’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’ Sunday (12/2) soccer match previews – Liga MX, Premier League derbies lead the way

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

Noob starts local and with Western Europe, but never ignores the world at large.  I hope that means there’s something here for any fan, not just Noobites.

Follow on the tweeterbox @SoccerNoobUSA.  Check back for match results.  And remember to never travel in a straight line.   Noob keeps things weird.

Note:  Noob’s sources for some CONCACAF things are…inconsistent.   The Ascenso MX (Mexican second division) Apertura Finals second leg may be today.  Really good league, probably one of the best five in CONCACAF.  Use your Google machine powers to find out more.

Also, there may be a Nicaraguan semifinal today.   Same CONCACAF weirdness issue on the interblag.

1. Pumas UNAM vs. Tigres UANL– Liga MX

Opening round of the playoffs, leg two! The top eight from the Apertura (first half-season) qualified. Pumas are the third seed, Tigres sixth. The first leg was at UANL and they won 2-1.

All the momentum is with Tigres. They’ve won four straight. Pumas have only managed one win in their last four tries. Winner will get either CF America or underdog Toluca.   (1:00 PM Eastern, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Pumas   3-1      And so they take the series 4-3 and advance

B. Arsenal vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier League

This is the North London derby. Remember to pronounce that “ar” instead of “er”. You wouldn’t won to sound literate! For the rawest of Noobites, a derby means they’re bigtime rivals.

Being one of Europe’s best leagues, four clubs will qualify from it for the next UEFA Champions League. Noob-dreaded Hotspur are #3, Arsenal #5 with the season just over 1/3 over.

Arsenal lost their first two league matches of the season but quickly righted their ship and haven’t lost since. This, despite the fact that they don’t play quite the same caliber of defense that the other title-contenders do.

Hotspur have won six straight across all competitions. They have proven capable of winning both high and low-scoring affairs, may well be the top threat to #1 Manchester City. They are also named for historic traitor to multiple kings Harry Percy, are worthy of our scorn. Not that this is likely to affect a match result. Noob just can’t help but throw it in there.   (9:05 AM, Telemundo)

RESULT:   Arsenal   4-2        for great justice

Image result for fat controller pissed off

 

 

 

Sir Topham Hatt is displeased by the Harry Percy fawners.

3. RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Bundesliga

Germany’s top league has had a topsy turvy table compared to normal this season. Things are starting to look closer to normal, but M’Gladbach is a club they’re not used to seeing so high up. The enter today #B in the table, and it’s no fluke. Good offense, sterling defense. And they’ve won four in a row over all competitions.

Leipzig either play whatever is better than sterling for defense or parks the bus and doesn’t worry much about scoring. Either way, it worked for them early in the season. They’ve lost three of their last four now though and they sit in 5th place. Top four get into the 209-20 Champions League.   (9:30 AM, FS1)

RESULT:   Leipzig   2-0

4. Alaves vs. Sevilla – La Liga

Spain’s is another top flite that’s table has been filled with less-familiar names at the top. Last year, these were the 7th and 14th-placed teams, respectively. Currently they sit #4 and #1. Top four here, too, qualify for the next CL.

Alaves have lost two of three. They’re not consistently dominating teams much further down the table. They appear to have the defense to perhaps flirt with a top-four finish, but Noob’s not banking on it.

Sevilla are really well-balanced. If it weren’t for hard-charging Barcelona, Noob might think they could truly contend for the title. Plus, Real Madrid appear to be waking from their early season slumber. They’re 5th and will climb higher. For the moment, we get enjoy a breath of fresh air, some new scenery at the top of the table.   (2:45 PM, beIN Sports en Español)

RESULT:   1-1

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Eventually we’ll need these again.

5. Celtic vs. Aberdeen – Scottish League Cup

FA Cup – every club that’s a member or associate members of the Scottish Football Association. Challenge Cup – teams from levels 2-4 of the Scottish football pyramid, plus some lower clubs and a few non-Scottish invites.

And then there’s this one! It’s been being contested by the teams from the top four leagues. This is their one-off Final match. It’s in Glasgow, but not at Celtic’s actual home stadium. Not like they need a home-pitch advantage probably, either. They’ve been leading the Premier League there, while Aberdeen are down in 7th.

Celtic have only allowed six league goals all season, 15 matches. That’s insane. But while Celtic should be favored no matter what, Noob doesn’t have a sense of how big a deal this particular Cup is there. Some tournaments, some places, clubs use these as chances to give playing time to bench players.

RESULT:   Celtic   1-0       trophy time!

6. Manchester City vs. Arsenal – England Women’s Soccer League

It’s a battle of the two undefeated teams in the ladies’ top league in England! No one’s even gotten a draw with Arsenal, either. No wonder, they average over four goals per match.

Three teams have gotten draws with Man City. They score over twice as often as any other team in the league – yet only ¾ as much as Arsenal.

