Noob interview with English Premier League referee (and A+ dancing fool) Mike Dean

English Premier League Mike Dean is quite likely the most flamboyant referee in the history of soccer.   In Manchester City’s 6-0 defeat of Chelsea this weekend, Dean’s usual flair was again on display.    In addition to his strange positions and dramatic gestures, he even stuffed the  game ball under his shirt to hide it from Sergio Aguero (who’d had a hat trick).

Between fixtures, Dean often heads to Barrow and then across the Walney Channel to Vicarstown, Sodor!  Noob’s picking up on all manner of fun things now that I’m living on the Isle more or less full-time.  I caught up with Mr. Dean at local drinking house “The Furnace” for a rare interview…that didn’t go where Noob thought it would.

(And here’s the dreamteamfc article if you need confirmation about the reveal shortly.)

Noob:   Mike, thanks for the sit-down!

Mike DeanYou challenged me to try the sparkling rhubarb vermouth.  What was I supposed to say, no?   I'm Mike flippin' Dean.  

Noob:  I am Noob!

Mike Dean:  Splendid.

Noob:  Interview?

Mike Dean:   Balls.   What the heck. 

Noob:   Let's talk sportsball.

Mike Dean:   Bloody hell.   It's a weird vermouth, not that nice South African malbec on yonder shelf.   Let's talk dancing.

Noob Well, I'm not as light on my feet as I once was, but --

Mike Dean:  Shut the cuss up.  Did you know I was a ballroom dancing champion?

Noob:  You shut the cuss up!

 

Mike Dean:   They've talked to me about being on Strictly Come Dancing.  I'm big enough in England, certainly.  But they only do Latin and ballroom on that show. I want to show my range. 

Noob:   What, you want to replace Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor? 

Mike Dean:   You're an odd chap.  No. I want to be on Dancing With the Stars. So many more styles get featured!  Jitterbug.  Disco.  And if you think I can't Lindy Hop , I'll punch you in the face. 

Noob:  I didn't say you couldn't. 

Mike Dean:  Smart lad.    Smarter than those clowns at your ABC.  They won't even return my calls. 

Noob:   I call shenanigans. 

Mike Dean:    Alexis Ren.   Bobby Bones.   Pshaw.   Know who the biggest "star" they got was?   John.  Effing.  Schneider.  Image result for John Schneider Dancing with the Stars funny  If you don't think I can't outdance Bo Duke, I'll...I'll... *sputters* 

Noob:   Punch Noob in the face? 

Mike Dean:   This vermouth isn't bad.   Who's Noob? 

Noob:  I am Noob! 

Mike Dean:  Splendid.  Say, you're media here, of a sort.  Don't suppose you know if Sodor has a dancing competition show. 

Noob:   Don't think so.  But they're having a Grease-themed sock hop dance-off at the high school reunion nearby tonight.

Aaaaand that’s when Mike Dean punched me in the face, signaling the end of the interview.  And you know what?  Good on him.   That sock hop was beneath him.

Join Noob next time as I try to get MLS Referee of the Year Alan Kelley mad  enough to puncture my spleen by showing him my Dundalk jersey and telling him his former team Cork City of stinks.

(If you enjoyed this interview, may I humbly recommend the offerings on my  D2 Interviews Page.  And Noob is available to write all manner of craziness for your soccer site, or for other sports or any topic at all!)

Sodor Premier League news! Tim Howard who? 80-year old Sudric goalie announces retirement

January 30, 2019 – Arlesburgh, Sodor

Colin Lee, -80- year old goalie for Arlesburgh United Pirates Image result for soccer crest piratesof the Isle of Sodor Premier League has announced his retirement from competitive play.  When asked what he thought of the MLS Colorado Rapids‘ 39 year-old Tim Howard‘s hanging them up after the 2019 season, Mr. Lee gruffly said, “Blargh.  I have bunions older than that quitter.

This 2011 Daily Mail article details his full English career; click here)

In 2012, Mr. Lee Veteran: Colin Lee, 72, started playing football when he was just six years old and has now been regularly partaking in the beautiful game for an incredible 66 yearswas sacked as secretary for eight Northampton, England area teams and as keeper for his Sunday League squad.   His former Air Force Veterans’ teammate, 56 year-old Ollie Hight had this to say:

 

The guy was 72.   He did a lot of good, but it was time for him to bugger off, make room for up-and-comers like me.

Colin Lee then retired across the Walney Channel to Arlesburgh, in the northwest of Sodor.  Image result for Arlesburgh Sodor mapAs the oldest established town on the Isle, he found it suited him well.   Here, he continued his 50-plus year career as a goalie, only occasionally reverting to his youth position of centre half.

But Arlesburgh United find themselves in last place in this, the inaugural IoSPL season.   With Lee in a platoon at goalkeeper, the team has given up nearly seven goals per match, a staggering number even by loose-defense Sodor standards.

If the other team kicks it right at me, I’ve got a shot.   But they’ve figured out my weaknesses after having faced each club once on the year — I have trouble covering wide.  And high.  And low.   I can actually get low sometimes, but then I can’t get back up and they sub me out.

I hope Tim HowardImage result for Tim Howard retirement finds broadcasting dull and decides to replace me here.   Perhaps he can get the team promoted to Premier again next year.  Because we’re sure as shit getting sent down this season.”

 

’10 to Track’ soccer matches previews – just One today – MLS final, Noob bids farewell of a sort

After well over a year of Tracking matches on a daily basis I’ve felt were most important to new American soccer fans like myself, project SoccerNoob in its present form is going on indefinite hiatus.

Thank you to The Management for daring me as a joke to write about the sport I knew least about. To Dan the former Intern-o Inferno, for his hilarious work on image production, support, and understanding I needed to put screen and other fiction writing on hold to learn the discipline to write every single day. I hope your work at the Swedish women’s soccer association continues to go well. And to my young daughter, “PersonNoob”, for writing verses to our silly theme song.

