’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/22) – NWSL championship leads the way!

So what IS Noob?  I am Noob.  This site is Noob.   Most importantly, Noob is of two main facets:

Bringing Noobites the ten most important matches to follow, from the perspective the (well, a) newish American fan of the global game.

Noob also fancies himself to be the Sunday comics section to the rest of the more mainstream, serious soccer sites out there.  Even if it’s closer to just old Farside than any other strips.

Now, feast on a kick-ass slate of matches today!

  1. Portland Thorns vs. North Carolina Courage – National Women’s Soccer League

American women’s soccer fans, the Final you deserve is here.   Regular season #B hosts #1!   Some places might have NC listed first as the top seed, but they’re playing it in Portland because of Florence.

Portland’s Lindsey Horen was just announced as league’s Player of the Year, having finished 3rd in scoring.  NC’s Lynn Williams was runner-up in that category.  Both also sport top-notch attacking passers.

Noob thinks the difference-maker for Portland will have to be secondary scorer Christine Sinclair.  Two goals with one being by her and the Thorns will hoist the trophy.   Otherwise, the one-loss superpower Courage win.   (4:30 PM EST, Lifetime)

RESULT:   Courage   0-3       Hail to the victors!    Jessica McDonald with a pair of scores.

B.  Atlanta United vs. Real Salt Lake – Major League Soccer

League-leaders in putting points on the board, Atlanta look to extend their four-point lead in the Eastern Conference.  Meanwhile, RSL lead the Noob in riling me UP.

Original owner Dave Ricketts decided when the club was formed to tie into a club that doesn’t suck (Real Madrid).  Never mind that Madrid get to be royal because of a king’s patronage.  Rickett’s is a JetBlue board member, which is anything but monarchal in the corporate world.

Oh yeah, and they’re 5th in the West.  It’s a good matchup.  But RSL needs to lose for Noob’s belief in an omni-benevolent god in the universe to be confirmed.   (7:00 PM, ESPN+)

RESULT:   ATL   2-0

Image result for Letter B holy

 

 

 

Number B – straightening Noob out on the whole omni-benevolent God-matter.

  1. Montreal Impact vs. NYCFC – Major League Soccer

Noob’s been writing of late that Montreal have been recently and surprisingly frisky.   Turns out, they made their big move in June and early July.   We live, we learn, Noobites.  They’re in 6th, and top eight will make the Playoffs.

NYCFC are somehow still in 3rd, despite not having won a match in five weeks.  They’re in no danger of dropping out of the playoffs this late in the regular season.  But it’s looking like they need some kind of shock to the system to get them moving back up toward a top-two seed.   That wold mean multiple postseason home matches.  (7:30 PM, ESPN+)

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Manchester United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – English Premier League

No two teams from the table’s top are battling today in the PL, but we do get a match with two teams in strange positions.

Man Utd. have won three in a row, though that only pulls them up into 8th place.  And those victories were over two bad league teams and an overmatched Swiss side in the Champions League.

Wolverhampton have also had three wins a row, also over weaker competition (two poor PL sides and a second-division team in the EFL Cup).  They didn’t allow a goal to any of them, either.

All considered, it’s about impossible to not consider the evergreen powerhouse that is Man U the favorites.  Wolverhampton have seen some early success after having been Promoted, but they have to score more than a single goal per match to keep it up.

RESULT:   1-1     Or maybe one per game can keep you afloat!   On a side note, Man Utd’s goal was scored by “Fred”.   Yup.  Just Fred.

Image result for wolverhampton wanderers funny

 

 

Feel about it how you will, Wolvers, Noob calls it as seen.

  1. Toluca vs. Necaxa – Liga MX

Another league dear to our hearts that isn’t featuring a 1-B matchup or anything close.  But we have what I have called a “Hiccup Watch”.

Toluca is 5th here in the Apertura (first half-season).  Top eight make the Playoffs.  By table position, Necaxa should be toast on the road.

Thing is, they haven’t lost to Toluca in many consecutive matches.  Noob’s not convinced Toluca an avoid having a Hiccup tonight.  Momentum, inertia – powerful forces.  (6:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Toluca   3-2

  1. Schalke 04 vs. Bayern Munich – Germany Bundesliga

Last year’s #B and #1 face off!  The exclamation point could be overkill in a way, though.

Schalke have lost all three of its matches to start the new league year.  More, none of those opponents were teams that finished anywhere near the top in 2017-18.  Noob’s not ready to call their 1-1 Champions League home draw against Portugal’s FC Porto a sign that everything is turned around now.

Bayern are 3-0-0, doing Bayern-y things to all.  (12:30 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   Bayern   0-2

Image result for Bayern Munich things

 

Ummmm…

Isn’t anything we do Bayern-y by definition? 

Can we do otherwise?

  1. Al Ahly vs. Horoya AC – CAF Champions League

Not long ago, Noob Tracked the first match of this two-legged Quarterfinal.   Africa’s greatest team went to Guinean Horoya and only got a 0-0 draw.  By ELO ratings, this is a team the Egyptians should utterly wreck, no matter whose pitch their playing on.

Still, now they get to take care of business at home.  Perhaps they won’t assume Horoya will just lay down for them this leg.

RESULT:   Al -Ahly    4-0    

  1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. Indy Eleven – United Soccer League

Noob tends to shy away a little from second division leagues on weekends, even Amuricuh’s.   Just sooo much D1 football here and the world over.

But “an opening” was created when one of the teams in a Nadeshiko 1 match I’d pre-listed dropped too far in the standings to meet Noob’s exacting criteria.  Match 8 was going to be three-time defending champion NTV Beleza hosting Noob-fave Urawa Red Diamond Ladies.  Alas, Urawa has slipped to midtable.

RESULT:   Pitt   3-2

Image result for The Situation abs

 

I got the word, Noob!

Urawa’s #1 U.S. supporter and unofficial spokesman mascot is back once again.

<—  Where the sushi goes.

 

 

Sorry, The Situation.  I know you were excited.  Don’t worry, you’ll still get your appearance fee.

Image result for The Situation angry

 

 

I’d better!   I’m still waiting for them all from last season.

 

Check, er, checks are in the mail, The Situation.

Aaaaanyway, Pitt and Indy are 3rd and 5th-place in the USL Eastern Conference.  Top eight make the Playoffs.  Top four get home-pitch advantage to start out.

Riverhounds are the class of the entire league, defensively.  Thankfully, not just by taking the air out of the ball, they score more than a little.  Indy are more balanced, but seem like they’ve peaked in what they can achieve.  Their D is just mediocre.

  1. Coleraine vs. Linfield – Northern Ireland Football League Premier

It’s merely semi-pro ball, one of Europe’s lower-ranked leagues.  But Western Europe is always on Noob’s radar.  These are two perennial powers, #1 and #3 in the early season-table.  They’re also the only two who haven’t yet lost.

RESULT:   0-0     That’s one boring way to make sure you each stay undefeated.

# Honorable Mention:    At odds with Noob’s desire to keep things mostly D1 on weekends is my utter inability to stay away from shiny 1-B matchups.  So before we wrap up, Noob sends the hippest of shouts out (shout outs?) to Ross County and Inverness of Scotland’s second-tier Championship League, #B and #1 there.  Go fight win!

  1. Hiroshima vs. FC Tokyo – Japan J1 League

Hiroshima looked ready to run away with the league title not too far back.   And while they haven’t played poorly the last month, they’ve scuffled just enough to give hope to more traditionally great Kawasaki.  They’re better on both sides of the ball than #3 FCT.

But a loss – hardly unthinkable – and that Kawasaki group could pull to within a point of the league lead.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for hiroshima fun

 

So long from Hiroshima!   

Try to visit when you can catch the Flower Festival.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/15) – the most footyball ever covered on Noob

“The ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game”.  Oh ho, Noob’s cheating today.

The list of the previews-proper are still ten   But we’re directly acknowledging three times as many Track-worthy matches today!