RESULT:   Man City   2-0

Image result for White Castle funny

 

Wish I could find the match on TV.   

Ready to party with leftover White Castle.

7. Heredinao vs. Alajuense – Costa Rica Premier

The Final! Noob loves some Costa Rican soccer. This league is every bit as strong as MLS. This is for the Apertura (first half-season) title. And this is the first leg, so they’ll play another match at Alajuense in a few days to complete things.

Alajuense tied for 1st in the regular season table, but lost out on goal differential. They had a quirky 22 matches in that not a single one ended in a draw. No other club had fewer than three.

Herediano tied for 3rd, but entered these Playoffs as the #4 seed, also losing out on GD. They’re a more traditional power there, but weren’t as strong on either side of the ball as their guests today.

RESULT:   Herediano   2-1

8. Deportiva Lara vs. Zamora – Venezuela Premier

Like most or perhaps all Latin American leagues, Venezuela divides their soccer year into separate Apertura and Clausura half-seasons. And for each half, they have a playoffs, crown a champions. But unlike many of those others, here the two tournaments champions face off at year’s end to decide an overall champion. Noob like-y.

Lara won the Clausura playoffs, despite finishing just 4th in the regular season. Zamora finished #B and then won the Apertura playoffs, but weren’t nearly so strong during the Clausura. There, they finished just 7th.

This is a two-legged, home-and-away series for the title. Zamora gets the honor of hosting the second leg, presumably by having the better overall record on the year. Both teams have already qualified for the next Copa Libertadores, so this is strictly for the shiny trophy.

RESULT:   1-1

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The runner-up trophy.

Maybe…

9. Emelec vs. LDU Quito – Ecuador Serie A

Ecuador call their two half-seasons simply Opening and Closing Stages. Concept is the same as Apertura and Clausura though. Or maybe they use those words there and Noob’s sources are just goofy about not translating for Ecuador for some reason. The world is weird.

In any case, there are just two matches to go in the Closing Stage. Opening Stage champions LDU de Quito trail Emelec by two points in the table. As many as four other teams appear mathematically alive for 1st, but one of these two is going to win it.

Emelec haven’t lost in six straight matches. De Quito have also been on a tear. Well, save for a weird loss for soon-to-be-Relegated Tecnico Universitario.

This one’s a big enough match that GOL TV is actually airing it internationally. You’d have to have a deep, deep satellite package to get it here stateside, but it’s on at 12:00 PM.

RESULT:   0-0

10. Basel vs. Young Boys of Bern – Swiss Super League

We finish our Track back in Europe. Noob’s saved this one for last because while it’s an irresistible #B-#1 matchup, there’s no title race going on here.

YBB are ahead by a whopping 13 points in the table less than halfway through the season. That said, Switzerland are a highly-enough ranked league in Europe that they’ll qualify two club into the next Champions League.

Basel have been the more recent studs, but might really only be the fourth-best team this season. The defense is down this season, the offense not enough to make up for that lack.

RESULT:   YBB   1-3

Image result for Basel funny

 

 

So long from the Christmas Market in Basel, Switzerland!

 

Home of creepy, nightmare-inducing holiday mushroom figurines.

You’re welcome.

 

Extra Credit:   Liverpool vs Everton – English Premier League, any of the Second Round English FA Cup matches, #3 Hearts vs #2 Rangers – Scottish Premiership,  #4 Anderlecht vs #B Genk – Belgian First Division A

#2 Vidi vs #3 Budapest Honved – Hungarian NB 1, #3 Academy Pandev vs. #B Vardar Skpje – Macedonian Prva Liga, #3 Feyenoord vs. #1 PSV Eindhoven – Dutch Eredivisie, #4 Besiktas vs #3 Galatasaray – Turkish Super Lig

#5 Independiente vs. #6 Boca Juniors – Argentinian Primera, a Peruvian Primera semfinal, #B Al Nassr vs. #4 Al-Wehda – Saudi Premier, #4 Etoile du Sahel vs. #B Sfaxien – Tunisian Ligue 1

Quarterfinal matches from El Salvador and Guatemala, a semifinal from Honduras, #1 Village Superstars vs. #3 St. Paul’s United – St. Kitts and Nevis Premier, plus maybe a final from Panama.  Info on Panama is the worst.

’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’ Sunday (11/11) soccer matches – MLS playoffs lead the way

Don’t forget to check back on any Track’s matches later for results!

Also, the newest of Noobites may always check the Vocab page to the right on the main page.

  1. New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew – Major League Soccer

After leading the field most of the regular season, Atlanta United slipped late and lost the Supporters Shield to NYRB.  That means Red Bulls had the most points in the standings of any team in the league.  And in most leagues in the world, that club would be the champions for the season.

But in Amuricuh, we do Playoffs!  They’ve reached the Conference Semifinals, the second round.  Here (and next round), the opponents face off in two-legged, home and away ties.  The East’s #5 seed, Columbus, won their home match 1-0.

