Noob is preparing to morph this project into largely exclusive coverage of the inaugural Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage. There will be joy.
In the meantime, please indulge in the D-Twos-Day Interviews. This was the final post in that category (Page on right for all of them).
Welcome, Noobites, to the final 2017 edition of D-Twos-Day Interview. Noob’s had the unparalleled pleasure of interviewing coaches and myriad figures from the part of the soccer world we most celebrate: North American second division leagues!
But one of them, the North American Soccer League, is on its last legs. They need our help! Inspired by the 80’s classic song that raised nearly $150M in 2017-adjusted dollars to aid famine relief in Africa, Noob has gotten together an all-star cast to record a new version of”We Are the World”.
Thank you to all the surviving artists involved with the original for joining us. Special thanks to Dominic Kinnear for not breaking out mid-song into any Rush classic.
And no, Noob has no idea how this will help. But it WILL. And if you don’t get this, go back and check out all the great Interviews! The segment returns in 2018.
Lionel Richie:There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When D-2 must come together as one. Paul Simon: A tier-two league is dying
And it’s time to lend a hand to NASL Paul, Kenny Rogers: A soccer gift for all.
Noob: Noob can’t go on pretending day by day
That somehow, some way it’s gonna get saved Tina Turner:We’re all a part of D-2’s big family Billy Joel:And the truth, you know, Noob, Tina, Billy: Is this is all we neeeeeeeed
Choir:We are D-2. We are the coaches
We are the fans, the concerned parties
So let’s keep singing Diana Ross:It’s a choice we’re making
It’s not just USL Diana Ross and NASL federal case judge Margo K. Brodie: It takes both leagues to make a better day
Just wait and seeeeeee!
Puerto Rico FC head coach Marco Velez: Thought Noob was my tio, but now I call him Noober
And our lives together are stronger and free Willie Nelson: As we have shown you, by calling him “asshat” Willie and Marco Velez: We’re strong. And nothing can defeat us now! (background: Cyndi Lauper – “but Miami FCeeeeeeee!)
Edmonton FC head coach Colin Miller: Called him the C-word – in Scottish Gaelic
But he mailed me booze, 30 years old
Turns out Noob’s no dick!
(background: Noob – “Could we find a way to rephrase that please?)
New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso: D-2 status be damned
Noob agrees with me
It’s true we should just care
L.A. Galaxy asst. coach Dominic Kinnear: When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all Huey Lewis: But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall Cyndi Lauper: Well, well, well! Let’s realize that a change can only come Huey, Cyndi, Kim Carnes, and OKC Energy ‘Grid’ fan club prez Joseph Pugh: When we stand together as one!
(Joseph Pugh cont.: “WOOO!! Do it, Nooner!)
Choir: They went dark-arts, went Santeria
Burned rabbit bones and burned Pele’s jock
To save our leaaaaague! Incoming USL club owner Bobby Jones:Noob hates my teams’ name – boring Austin FC. Jacksonville Armada owner Robert Palmer: At least he didn’t think you were a reincarnated pop-rock arteeeeest.
Choir: We are the fans, the concerned parties
So let’s keep singing
It’s a choice we’re making
It’s not just USL.
It takes both leagues to make a better day
Just wait and seeeeeee!
Fridays tend to be a little lighter for soccer scheds around the world. So we pack our bags and hit the tarmac! Let’s Trot – learn some Fun Facts about teams and leagues from far and wide.
As always, we start close to home, then expand our soccer horizons.
Atlanta United II vs. North Carolina FC – United Soccer League
Welcome to the only high-end match in America. No MLS today, but do get one second-tier game.
ATL2 is down in 14th in the Eastern Conference. For all the success Atlanta’s MLS side is having, their reserve team is lousy.
North Carolina is one of the USL clubs Noob has a soft spot for. They moved over from the almost seemingly-defunct North American Soccer League. To know why, please check out the Interviews D-Twosday page on this site. Those are a gas, and so unreal you’ll hardly believe they’re believable. Yup! That came out right.
Anywho, NCFC is in 10th place. Not scintillating, except a little when you remember each conference gets it’s top eight into the Playoffs. They’re only three points out of 8th.
There’s a massive gulf in the table between ATL2 and those below and everyone else. NC probably wins by a goal or two here on the road.
RESULT: NC 1-6 Not a typo. Cameroonian forward Ulrich Donovan Ewolo has four goals.