Gorge, Noobites.  Feeeast!!

  1. Portland Thorns vs. Seattle Reign – National Women’s Soccer League Playoffs

At last, the postseason!  These are the #B and #3 seeds of the four teams participating.

In their last match of the regular season, Portland beat Seattle to secure their runner-up status.  Their reward is getting to host today’s one-off.  There will be no return trip to Seattle.  The other two times they met in 2018, the matches were in Seattle, which won them both.

Portland is the more offensively-minded group by far, will look to push the pace hard.  The most likely names to see pairing up for scores are Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath, second and first in league goals and assists, respectively.

For Seattle, their defensive player of the year Rebekah Scott will have her hands full.   She plays outside back, a position from which she can often feed their offensive threat, Megan Rapinoe.  Noob’s not sure she’ll be anything but pinned back on defense today though.   (3:00 PM EST, Lifetime)

RESULT:   Portland   2-1       Horan and Heath each scored.  

B.  FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew – Major League Soccer

This is just one of three Track-worthy MLS matches on the day.  Noob’s highlighting this one for a couple reasons.

First – Dallas are still #1 in the Western Conference, having wrested the spot away from Kansas City midseason.  Surprising – their play has been incredibly spotty.  They just had a nice home win over rivals Houston last match, yet have lost twice to San Jose since August.  (The ‘Quakes can’t beat almost anyone else.  Ever.)  The offense and defense both come and go.

Second – how much longer will Noob get to type “Columbus Crew” without it being an historical reference?  Their ownership moving them to Austin is hardly a done deal, but it remains a likelihood.

As for their current season, they’re #4 in the East with plenty of table-space above and below.  They just got a big confidence boost taking down #3 NYCFC.  Noob wonders if they might night find today’s a trap game of sorts.    (8:00 PM, ESPN+)

Other MLS matches:   *Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact – The East’s #5 and #6 fight to stay there, the conference’s final playoff spots;  *Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – the West’s #6 and #7, separated by one little point in the table.  Seattle have won eight straight.

Image result for bbb

 

Yes, Number B.  You got to feature three matches.

And so three of you.  Well-done.

  1. CF America vs. Monarcas Morelia – Liga MX

It warms the cockles of a Noob-heart to see Morelia struggling.   While I feel far more strongly anti-royalty with American-named clubs than Mexico, there’s still no kings and queens in N.A.  Foolishness!  Go, CFA!

Club America are in a four-way tie for 3rd place at nearly the halfway point here in the Apertura (first half-season).  They’re the strongest of them, too, in goal differential and INHO.  They’d been struggling a touch, but a trip to lowly Lobos BUAP was just what was needed last match (0-2 win).

Morelia hasn’t won in a month.  Their defense makes the sad.   (8:00 PM, Univision)

Other Mexican matches of note:   *Pumas UNAM vs. Tijuana  — in Liga MX Femenil, Pumas are #4 in their Group.  Top two from each will make the playoffs.  They’re in the mix, but the least of the best there.   Tijuana are in 6th;   Zacatecas vs. Atlante – second-division Ascenso MX #1 and #3.

RESULT:   CF America   2-1

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Credit to Dan – the former Intern-o Inferno – for showing us just how lowly BUAP truly is.

  1. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur vs. Liverpool – English Premier League

Last year’s #3 and #4 face off.

Liverpool have won all four of their early matches this season, though the toughest team they’ve faced is probably Leicester (meh).   Hotspur thrashed Man Utd – on the road, no less – then turned right around and threw it away with a loss to Watford.  They’re both likely to be in the title chase for a while, contend for top-four finishes, Champions League berths.

Since it’s a new season, allow Noob to explain to less-tenured Noobites about the strikethrough.   Tottenham Hotspur is named for Harry “Hotspur” Percy.  He was an historic traitor, flipflopping multiple times with his loyalties.  He was a scalawag and ne’er-do-well and Noob will carry no truck with such!

Good thing that didn’t get weird at the end…   (7:30 AM, NBCSN)\

RESULT:   Liverpool   1-2

Image result for harry hotspur percy traitor

 

 

Shewsbury – the site of Percy’s death by arrow – is hallowed ground 

  1. 1 de Agosto vs. TP Mazembe – CAF Champions League

This is the first leg of a Quarterfinal tie.

Angola’s representative host first.   Their domestic league is on the rise, looks to jump from 17th to a top-10 spot in the African rankings next year.  TP Mazembe plays out of DR Congo’s top league, #3-best in Africa.  1dG would be doing well to get a draw at home.  To have a chance at advancing, they’ll have to.

Today’s other QF:   Esperance vs. Etoile du Sahel Tunisia’s two best clubs face off.  They don’t keep them apart in the draws there I guess.  They’re both a lot better than the two featured teams above.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. FC Olexandria vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – Ukraine Premier

Ukraine’s top flight have climbed to #8 among domestic league in Europe.  Noobites should know something about this bunch.  We feature matches from their frequently.

And so, welcome to the Track, FCO!   Almost 100% sure this is the first time they’ve been featured.   They were mid-table all last season.  Seven matches into 2018-19, they’re #B.  But the current and historic #1 comes to town today to test their mettle.    Shakhtar average 2.5 goals a match, roughly.

Other top #1-#B UEFA matchups*Slovan Bratislava vs. Dunajska Streda — #1 hosts #B in what should be a shootout in Slovakia’s Super Liga;  Ferencvaros vs. Budapest Honved — #1 hosts #B in the Hungarian NB 1.  Honved will try and slow down the only team in the league averaging over two goals per match.

RESULT:   Donetsk   0-2

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No, FC Olexandria – Noob applauds YOU for being Track-worthy

  1. Stjarnan vs. Breioablik – Iceland FA Cup

Their league might not be even as highly-rated as the honorable mentions in Track match #6, but Noob’s always down for a Cup Final!

A question plaguing Noob is:  how much do these clubs care about the FA Cup?   It can be legitimately asked anywhere, at least by those of us who are truly noob.  Nowhere have I heard or read thy’re considered anything but a moderate to distant second in importance to the league title.

It’s especially relevant here, as Iceland’s Urvalsdeild league gets only one Champions League invite and these two are #B and #3.  Stjarnan, in fact, is just a point behind league-leaders Valur.  Will they play all starters in pursuit of this trophy, or save energy for the home stretch of their league season?

Today’s championship match is at the National Stadium in Reykjavik.  If they’re both playing full strength, Stjarnan have to be considered at last a 3:2 fave to win in regulation.

RESULT:   Stjarnan   0-0  /  4-1   pens

  1. Santa Gema vs. Independiente – Panama Football League

Noob’s been making a concerted effort here during the second year of this site to pay greater attention to all CONCACAF leagues.  And #1-#B matches shine like the sun.   This is one!

If the current pattern holds, this league is going to have one heckuva title race in 2018-19.   They’re just a few matches in, but good golly these teams end their matches in lots of draws!   Noob’s not sure if the league as a whole lacks offensive talent or if the general strategy employed there is defense.  Either way, they don’t see a ton of goals.

Saint Gema are the only undefeated team remaining, but have won just four of seven.  Independiente trail them by three points in the table.

RESULT:   Independiente    0-2       And we have a new #1!

The other #1-#B CONCACAF matchup*Fruta Conquerors vs. Guyana Defense Force – Guyana’s GFF Elite League – The Conquerors have an outrageous 48-5 GD.  Still, halfway through the season, they lead GDF by just five in the table.

Image result for pay attention soccer funny

 

Noob just said CONCACAF leagues are getting more attention here.  

Warning unwarranted.

  1. Kawasaki Frontale vs. Consadole Sapporo – Japan J1 League

The defending champs from Kawasaki are #B now, 2/3 of the way through the 2018 season.  Even so, they’re way off Hiroshima’s pace.