Red Bulls scored nearly half again as much than the Crew throughout the season.  It’s hard to imagine them being held done a second match in a row, especially in the Big Apple.

New York’s last seven goals have all been scored by different players.  Noob thinks early-season leader Brandon Wright-Phillips will reemerge.  But all the momentum belongs to the visitors.  Columbus haven’t lost to Red Bulls in their last four matches.   (7:30 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   NYRB   3-0      On to the Conference Finals for Red Bulls!   Daniel Royer with two goals and an assist.

B.  Manchester City vs. Manchester United – English Premier League

Derby time!

After a dreadful start to the season, Man Utd are perhaps finally snapping out of their funk.  They’ve climbed into 8th place, won three matches in a row across all competitions, including a massive Champions League victory over Juventus.  All have been 2-1 or 1-2 wins.

Meanwhile, Man City just jeeps trucking along, undefeated in league.   Over the course of their six-match win streak, they’ve outscored opponents by a staggering 23-1 margin.  It’s hard to believe they only lead the next three clubs by two points each in the table.   (11:30 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man City   3-1       Bernado Silva with a goal and an assist

Image result for alphabet race

 

 

 

Now THAT’S a derby.

Number B, victor!

  1. Santos vs. CF America – Liga MX

With two matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season), these two have already guaranteed themselves top half-finishes.  That means they’ll play in the Liguilla (postseason tournament) no matter what.

But seeding matters a lot.  They trail #1 Cruz Azul by five and four points in the table, respectively.  In all likelihood, they’re fighting for the runners-up position.

CF America’s defense is the tale today.  They’ve ratcheted that up a notch their last three matches, allowing just one goal over that span.  They’re a regular league powerhouse.  Noob thinks they get the road upset today and will win the Liguilla no matter what seed they go in with.   (7:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

  1. AC Milan vs. Juventus – Serie A

Remember that Champions League loss Juventus took to Manchester City?  Well, no one’s managed that in Serie A all season.  They’re second-best in Italy on both sides of the ball, three points up on Napoli, and likely to win on the road today.

Milan are tied for 5th and just don’t have the backline to withstand Cristiano Ronaldo & Co.   (2:30 PM, Rai Italia)

RESULT:   Juve   0-2

Image result for cristiano ronaldo funny

 

 

Artist thought Ronaldo had taken one too many headers.

  1. Sevilla vs. Espanyol – La Liga

Espanyol are the city of Barcelona’s “other team”.  Barcelona-the club are still #1 in the league, but their little sisters are on the rise!

Last year they finished just 11th, but now they sit in 3rd place.  Their success comes on defense, though they’re not completely deficient when it comes of scoring.  That’s where they look a little stronger this year.

Sevilla are just one notch back in the table.  They’re high-end scoring comes at the expense of giving up too many goals to perhaps compete with Barcelona for the title.  At home, however, they’re not likely to have trouble with upstarts Espanyol.  It’s a bad matchup for today’s guests.   (12:30 PM, beIN Sports en Español)

RESULT:   Sevilla   2-1      Ever Banega with two assits

  1. Vicarstown vs. Crovan’s Gate – Isle of Sodor Premier

Crovan’s Gate made the Semifinals of the first-ever IoS FA Cup this summer.  As the three Divisions were being planned for this inaugural PL season, The Gate were slated for the second tier.  More, it was thought they wouldn’t even be in the top half of clubs there!  But play on the Isle, historically, has been loosely organized at best.

The new FA knew it might be tough to really gauge relative club strengths, regardless of town or village sizes.  To their credit, they decided to place all the Quarterfinalists in Premier level to start out.

In typical Sudric fashion, neither team plays a ton of D.    Bigger Vicarstown comes in the favorites today.   But there’s a reason British betting houses haven’t started offering lines on Sodor matches.  There’s just no league history and performance for them (or us) to go off of.

RESULT:   4-4        

 

  1. Arsenal vs. Moulien – Guadeloupe Division d’Honneur

Noob’s quest to get to know all our CONCACAF neighbors a little better rolls on!  The “other Arsenal” are #1, Moulien #B.  Amical Club are just behind them and all three are undefeated after six league matches.   It’s too early to know much, but worth pointing out that Arsenal have only beaten Moulien once in their last six matches.

The top two finishers will qualify for the Caribbean Club Championships.  That, in turn, is a qualifying event for CONCACAF Champions League.

  1. Nacional vs. Peñarol – Uruguay Premier

The Final!

Uruguay’s season is divided into two main stages, just like much of Latin America.  These two each won one of those.  They won 26 matches each, with Peñarol scoring all of one more point on the whole year.  Both teams call Montevideo home.  This is where today’s one off Final is being played, though not on either club’s home pitch.