My focus has been on learning leagues and Cup tournaments, both at and close to home and the world over. In talking with many of you, I’ve learned as well about the big players, about how the game itself is played, and why it is such a joy for so much of the world to follow.

In doing it all, I’ve tried adding my own off-kilter brand of humor. Hopefully between that and covering matches from places most U.S. fans don’t read about anywhere, I’ve brought some enjoyment to long-time fans as well.

I’m continuing to winter on the Isle of Sodor, covering matches here. This site will soon be bringing you news and scores from their ongoing, first-ever Premier League. The site may have a new name, in which case soccernoob.com will forward to that. Or I may just keep it right here. And who knows. A podcast has considered! Noob’s not truly disappearing. (God help us.)

For the final Track, no “10”. Just the one. The most important match of the year.

1. Atlanta United vs. Portland Timbers – Major League Soccer Final

Noobites, since this is the swan song, it’s time to graduate to sites with more in-depth coverage.   (8:00 PM Eastern, Fox)

RESULT:   ATL   2-0          Single-season record-setting MLS for goals scored in a season, Josef Martinez, adds another.

ESPNFC match preview

CBS Sports match preview

Portland Mercury match preview

beIN Sports match preview

USSoccerPlayers.com match preview

AtlUtd.com match preview

Image result for soccer graduation

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

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

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

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

Back again tomorrow for Globetrotting Friday!

Thursday

10. Rosario Central vs. Gimnasia LP – Copa Argentina

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

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

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

Image result for Mendoza argentina weirdSo long from Mendoza!

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

 

Wednesday

3. Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

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

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

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

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

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

4. Manchester United vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

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

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

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

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for Sir Topham Hatt happy

 

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

5. Atletico Junior vs. Atletico PR – Copa Sudamericana

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

6. Zamora vs. Deportivo Lara – Venezuela Premier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Northeast United vs. Bengaluru – India Super League

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

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

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

Image result for shiny things funny

 

That… doesn’t feel relevant…

Who’s doing images around here now, anyway? 

Noob missed Dan the Intern-Inferno.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday

1. UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

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

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

RESULT:   UANL   5-3        On to the finals!

B. Montpelier vs. Lille – Ligue 2

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

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

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

NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

’10 to Track’ 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 (11/25) soccer match previews – MLS semifinals lead the way!

The ten most important matches to follow, fur us – the newish American fans of the global game.   Hopefully with just enough kick from coverage of leagues occasionally far and wide to provide a little something for our more seasoned fan-friends as well.

Note:  No Isle of Sodor Premier League this week.   With the season there set to be a few matches shorter than most European domestic leagues, they’ve scheduled a break every few weeks.    Sodor’s a laid back place, if you’ve never been.

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

The Semifinals! Like the quarters, these will be decided with two-legged ties (home-and-away series). And it’s between the Eastern Conference’s two top finishers. Dreamy.

Red Bulls are your Supporters Shield winners, meaning they had the best record in the regular season for the entire league. They’ve won six of seven matches, the only loss being last round to Columbus Crew. They trailed Atlanta in the Eastern Division all season, catching them just at the end. Names to know are: Tyler Adams, young, talented US Men’s National Team midfielder; Brandon Wright-Phillips, star striker; and most of all, Luis Robles. This is the best defensive team in the league and he’s the goalie.

Atlanta blew the Shield on the last day of the regular season, getting routed by non-playoff Toronto 4-1. But it’s not like they entered on a losing streak or anything, have been as hot as NYRB. They’re the scoring juggernaut of the league. Josef Martinez is their record-setting scorer, Miguel Almiron the name to know in their midfield, and USMNT veteran Brad Guzan is the netminder.

There – enough to get you through water-cooler chat, watch the game and have some info to go on. Now go, be free! If you are desirous of more in-depth preview info, it’s out there. I’m going to! But this is Noob and this level of preview is our niche.   (5:00 PM Eastern, ESPN)

RESULT:   Atlanta   3-0         Franco Escobar with a goal and an assist

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

Don’t like to usually over multiple matches from any league on a given day, even MLS. Noob’s job is to filter. But it’s the Semis! An

Portland entered the Western Conference side of the playoffs as the #5 seed. They’ve been up and down since late spring, but never dropped out of the postseason mix thanks to an early, bigtime non-losing streak. But they won the Battle of Cascadia against runners-up Seattle last round. Can’t discount them.

One wonders when Kansas City might just drop from exhaustion. They were in a dogfight for the #1 seed all season long with FC Dallas. They won the U.S. Open Cup that ran concurrently with the MLS season. Noob feels winded just thinking about it. But it helps that this is the most balanced team in the league – second-best on O and D both.

They haven’t lost since September, hottest team remaining, doing it in both high and low-scoring matches. Danny Salloi might star with a goal and assist. Or USMNT man Tim Melia might and last year’s Defensive POY Ike Opara might put on a shutout.   (7:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for sleepy letter B

 

 

 

Very funny, Number B.   *yawn*   C’mon, knock it off.

3. Pumas UNAM vs. Santos – Liga MX

Match 17, the last for each in the Apertura (second half-season). Top eight teams make the Liguilla (postseason tournament). These two are tied for 3rd on points in the table, Pumas leading by a point on tiebreaking goal differential. In other words, a draw would be enough for Pumas to get that #3 seed.

UNAM have just once since September, and that was to #1 Cruz Azul. Santos are on a similar streak, though theirs is peppered with a lot more draws. It’s their offense that’d faded a bit.   (1:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   1-1      After this and all other results, there was a three-way tie in the table for 3rd.  But these two stayed where they were in the pecking order after GD tiebreaker.