Sapporo were below mid-table last year, have improved mightily to be the current #4.  Last season, that would’ve been good enough to get them into the AFC Champions League.  Not this year.  Just the top three now.

Noob’s uncertain if the AFC is distributing more bids to lower-ranked countries’ leagues now, or if J1 League lost a slot due to a drop in confederation ranking.  Regardless, Sapporo need to play far better defense if they want to be in any postseason discussion.

RESULT:   Kawasaki   7-0    not a typo

Before we hit #10, Noob’s including some Honorable Mention matches.  Every one one of them involves two teams in the top quarter (or top three) of their leagues (at least as of five days ago), or there are specific playoff implications:

*USL – conference #2 Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. #4 Louisville FC, plus #6 Swope Park Rangers vs. #9 Saint Louis FC;  Poland Ekstraklasa — Wisla Krakow vs. Lechia Gdansik was a #1 vs. #B when scouted a few days ago, but two teams which have played an extra match leapfrogged W.K.;  English Football Championship — #6 Bristol City and #3 Sheffield United would be in the second-divisions Promotion playoff tournament were the season over today.

Belgium First Division A — #B Genk vs. #3 Anderlecht;  Norway Eliteserien – #B FK Haugesund vs. #3 Brann;  Belarus Premier – #4 Shakhtyor Soligorsk vs. #3 Dinamo Minsk;  Slovenia Prva Liga — #B Aluminij vs. #3 Gorica;  Uruguay Primera – #B Nacional vs. #3 Montevideo Wanderers; two other Cup tournaments in early action include Portugal’s Taca de Liga and the Swiss FA Cup.

  1. Maldives vs. India – SAFF Championship

The Final!

Asia’s continental football confederation also has several sub-associations.  The South Asian Football Federation holds a Championship every other year.  It’s a standalone event for the current seven member nations, meaning it has no effect on qualifying for any other tournaments.

These are national teams that just aren’t going to see much of any success in most any other field of play.  Three of the seven are in the bottom ten in all Asia.  Two are the very bottom.  Our Finalists are the most-highly ranked in the world, just #150 and #96.  India would be even better, but.  You know.  Cricket.

RESULT:   Maldives   2-1    Upset city!

Image result for Dhaka weirdThey’ve been hosting this tournament Dhaka, Blangadesh.

Come back, Bear Grylls!

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – USWNT leads the way

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.

Thursday

  1. 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.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. 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.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Les Abymes

 

 

So long from Les Abymes, Point au Pitre, Guadeloupe!

 

Wednesday

  1. 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

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Speaking of international duty, did this mascot-guy just get vomited out after finally agreeing to go to Ninevah?

  1. 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.

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

Tuesday

  1. 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 NoobWe’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

Image result for letter B horror

 

 

Number B, expressing the carnage that awaits Chicago or Utah in the postseason.

  1. 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

  1. 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.

RESULT:   Norway   2-1     had the home/away mixed up

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/1) – and working on a theme song

“Soccer Noob rockin Amuricuuuhhh! /

Mini-previews!  *clap clap* /

Insight!  *clap clapclap* /

O.K.notreallythatsecondwuuhhhhn!   /  *crickets*

Soccernoob rockin’ Amur-I-CUHHH!”

  1. Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City – Major League Soccer

Really, Track match No. 1 is all MLS.   This might be the most intriguing matchup, but all but two slated for today met Noob’s standards of high interest.  Good you up some ‘Muricuhn action today, Noobites.

Those goldurn Sounders Noob reviles so have won seven straight.  The first half of their season was so pitiful that this now has them in just a tie for the last Playoff berth (6th) in the Western Conference. They Haven’t allowed multiple goals in a match since their last loss.  On June 30th.

Tenured-Noobites will recall that Noob’s first exposure to a hardcore ‘Muricuhn soccer fan was a douchebag TA in college who was a bandwagon-jumping Seattle supporter.   And I’d still be rooting alongside The Management for KC today, given his ties to that area.  But the Sounders’ turnaround has been simply epic.  Much respect.

Sporting could do absolutely nothing right in July.  Noob would’ve best against them hosting mid-table FC Seoul (picked as a nod to The Management’s current business trip).   But now they’ve won four in a row themselves, are only a point or two from retaking 1st place back from FC Dallas.  They haven’t allowed ANY goals over that stretch.

This match might be a defensive slugfest.   But it’s going to be more than worth the view.  4:00 PM EST today online with ESPN+ or broadcast on Univision Deportes.

RESULT:   Seattle   3-1       So much for defense.  KC scored at 2′, though it was all Sounders after that.

B.  Cincinatti vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – United Soccer League

Yup.  We’re shifting to a second-division matchup instead of a second MLS one.  We’ll spread our love through multiple leagues.

And it is a doozy.  Cinci has all but wrapped up the Eastern Conference.  No surprise, as they’re making the move to MLS next year.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is in a tie for #B!   Noob adds the exclamation point because they’ve flown under my radar all year.   They were near the very bottom of the standings last season.  They couldn’t score then, and they don’t do much of it now.  But they’ve conceded just 14 goals all season.  To quote Tom Cruise from “The Firm”, “It’s not sexy, but it’s got teeth.”

You know, I never found that line quite so disturbing as I do now.  Must be seeing it written.

RESULT:   Cinci   2-1      But Pitt made them work for it.   FCC got it’s two goals in the last 10 minutes of regular time.

Image result for tom Cruise weird

 

Cruise without teeth.

Good LAWD.   This was an error in judgement.

Should’ve put in a Number B-image.

  1. Leon vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

One of the radio hosts I listen to regularly pronounces the “MX” letters as they would be in Spanish.

We’re in Amuricuh.  We can say just “em. ecks.”   It’ll be fine.

(tied-for-8th versus tied-for-5th)  (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Pumas   1-2         Felipe Mora with a pair of goals

  1. Chelsea vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

Leicester City hosting Liverpool might have a shade more cache, but Noob’s giving the edge to his Fighting Cherries!  Given that they’re one of the three matches being given stateside TV coverage (10:00 AM, NBCSN).

Chelsea have been electric on offense in their first three matches, winning them all.  Bournemouth should’ve beaten Everton to get a third win, too, after they’d gone a man up.  My guys will do well to get a draw at one of the mammoth-budgeted teams grounds today.

RESULT:   Chelsea   2-0       Noob has read and heard some are encouraged by AFCB’s keeping the match scoreless most of the way.  I say you’ll rarely if ever get a result possessing the ball just 27% of the game.  Oy veh.

Image result for aFC bournemouth funny

 

Guys!   I’m pretty sure “standing on one’s head” is an expression regarding goalies.

Noob is worried.

  1. Washington Spirit vs. Sky Blue – National Women’s Soccer League

Four of the eight teams make the postseason.  These two have been out of the running all summer.  So why Track it?   It’s the only domestic top-flite ladies’ match today.  Also, Sky Blue is running out of chances to get their first win of the season.  This may be as close as they get.

RESULT:      ppd

  1. France vs. Mexico – international women’s friendly

France are the host country for the 2019 women’s World Cup, so they’re not having to play in the UEFA qualifying tournament.  Mexico needs the tuneup before they enter at the final stage of the CONCACAF qualifying event going on now.

They are ranked #3 and #25, respectively, by FIFA.  (3:00 PM, TV5MONDE)

RESULT:   France   4-0       Eugenie Le Sommer with two goals in the second half

Image result for waiting gif

 

They must wait, Inigo.  

We must all wait sometimes.

  1. Iceland vs. Germany – UEFA women’s World Cup qualification

Germany are #3 in FIFA and ranked #1 in Europe.  Yet they trail Iceland by a point in their Group table with just two matches left to play.  Only the winners automatically qualify, and only about half the runners-up will get to vie for one last berth in their own mini-tournament.

Iceland are only ranked 29th in the world.  But they upset Germany on the road 2-3 in the first match they played of this double-round robin.   Germany must get at least a draw today, or they could be sitting at home for WC 2019.