The second half of the year, Peñarol started to really flex, becoming the best team on both sides of the ball.  No reason to think that won’t make them the favorite on a neutral grounds.   (2:30 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   Peñarol   1-2        Congrats to the national champs!    Cristiano Rodriguez with the go-ahead goal via penalty in AET.

Image result for so many letter U

 

 

 

Sooo many U’s…

  1. NK Lokomotiva vs. Dinamo Zagreb – Croatia First Division

Statistically, the teams look nearly identical.  but it’s Zagreb who are still undefeated with close to half the season in the books.

It’s not exactly must-win for Lokomotiva, but if they drop this home match, they’re then eight behind Zagreb.  That’s a lot for any team to make up in a half season in any league.  Either team can score in bunches, but defense is where both really set themselves apart.

Croatia’s top flight is ranked #16 by UEFA.  Were they just one spot higher, the league would qualify two teams into the Champions league.  As is, just one.

RESULT:   Dinamo   0-1

  1. Suduva vs. Zalgiris Vilnius – Lithuania A Lyga

We finish our Track much farther down the European league rankings.  But it’s still a #1-#B matchup, no matter the Lyga is just #41 in UEFA.

There is no competition there for these two.  Suduva lead everyone’s favorite Superman movie villain-sounding club by five points in the table with the season winding down.  The next best team is two dozen points farther back.

Unlike Croatia’s best, these two are much more offensively-minded.  Both average more than two goals per game, so a shootout looks to be in store.

RESULT:   Z.V.   1-2          Domantas Simkus with the game-winner at 90′

 

 

So long from Marijampole, home of club Suduva!

 

The Millennia Monument

’10 to Track’ Saturday (10/20) soccer matches – USL Playoffs, Liga MX, Premier League lead the way

When I became a man I put away childish things – 1 Corinthians 13:11

Noob spends a lot of the week on nuttiness.  That doesn’t change on weekends.  But today’s ‘ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game’ gets at least comparatively serious.

Today’s matches are a cavalcade of wonder and quality.   Feast.  Feast!!

  1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. Bethlehem Steel – United Soccer League Playoffs

Except for one match from yesterday, all the opening Round of 16 matches are being played today.  The format is knockout – no home and away series.  Noob’s selected this one because intrastate rivalry adds an extra layer of fun.

They are the #3 and #6 seeds, respectively.  Noob as a hard time necessarily saying Pittsburgh are the “best” defense in the league.   They allowed the fewest goals all season, so it’s quite possible.  But they didn’t score much compared to their postseason-qualifying peers.

Noob’s calling for the upset today!   I don’t believe in the small ball-strategy teams like the Riverhounds try to stand on.  Yes, it’s served them well this season.  But Noob thinks more balanced teams reign in crunch time.  In the Eastern Conference, no team was more balanced than Bethlehem.

I believe all the playoff matches are available online via ESPN+ (7:00 PM EST).

RESULT:   Bethlehem   2-2  /  7-8   pk

Image result for zoolander bethlehem steel

 

With Stiller’s help, Bethlehem are ready to let the beast out of the cage.

B.  Chelsea vs. Manchester United – English Premier League

Chelsea are part of an undefeated, three-way tie for 1st.  Good defense, exceptional on goal-scoring.  They’re on a mission after missing out on the current Champions League because of their 5th-place finish last season.

Man Utd. have only won one of their last five matches across all competitions.  When a team with the caliber of players they have isn’t D-ing up, it can be a sign of motivation, off-field troubles.  And whoa have United been dealing with that.  The power struggle between one of their superstars (Pogba) and head coach (Mourinho) continues unabated.

At least they’ve won three of four specifically in the EPL.  Still, Chelsea should handle them with relative ease at home, a couple goals says I.

On a side note, The Management pointed me to a fine article on the current state of the EPL power structure, why no one is going to touch Man City again this year, that they should dominate by even more than during their record-setting 2017-18 season:

https://www.theringer.com/soccer/2018/10/19/17995886/the-premier-league-standings-are-lying-to-you

Goodness but Noob hates giving The Management any credit for anything.  I will now take a “Crying Game”-scalding hot shower to try and rid myself of the awful feeling.   (7:30 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   2-2               Chelsea gets the equalizer at 90+6′!       Anthony Martial with both goals for Man Utd.

  1. Queretaro vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

#1 Cruz Azul are coming back down to earth a little, winning and losing two of their last four outings.  The Apertura (first half-season is 2/3 of the way through and they lead the next teams down by two points in the table.

Queretaro are just trying to finish in the top half of the standings, make the Liguilla (Playoffs).  They lead a three-way tie for the eight and final berth.  But they haven’t won a league match since the end of August.  The offense has simply vanished, and to quote the Shawshank warden, like a fart in the wind.

RESULT:   Queretaro   2-0

  1. Barcelona vs. Sevilla – La Liga

Alaves lead the league after a win yesterday, but have nowhere near the firepower to remain there long. They’ve now played one more match than the likely real contenders, like these two here.