B. Puebla vs. CF America – Liga MX
They’re about halfway through the Apertura (first half-season) in Mexico. Unsurprisingly, CFA is near the top (3rd). Puebla are in 10th. They’re likely better than that and will climb. They win a lot but almost never draw, which is painful in the table.
RESULT: CF America 2-3 Puebla lead twicebefore giving up the winning score at 90′. And CFA had even just lost a man to a red card at 88′.
Can’t tell if Number B is mildly scolding or in pain, a la Puebla.
Necaxa vs. Monterrey – Liga MX Femenil
Little Billy Donovan from Springfield writes:
Dear Mr. Noob,
Why do you list the Mexican men’s league before the women’s? My mom says it’s because you’re a misogynistic – well, she’ll wash my mouth out with soap if I use the word she did.
Billy, thanks for writing in. Wait, how did you know Noob would — know what? Never mind.
But since you’re writing, wouldn’t your mom just end up harmlessly washing your hand if you wrote the bad word she did? Also, she sounds like quite the hypocrite, and you can tell her Noob said so. I’ll bet she’s not even hot.
When Noob featured matches from both leagues in the same Track, I list first whichever match is more intriguing and/or features teams that are collectively higher in their table.
Necaxa are in last in their Group. (The league is divided into two.) Monterrey are in 4th, need to climb two spots to make the Playoffs. That quest moves forward today. Visitors by a couple, easy.
RESULT: Monterrey 0-2
Wydad Casablanca vs. ES Setif – CAF Champions League
Africa’s version is in its Quarterfinals, where each matchup is a two-legged, home-and-away affair.
Noob Tracked the first leg not long back, and ES Setif took care of business at home with a 1-0 win. Now it’s the defending champions’ turn to host. Based on their ELO ratings (thank you, footballdatabase.com), Noob figures Wydad is easily a goal favorite at their own place, probably a 3:2 favorite with take it by two goals and advance.
RESULT: 0-0 And so the champs are OUT. ES Setif moves on to the Semis.
Apparently, Wydad supporter’s know or assume Gerard Butler is a supporter, too.
Cork City vs. Dundalk – League of Ireland Premier
It’s the pair of clubs longer-tenured Noobites knew would be at the top at the end, if not the order.
Defending champs Cork City are down seven points in the table. They need a win today or the race is over. Since it’s on their pitch, that’s more likely than not to happen. But only by a tiny bit. Dundalk have the advantage of only needing to play for a draw. And they’re better on both sides of the ball, really put it all together this season.
Fun Fact: Cork City are supporter-owned, by FORAS. It stands for Friends of the Rebel Army and is Irish for “development”.
RESULT: Dundalk 0-1 While it’s not a mathematical certainty, Noob’s ready to call the league finished! Congrats to the fighting ‘Dalks! I’m sure that’s their nickname…
HJK vs. RoPS – Finland Veikkausliga
It’s all but over in Finalnd as well. HJK lead #B RoPS by nine with just a few matches left to play. These two play very good if not quite great D. The difference has been HJK scores nearly twice a game on average while RoPS is only average in that department. Today is probably coronation day for the defending titleholders.
RESULT: HJK 3-0 Give HJK another crown!
For about two seconds, Noob didn’t notice this was a split image.
Yup. Thought HJK fielded a giant.
Zalgiris Vilnius vs. Suduva – Lithuania A Lyga
This league isn’t quite a true summer one like the above two, is only about 2/3 of the way through. And the title race is closer. Suduva won last year narrowly over ZV, and the margin is about the same now.
Still, ZV at home is the play if you’re such a gambling addict that Lithuanian soccer is part of your fix. Degenerate!
Fun Fact: Zalgiris’ supporters group are Pietų IV. Noob has no idea how to begin to pronounce that.
RESULT: ZV 1-0
Al-Wahda vs. Al-Wasl – Arabian Gulf League
This is the top league in United Arab Emirates. They’re just a couple matches into the season. These were last year’s #B and #3 squads. Wasl will have to accelerate on offense a little more to play for a second-place spot. They’ll need a miracle to surpass Al-Ain. Both would.
RESULT: Al-Wahda 4-1
Al-Wahda are nicknamed “Excellencies”.
Ooh la la!
Here is your rrrroast. Duck, Al-Wahda.