4. AFC Bournemouth vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

Huzzah, Noob’s favorite two teams from EPL! Always a Fighting Cherry first. Go, home team. But Arsenal, you have a piece of my heart as well, as rivals to the traitorously-named and always-reviled Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur.

5th-place Arsenal are on a 12 match non-losing streak. Two early losses in league and no marks against them since. Top four finishers will make the next Champions League. Arsenal haven’t shown they can quite defend or score like the very best, but they’re lurking.

Bournemouth are tied for 8th, have a game in hand over the two teams that passed them yesterday. This is a small market team performing incredibly well. Sadly for Noob, talk is that their current manager Eddie Howe is likely to get hired away by a big, big club sooner rather than later for his tremendous performance there.

The magic may be fading just a little, though, as they’ve lost two in a row. Not that a couple of 2-1 losses are redefining their season or anything. They’re another notch down the scale from Arsenal on offensive prowess, but defend about as well. And they have a knack for come-from-behind wins the last couple seasons. Even if Arsenal score first, they won’t be able to just sit on the ball.   (8:30 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   1-2   Arsenal          AFCB did come back from down the first goal, but Arsenal is a bit better on the attacking end.   Well-played match by both sides.

Image result for fighting cherries

 

 

Infighting Cherries…

5. Lazio vs. AC Milan – Italy Serie A

The top four in Italy also qualify for the next Champions league. These are two clubs very likely to be battling for that fourth and final spot in the table. Juventus is running away with the league already, and the next two have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

Lazio are lacking a bit of the scoring punch they had last year as they battled for the season title. Milan are more balanced, will give their hosts all they can handle and more. Before a loss to Juve last time out, they hadn’t lost in four matches.   (12:00 PM, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   1-1

6. Beijing Gouan vs. Shandong Luneng – China FA Cup

The Final! Unlike most or all European Cup tournaments, as well as America’s, this is a two-legged, home-and-away tie. This is the first match.

China’s Super League season just ended, and these two finished in 4th and 3rd place. Those spots are good for AFC Champions League berths.

What’s strange-seeming to Noob is that the winner of these Finals will qualify for straight through to the Group Stage of CL, with the loser having to first play in qualifying round before that stage. Would these have been the stakes were these Finals being contested between clubs in other parts of the Superleague standings?

In any case, this should be a very evenly-matched Finals. Beijing are the more defensively-focused side, so look for today’s match to be lower-scoring at their place.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for confused by CHinese

 

 

If Jackie can’t figure it all out, what hope does a Noob have?

7. La Guaira vs. Lara – Venezuela Premier

Mas Finals? You betcha. This is the Clausura (second half-season) tournament. Unlike some leagues, the Apertura and Clausura champions will not meet to play for an overall title for the year.

Last week, defensive whizzes Lara did their thing, holding La Guaira scoreless. But Lara didn’t score, either. Now the #4 seed has to travel to #B and outscore them in the second leg.

RESULT:   Lara   0-1          Hail to the victors!  Lara got the only goal of the two-legged tie at 90′ mark.

8. FC Olexandria vs. Dynamo Kiev – Ukraine Premier

#3 hosts #B in Europe’s 9th ranked league. That’s high enough that they qualify two teams into the next Champions League. Good thing for these two, too, as Shakhtar Donestk is way up on the field.

D.K. Only lead upstart Olexandria by two points in the table. Dynamo are a perennial power, but FCO didn’t even make the top half of last year’s standings. Dynamo also only give up a goal a little less often than once every other match. Noob’s doubtful FCO can pressure their guests enough to get a win today.

RESULT:   Olexandria   3-2          So much for no pressure!

Image result for fc olexandria

 

 

 

FC Olexandria, getting our Cyrillic on.

9. Copenhagen vs. Midtjylland – Denmark Superliga

UEFA’s #13 league gives us a shiny #B-#1 matchup.

They’re actually tied on points in the table, with the guests today leading on GD. They’ll both easily qualify for Champions League, having separated themselves by quite a bit halfway through the season.

Midtjylland are the defending champions and current scoring leaders, the only Danish team to be clipping along at more than 2.5 goals per match.

RESULT:   Copenhagen  2-1       Jan Gregus gave up an own-goal that tied that game before scoring the winner for the league’s new #1.

10. Lechia Gdansk vs. Jagiellonia Bialystok – Poland Ekstraklasa

We finish our weekend Tracking in the #25 league in Europe. That’s only good for one Champions League berth. They’ve got one whale of a race shaping up for it.

Gdansk are the current leaders, but J.B. and one other team trail by just three points in the table. A total of six teams are within single-digit points of the lead. Still, these two are statistically the best, if not by leaps and bounds. Particularly for Gdansk and the margin they’d get, a win today could be season-defining.

RESULT:   Gdansk   3-2            Noob’s pick of Wisla Krakow to win the league is looking seriously in jeopardy 🙂

Image result for Gdansk funny

 

 

So long from Gdnask, Poland!

Come for the footyball, stay for the time of your life.  Apparently.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition – Visiting a newish league, taking on Subway

The Midweek Track, where instead of ten matches each day, Noob teases out the same number over three days.  Ooh la LAH.

But what IS  Noob?    Noob is introducing the newish American fans of the global game to the leagues and tournaments of the world.  Local first, but ogling everywhere.

The Tracks are the backbone of the project.  Ten matches that can matter most for us.   More, Noob tells you the stakesWHY each match matters.  And I like to think sometimes that’s even new and fun for seasoned fans of the game.

And it’s Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs!    That madness lurks below (and after that, previous days’ match results.

Thursday

10. FC Goa vs. Bengalaru – India Super League

We finish the Midweek Track in a country with two “top-flite” leagues. (The other is the I-League.) ISL is similar to America’s Major League Soccer in that it is not part of a promotion/relegation system. (The I-League is.) Like MLS, it is run on more of a franchise-system. This is just the league’s fifth season, and it only received formal recognition by the Asian Football Confederation last season.