Tied-for-3rd Barcelona started the league season with four straight wins, but haven’t won one since.  It’s possible they’re stretching themselves a bit thin with Champions League right now is all.    Sevilla are #B and have trended the other way, winning all four of their latest league games.

Both have the offense to stay table-top.  But will they be able to hold off the more defensive-minded big Madrid teams lurking just down the table?   (6:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Barcelona   4-2

Image result for almost sounded smart funny

Noob almost sounded smart there, eh?

But now back to vocab and counting work...

  1. W Connection vs. Central – Trinidad and Tobago Pro League

I’ve watched so much “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” with my daughter, “PersonNoob”, that I’ve been more inspired than ever in recent months to get to know our CONCACAF neighbors.  And this is the best matchup going, a shiny #1 versus #B face-off.

The league champions and runners-up will qualify for next year’s Caribbean Club Championship.  The winner of that will, in turn, qualify for the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.

This is a very offense-centric league.  W score theirs and then some, but are the only club there that plays more than seemingly token defense (.5 goals allowed per game-average).  Central are tied for #B.  They’re one of the worst league culprits, though, when it comes to turnstyle-defense.

RESULT:        ppd

  1. T.N.S. vs. Connah’s Quay – Welsh Premier League

Is this a strong European league?  Nope!   #50 ranking in UEFA.  But they’re on the rise, will climb a couple notches when the 2019’s are out.  And Noob gives propers to all top U.K. leagues.

Two traditional heavyweights lead there again.  The New Saints look like the best team in paper, but CQ lead them by two in the table after a run of five straight league wins.

Barry Town is right there, too, but that is a very temporary thing.  No one else but these two will challenge for the title.  Both their defenses are twice as good as anyone else’s, and the same can nearly be said of the offenses.

RESULT:   TNS   3-0

Image result for Welsh kung fu

 

 

 

 

Your soccer is weak, Wales, as is your tiny kung fu!

  1. Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Levski Sofia – Bulgaria First Pro League

We move well up the UEFA league ladder to find Bulgaria’s perfectly average one.  This one’s turning into a three-horse race, and these two are the leaders.

Razgrad like to go up and down more than anyone in the country.  But Levski can run with them and still manage to play fair D.  Noob’s looking for #1 Levski Sofia to get a key road win, which should good and piss off #3 CSKA-Sofia.

RESULT:   Razgrad   2-1

  1. Universidad Catolica vs. Unversidad de Concepcion – Chile Primera

Chile’s league is starting to lose a little luster lately in South America.  But it’s still one of the better ones in CONMEBOL, if no Brazil or Argentina.  It’s rare or perhaps even unique that they don’t divided into multiple partial seasons within a full year, unlike most Latin American leagues do.

The top three will qualify for the next Copa Libertadores, S. America’s version of Champions League.  the university teams are always excellent, and this year is no exception.  These are the #1 and #B teams.  Catolica would be putting some distance between themselves and the pack, but just suffered a surprise bushwhacking by midtable-at-best Huachipato.

RESULT:   Catolica   1-0

Image result for south american geography funny

 

 

 

Don’t confuse Noob, cartographers!

Noob needs no help from you on that front.

  1. Nacional vs. Peñarol – Uruguay Primera

Nacional won the first half-season, qualifying themselves for the Championship Playoff to take place at the end of this current, second stage of the year.  Now they’re #B, trailing their visitor’s today by four in the table with the stage soon ending,

No reason to think that these two won’t be the Championship players when all is said and done.  Peñarol found their defensive stride and have absolutely throttled teams the last couple months.   (2:00 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   1-1

Honorable Mention:  Zurich is hosting Young Boys of Bern in another #B-#1 matchup today, in the Swiss Super League.  But YBB are the only “super” ones.  They’re so much better than everyone else this year, they should easily be considered a two-goal fave on the road today.

RESULT:       Noob wouldn’t normally include an HM result, but YBB had to make a big comeback to draw 3-3

  1. Buducnost Podgorica vs. OFK Titograd – Montenegro First League

We finish today’s Track with yet another in the parade of 1-B matchups today!   This league is no stronger than Wales’, but hey – they’re playing.

B.P. are one of the two clubs with which Noob is at all familiar from this league (Sutjeska being the other).  Yet it’s Titograd that are #1!  Not only that, but B.P. haven’t beaten them in their last four tries.  That includes a 1-0 loss this season.

But Tito have only a draw to show for their last two outings.  The teams look pretty similar statistically so far, but B.P. reclaiming their familiar spot atop the table after today feels likely.

RESULT:   BP   2-1

Podgorica, cattedrale della resurrezione di cristo, esterno 01.JPGSo long from Podgorica’s Cathedral of the Resurrection!

Really unique architecture, not mimicking the more common High-Byzantine style like so many Orthodox ones.