RESULT:   Germany   0-2       Svenja Huth with two scores

  1. Slavia Prague vs. Viktoria Plzen – Czech First League

I was just reading up today on the 80’s-90’s new jack swing group ‘Wreckx-n-Effect”.  Checking oneself before the possibility of wrecking oneself comes recommended, by them and Noob both.  Safety first.

What I did not know was that the group’s name originally was not spelled with an X in it.  That was only added after one of their members was shot, symbolic of his absence.

(League #1 versus #2)

RESULT:   Slavia Prague   4-0      S.P. take over 1st now on GD.   Tomas Soucek scored twice.  Plzen had a tough go of it after going down to ten men in the 1st half (red card).

Image result for wreckx n effect

 

 

 

Rest in Power, Brandon Mitchell.

  1. Consadole Sapporo vs. Vissel Kobe – Japan J1 League

4th versus 5th doesn’t quite match Noob’s criterion coming out of an 18-team league.   But The Management must be appeased.  Since he’s a Japanophile, Match Nine is a sop to him.

Only the top three from Japan make the AFC Champions League.  With the season 2/3 over, this isn’t quite and elimination match, but both sides will likely play like it’s one.  And they should.

Neither has quite the defense to match up properly with the top three teams, yet Noob thinks both teams will be tight and we’ll have a low-scoring affair here today.

RESULT:   Sapporo   3-1      Kobe lost a player to a red card right at the half.

  1. Metz vs. Lens – France Ligue 2

At time of scouting, this was a 1-2 matchup.  But Niort just climbed to #B in the table as Noob was writing, so it’s #1 versus #3. But Niort have played one or two more games than these clubs, so they’re cheaters and we’re Tracking this. 😊

I thought about going back and featuring Columbus vs. NYCFC.  But variety is the spice of life.  And since there’s spice, we’re letting the French cook.  Not Ohioans.

Last season in Ligue 1, an attacking side of The Management, Dan the former Intern-o Inferno and I could’ve scored on Metz.  And so they finished last and were unceremoniously Relegated.  Lens were a bottom-feeder in this league, but stayed afloat with enough draws.

And look at them now!  Metz says they’re ready to go right back up, are 5-0-0, scoring at will.    Lenz have yet to let anyone score on them.  Viva la France!  Top three will all get automatically Promoted to Ligue 1 at season’s end.

RESULT:   Metz   2-0      It’s a Track full of red cards!   Lens lost a man mid-first half.

Image result for cathedrale st etienne metz stained glass

So long from Metz, Lorraine!

Cathedrale St. Etienne – home of perhaps the world’s broadest stained glass collection.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (8/25) – MLS, NWSL, Noob’s fave Fighting Cherries

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

Plenty of ‘Muricuh, North ‘Muricuh, Caribbean spice and then footyball flavors from the world over.   Savory.  Let’s eat.

  1. Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution – Major League Soccer

Hard to believe New England are still in the playoff hunt, just four points behind Philadelphia for 6th and the last postseason berth.  They haven’t won a match since June and have given up multiple goals every match but the first in this nasty streak of seven.

The Union, meanwhile, have won three in a row, including one that puts them in the Final for the US Open Cup next month.  The defense has been good, but the offense has been superb.  If the teams continue to trend as they have, this match could get out of hand in a hurry.

If New England hope to right the ship, Matt Turner’s got to get it together in goal.  But Noob thinks that the weak link in the back line has been on the right side.  Andrew Farrell was an all-star in 2016, but he’s playing like an all-stooge right now.   (7:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   Philly   1-0       Statistically, Farrell and Turner were the second and third-worst defenders for either team today.

Image result for andrew farrell new england revolution funny

 

 

Somehow, Andrew just doesn’t look… ready.

B.  Seattle Reign vs. North Carolina Courage – National Women’s Soccer League

A quite probable preview of the postseason Final is on tonight for NWSL.   With two matches to go in the regular season, North Carolina has (long since) clinched the Supporters Shield and.   Seattle is also now guaranteed a playoff spot, #B in the standings, up four on Portland.

Noob thinks they’ll both play like this IS the playoffs, not rest many or any starters.  If so, Seattle is only an even match at best tonight, even at home.  NCC score nearly twice as much.

RESULT:   1-1     The Courage got the equalizer at 90′

Image result for BB

 

 

Twice the Number B?

What’s not to love?

  1. Monterrey vs. Morelia – Liga MX

Plain and simple, two of Mexico’s best face off tonight.  Everyone’s chasing Cruz Azul right now, but these two are #B and #4.  The story tonight might be Morelia’s defense.   Every win but their first has been by just one goal, with only one clean sheet over that stretch.   (10:06 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   2-2

  1. AFC Bournemouth vs. Everton – English Premier League

Noob tries not to play favorites in determining which matches are track-worthy.  But it truly looks like my Fighting Cherries hosting last year’s #8 in Everton is the best, most competitive British match o’ the day!

AFC finished in 12th, tied with a couple teams that had better GD’s, last season.  This year, they’re one of six clubs to have one their first two matches.  Everton are 1-1-0, and this is the sort of match they didn’t always win last year – and need to – if they want to climb even just one more notch in the table and get at least a Europa League berth.

RESULT:   2-2      What a wild one.  Everton went down a man just before the half, but took the lead in the second.   Then a Cherry got a red card and Everton scored again.  Two late-ish goals – including one from kit model-Josh King, earned AFCB the draw.

AFC Bournemouth home

 

 

Josh King, sporting the new AFCB kit

  1. Juventus vs. Lazio – Serie A

These are last year’s Italian champs and #5 finishers, respectively.  This could be one wild, woolly match.

Juventus now have the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo.  They add him to what was already the best offense in the league, save one club.  And that one club was Lazio, though they scored very much at the expense of their defense.

Juventus barely beat lowly ChievoVerona 2-3 in their opening match, getting the game-winner in the 93’.  Lazio lost their first on the road at last season’s runner-up, Napoli.  Talk about your tough matches to start a year.   (12:00 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   Juve   2-0

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

This is the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, dually serving as WC qualifying event.  The first qualifying group stage just concluded.  Five Groups of Caribbean national teams played, out of which only the winners advanced.

In this next qualifying round, those five all play in one pod.  Three will advance to the final round.  (Another pod of Central American teams also starts play at this round, out of which two will advance.)

Cuba is ranked just 85th  in the world, while T&T is 50th.  Cuba outscored opponents last round 22-3.  T&T surpassed even that, racking up a 27-1 to one margin (and still only advancing on tiebreaker!).

RESULT:   T&T   2-3

Image result for Trinidad and Tobago women's soccer 2018

 

 

T&T women’s national team

  1. Benfica vs. Sporting CP – Portugal Primeira Liga

Portugal’s top flite league has held steady in the UEFA rankings at #7.  That means they’re the best league that will still get only two Champions League berths.

Last season, Benfica got the second one, with Sporting just missing out in 3rd.  Benfica were a lot better on offense and Sporting’s equal on defense, more or less.  They’ve each one both their matches to start to the 2018-19 campaign.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Cerezo Osaka vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Japan J1 League

A 1-5 matchup in a league this size isn’t usually quite shiny enough to capture Noob’s wandering gaze.  But this site has its the Management and he is a Japanophile and must be appeased!

The top three will make the next AFC Champions League, and there’s a seven-point gap between 3rd and the rest with two thirds of the season in the books.  Hiroshima had a chance to practically wrap up the league title with a win their last match out, but current #B beat them on their own pitch.

C.Osaka statistically aren’t really much better than average, and so are probably just an even shot to win or draw at home today.

RESULT:   Hiroshima   0-1

Image result for management funny

 

 

Do you see, do you see what Noob must live with?

  1. Atletico Junior vs. Independiente Medellin – Colombia Primera A

In Colombia, the top eight (of 20) clubs will make the postseason tournament.  These two are part of a three-way tie for 3rd just a few matches into the Finalizacion (second half-season, same as a Clausura in other leagues).