The AFC ranks “India club competitions” as #14. Noob’s not certain yet if that is a reference to both India’s leagues or just I-League, and so I am uncertain of the quality of this particular league. But this is Noob and this is part of what we do, learning the game from all over, and learning is a process.

Goa are currently #1 this young season, but they’ve played two more matches than #B Bengalaru. It’s the latter who are undefeated so far.   Just like last year this is a clash of styles. Bengalaru can do it all, but lean more on defense. Goa don’t seem to believe in defense even a little, but score seemingly at will.

RESULT:   Bengalaru   1-2          High drama in the battle for first!      The visitors led 0-1.   Then Mohamed Ali (yep) got yellows at 36′ and 47′ to get redded out.  Then Bengalaru had a player get a straight red at 59′.  

Equalizer for Goa at 72′, but Bengalru gets the decider at 77′.

And since the Midweek was frontloaded on matches, let’s flesh things out here on the back end, indulge in yet another —

NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!

Indeed, it’s time for the Noob to give his take on another sammich.  Because if there’s one thing Noob’s two target niche audiences want more than the footyball goodness here, it’s… whatever the cuss this has been.

But this time, s**t’s about to get real —

Image result for steak and cheese subway sandwich sunflower bread

Yup, Noober’s taking on a brand name.   This is Subway’s new Chipotle Steak and Cheese on Sunflower Crunch Bread.

Full disclosure:  Noob ordered steak, sans cheese and chipotle.  I added spinach, black olives, tomatoes, and a little lite mayo.  And I didn’t get it toasted.  Repeat.  I DECLINED THE TOASTEDNESS.  Some of what’s to follow is on me.

The vegetable-condiment combination is a standard for me and was not problematic here.  But the steak had no flavor.   Not bland flavor.  -None-.  It was like chewing water as far as taste.  Noob’s never experienced the like.  I thought perhaps I was having a stroke.

Subway — don’t make sammiches that make someone think he’s having a damn stroke.

And this was nowhere near the greater sin of this sandwich.

Sunflower Crusted Bread – mmmmmm…thanks for coming up with something a quarter-notch better than pencil shavings for to put in my mouth.

It looks like wet bird seed.  Well, it might literally be wet bird seed.   Crunch?   Zero.   Bitter taste.  While a little of that can be an interesting foil to another primary flavor, remember:  nil-flavor steak.

As added punishment, Noob was on the road and got this to go.   That meant wet bird seed ALL over my car.   Like need-to-have-it-detailed all over.   No cohesion between the bird seed and bread.

In a nutshell, sadness reigned.  Again, toasting — would this have married the bird seed and bread more closely?  Noob’s no culinary-physics expert.   Still learning soccer, dang it.  Would toasting have given a hint of flavor to the steak?   Hard to say.

Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs run on a 0-5 Sammich scale.  I give this sandwich 1 1/2 sammiches.

The vegetables and lite mayo couldn’t save this atrocity.  While I could credit myself there, I’m calling it a wash for my critical non-toasting error in judgement.

Thank you reading Noob Sandwich Reviewoob.  Join the…again, whatever this is by commenting here on the site.  Or find me at SoccerNoobUSA on Twittter.

Wednesday

9. Flamengo vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

Just one match for your Wednesday Track portion. It comes from South America’s top league, and things are heating up there.

With three league matches to go each, #B Flamengo and #4 Gremio have assured themselves of at least top-six finishes. That means they’ve qualified for next years Copa Libertadores – South America’s version of Champions League.

Neither is guaranteed a top four finish yet, though. Ending the season that high means entering the CL right at the Group Stage, not having to play any prior qualifying stages. More, Flamengo still have a realistic – if not probable – shot at the league title. They trail Palmeiras by five points in the table.

Flamengo have beaten a couple of also-rans 1-0 their last two outings. Before that, they hadn’t won in three matches. Gremio haven’t lost in four matches.

To look at the season-long stats, Gremio haven’t had the offense to quite compete for the trophy. But if recent trends for these two continue, this will be a tactical, low-scoring affair.   (6:45 PM, Rede Globe TV International, Premiere Futbol Clube)

RESULT:   Flamego   2-0

Tuesday

1. Italy vs. U.S.A. – friendly

The U.S. surely didn’t look like world-beaters when they lost 3-0 in England a few days ago. Their European tour continues now in Italy. The teams are ranked #19 and #23, respectively, by FIFA.

Italy have been playing in the UEFA Nations League. They have finished #B in their Group and not qualify for the Playoffs there.

After missing out on the World Cup, neither side has been doing a lot of winning, as they retool rosters with younger players. It’s all part of getting ready for future international competitions and even the next World Cup cycle.

A key matchup to watch will likely be in the midfield between New York Red Bull Tyler Adams and Jorginho of Chelsea.

Jorginho is a pass-happy fah-reeak, and clearly a talented one to be playing for a top club in the Premier League in England. Adams didn’t play in the U.S.’ last friendly, getting some rest after an MLS playoff match.

RESULT:   Italy   1-0            Minor note:  turns our the game was held in Genk, Belgium.     Major note:   This score could’ve been soooooo much worse.    U.S. were awful, only holding possession about a quarter of the match.

Image result for too American funny

 

Beers and eagle heads and American flag-beachwear.

Here we come, Italy!

B. Argentina vs. Mexico – friendly

If this match rings a bell, it’s because it should. The two faced off in Argentina just three days ago, with the home side taking the match 2-0.

Mexico made the World Cup quarterfinals, but have had little success in friendlies since then. Argentina also made the WC quarters, but they’ve only lost once since then. The two are ranked #12 and #16 by FIFA.