’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’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – “It’s finished. It’s done! — Frodo Baggins

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

For the three Midweek days, Noob teases things out from one to three days.  When you have this many Champions League matches from around the world, they needs be spaced out.  Safety first, Noobites.

(Also, Tuesday and Wednesday matches and some resultd are now at bottom.)

Thursday

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

This tournament is the women’s CONCACAF Championship, but as it has for many moons, it is also the qualifying event for World Cup.

The Central American and Caribbean teams have finished their opening round of play.  The top finishers from there now join the big North American teams in a Group Stage, hosted in the U.S.  Two Groups of four, top two from each make the Knockout Stage.  Out of that, the top three will go to 2019 World Cup.

These two teams join America and Mexico.  No one from here is beating the US, so it’s about trying to get to #B in the table.  If either of these two wants a shot at what should be Mexico’s slot, it must start with a win today.  That will probably be T&T.  They outscored their opponents 26-1 last stage.

Noob would guess they’re a heavy favorite against Panama, with an 11-5 GD and only finished #B in their pod last round.

  1. Qarabag vs. Arsenal – Europa League

Group Stage, pods of four, top two move on to the Knockout Stage.  That’s where we are in Europe’s secondary international club tournament.

There are two English teams in action today.  Arsenal’s match gets the Track-nod since they’re playing a stronger team and having to go on the road.  Not that today should be much of a for the Brits.

Qarabag’s been having to play qualifications matches to get to this Round, while Arsenal enter the competition only now.   The Azerbaijanis should easily be considered a two-goal underdog on their own pitch.

RESULT:   Arsenal   0-3

  1. Managua vs. Real Esteli – Nicaragua Premier

At least when Noob scouted this match a few days ago, it was #1 vs. #B.   I’m pressed for time over my real job to go to, so can’t even confirm that those table positions are still accurate.   But Noob does recall that the league was starting to turn into a three-horse race, so neither should be any worse than 3rd.

This isn’t one of even Central America’s stronger leagues.  But we’re CONCACAFfeinating ourselves this year, getting to know our federation neighbors.  Noob may add a little extra info here early evening.

Wednesday

  1. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur vs. Barcelona – UEFA Champions League

Scroll down to Tuesday’s mini-previews for some general tournament details.

Then scroll back up and witness Noob’s ire!   Hotspur are named for the historical, traitorous villain Harry Percy.  King and countrymen both, no one could trust him.   Yet he gets a football club named for him.   Maybe MLS will get Benedict Arnold FC as an expansion club someday.   Noob won’t root for them, either!

Team Bile and Vitriol are only about an even match for reigning La Liga champs at home. They’re going to be in bad shape if they can’t get a result of some kind, as they lost 2-0 to Inter Milan in their Group Stage match.  Barca walloped Dutch PSV Eindhoven 4-0 to open their Round.

Napoli hosting Liverpool is just as intriguing, but Noob’s gotta feed his raaaage.   (3:00 PM EST, TNT)

RESULT:   Barca   2-4

Image result for angry fat controller

 

 

 

Hotspur’s making us all Very.  Cross.

  1. Palmeiras vs. Colo Colo – Copa Libertadores

Quarterfinal match in South America’s version of Champions League.   This is the second leg of their home-and-away.

Things are looking grim for the #16 seed, Chilean Colo Colo.   They’re all the way down in 6th in their league, losers of five straight matches over all competitions.  They lost 0-2 to Brazilian behemoths Palmeiras.  They’ve not lost in five straight, have taken over #1 in the continent’s best league.

The winner will get Brazilian Cruziero, or underdog (and up 2-0!) Argentinian Boca Juniors.   (8:45 PM, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:   Palmeiras   2-0

  1. Kashima Antlers vs. Suwon Bluewings – AFC Champions League

So much CL, you’re going to have to inject it between your toes!

Asia’s version is into its Semifinal, and this is the first Kashima is your 2017 league runner-up from Japan, while Suwon finished 3rd in South Korea.  South Korea’s is the more highly-ranked league in the AFC, but Kashima would still be the favorite, even on a neutral pitch.

The winner will get either Persepolis out if Iran or Qatari club Al-Sadd.

RESULT:   Kashima   3-2       Suwon led 0-2 early

Image result for high on heroin funny

 

 

Replace “heroin” with “soccer”.   

You’re nodding.  I’m nodding.

  1. FCI Levadia vs. Nomme JK Kalju – Estonia Meistriliiga

#B against #1.  Double I’s in the league name.   Meistrliiga, you always bring the sweet relief.

Mr. Rogers once asked kids to do nothing for one minute, just watch the clock on the tv and see how long a minute was, what it felt like.   This is like that for Noob.   Let the high drama of hating Hotspur and all the Champions Leagues action come down a notch.