Partizani Tirana vs. Flamutari – Albania Super Liga
Partizani finished 5th last season. Normally that would get you squat, but perennial powerhouse Skenderbeu Korce got hit with a record ten-year ban from international play by UEFA. That moved the tournament invitations down a rung in table each, so allowed P.T. to eke into Europa League. Where they got skunked over two matches in the first qualifying round.
If you’d like to know a little more about the S.K. match-fixing nawteeness, Noob recommends checking out Bros Talking Soccer, podcast episode 90. The question comes at the 35’, but why not listen to the whole thing? One of only three podcasts on which I spend time. Look, they’re Bros. They talk. And it’s about soccer. In this day and age, it’s hard to find such transparency in the offering! Muy bueno.
Oh yeah, Flamutari was 6th last year. OK.
Fun Fact: Brostalkingsoccerpodcast.com is the website where Noobites can get mucho info.
RESULT: Tirana 2-0
Go Ahead Eagles vs. Jong Ajax – Netherlands Eerste Divisie
Noob finishes our ‘Trotting Track in the Netherlands second division! Both teams this very early season are high enough in the table to be in the Promotion conversation. Jong (Young) Ajax are disallowed though, as reserve teams there can’t move up to top flite.
Only the top finisher will move up automatically. GHE are #B, which places them atop the spots that will qualify for the postseason Promotion playoffs. They’re leading the league in offense, and Noob considers them to easily be a goal favorite today.
RESULT: Eagles 2-1
So long from the Toy Museum, Deventer — home of Go Head Eagles!
The Midweek Edition Track finishes with two more matches for Thursday.
There’s not much in the way of preview for the matches proper. But you’ll learn about two brand spanking new tournaments themselves. Enough to get you through high-end water cooler-level chat.
Germany vs. France – UEFA Nations League
“Nations League. Here I thought I was really starting to know club and national team football around the globe. But I’ve never heard of this league! You have failed all Noobites. You are a scalawag, cretinous yahoo, ne’er-do-well. You are declared outlaw!”
Outlaw as adjective originally meant living outside the law. People could do anything to you with no consequences, including murdering you. So why don’t we hold up and give ol’ Noober a chance to explain.
Perhaps I should’ve mentioned this tournament before, given you a heads up. This is a new biennial tournament. All 55 member teams of UEFA have been divided into four leagues, based on their UEFA rankings (as of pre-2018 World Cup Group Stage). Those leagues, in turn, are subdivided into four smaller groups. Within each Group, they’ll play standard home-and-away double-round robin format.
Example: League A is the top 12 teams in UEFA. The four Groups within League A are relatively even cross-sections in terms of ranking.
The Group Stage games are now through November. The winners of each Group in League A will play for the Nations League championship. That bracketed stage will be in June of next year, location TBD.
Leagues B, C, and D will not have their own bracketed championships. Their journeys end with the Group matches. However, the Group winners get Promoted to the next highest League for the next incarnation of this tournament in two years. The poorest Group performers are Relegated in turn.
The Perceived Good: This event is largely replacing intra-European “friendlies”, provide more competitive matches. Also, this event will serve as another qualifying means for national teams to make the 2020 European Championships. It’s an extra chance for smaller/weaker teams to perhaps get in.
The Critique: This is an extra chance for smaller/weaker teams to qualify for the 2020 European Championships.
Noob’s not going to delve into the particulars of this event as qualifier for the Euros. There are other sites for that. The self-assigned job here is to make you aware of basics. So go, be free! Use your Google machine powers to learn finer details. Noob will, too, in time.
Today’s Track’ed Match:
Germany and defending World Cup champions France are UEFA-ranked 4th and 5th, respectively, as of today. Noob phrases is that way because UEFA used the rankings as of right before World Cup Group Stage began to seed all the teams for this event. These two were 1st and 5th-ranked at that time.
Either way it’s two of the best teams in the world. Though yes, Germany struggled at WC. Here stateside, we can watch it on Univision Deportes at 2:45 PM EST with great joy.
Hopefully this spares Noob a mob lynching, you rascally animals.
Dominica vs. Suriname – 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League qualification
Yup! This tournament is new, too. It doesn’t truly start until next year. This is a qualifying tournament. As such, Noob will keep things even simpler about the whole thing for now.
The top six-ranked national teams in CONCACAF have already automatically qualified for actual Nations League next year.
34 of the 35 other member nations’ teams play in this qualification event (Guatemala are nawtee, suspended). They are divided into four Pots, based on rankings. Each team will play four matches, two home and two away. Each team will play one match against a team from each Pot.