You probably need a pretty deep satellite package to get RCN Tele Nuestre, but the match will be there at 9:00 PM.

RESULT:   Junior   2-1

  1. BATE Borisov vs. FK Vitebsk – Belarus Premier

Let’s end the Track with a 1 versus B-matchup!

Just over halfway through the season, BATE are up seven points in the table on both their guests today and Dinamo Minsk.  All three play about the same defense, but these two are a load better than D.Minsk on offense.  This will be a two-horse race soon enough.

RESULT:   1-1     BATE gets the equalizer right at 90′

Image result for Barysaw Belarus

 

 

So long from Borisov Stadium!

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – filtering the finest footyball beans for YOU

The soccer scheds are getting fuller, the Track’ed matches all the sweeter.

Tuesday’s matches are below Wednesday’s here now.  Thursday’s are coming soon.

Thursday

Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

10.  It’s hard to fathom that Houston could win the U.S. Open Cup.  They’re hosting the Final against Philly in late September.  A good thing they’ve put all their eggs in that basket, because their league basket is mildewy and coming unwoven.

They’re in 10th in the Western Conference after five straight league losses.  The competition’s been strong over that stretch, true.  But this is the big league and you’ve got to pick some points. Now they’re 10 points behind 6th place and the last playoff spot.  The Dynamo are cooked.  The offense is gone.

Dallas, meanwhile recovered from a two-game skid last time out with a W over Minnesota.  Good thing, too, as KC has won three straight and was looking prime to take 1st place back.   (9:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for HOuston weird

 

So long from the Art Car Parade in Houston!

(Don’t worry.  Noob knows it’s an atrocity.  The town was built on a swamp.  It will all sink into oblivion soon enough.)

Wednesday

  1. NYCFC vs. New York Red Bulls – Major League Soccer

#3 hosts #B in the Eastern Conference.  Both are almost certain to make the Playoffs (top 6 in each conf.).  But since the top two seeds will get a bye in the postseason, this edition if the Hudson River Derby is particularly important.

NYCFC just got ambushed in Philly, 0-2.  They’ve given up nine goals in their last four matches.  NYRB have been simply taking care of business this month, with results in their last three outings.  They’ve played one less match than The Blues – an advantage in the table, if not on the pitch today.

Sean Johnson hasn’t been helped by his back line much of late.  They’ve not leaned on the defense much all season, truth be told.  But the goalkeeper’s got to staunch this bleeding if they’re to stop this fade.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for sean johnson nycfc funny“I will hug it and squeeze it and call it George.”

(Random? Sure.  Does Noob care?  Not a whit!)

  1. Portland Thorns vs. Sky Blue FC – National Women’s Soccer League

Sky Blue have two draws in last three matches!

New Jersey’s last place NWSL club hasn’t had much to celebrate this season.  They still only have five points, half as many as second-to-last place Washington.  So they’ll take these little successes and run with them.

The Thorns are in 3rd with just three matches to go before the Postseason.  Four clubs are within four points of them in the table, so they shouldn’t be sleeping today.  A win today would all but guarantee them a top-four finish, which means playoffs.

RESULT:   Portland   2-1

Image result for Sky Blue FC funny

 

 

 

“If you go into their net more than ours -just this once- I’ll take you to the Shore.  Please??”

  1. Cruz Azul vs. Toluca – Liga MX

After making the Liguilla (postseason) in the 2017-18 Apertura (first half-season), they fell into the table depths in the Clausura.  They are back.  They’ve allowed just one lone goal in their five matches this new season.  No other team has conceded fewer than four.

But now they get their first tough test of the season.  Say hello to the last Clausura’s regular season champion.  Toluca is in 6th, but with their offense, they’ll rise.   (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Cruz Azul   1-0

  1. Young Boys of Bern vs. Dinamo Zagreb – UEFA Champions League

Switzerland’s and Croatia’s European league-rankings aren’t far apart – both in about the teens.  Still, YBB is only just now entering the competition.  (See Tuesday’s UEFA CL match below for Round details.)

D.Z. have had to advance through two rounds already.  They walloped a club from Israel and skunked one from Kazakhstan.

Based on the Elo ratings Noob uses, YBB would be favored even at a neutral site.  While I don’t think formal football gambling works this way, I would still take Dinamo if given a goal.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for soccer gambling funny

  1. Portland Timbers II vs. Orange County FC – United Soccer League

Given that the top eight in each conference of America’s second-tier league, these two are looking very good.

Portland’s reserve side has climbed to 5th in the West on the back of three straight high-offense victories.

The O.C. have also been getting goals like gangbusters, winning three in a row as well.  In fact, they haven’t lost since July 7 and have scored twice or more in all their contests.    Noob ends the Wednesday portion of the Midweek Track with what could look like a pinaball-ish score.

Tuesday

  1. Seattle Reign vs. Houston Dash – National Women’s Soccer League

Welcome to the only top-division match in America today.  This match is sneaky-important for both teams.

Seattle seem to have a firm grip on #B in the table with three matches to go, yet that four-point lead over the Portland only looks big because of how close the next several teams are to one another.

That’s where we find the Dash.  They’re tied for 6th, yet trail Chicago for the fourth and final Playoff berth by just two points.

Houston have scored six goals their last two matches, but Seattle maybe be more impressive of late on the other side.  The Reign haven’t conceded a goal their last three games.

RESULT:   Seattle   2-0

Image result for where did you go funny

 

 

Can’t find offense anywhere here!

(And no, Noob is not above using cute aminahl pictures to lure in readers.)

B.  UNAM Pumas vs. Queretaro – Liga MX

Noob would mock 12th-place UNAM without end for their lack of goal-scoring, but Atlas haven’t scored once this Apertura (first half-season).

Pumas are scoring twice a game on average, sit in 5th place.  But they scored all those goals the first couple games, haven’t found the back of the net in their last three outings.  Check this one out on ESPN Deportes at 8:00 PM to see if either can get on the board.

RESULT:   Queretaro   0-1

Image result for letter B wild animal

 

 

 

Sorry, Number B.

No B in “puma” anywhere.

  1. Benfica vs. PAOK – UEFA Champions League

They’ve reached the “Qualification Round” in Europe.  12 clubs paired off, the survivors of these two-legged ties all make the Group Stage.   That’s where the competition is considered to truly begin.

PAOK finished #B in Greece’s Superleague last season, had to make it through two Rounds already just to get this far.  They most recently beat Spartak Moscow.

Benfica also finished #B in their league.  But since it’s a more highly-ranked league, they’ve only had to play one Round so far.  They defeated Fehnerbace out of Turkey to get here.

True to the league strengths, the Elo rankings this two have on footballdatabase.com indicate to Noob Benfica is easily a one-goal favorite at home.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Independiente vs. Santos FC – Copa Libertadores

South America’s version of Champions League is in its Round of 16.  These are the last pair of clubs to not have played the first match of their two-legged tie.

Independiente finished just 6th in Argentina’s Premier last season – not quite good enough to qualify for CL.  They’re here by virtue of having won the 2017 Copa Sudamericana, the continent’s second-tier competition.  They’re a sound, defensive-minded bunch.

Santos finished 3rd in Brazil, CONMEBOL’s best league.  They’re considered the fifth entrant from Brazil.  Santos also plays a tight defensive game typically.  Look for this to go 1-0 or 0-1 at most.  Independiente is a full-goal fave based on the Elo ratings.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Copa Libertadores cartoon

 

 

Noob’s not sure what harpooning a rabbit has to do with CL or Santos FC.

But I’m down with it.

 

’10 to Track’ for Saturday (8/18) – ten match previews for your ogling pleasure

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

Our collective soccer education.  Noob’s unstable mind and left field-humor.   A combination almost as good as chocolate-almond-coconut ice  cream served by a Brazilian agriculture student.