That’s a good stopping point for today.  Quality, if smaller domestic league match.  Noobites, see you tomorrow when we round out the Ten.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Manchester United vs. Valencia – UEFA Champions League

A reminder of where we are:

The “competition proper” is begun.  We’re seeing the Group Stage now.  Some teams qualified to enter only now, while others had to advance through tournament qualifying round/s.

There are eight groups of four clubs each.  Each club will play a double round robin, home and away matches with each other on in their pod.  Top two finishers move on to the bracketed Knockout Stage.  Third place clubs will get dropped down into a late round of the Europa League.  Last-place sad sacks have to rent halls and serve at table during fine catered dinners for the other three.

(All of that may not be true.  But if Noob ran UEFA…)

All the matches are “important” in this event, and there are eight today.  It’s the top club tournament in the world.  We’ll lean towards our cousins from England in coverage.  Hoffenheim from Germany and Manchester City are a dandy matchup today.  But this is the more interesting one for a particular reason.

Group H looks like a wicked-hard one.  Euros might even be calling it a “Group of Death”.  That seems unnecessarily dark, but ok.  They’ve played just one match each so far.  Man Utd blasted a Swiss club while Spain’s Valencia went down against the defending Italian league champs.

Based on their Elo ratings (Noob hearts footballdatabase.com), Man Utd should easily be a goal favorite at home.   But what makes this match intriguing is the drama going on with the Red Devils.  One of their stars – the Frenchman Pogba – and their manager – Mourinho – are at terrible odds.  The locker room is divided and the club is playing just .500 ball and sitting midtable in the Premier League.

Man Utd does.  Not.   Do.   Midtable.  They vie for titles.  They spend the money.  They finished #B in the EPL last season.  Pogba’s going to get a new team or the manager is going to be out soon.

Noob doesn’t even know what they’re fighting about.  My interest doesn’t run quite that deep.   It’s more fun to imagine the team ordered some sammiches in for a meeting and someone got someone else’s sammich but wouldn’t give it up.  Anyway, it’s perhaps THE story in English football, so our caring-needle is moved.   (3:00 PM EST, TNT)

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for pogba vs mourinho funny“You go over there and eat the turkey on rye you ordered!

I’m staying here with my corned beef.  You work for me!”

B.  Monterrey vs. Zapatec – Copa MX

A reminder of where we are:

Mexico’s leagues have two half-seasons annually – Apertura and Clausura.  We’re in the Apertura.  Concurrent with league play, they also run a Cup tournament during each half-season.  Only teams from the top two leagues compete.

The Group Stage is done.  We’re now seeing the Round of 16 in the bracketed Knockout Stage.  One-off matches, no home-and-away.

Part of the fun of Cups is watching for Minnows – underdogs, teams from leagues other than top-flite – to make deep runs.  Ascenso MX (D2) Juarez has already advanced to the Quarterfinals.  Tonight, we get to see if peers of their will join them.

Zacatepec are in 10th in the Ascenso.  That’s not even high enough to qualify for that league’s Ligilla (postseason)!   Yet here they are, facing mighty Liga MX’s Monterrey.   The only good news for Zaca is that Monterrey has been scuffling a tiny bit of late.  They’re just 1-1-2 in their last four matches.

But they’ve allowed no goals in their last two.  So it’s probably Monterrey by a couple on their own pitch today.   (8:00 PM, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:   Monterrey   4-2

Image result for Letter B fish

 

 

Number B makes friends with a Tanzanian blobfish.  

Not into Minnows, eh?

  1. Al Ahly vs. ES Setif – CAF Champions League

They’ve reached the Semifinals in Africa!  Here, they play home-and-away series to see who advances.  The #1 team on the continent hosts the first leg today.   Any and everyone would and should favor them by a couple goals.

Why?

ES Setif are the defending Algerian champs.  It’s a strong league there, ranked 4th.  But Egypt’s is #1.  Setif had to enter the tournament earlier than Ahly, may be more tired.  Setif only finished 2nd in their Group to advance.  Ahly won theirs.

But ES Setif just knocked out the defending CAF CL champs last round.   Here we go.

RESULT:   Al Ahly   2-0

’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 Sunday (8/12) – MLS, EPL, Liga MX, Soooooper Cups!

Look, Noob is all about full disclosure.   I admit it.  Things got a little weird yesterday previewing matches.  Yelling about Hotspur’s traitorous namesake.  Predicting a terrible fate for Orlando, the city, since it’s built on a swamp.  Re-publishing weeeird Japanese soccer photo…

Today will be SO different.  All serious as we ogle the ten most important matches to follow for us, the new American fans of the global game.  Honest.

*snicker*

  1. Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

After losing to Toronto in last season’s Playoffs, Seattle have looked anything but themselves.  Now, at least, a four-match winning streak has them within shouting distance (8th in the Western Conference) of the postseason (top six from each conference get in).  Their defense has always seemed pretty okay.  They’ve finally found their stride on offense.