RESULT:   Argentina   2-0       Mexico actually looked pretty solid on may stat lines

3. Sweden vs. Russia – UEFA Nations League

Once again, here’s a link to Noob’s ‘Explainer’ of what this event is:

http://www.soccernoob.com/2018/01/01/uefa-nations-league-explainer/

This is a League B matchup. Russia lead the Swedes by three in points and in goal differential. That means Sweden needs a big, big win in this last match to overtake the Russians.

They carry FIFA-rankings of #17 and #41. Given that the Russian Premier League is rated well in the top-10 of Europe, Noob was surprised to find their MNT rank so comparatively low. But these things don’t always corelate.

RESULT:   Sweden   2-0          And that is just enough – the Swedes advance!

4. Scotland vs. Israel – UEFA Nations League

These League C combatants are tied for the lead in their Group. Last match and winner takes all. Scotland only need a draw to advance, as they hold the GD tiebreaker.

It will be interesting to see how the Scots play this. Their success has been just as much on offense as their D, yet given the situation, playing for a low-scoring draw is certainly defensible.

RESULT:   Scotland   3-2          Three goals for Celtic club member James Forrest as the Scots move on!

Image result for Scottish Jew

 

 

Um, what?   Why?….No…

5. Montenegro vs. Romania – UEFA Nations League

This is another league C matchup. Unlike the previous Groups – including the one in Match #4 above, this Group has four teams.

In truth, this match only matters at all if last-place Lithuania somehow beats or draws with Group leader Serbia. At Serbia. Unlikely.

Serbia lead Montenegro by two points in the table and their tied on GD. So here’s the breakdown: Romania have to win today to have any shot at 1st. If that happens and Serbia merely draw with (or lose to) Lithuania, Romania wins.

Montenegro and Romania are ranked #39 and #26 worldwide. Noob figures this to be a tossup since it’s in Monenegro.

RESULT:    Romania   0-1       Did their part…

6. Kosovo vs. Azerbaijan – UEFA Nations League

Here in League D, all the Groups have four teams. But in this Group, only two are in play for 1st. Kosovo lead Azerbaijan by two heading into this last match. So a win for the visitors and they win the group. Any other result and Kosovo advances to the Playoffs.

This Group has been a bit of a surprise. Faroe Islands came in with the nest FIFA ranking, the only one in the top 100. And Azerbaijan are 30 notches higher than Kosovo.

RESULT:   Kosovo   4-0       …but it’s Kosovo in a rout, so on the playoffs for them!

Image result for Faroe Islands sad

 

 

 

Faroe Islands realty – a wee bit Hobbit-y?

7. Curacao vs. Guadeloupe – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Scroll on up to yesterday’s post if you need a small refresher on what’s going on, at stake with this tournament.

Curacao have one their first two matches by a combined score of 15-0. That’s good for 5th place, and looks even better when you recognize most teams around them have already played three of their four games.

Guadeloupe are in 16th after their first to matches. Based on where these two rank in CONCACAF (not FIFA, as not a member, being a French territory), one might’ve expected their places to be turned around. But that’s part of the fun of this tournament. Four matches are all each of the 34 participating teams get, so there’s a lot of volatility.

RESULT:   Curacao   6-0       wowzerz       (also, this match may have been played yesterday)

8. Billericay vs. Chesterfield – England FA Cup

The “qualifying” stages done. Between teams advanced through those q-rounds and ones just now entering the tournament, there will have been 32 playing here in the First Round Proper.

Most of the 1RP matches are already done. It’s a Knockout event, meaning that they just play one game, host decided by random draw. But if the match ends in a draw, they have a Replay. This time, it’s at the other team’s place though. That’s how we get to this featured match. These two tied 1-1 in their first try.

Billericay are from the sixth level of the English football pyramid, making them very much a Minnow – an underdog. Looking for Minnows that make deep runs in the whole event is part of the fun of following this. They’re from Essex, and play out of the Ishthmian League’s premier division, to which they were just promoted this year. And they’re #B in their current league, meaning they have a very good chance to get Promoted once again!

Chesterfield play one league up, the National League. They’re not having a very good season there. In fact, if they do much worse, they might get sent down. These two may essentially end up switching places.

Noob thinks Billericay still isn’t quite an even match today at home, but wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re able to get another draw after 90′. If that happens, this time there will be no more Replays. They’ll play extra time, go to penalty kicks if need be, decide who advances today.

RESULT:   Chesterfield   1-3

Billericay Town F.C. Logo.png

Thursday

coming soon!

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (11/13-15) soccer matches – UEFA Nations League leads the way

Saturdays and Sundays, Noob endeavors to highlight the ten most important matches to follow on each, for us – the newish American fans of the global game.

Tuesday through Thursday, we do just ten over the three days.   Either way, we’re local, Western European, and then the world.  Mini-previews that introduce us to the teams, leagues and tournaments everywhere, and what the stakes are — why each is important to the teams involved, and so can be to us.

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s matches and results follow below.

Thursday

4.  England vs. U.S.A. – friendly

This is the last friendly of the year for USMNT.  After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the youth movement continues for the team.  They’ve already been running very young, and now two of the few veterans who would’ve been on the roster are out due to injury.

Perhaps the most noteworthy cal-up is goalie Jonathan Klinsmann, son of the former German USMNT manager.  He’s with German Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin, but Noob gathers hasn’t been a key part of things there yet.

In other big news, American’s young, oft-thought #1 superstar Christian Pulisic (with Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund) is coming off injury and on the roster for the first time in a while.  Tyler Adams of New York Red Bulls is back from being hurt as well.

Finally, this may be the last match as interim head coach for Sara Chan.  Talk is that Columbus Crew manager Gregg Berhalter is likely to take the reigns for the American team shortly.