All the teams’ results will be in just one aggregate table. The top six finishers will qualify for Nations League A, joining the six teams that auto-qualified, as mentioned earlier. The other teams will be divided in half, into League B and League C.
(The CONCACAF Nations League is a qualifying event of its own, putting teams into something called CONCACAF Gold Cup, which in turn qualifies teams for the FIFA Confederations Cup. Interestingly, the top ten finishers from this qualification event being played now automatically qualify for Gold Cup regardless of how they do in Nations League. Oy veh.)
Today’s Track’ed Match:
These two are ranked 25th (Pot C) and 12th (Pot B) in CONCACAF. They’re #177 and #153 in all FIFA. Should be a pretty even matchup since is in Dominca.
The match is actually being held in Guadeloupe, not Dominica. Curious.
So long from Les Abymes, Point au Pitre, Guadeloupe!
NYCFC vs. New England – Major League Soccer
NYCYC have won just once their last six outings. They’re settling into the #3 seed in the East as the regular season approaches its final stretch.
New England now sit in 8th, five points out of the sixth and final playoff berth in their conference. That they can still even smell the postseason as a mathematical possibility is a testament to how improved they’d appeared in the season’s first half. They just got a draw at home against a solid Portland side, but that’s now nine straight matches and no victories.
NYCFC will be missing goal-scoring leader Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. He’s on international duty this week, as are several of his club teammates. He is Libyan by birth, but Noob presumes is with the Austrian national team now, as he holds citizenship there. (7:00 PM EST, ESPN+)
RESULT: Revs 0-1
Speaking of international duty, did this mascot-guy just get vomited out after finally agreeing to go to Ninevah?
Oaxaca vs. Morelia – Copa MX
Noobites can find a bit about the format below in the Tuesday Copa match mini-preview.
Guadalajara has already advanced as this Group’s winner, with ease.
Liga MX side Morelia lead the Ascenso’s Oaxaca by two points in the table. Morelia only need a draw to finish #B in the table, but only a draw almost certainly still leaves them out of the next Round. Even a win for Oaxaca probably leaves them among the bottom two Group runners-up and out of this tournament.
Both sides have been scuffling in their respective league seasons, sitting midtable. Morelia likely takes this one by a goal on the road. (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)
RESULT: 1-1 And with that, both teams are eliminated.
Indy Eleven vs. NYRB II – United Soccer League
Former NASL-side Indy are tied for 5th in the East, two points up on NYRB. The top eight from each conference make the Postseason.
Indy doesn’t score much, have stayed afloat with a lot of draws. Red Bulls’ reserve squad have even more draws. That’s surprising, given that they play such a wide-open style, eschewing defense almost entirely.
RESULT: Indy 3-0 Evgeni Starikov with two goals, and Indy climbs to 4th place.
Is it just Noob, or does this look like an entrance to kinda nowhere?
Internacional vs. Flamengo – Brazil Serie A
It’s #B and #3 in South America’s best domestic league!
Internacional trail only Gremio in defensive prowess, haven’t allowed a goal in seven consecutive matches. That said, they’ve only achieved draws in their last two games.
Flamengo are more balanced. They’re coming off a sleepy home loss to newly-promoted, weak Ceara. (8:00 PM, GOL TV)
RESULT: Internacional 2-1 The winners now lead the entire league, while Flamengo drops to 4th place.
U.S.A. vs. Chile – international friendly
Déjà vu all over again. They played a few days ago, are now back to battle today. Noob guesses Chile have been training in – perhaps even with – the USWNT. The Americans won the first one 3-0 in Carson (L.A.). Tonight, they play in San Jose.
Fun Fact: The San Jose Earthquakes played a friendly last night against Chile’s children’s Special Olympic side and lost 0-14. SJ were not sandbagging, by all accounts.
Pardon the interruption, this is The Management. I apologize on behalf of Noob. We’re not even sure they have Special Olympics in Chile. Said friendly did not occur.
And if it had, a more likely score would be 1-14. The ‘Quakes wouldn’t get shut out completely at home.
*gasp* The Management, throwing shade on San Jose! Is Noob dreaming? (10:00 PM EST, ESPN2)
RESULT: USA 4-0 Carli Lloyd with a pair in the second half
B. Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC – National Women’s Soccer League
Three of the four Playoff teams are set. Two regular season matches to go for #4 Chicago. They’re two points up on Utah and Houston.