Dallas are not only #1 in the West, they’ve built a five-point cushion in the standings over #B Portland.  This, despite their stunning 1-3 loss to San Jose.  Noob doesn’t care if it was a road match for FCD.  That’s horrible.

If Seattle want to continue to make a push, they need to keep getting goals from the midfield.  Forward Will Bruin has largely tried carrying the load all season, but help has got to keep coming from behind him as it has the last week.

Of course, since the first soccer fan Noob ever knew was a Sounders fan and an utter putz, I will not be pulling for this to happen.  Will Bruin must be left to struggle on his island!   (10:00 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   Seattle   2-1     Sounders are still in 8th, but now within three points of 6th place and the West’s final Playoff slot.

B.  UANL Pumas vs. Pachuca – Liga MX

Pachucha finished 9th in the last Clausura (second half-season), just missing the Liguilla (postseason tournament).  They played nearly the league’s worst defense, so if they can shore that up just a little without sacrificing goal-scoring, they can get above the line.

Pumas were 7th, not tons better on defense.  This could be a real shootout.  Find out at 5:00 PM on Univision Deportes.

RESULT:   0-0     So much for a shootout

Image result for letter B explore

 

 

Number B, that’s so random.

 

You really get me, don’t you.

  1. Arsenal vs. Manchester City – English Premier League

Only the rawest of Noobites should be without a sense of Man City.  Record-breaking 2017-18, crushing the league.

Arsenal were 6th, and won’t do better this year unless they start stopping goals like the biggest boys in this league.  They allowed about a third again as many as their peers.  This is the first match of the season for both clubs.   (11:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man City   0-2

  1. Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayern Munich – Germany Super Cup

Speaking of teams that crushed their leagues, will anyone be able to hold a candle to Bayern this year?  They were nearly every bit as dominant as Man City in England was.  Frankfurt won the nation’s FA Cup to earn their spot here, despite finishing just 8th in the league.  They play hosts today.

Like most Super Cups, this is a glorified friendly to kick off the impending league season. Soooooper!  Except that it doesn’t count.   (2:30 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   Bayern   0-5

Image result for super soccer

 

 

 

Get ready for all manner of super-ness.

  1. Barcelona vs. Sevilla – Spanish Super Cup

Same as above, almost.  Barcelona cruised to their 2017-18 La Liga title, and won the FA Cup there as well.  They get a Copa final rematch against Sevilla, who finished 7th in the league.  They played literally just half the offense and defense of Barcelona.  Ouch.  This one gets played at Moroccan club IR Tanger’s new stadium.   (4:00 PM, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   Barca   2-1

  1. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

Last year, Herediano won both the Apertura and Clausura half-seasons.  They’re an absolute beast on defense.  Both times, Saprissa was #B, and for the latter they were separated by just one point in the table.

Costa Rica and the U.S. top leagues are simply the two best in the CONCACAF region, after Mexico.   And THAT calls for musical interlude.

RESULT:   Saprissa   1-0

  1. Rijeka vs. Hajduk Split – Croatia First League

Croatia is on the mind of soccer fans the world over after their amazing run to the final in the World Cup.  Their league is rated in the top third of Europe (#16).

Last year, it was a three-horse race, and these two lost out do Dinamo Zagreb for the title and league’s only Champions League slot.  Rijeka were statistically the best team of them all, but a whopping ten draws left them short.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Alianza vs. Santa Tecla – El Slavador Premier

Noob’s tired of fighting the typo, going to embrace it instead.  Ehhhl Sllllllllavadoooohhhhr!

Alianza won both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments last year.  Santa Tecla was #B both times.  The race was much closer in the Clausura.  In fact, they had the better goal differential.  This league, too, is just getting its new season underway.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for El Slavador

 

 

 

If “El Slavador” is good enough for the CIA, it’s good enough for Noob.

  1. Luzern vs. Young Boys of Bern – Swiss Super League

The table was clearly stratified by the end of 2017-18 here.  YBB won the league by 15 points.  Luzern were 15 behind the #B club.  Today’s hosts can compete again for a Europa League berth.  But if they want a shot at the CL, they need buckets more goals than last year.

RESULT:   YBB   2-3

  1. Molde vs. Brann – Norway Eliteserien

In northern Europe, they’re over halfway through their league seasons.  Brann have only lost one match, but five draws have meant the title is anything but decided.

Molde have all the shiny stats to look like they should be competing even more closely for the title.  But their five losses are the most of any realistic contenders.  At eight points behind in the table, this home match is must-win for The Fighting Sea Char.

The Management:   Is that a kind of slamon?  What an awful nickname.  Good thing you just made it up, asshat.

The sllllllamon of El Sllllllllavahdoooooohhr!

The Management:  Rrrriiiight…

RESULT:   Molde   5-1

Image result for Molde Norway salmon

 

So long from Molde, Norway — home of contagious slamon!

The Management:  Where do we even start fixing you?…