The Management would like to apologize for Noob’s greivous error.  The interim manager of the US Men’s National Team is Dave Sarachan.  He is not an Asian or Asian-American women named Sara Chan.  Thank you for your time, attention and patronage of Noob.

Sooooo…you don’t think a women could do the job, The Management?

That is not what I said. Merely that –

Moving on!  Sexist pig 🙂

England’s all-time leading scoring Wayne Rooney – currently of MLS’ D.C. United club – will be making a farewell appearance for their national team.  He last appeared for them in 2016.

These are the 23rd and 5th-ranked teams in the world.  Noob’s read that gap might be exacerbated by the fact that the Three Lions will likely be playing their top squad or something close.  They’re currently also playing in the new UEFA Nation’s League tournament.  I would think that means they’d rest starters for a friendly, but we shall see.   (3:00 PM EDT, ESPN2)

RESULT:   England   3-0         Not a strong showing for the Americans on any front.

5.  Croatia vs. Spain – UEFA Nations League

A reminder of what we have here:

This is a new tournament, largely replacing international friendlies in certain parts of the soccer calendar.  UEFA intends to hold this every other year.  All 55 national teams are participating.  They are divided into four leagues, based on rankings around the last World Cup.  The top dozen are in League A, the next 12 League B, and so on (though more than a dozen in C and D each).

The Leagues are in turn each divided into equal cross-section Groups of three or four.  In each Group, the teams will play home and away double round robins.  In League A, the four winners will have a Playoff to determine the event champion.  In the other leagues, the Group winners will have a Playoff as well.  The winners of all four Playoffs automatically qualify for the 2020 European Championships.

So that’s what’s going on and what’s at stake.  This matchup is one in League A.

Currently, Croatia is ranked #4 in the world, Spain 9th.  But Croatia haven’t had good fortune since making the World Cup final last year.  Their only win since then is a 2-1 win over Jordan.  Spain won the first match against them 6-0 in this event.  The Spanish lead England by two points in the table for 1st.   (2:45 PM, Galavision)

RESULT:   Croatia   3-2        Last minute goal for the winners!

6. Luxembourg vs. Belarus – UEFA Nations League

Most or all of the teams in League A will actually qualify for the 2020 Euros through other channels, so this event is more important for teams in the lower Leagues’ teams.

Here in League D, the Groups are four teams each.  Luxembourg lead Belarus by a point after four matches.  They’re ranked #84 and #78 in the world, respectively.  This isn’t the sort of match you’ll find on TV – at least not stateside.  But it should be a shootout! The two have collectively outscored their opponents 16-1 so far.  Belarus won the first match between them in this event 1-0.

RESULT:   Belarus   0-2

Image result for luxembourg men's national football team 2018

 

 

The Lux MNT of 1920.

7.  Iran vs. Trinidad and Tobago – friendly

Welcome to what might be the only English language preview of this match anywhere!

FIFA ranks them #30 and #93 in the world.  This makes Iran the #1-ranked team in Asia.  They’ve lost just once in their last six matches, all low-scoring affairs.  That includes a pretty decent win against Morocco (#47).

T&T, tenured Noobites may recall, was the last team the USMNT played in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers last year.  Our Caribbean counterparts were victorious, keeping the Americans out and allowing Panama their first-ever appearance.  More recently, they’ve won just once in their last four outings, all all low-scoring.  But the W was a decent one, over higher-ranked U.A.E.

OK, not much of a preview.  But we’re going to get to know our CONCACAF neighbors as best we reasonably can.

RESULT:   Iran   1-0

8.  Israel vs. Guatemala – friendly

Noob just trained a college kid at work this week.  He grew up abroad, all over.  Mom is in the Foriegn Service.  His favorite place was doing high school in suburban Tel Aviv.  He’s working towards working for them as well, will work towards getting back to that spot.

He follows soccer, but mainly Premier League.  He likes tracking his favorite players, not club teams.  Noob isn’t super-player specific at all, so that’s all I really have to say about that.

The Management:  Going to preview the match?

Nah.  I just like to write whatever.

RESULT:   Israel   7-0          not a typo

9. Sao Paulo vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

It may be “International Break” for Europe, but there’s still hawt domestic league action in other places!

The season is nearing it’s end in Brazil.  The top six all qualify for the next Copa Libertadores (South America’s champions league).  These two are tied for 4th.  Fourth place itself is an important table position, as it’s the lowest one from which the club will automatically enter the CL Group Stage.  The two below will have to fight through a qualifying round.

Sao Paulo was red hot much earlier in the year, occupying the top spot in the table for a good while.  But they’ve only won one in their last nine, albeit that stretch is littered with many draws.  It had looked like the defense might be what would cause them trouble based on early-season numbers, but its their offense that has done a disappearing act of late.

Gremio have cooled off a little of late themselves, though not nearly to Sao Paulo’s degree.  Some of that may have been because they were defending their Copa Libertadores title.  They lost in the Semis and can now focus on a top-four finish in league play.   (4:00 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   1-1

10.  Deportivo La Guaira vs. Deportivo Tachira – Venezuela Premier

We finish our Track with some domestic league Playoff goodness.

Like in many Latin countries, Venezuela divides its season into two separate league tournaments.  This is the second leg of the Semifinal of the Clausura (second half-season) postseason playoffs.  They finished #B and #3 in the league.  La Guira tied for best offense in the league, but lost the first match of this series 0-1.

The winner will get #4 Deportivo Lara or barely-qualified #8 Caracas.

RESULT:   La Guaira   3-1

Image result for Estadio Olímpico de la UCV

 

So long from Caracas! 

La Guaira is  both a city and club, but their Estadio Olimpico UCV home is in Caracas.