One of Noob’s primary sources indicates Houston is already eliminated though. That feels unlikely, even given head-to-heads are the first tiebreaking criterion.
And since they’re playing winless Sky Blue, a Chicago result and postseason berth seem likely.
Aaaaand then they’ll get slaughtered by the world’s best women’s team, North Carolina Courage in the Playoffs.
RESULT: Chicago 5-0 Alyssa Mautz with the first two goals
Number B, expressing the carnage that awaits Chicago or Utah in the postseason.
Zacatecas vs. Queretaro – Copa MX
They’re also down to the last match in each of the three-team Groups in this opening stage of the Apertura (first half-season) Copa in Mexico. All nine winners will advance, plus seven of the runners-up.
Second-division Clausura regular season champs Zacatecas trail Queretaro and Leon by three points. So Los Mineros have to win today just to get tiebreakers into it. Leon has played all their matches already, so three-way tie. Go, Minnows!
Zacatecas are having trouble scoring, even as they win games so far this year in Ascenso MX. Queretaro should be at least a one-goal favorite on the road today. They’re near the top of the Liga MX table themselves.
RESULT: Queretaro 1-2
Netherlands vs. Norway – UEFA women’s World Cup qualification
The Group Stage is down to its last matches here, too. The winners of all seven qualify for 2019 WC. The four best runners-up will have a Playoff for one more berth.
In Group 3, these are your top two and no one else can catch them. They’ve outscored opponents 21-0 and 0-3 and are FIFA-ranked #9 and #14, respectively. Nothing appears guaranteed for whichever team finishes #B in the group.
Now, check out this mockumentary done by Norwegian women’s national team. I’m sure is the current team, but regardless, this is priceless.
Fridays tend to run a little light for soccer scheduling the world over, so this our opportunity to explore the footyball world! As always, Noob starts off at and close to home. Then, we check our bags tarmac-side and jetset off to locations the world over! Let’s expand our horizons, Noobites.
Ottawa Fury vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies – United Soccer League
Major League Soccer isn’t back post-All-Star break until tomorrow, so today we have just a pair of division two matches in the homeland. This one is a bit heavier in playoff implications.
The top eight in each conference will make the postseason. These two are tied for 9th and tied for 11th, respectively. Noob’s particularly intrigued for two reasons: 1) Based on goal differential, these two ought to be switched places in the table. B) They’re two of the clubs from North American Soccer League. The one-time co-second division league cancelled it’s 2018 season after not getting DII sanctioning from USSF, and currently is targeting a 2020 return to action.
Fun Fact: When their current stadium was behind in completion, Ottawa competed at Carleton College.
RESULT: Ottawa 2-0 The Fury climb into a tie for 7th
B. Atlas vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX
After finishing 8th and making the postseason Liguilla in the 2017-18 Apertura (first half-season), they sunk to 15th and sported the worst defense in the league in the Clausura.
UNAM went completely the other direction, going from last place to 7th by improving their offense a ton. They’ve won their first to matches of 2018-19, too. (10:00 PM EST, Univision Deportes)
RESULT: Pumas 0-3 Atlas was down to ten men after a red card 20′ in
Number B knows Atlas are “The Foxes”.
And that Number Two must go down HARD.
Waterford vs. Cork City – League of Ireland Premier
Eire’s is a two-horse race and has been for some time. Cork trail Dundalk by just a point in the table as they hit the home stretch of their season. They can’t afford a slip before playing the league leaders later this month, and this is the most like match where that could happen.
Waterford had a great run the first half of the season, but have fallen back to a distant 3rd. Two clubs will get Europa League berths, though. The Irish Blues are in line for one now, but Noob thinks Shamrock Rovers will overtake them.
Fun Fact: Waterford the crystal-making company makes the NCAA college football trophy.
RESULT: 1-2 Cork Waterford scores first, but Cork triumphs.
Reading vs. Derby County – EFL Championship
If these teams are of the same relative strengths as last season, this may not be a “big” match. But England’s second division league is probably in the top 15 in Europe in strength. And Derby Co. finished 6th last season, making the Promotion Playoffs. Meanwhile, reading finished 20th, not far above the Relegation line.
This is the first league match of the season. Welcome back, British footyball!
RESULT: Derby Co. 1-2 Derby Co with the winner in the 90′
Fun Fact: This company was originally based in Reading, and so the football team were known as “The Biscuit Men”.
