Corinthians   1-0

Bonus matches:   #1 and league champ Celtic are hosting #B Aberdeen in Scotland.  Also, I’ll offer The Management an olive branch after the earlier rumbling and mention that #2 FC Tokyo is hosting #3 Consadole Sapporo in J1 League.  Happy?

Image result for sao paulo odd

 

 

 

So long from Sao Paulo!