Read on to have THAT explained.  Check back for results, too.  On matches, not the Brazilian girl.   And follow Noob on Twitter at SoccerNoobUSA.com.  Thanks.

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

As the regular season moves into its final third, it appears eight Western Conference teams are vying for the six postseason berths allotted them.  Just ten points separate the last of that group from first.

(Minnesota United fans, Noob looks forward to your emails of bile and vitriol.  Your club is trading away its talent now.  Management knows it’s over this year.  Embrace the pain.)

Portland are in 5th now, but not playing like they’ll stay there.  Two losses in a row to non-playoff bound competition don’t bode well.  Admittedly, that D.C. United team looks frisky this week, but were in last for a long time for a reason.  Reasons.

Kansas City have their groove back.  They’ve been in a brutal stretch of schedule, had lost three straight to fall to 4th.  Now, they’ve won back-to-back games against solid competition and have #1 Dallas in their sights, who dangle just three points ahead.

The key to recovering from their tailspin has been the back line.  Unsurprisingly, it has been spearheaded by MLS’ 2017 Defender of the Year award winner Ike Opara.   (8:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   KC   3-0

Image result for Ike Opara

 

Defense:  Top-notch

Ike’s head wear choice:

YOU make the call.

B.  Philadelphia Union vs. NYCFC – Major League Soccer

Things are shaping up a little differently in the East.  The top three seeds look secure, though in what order they’ll finish is up for grabs.  Columbus will be the #4 seed.  NYCFC and NY Red Bulls are tied for #B, just two in back of Atlanta.

The last two Playoff slots are down to four clubs realistically.  Here, we find Philly, tied for 5th.  They just bagged a big win over peer New England.  Since they’re hosting, Noob’s calling this match a tossup today.   (7:00 PM, ESPN+)

RESULT:   Philly   2-0

Image result for B is for bag

 

 

 

And for “blue” and for “Noob” spelled backwards.

Tres chic, Number B.

  1. Portland Thorns vs. Chicago Red Stars – Nationals Women’s Soccer League

Three matches to go in the regular season.  Here’s what we know:  North Carolina kick butt.  What we think we know:  Seattle are going to get the #B seed.

Five teams remain alive for the other two Playoff spots.  Portland are in the driver’s seat for the coveted #3 seed.  Not having to play NC in the opening round is a big deal.  Chicago and Orlando are tied for 4th.

Portland have won four of five and Chicago haven’t lost in four consecutive outings.   Check out this humdinger on ESPNEWS at 10:30 PM.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Monterrey vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

We’re essentially at the quarter mark for the Apertura (first half-season) already!   Noob loves just 17 matches.  Every single one is so important.  And so it’s time for Noob to stop using last season’s results as a crutch and look at what we really have in Mexico now.

Pumas went from 14th to 7th between the 2017-18 half-season tournaments.  And look at UNAM now!  1st place.  One of two clubs with no losses.  Tied for the best offense in the league.  They grow up so fast!  *sniffle*

in 5th, we find Monterrey.  They finished in 1st and 3rd last year in the two tournaments.  They’re matches have been low-scoring to start out this Apertura, a surprise.  This one’s at 10:06 PM on FS2 to see of Pumas can continue to hold the top spot.

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0

Image result for that's a thing?

 

 

Yes, Fox Sports 2 is a real channel.

We’re not to “The Ocho” yet, but all in good time.

  1. Chelsea vs. Arsenal – English Premier

Early here in the EPL season we get a matchup between last year’s two best teams that were disappointments.  At 5th and 6th place, they just missed out on Champions League berths.

The stories about these teams that will get you through Level One water cooler-chat:

Both teams have new coaches.  Chelsea expectedly won their first game while Arsenal lost to the defending champs to start this season.  And Chelsea star Eden Hazard should join the starting lineup now.  He’s gotten some rest after his run with his World Cup team in Belgium.  (12:30 PM, NBC)

RESULT:   Chelsea   3-2      Chelsea squandered a 2-0 early lead before closing this one out late.

  1. Lazio vs. Napoli – Serie A

Nearly all the talk this European off-season has been about Cristiano Ronaldo moving from Real Madrid to Juventus.  But don’t miss this match.

Napoli gave Juve everything they could handle in last season’s title race.  And Lazio – who are really fun to watch with the ball in the opponent’s third – finished 5th, losing out on a Champions League berth by tiebreaker.

RESULT:   Napoli   1-2

Image result for lazio funny

 

 

 

Plastic bottle-gladiator guy on the Lazio Plaza.

Hopefully he’s selling those to hot, thirsty footyball fans.

  1. Difaa al Jadida vs. MC Alger – CAF Champions League

And speaking of CL, let’s head to Africa’s.  A reminder of where we are:  Group Stage.  Four pods of four clubs each play double-round robins.  Top two from each will advance to the Knockout Stage.  Most everyone is four matches into their six.

In Group B, Congolese club TP Mazembe has already earned 1st place.  MC Alger is one of two Algerian clubs vying for runner-up, and they lead ES Setif by just a point.

DaJ aren’t out of it entirely, but have to earn more than draws to have any shot.  They’re actually the slightly more accomplished team internationally.  Between that, home pitch advantage, and plain old desperation, Noob looks for El Jadida to nab the W today.

RESULT:   El Jadida   2-0

  1. Royal Pari vs. The Strongest – Bolivia Premier

Welcome to the Track, Royal Pari!  Congrats on getting Promoted to Premier after last season.

In the Apertura, they finished in the bottom half of their division, if just.  Not bad for newbs.  And now in the Clausura – when the league plays all one division – (Bolivia is strange that way), they’re #B and have no losses!  Muy bueno.  But now, the real test.  The Strongest are 6-0-0.

These are the two highest goal-scoring offenses in the league.   To catch it, though, Noobites will likely have to try Googling up some internet streamage.  Maybe even pirated.  Yaaarrrgh.

RESULT:   R.P.   1-0

Image result for pirates computers

 

 

 

Yup.  Went there.

  1. Corinthians vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

#7 versus #4.  Two teams that will probably move up the table before all is said and done.   (6:00 PM, Premiere Futebol Clube)

Noob recently took his daughter and a neighbor kid out for a day, and that included a downtown ice cream shop near the local University.  The new girl working the counter was Brazilian.  Wonderful!  Buuhhht turns out she doesn’t care for football.  The footyball gods taunt Noob.

Noob learned a few interesting things though:

—  “Corinthians” might be pronounced with more of almost a “ch” than a “th” in Brazil.   Or our server might’ve had a speech impediment.  Noob didn’t ask.  Never mess with people handling your food.

—  The neighbor kid I had in tow told me I have a new girlfriend now, since I chatted her up so much.

Look, child.  Noob’s married and old enough to chat up an attractive, exotic, visiting postgrad intern without any nefarious intentions. What’s more, I— I— Oh my.  It’s true.   I am now my father.

—  One not need add much of any coconut to chocolate-almond to get the appropriate flavor effect.  Well-done, ice cream peoples.

RESULT:   Gremio   0-1

10.  FC Cincinatti vs. Charleston Battery – United Soccer League

Noob bookends today’s Track by bringing our gaze back stateside, to the second division.  Since the top eight in each conference will make the Playoffs, these are in excellent shape.  Cinci – who will be joining MLS next year – lead the East by five.  Charleston is tied with Pittsburgh Riverhounds for #B.

Charleston haven’t lost a league match since June 6.  And that’s as long as Cinci’s gone!  Primo matchup.  Noob wishes DII would get on the t00b.  Maybe the matches are carried locally and can be found on the interwebs.

RESULT:   Cinci   3-0

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So long from The Mushroom House,  Hyde Park, Cinci!

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (8/11) – MLS, NWSL, soccer eye candy galore

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

Weekends are where Noob has a cornucopia of delicious match choice to offer.  Welcome to the Splendid Footyball Buffer.  Take a clean plate up, please, when Noob puts up Sunday’s Track matches.