Hamburger SV vs. Holstein Kiel – 2. Bundesliga
Germany’s second-tier kicks off today as well. Hamburger was demoted last season from the top league, while H.K. made the Promotion Playoffs before losing at the end and having to stay down. Holstein led this league in offense last year, scoring over 70 goals.
Fun – Unless You’re an HSV Supporter – Fact: This marks the first time HSV has played anywhere but the top Bundesliga. There was rioting and stuff.
RESULT: Holstein Kiel 0-3
Dynamo Kyiv vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – Ukraine Premier
Last year’s #B and #1 faced off in the domestic Super Cup just days ago. Kyiv won that glorified friendly, but now things are for real as league plays begins. A little more offense and Kyiv could’ve perhaps taken the title last year.
Since this – the 8th-ranked league in Europe – gets two Champions League berths, one might think it doesn’t matter which one wins. It matters. They want hardware.
RESULT: Dynamo 1-0
Fun Fact: During the Soviet era, Dinamo Kyiv (not another Moscow team) was Spartak Moscow’s greatest rival.
Huracan vs. Atletico Tucuman – Copa Argentina
This is a Round of 32 match in Argentina’s knockout-formatted FA tournament.
These two finished last year’s Primera league season #4 and #15. Their offensive and defensive numbers were very similar, though, so this should be an exquisite matchup. The winner will get either fellow top-leaguers Newell’s Old Boys or a third division team in the next round.
Stinky Fact: One of Huracan’s nicknames is “The Burners”, since the current stadium is built on a former garbage-burning site.
RESULT: Tucuman 0-2
Troyes vs. Brest –France Ligue 2
Back to Europe! Troyes was kicked out of the French top flite after finishing second-to-last. Brest finished 5th in this league, getting to play in the Promotion playoff. The two teams that were Promoted were light years better on offense then everyone else, but Brest excelled to a degree in that regard as well.
RESULT: Brest 0-2
Fun Fact: The city of Troyes is home to the Lacoste clothing and fashionwear company.
Floridsdorfer vs. Kapfenberger – Austrian 2. Bundesliga
The other white schnitzel – Austria’s Bundesligas. OK, maybe that doesn’t make sense. Noob acknowledges it before The Management interrupts to call me out.
This league has been expanded from 10 to 16 teams this season. As the season begins today, this is the one matchup involving two teams that were both in this league last season. They finished 8th and 9th. Floridsdorfer may really have been the worst team in the league, statistically, but no one got Relegated, so oh well!
Fun Fact: Floridsdorfer is the northernmost district of Vienna. it is a comparatively rural area, being composed of previously unconnected villages.
RESULT: Kapfenberger 0-2
Dinamo Tbilisi vs. Rustavi – Georgia Erovnuli Liga
We finish today’s Track in Georgia’s best league, though it ranks just 46 of 55 in UEFA. It’s what Friday’s are for!
As one might expect, only the winner will get an invitation to Champions League (and just the First Qualifying Round at that). Dinamo is #B, just five points out of 1st just over halfway through the season. Saburtalo Tbilisi aren’t any better on GD, so this should be a dandy of a second half race.
RESULT: Dinamo 1-0
So long from Tbilisi, Georgia!
The Bridge of Peace connects the old and new city districts.
Monday, Noob will not fight you. Never have, never will. Instead, I embrace your dark side.
Join me, Noobites, in getting to know some teams that are about to get Departed from their current league. May they rest in peace in lower leagues.
But first, three non-Relegation matches of varying import —
Penn FC vs. Ottawa Fury – USL
If the U.S. had promotion/relegation, these two would be candidates to go down to the third tier.
Penn FC are the previously-named Harrisburg City Islanders. Rebranding, meh. Spend time scouting some players who can score instead. (Five goals in seven games) You’re in 13th.
Ottawa is one of the NASL clubs that have moved over this season from that currently non-operational league. They stunk there, they stink in USL. Last place. They’re offense makes Penn’s look hyoooooj. (Two goals in six games)
So why Track it? Honestly? Because it’s the only U.S. match at either of the top two levels today. Muricuh!
Noobstradamus Sees: Penn 1-0, in front of a crowd of dozens. Rebranding, haha.
RESULT: Ottawa 0-1 Game-winner scored in the 87′
Soooo much Muricuh it’s blinding.
B. Al-Sadd vs. Al Ahli – AFC Champions League
The Group Stage survivors now begin the knockout Round of 16.