Wednesday

3.   Panama vs. Argentina – CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualification

Like yesterday’s UEFA WC qual. match, this is a Playoff – one last chance to get in. Panama finished 4th in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament and Argentina finished 3rd in the CONMEBOL version. The teams are ranked #66 and #37 in the world, respectively.

Now they are playing off for one more berth. And the Panamanian women’s quest to join last year’s men’s national team in being the first ever to qualify from their country is nearly over. Argentina won their home half of this two-match series 4-0. Panama aren’t scoring 5+ today.

RESULT:   1-1         Argentina are World Cup-bound

Tuesday

1. Scotland vs. U.S.A. – women’s international friendly

The #1 world ranked American ladies continued their tuneups for next year’s World Cup.   #19 Scotland could only keep possession a little over 1/3 of the time.   Alex Morgan’s goal was the only one of the match, so 0-1 U.S.

Image result for usa usa usa gif

 

 

Thanks for keeping us pumped, Miley.

USA!  USA!

B. Switzerland vs. Netherlands – UEFA Women’s World Cup qualification

The Group Stage winners of this event all qualified for next year’s WC.   The four best runners-up have been participating in Playoffs to determine one last qualifier.

#18 Switzerland and #10 FIFA-ranked Netherlands were the last two standing.   The Dutch gals won the first match of this home and away two-legged tie in dominating fashion, 1-3.   The pace was slower for today’s second leg, a 1-1 draw.

And so, congrats to Netherlands and good fortune in in 2019!

 

Image result for letter B party

 

Number B is down to party with the Dutch gals.

 

Tired out old Number Two need not RSVP.

’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’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – eep! #11, too – USL Final

Midweek Edition – time to slow down, tease out ten most important matches, for us – the newish American fans of the global game – over three days.  Think of it as a soccer slow jam, if you will.   Listen to a 90’s R&B fave whilst you read.

OK, or maybe not.  That got weird.  Again.

Tuesday and Wednesday matches and results are further down.

More Thursday

11.  Louisville FC vs. Phoenix Rising – United Soccer League

Good LAWD!   You’d think Noob would learn a lesson.  I tend to scout out matches for Track inclusion five days in advance.    This FINAL  Amuricuh didn’t appear on my primary sched source because it doesn’t do TBD.  Phoenix played their Semfinal  four days ago.

But that’s the reason, not an excuse.  And at least it can be rectified now, hours before kickoff.

Louisville are the defending tournament champions.  In the Eastern Conference this year, they finished #B, well behind MLS-bound FC Cincinnati.  They get to host this one-off final.  No return to leg to Phoenix, this is it.    Phoenix Rising look becomes Phoenix Risen with an upset win.   Noob says upset because they finished 3rd in the West.

Phoenix conceded far fewer goals than many other Western clubs – including those that made the playoffs.  But they don’t play any better on that end than L’ville, and their hosts have more firepower.  Noob smells a title decided by penalty kicks, but on paper this is advantage reigning champs.   (8:00 PM, ESPN2).

RESULT:   Louisville    1-0        Hail to the champions!

Image result for close call soccer gif

 

Noob’er with the save!

 

If barely…

 

 

Thursday

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

The Conference Semifinals continue!  This is the second match of a two-legged tie.

The five-seed Portland won the first match 2-1 at their place.  This broke #B Seattle’s five-match win streak.  Noob has suggested this was a bad matchup for Portland.  Seattle’s offense had been playing their best ball of the season and defense is where Portland had often struggled.

That Timber defense did just enough to win.  Now we get to see if they can hold up on the road.  If they had a weakness, is up the middle some.  Expect to see Seattle run at defender New Zealander Bill Poni Tuiloma to try and get to and through veteran keeper Jeff Attinella.   (10:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Seattle   3-2       And they don’t use away-goals as a tiebreaker.  Still, congrats to Portland!   They won 6-8 on penalty kicks.

  1. Portugal vs. U.S.A. – women’s international friendly

The FIFA #1-ranked ladies head to Lisbon to face the 33rd-ranked team in the world.   They’ve only ever met six times and the U.S. has won all the matches.

With a win today, the USWNT will have it’s 500th-ever program win since forming in 1985.  They should get it by a goal or two, even on the road.   (1:00 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-1

Image result for America gif funny

 

Murican treasure Danny McBride is revved up for the game.

  1. Argentina vs. Panama – Women’s World Cup qualification playoff

Panama finished the CONCACAF World Cup qualification tournament in 4th place.  Only the top three finishers gained entry.  But Panama gets one last shot.  Like their men’s national team counterparts did last year, if the women get in, this will be their first WC ever.

Argentina finished 3rd in the Copa American Feminina, a South American tournament held once every four years.  The top two finishers qualified for WC.

This playoff is a two-legged tie, so they’ll play again on 11/13.  The teams are ranked #66 and #37 in the world, respectively.  Given the oft-seeming lack of parity in the women’s game, that difference is mammoth.  Expect Panama to win on the road outright.

RESULT:   Argentina   4-0     

Honorable Mention:   Congrats to Platense, winners of the Honduran Copa Presidente!   Noob was going to preview this match, but it was played yesterday.  My scouting had shown it slated for today.

  1. Vidi vs. PAOK – Europa League

Good thing Noob keeps back-up matches handy for such occasions.

This is Europe’s second-most prestigious international club tournament.  The Qualifying Rounds are done and the “event proper” – the Group Stage – is halfway complete.

Clubs have been divided into Groups of four each, playing double round robins.  Top two finishers in each will advance to the Knockout Stage.  And remember, the winner of the whole shebang gets an auto-pass into next year’s Champions League.

There are a slew of matches today.   Noob’s highlighting this Group L match because of how things sit in the table.  Chelsea have won all three of their matches and will not be caught.  But all three other teams are tied!