  1. LAFC vs. Sporting Kansas City – Major League Soccer

The top two seeds in each contest will get byes in when the Playoffs come around.  These two tied for 3rd in the Western Conference right now.   Both have been even higher, but had or have been slipping of late.

LAFC still sports the most goals scored in the West.  They suffer for it defensively though.  They just lost a thrilling US Open Cup semifinal to Houston Dynamo, have not won any league matches out of their last four.

Kansas City was on a three-match losing skid themselves.  But they got out of their tailspin last match.  Which was against and at Houston.  They hadn’t allowed fewer than two goals and won since June before this 0-1 win.

The Management, what which his KC tied, will be pulling for Sporting.  Noob thinks it will be a happy day for him, that LAFC will do no better than a draw at home today.  Legs just won’t be as fresh after the Cup match.

RESULT:   KC   0-2

B.  Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns – National Women’s Soccer League

The Pride are in 3rd, but have played the most league matches.  Portland is 4th and just a point back.  Top four clubs in the league make the Postseason, where North Carolina will squash everyone like bugs.

OK, here’s what’s really on Noob’s mind here at Number B.  I was recently vacationing in Florida and wound up at the Orlando Science Museum.  It was very nice.  I astonished at what could be done with a tax base like that city has.  I would go back.

Is Noob an unforgiveable hypocrite?  One of this site’s very open sub-quests has been to denounce cities built on swamps.  Bad urban planning!   I’ve done nothing but spew bile and vitriol at Orlando and cities like them, awaiting the days when they suddenly start sinking into he moors below, never to return.

Orlando Science Museum, at the very least, thank you for reminding Noob that not everything in life is black and white.  You’re something wonderful in a place where Noob expected nothing of the sort.

But you’re still going to sink with the rest of the ill-fated city.  Run, Orlando Science Museum!  Your fate is already set.  Can’t fight science.

RESULT:   Portland   0-2

Image result for letter B swamp monster

 

 

Number B agrees that a Swamp City’s fate is terrifying to behold.

  1. CF America vs. Monterrey – Liga MX

In the 2017-18 Clausura (second half-tournament), these two tied for runners-up in the league, separated by only one goal in differential.  They’re just three matches into the new season, but these two are near the top again.

Monterrey is the really fun team to watch, assuming a Noobite enjoys offense.  You can do just that tonight at 10:00 (EST)  on Univision.

RESULT:   CFA   3-0

vs Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier

Premier League is back!

These two finished 10th and 3rd last season.  Both will need to have procured more offensive firepower to make the leap to their next goals (vying for Europa League invite, winning the league).

For Noobites who weren’t with us last season, here’s the most crucial need to know.  Hotspur was the nickname of Harry Percy, an historical English figure who was a traitor several times over.  If Novichok had been around, someone would’ve sneaked it into his liquor.

Noob carries no truck with such!  Name your club after a spineless coward?   How their star Harry Kane hasn’t demanded a trade anywhere else for the shame of it all is beyond Noob.

RESULT:   1-2   Traitorous Ones   *shakes fist*

Image result for sir topham hatt angry

 

 

Noob refuses to use Hotspur’s full name.

They make the Fat Controller very cross.

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

Perhaps noob can control his blood pressure after that fit by returning to some soothing second division American footyball.

Orange County is on a hot streak, not having in over a month.  Phoenix have come off of their midsummer run, been up and down here during the dog days.   They are #B and #3 in the tougher Western Conference.  The top eight in each make the Playoffs, so today for them is about doing more to secure some home pitch advantage.

RESULT:   the O.C.   3-4

  1. CD Marathon vs. CD Olimpia – Honduras National League

CONCACAF me, baybeeeee.   Noob always likes to shine the light on teams from our confederation.

Marathon narrowly won both the last Clausura and the postseason tournament.  But thery’re nowhere near a runaway-best.  And Olimpia finished 3rd and had the best GD, so this should be a dandy matchup.

RESULT:   1-1

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It’s going to be a long season for some Noobites.

  1. Shakhtar Donestsk vs. Vorskla – Ukraine Premier

Noob always feels the need to defend spending space on Ukraine.  It likely comes from not having myself been aware just how good the league is before starting this site.  Theirs is the #8-ranked league in UEFA, ahead of nations like Netherlands, Turkey, Belgium and Denmark.

That said, it is very much a top-heavy league.  Today’s hosts and Dynamo Kyiv are the only powers there.  Donetsk won the 2017-18 campaign.

Vorskla finished a distant third, the best of the rest.  If they gave any chance of an upset today, it will be playing their trademark defense.  They’re not holding their breath in Potlava on this possibility.

RESULT:   Donetsk   4-1

  1. Blarney United vs. Derry City – FAI Cup (Ireland)

Ireland’s FA Cup is in its First Round, though this is actually the second round of the event.  32 teams remain in the competition.

Blarney play out of the second division of three in the nationally third-tier Munster Senior League.  If you like Minnows, this is a team for you.  They got a fortunate draw and get to host this single-match knockout match.  They’ll still be mighty underdogs to midtable Premier side Derry.

RESULT:   Derry   2-12     See, guys — that’s just mean.

Image result for blarney united fc

 

 

Noob’s no engineer, but it feels like maybe sound structural principals were tossed to the wayside here.

  1. Union La Calera vs. Universidad Catolica – Chile Premier

OK, so maybe some MLS match featuring a couple also-rans might still be “more important” to Noob’s mission statement-target demo – “the newish American fans of the global game”.   The word “global” in there is no accident, more than just filler.  Here, we’re always going to be soccer-citizens of the world, learn a little about leagues and teams everywhere.

So without further adieu, welcome to the Track, La Carera!  First-time here, almost certainly since they were just promoted from the second division this season.  And here they are in 3rd, and just four points behind the two league leaders in the table.  Impressive debut!

This league’s season is halfway through.  La Carera didn’t beat either of the top two clubs, and U. Catolica is one of those.  Even though that first match went just 1-0 to the traditional powerhouse, it’s hard for Noob to imagine ULC can hang on to this table position a whole year.  It’s been a nice run, and Noob hopes he’s wrong about the demise I think you’re about to meet.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Consadole Sapporo vs. Cereso Osaka – Japan J1 League

Despite finishing in the bottom half of the league last year, Cerezo Osaka won the Emperor’s Cup and League Cup both.  As winners of the latter, they got to play in a money match with Argentina’s Independiente, the Sugura Bank Championship (but lost).  They’re currently just 7th in the league.

Sapporo are in 4th place, though well back of the league’s two primary leaders.  This isn’t normally a match Noob would Track, based on their table positions.  But The Management must be appeased.

The Management is a Japanophile. Noob likes to keep him sated by tossing him the occasional bone when it’s been too long since this league has offered up a premium matchup.

On a side note, he just got to meet or at least see Japanese soccer legend Keisuke Honda.  Keisuke is the only Japanese player to have scored in three different World Cups, including one against Senegal just a couple months ago.  He was most recently with CSKA Moscow, but signed with Aussie juggernauts Melbourne Victory just days ago.

Noob’s waiting on getting a signed something-or-other.  A napkin, but of toilet tissue – Noob’s has no pride.  And I will be holding my breath awaiting its arrival.

RESULT:   1-1

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So long ’til tomorrow, from Noob and Keisuke!

 

Um, should we put on an R. Kelly slow jam, Mr. Honda?

’10 to Track” for Globetrotting Friday (8/10) – NWSL, Liga MX’s, and 2018-19 English Premier! lead the way

Globetrotting Friday!   Passports ready?  Wunderbar.

Since league schedules the world over tend to run a little light, Noob spends Fridays jetsetting the world over with you, ogling soccer near and in far-flung hinterlands.

Strap in tightly, and don’t forget to please follow Noob on Twitter:  @SoccerNoobUSA.  Thanks for your consideration and readership!