Al-Sadd finished #B in their Group. They also finished #B in Qatar’s top-flight league (#3-ranked in Asia) and won the nation’s FA Cup. Al Ahli finished #B in the Saudi Premier (#7-ranked).
Noobstradamus Sees: 2-2 Al Ahli are better, but Al-Sadd has been scoring like on a pinball machine.
RESULT: Al-Sadd 2-1
Number B, retro-cool
Besiktas vs. Kayserispor – Turkey Super League
Europe’s most dramatic league finish is in Turkey. The top three clubs are separated by just three points.
#4 Besiktas have played one fewer matches than the leaders, can move within a point of #B/#3 with a win today. #8 Kayserispor have overachieved to even be that high in the table.
Noobstradamus Sees: The home Black Eagles winning 3-1.
RESULT: Besiktas 2-0
Anzhi Makhachkala vs. FK Akhmat – Russia Premier
Makhachkala are in a precarious position with just one league match to play.
In this 16-team league, they are tied for 14th (ahead on GD). The bottom two will be automatically relegated. The next two play in a Relegation Playoff for a chance to stay in Premier.
Noobstradamus Sees: #11 Akhmat getting the road win, 1-2. The hosts can’t defend worth a lick.
RESULT: Akhmat 0-2
Fun Fact: Anhzi means “pearl” in a somewhat local Turkic language
Speaking of no defense…
Pacos de Ferreira vs. Rio Ave – Primeira Liga
It’s a party at the bottom of Portugal’s top-flight table– there’s a three-way tie for last! PdF have the best chance of avoiding The Boot though, as they have two matches to play. Their peers are down to just one.
The bad news is that Rio Ave is #5 in the league, play the best defense outside of the league’s runaway top four.
Noobstradamus Sees: Rio Ave 0-2
Fun Fact: PdF are “the Beavers”.
Sepsi OSK vs. Concordia Chiajna – Romania Liga I
Chiajna are in third-to-last place. Whichever club finishes in that spot will play the 3rd-place team from Liga II for the right to be in Liga I next season. Sepsi are two points up the table. This league has several matches still to play, and things at the bottom are tight.
Noobstradamus Sees: Chiajna 0-2 Sepsi returns to their woeful offense-ways after a stretch of decent football.
RESULT: Chiajna 0-2 See, Noobstradamus sees all! Well, some. A little…
Fun Fact: Chiajna is really three villages, with a combined pop. of less than 9000.
Etar vs. Pirin Blagoevgrad – Bulgaria First Pro League
Bulgaria’s Relegation system is so unnecessarily drawn out. Noob started to spell it all out here, but it was dizzying.
Here’s the need-to-know. The worst four teams now play in a bracketed Relegation Playoff. these are two of those. They will be joined in the end by the #B and #3 Liga II teams. Win two games, you’re saved. Otherwise, demoted.
Noobstradamus Sees: Stars, and a spinning room. Bulgaria, clean this crap up.
RESULT: Etar 2-1
Fun Fact: No Fun Fact for you, Bulgaria! Clean. This. Up.
Sirius vs. Orebro – Sweden Allsvenskanliga
This summer league is just beginning. Still, Sirius is near the bottom, trying to ramp up their league-worst offense. Orebro are in 5th, one of three still-undefeated teams.
Noobstradamus Sees: Orebro 0-2
RESULT: Orebro 2-4
Fun Fact: IK Sirius is also the name of a bandy club, bandy being basically ice hockey, but with a ball. Noob’s sirius.
Banfield vs. Chacarita Juniors – Argentina Premier
All four sides to be Relegated here are already determined. So long “Undertakers”. What a weird nickname, Chacarita. (6:00 PM Eastern, TyC Sports International)
Noobstrdamus Sees: 0-0 Banfield are below average themselves.
Fun Fact: The shortest word you can play in Scrabble using all the letters in “Chacarita” is “tachycardia”.
RESULT: Banfield 2-1
Johor Darul Ta’zim II vs. Sarawak FA – Indonesia Premier
They’re only about ten games into the season, but JDT II have got to start scoring if they’re going to get their first win of the year. Sarawak are mid-table.
Noobstradamus Sees: …you surprised to find out that despite the “Premier” name, this is not Malaysia’s top league! That would be their “Super League”. This doubles as the Fun Fact.
Around the Western World in 10 Games! The weekend’s first evening is usually a little light, but here are your still pretty solid matchups —
1. Arsenal vs. Leicester City – English Premier League
The Premiere is back! I may be Noob, but even I know to get excited.