MOL Vidi qualified for the Champions League by being last year’s Hungarian top-flite winners.  They were knocked out in one of the later qualifying rounds by AEK Athens, and so have been dropped into this tournament.

PAOK were Greece’s runners-up last season.  They also qualified for Champions League, falling one win shy of making the Group Stage there.  Portugal’s Benfica housed them.

On paper, PAOK are the favorites by a fair bit.   They play out of UEFA’s 14th-ranked league compared to Hungary’s at #33.  In terms of Elo rating, the Greeks are 100 points more highly-rated.  They should probably win 5/8 of the time on a neutral pitch.

But this ain’t no neutral pitch.  More, Vidi won the first matchup in Greece, 0-2.

RESULT:   Vidi   1-0

Image result for harold and kumar at white castle

 

One of Noob’s dream’s is to own a White Castle in Vidi’s home city of Szekesfehevar.

It translates, of course, to “white castle”.

 

Wednesday

  1. CSKA Moscow vs. Roma – UEFA Champions League

Today’s slate of CL games may not quite match up with yesterday’s matches.   But Group G may be about to turn into a super-tight race if the home team

CSKA-Moscow were the runners-up in the Russian Premier League.  This is a stronger league than many realize, ranked #6 by UEFA.  They’re in 3rd, but just two points behind their visitors today and Real Madrid.

That all said, Roma are a lot better.  They finished 3rd in last year’s Serie A (#3 in UEFA).  Noob-fave for Elo ratings footballdatabase.com is back up, indicates a pretty be gulf between the two.  Even on the road, Roma should win this by goal or two.  The Soviet side just doesn’t score enough.

Roma won the first Group Stage matchup with CSKA-M 3-0.

RESULT:   Roma   1-2

Image result for funny Russian sportsCome to Moscow for the surprisingly decent soccer. 

Stay for the chessboxing.  Yep.

  1. Plaza de Amador vs. Costa del Este – Panama National League

One of Central America’s stronger leagues?   Nope.   Getting to know all our CONCACAF neighbors just the same?  Aww yeeeah.

One last round of matches and the Apertura is complete.   Noob’s sources are in conflict, sio I reserve the right to correct this after the fact 😊   What I believe is that the top six clubs all make the postseason tournament.  The top two will get byes.

CdE can lead #B Tauro by three, others by four or more.  They can do no worse than #B and will get a bye.  They haven’t won any more matches than several other teams, but have earned a lot of draws and suffered only two losses.

PdA are in a three-way tie for 3rd, lead the other two on tiebreaking goal differential.  none of them can finish worse than 5th, so they’re qualified for the postseason.  This is the league’s Small Ball club – they appear to pack it in on defense and not score much themselves.

RESULT:       Noob has no idea.   It now appears this may have been a Copa match.  it may be that it ended 0-0.  Or it may have been cancelled.   The entire Copa may have been cancelled according to one source I saw.  *shrug*

  1. CD Aguila vs. Alianza – El Salvador Premier

El Sllllllllavadoooohhhhhrrrrrr!   Always am compelled to get that out of my system.

This is a bit stronger of a league.  Top eight of 12 make the Apertura postseason tournament.  Here, they have four more matches to go.

These are the #3 and #B clubs.   Aguila has almost no chance to catch Alianza, are playing to maintain their current table position.  This is a pretty well-balanced club, though perhaps a bit soft on defense.

Alianza are just a point behind #1 Santa Tecla.  They’re better than balanced.  A- defense and A++ offense.  Noob knows that’s not a real thing, but you get the idea.   They’re going to win the Apertura.

RESULT:   Alianza   1-2

Image result for el salvador gif

 

El Salvador Jr. – Mexican luchador.

Yeah,. Noob doesn’t get that, either.

 

Tuesday

  1. Napoli vs. Paris Saint-Germain – UEFA Champions League

It’s the most prestigious club competition in all world football, Europe’s championship.  The early “qualifying” rounds are long since done now and the biggest teams have joined the qualifiers here in the Group Stage.   Here, we have eight Groups of four clubs each. Top two finishers advance to the bracketed Knockout Stage.

This is where Noob very much takes liberty with the Track’s mission statement.   There are many CL matches today and nearly all are more “important” than any others anywhere.  But fans who want info on every single match aren’t typically here.   Noob and Noobite we be, and I will filter.

The most interesting match today appears to be this one.  Why?  Because PSG are really, really good.  They’re blowing away everyone at home in Ligue 1.

And they’re in 3rd in this Group.  The idea of them not advancing to the next Round is borderline unthinkable.  Yet with half the double round robin complete, they trail Liverpool by three as well as being a point behind Napoli.

Napoli – Italy’s Serie A runners-up – aren’t quite as good on paper, but not far behind.   If they can hold serve at home and get a win, that puts PSG in a bad way.

PSG has been scoring like crazy, will try to push the pace.  Napoli’s been relying on defense so far, so ball control midfield should determine who can control the pace.    (3:00 PM, TNT)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for NBA on tnt crewNoob’s starting a petition to have the Charles & Co. do the Champions League!

Might be “turrible”, but so what.

B.  Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX Femenil

Three matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season).   These are Group One (of Two) #1 and #B.   Top four from each make the Liguilla (postseason tournament).  These two are already in, but Pachuca can pretty much wrap up the #1 seed with a win today.   They already have a three-point lead.

Both teams are very balanced, should maintain the top two seeds no matter how things go today.  #3 Toluca scores a ton but gives up too many to likely be a threat.

RESULT:   Pachuca   3-2

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

This is also a #1-#B matchup, but maybe not quite as dramatic.  UNAL lead the Guad Squad by seven.  A win would wrap up the top spot.

This is a bad matchup for the visitors.   They’re a touch better on defense, but can’t score compared to other top Group Two clubs.

RESULT:   Tigres   2-1