I started tracking soccer – just a little – two seasons ago, towards the end of Leicester’s championship campaign. I now understand just how much of a breath of fresh air it was, as the league is normally dominated by seven particular teams, and Leicester ain’t one.
B. Atlas vs. America – Liga MX
And it’s a matchup of two top half teams from last season’s Clausura (second half! Nooooooooob learningness), this should be the more competitive of the this league’s offerings this date.
3. Stade Rennes vs. Lyon – Ligue 1
Lyon just missed out on making this year’s UEFA Champion’s League last season, finishing 4th. Stade Rennes was a top half club.
4. Edmonton vs. NY Cosmos – North American Soccer League
NASL is the much smaller Tier Two League, compared to USL, and so their postseason only has four teams. The fabled Cosmos finished third in the leagues Spring Season, and so is in decent position to perhaps finish with one of the two best overall non-division champion records and get in the playoff mix. Edmonton, Canadia should fall to them, even at home.
5. Zulte-Waregem vs. Brugge – Belgian Jupiler League
Last season’s #2 hosts #3.
UEFA ranks’s Belgiums’s top flite league as 8th best on the continent, right behind surprising-to-me-is-this-high Russia and surprisingly-low-to-me Portugal.
6. Ballymena vs. Crusaders – Northern Irish Premiership
Crusaders were the only team to seriously challenge Linfield last season for this group’s Champions League slot. But like Crusaders, Ballymena also got into the Europa League, with a 4th place finish.
7. Bangor City vs. T.N.S. – Welsh Premier
The New Saints lapped the field last season, though have already lost in the early stages of the 2017-18 Champions League. Bangor City finished 4th and achieved a Europa League slot.
8. America de Cali vs. Deportivo Cali – Copa Colombia
The battle for Santiago de Cali is on! This semifinal FA Cup match is the second of the two-legged tie. Deportivo leads 1-0 on aggregate.
9. FCI Tallinn vs. Levadia Tallinn – Estonian Meistriliiga
This league’s top four teams are all from Tallinn. This matchup features #3 and #4.
10. Maribor vs. Donzale – Slovenian Prva Liga
Maribor is the superpower of this league, should handle last season’s #4 squad easily.
Hello, and welcome to what will be the start of an exciting, shared educational football adventure. Even though I’m new to soccer and, yes, American, I can tell you what games around the world are important to watch. And so much more. No autobiographical foreplay, that will come in time. Let’s just push in soccer balls deep.
1. Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution – MLS
Why? Amuricuh, that’s why!
2. Leon vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX
It’s the least-crappy looking match, and The Management can actually watch some of these league matches on TV.
3. San Francisco vs. New York Cosmos – NASL
The SF Deltas will one day rule the Tier Two landscape! They are an adopted team of Avis and The Management. The Management may not feel similarly, but I will persuade The Management, despite my utter lack of leverage.
4. Saint Louis vs. Swope Park Rangers – USL
Rumor has it The Management used to do stuff at non-soccer stuff at Swope Park. Another adopted Tier Two team.
5. North Carolina Courage vs. Seattle Reign – NWSL
If the Lifetime Network not only airs but buys ownership stake in a league, the Noob is following. Even if he’s wondering if the halftime show will still vilify men in some cheaply dramatic way.
6. Kashima Antlers vs. Vissel Kobe Japanese (blow) – J-League
Japan is a league I’m highlighting for reasons The Management may or may not wish to make clear in time.
7. Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich – German Super Cup
At Dortmund. They probably call this something other the other than “German Super Cup”, even in translation. I’ve learned Super Cups in various nations match up the previous season’s top flite league winner with the last Football Association Cup winner. Given that this is a lead-in match for the regular season, I honestly have no clue if these teams will care, play anything but third stringers. But it’s Super!
8. Benifica vs. Guimares – Portuguese Super Cup
In Aveiro (neutral). See #7. I also like the city name. Portuguese tends to invert the I before E-rule I grew up with in the greatest nation on Earth, so I find that exotic and sexy.
9. Feyenoord Rotterdam vs. Vitesse – Dutch Super Cup
@ Feyenoord. The Dutch also have cool vowel clumpings. So hawt.
10. Kaizer Chiefs vs. SuperSport – MTN 8 Cup
Looks like a South African knockout tournament similar to MLS Cup, but I don’t know if it determines their league championship or if it’s more of a stand-alone. Because I’m noooob!