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

They’re about ¾ of the way through the regular season in America’s top pro women’s league.  The top four teams will make the Playoffs.

Chicago is in tied for 5th with Utah Royals and trail Portland Thorns by just a point.  They’ve played two fewer matches than both those teams, so Red Stars are looking okay.

In fact, only the Courage have beaten Chicago since May.  If they play there starters today, Noob would still favor they by a goal, even on the road.  NC has already won the Supporters’ Shield, being sooooo far out in front in the standings.

Fun Fact:   Progress, Towers, Union, Blues, 1871,and Wind were all considered as nicknames before Red Stars win in a landslide on a fan-ballot.

RESULT:   1-1

B.  New York Red Bulls II vs. Louisville City – United Soccer League

Defending league champs Louisville are in 4th place right now in the Eastern Conference.  That’s good for a home playoff match when the Playoffs come.  NYRB reserve team trail them by just a point though.  Red Bulls II lead the league in goal-scoring by a wide margin.  Can Louisville control the pace on the road?

RESULT:   Louisville   4-6      Cameron Lancaster with three goals for the winners

Image result for B is for bullshitNumber B!  We don’t run blue here.

But Noob does wonder what’s up with the dolphin.  And in a classroom but with a graduation cap on…

  1. Monarcas Morelia vs. Necaxa – Liga MX

How does Noob decide which league matches are worthy of Track status early in that league’s season?

Thanks for writing in, little Billy Connelly of Springfield.  Once all clubs in a league have played five matches, Noob looks at that season’s standings.  In non-North American leagues, both teams have to be in the top quarter (top three for the smallest ones) of the table to warrant Track-consideration.  Prior to that point, Noob uses the last complete season’s standings in that same way.

Why won’t my mommy and daddy let me sleep with them in their bed every single night?

Little Billy, as wise as Noob is, I am hesitant to answer questions of this nature.

But since you went to the trouble!   Your mom and dad are likely cooking up meth in there.  Are they stuffing the gap under the door with towels?  If so, sneak outside some night late and see if the windows are open.

Thanks, Mr. Noob!

I’m here to help.  Oh, and this football matchup features last Clausura’s (second half season’s) #8 and #11 teams.  Necaxa had a great goal differential, despite missing the Liguilla (postseason tournament), but had a mind-boggling ten draws in their 17 matches.  Gotta get W’s to play for the title.   (10:00 PM EST, Univision Deportes)

Fun FactNoob is a rapscallion and ne’er-do-well, a cretinous yahoo on all accounts.

RESULT:   Morelia   2-1

  1. Queretaro vs. Santos Laguna – Liga MX Femenil

For claiming to be focused on soccer close to home, Noob didn’t give the Mexican’ top women’s league much coverage in the first year of this site.  Starting to change that.

All the men’s clubs but two field a top-flite women’s team.  These two finished 10th and tied for 7th in the aggregate table last year.  But the women’s side only sends four clubs each to the postseason, so both have lots of improvement to have done.

Querataro need to up the ante on their defensive efforts in particular.  They were woeful in that department during the 2017-18 Clausura.

RESULT:   Queretaro   3-1

Image result for foghorn leghornI say-I say-I say:    Queretaro are “the White Roostahs”.   Foghorn Leghorn is the official mascot.

 

(OK, that bit was half-true)

  1. Real España vs. Tauro – CONCACAF League

The Central American and Caribbean countries of our region have their own tournament to qualify a club for the next CONCACAF Champions League.  16 teams compete for a single berth.  This is the opening round of this Bracketed event where each pair of teams play two-legged ties.

Real España are the second entrant out of Honduras.  Tauro only qualified as one of the two wildcards out of Panama.  The latter won the first leg 1-0.  R.E. should be considered a full-goal favorite at home.  So, noob expects this one to come down to away-goals tiebreaker or penalty kicks.

The winner will play Walter Ferretti out of Nicaragua in the Quarterfinals.  That team at a surprisingly tough time getting past Martinique’s Clubs Franciscain, the fourth and final entrant out of the Caribbean qualifiers.

Fun Fact:   Real España are the only club to be named Real (“royal”) by a Spanish monarch  that is not from Spain

RESULT:   1-1     And so Tauro advances on 1-2 aggregate.

  1. Manchester United vs. Leicester City – English Premier League

In many ways, this is perhaps the most important match in the world today.  The greatest league in the world (pipe down, Bundesliga fans, Noob knows the argument is valid) begins its campaign today.  This is the best match of those kicking things off there today.

Man Utd. finished #B last year, distantly so to their intracity rivals Man City.  If they want to make a move on the title, it’s their offense that will need to have been kicked up a notch.  Or two.

The big question for today’s match is whether the teams’ World Cup players will play much or at all.  Players go on holiday rather than get right back into training with their clubs after WC.  Man United may have to press guys like Pogba and Lukaku into quick action, however, as they’re already somehow facing a rash of injuries to other projected starters.   (3:00 PM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man Utd.   2-1

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Fun Fact:  This was the founding year and crest of what is now Manchester United FC.

 

  1. Winslow United vs. Easington Sports – English FA Cup

This is the oldest recognized soccer tournament in the world.  Teams from all the way down to level 10 in Britain’s soccer pyramid can qualify to play.  This is the Extra Preliminary Round, the very first matches of the Qualifying Competition.  The “Competition Proper” won’t be considered to have begun for months, until all the professional clubs through Premier League have entered the fray.

These two have never played in FA Cup before.  Winslow United qualified out of the Spartan South Midlands Football League, level 10 in the pyramid.  Actually, they play in the First Division of that league.  The next step up in the pyramid (9) is the SSMFL’s Premier Division.  Last year, they finished 3rd of 20 teams, just missing promotion.

Easington Sports position in the English soccer world is the same.  They play in the Hellenic League, out of the First Division West, level 10.  A promotion would put them in that same league’s Premier.  Last year, they finished 3rd out of 14 clubs, also narrowly missing promotion.

The fun in FA Cups is largely considered watching out for Minnow – .underdogs from lower divisions that make runs into the Compeition Proper.  It’s unlikely one would come from this far down, so the point of Tracking them is largely just to let Noobites know that the event has even started.

Fun Fact:   To give some perspective, Winslow is a town of about 4,000.

RESULT:   1-1     In the event of a tie, the teams will have a Replay.  It will be at Easington.

  1. KI vs. HB – Faroe Islands Meistardieldin

And then lots of the fun of Globetrotting Friday is to visit places that simply don’t merit Tracking the rest of the week!

Faroe Islands’ top league just had a banner year, though even so they only climbed a notch in the UEFA domestic league rankings.  Now they’re 51st of 55.  But hey, they’re playing.

These are the only two clubs there in serious contention for the league title and country’s only Champions League berth.  KI lead by two in the table.  Statistically, these two are pretty much identical.  Very good offense, great defense.

RESULT:   HB   0-1

Image result for klaksvik faroe islands

 

 

Fun Fact:  Klaksvik – KI’s home town – is on one of the northernmost Faroe Islands.

  1. Samtredia vs. Sioni – Georgia Erovnuli Liga

Just a touch further up the European league rankings we find Georgia’s best, #46 on the continent (well, plus Eurasia).

These two teams don’t help the cause certainly.  They’re the weakest two (but hey, they’re playing!).  Kolkheti Poti is in last and in line currently for the league’s lone automatic Relegation only because they were deducted six points in the table.  Probably some sort of financial nawtiness.

Today’s featured combatants, should the remain in 8th and 9th-places, will be part of a four-team Relegation Playoff at season’s end.  They’ll battle with Liga II’s #B and #3 finishers for the right to play in the top league next season.

And Noob says “will” and not “would” because these two sad sacks aren’t going anywhere, waaaay down the table from the rest of the pack.

Fun Fact:   Noob wishes FC Samtredia would pick up the nickname “Fighting Mulberries”.  Their region produces many.

RESULT:   Sioni   0-4

  1. Posta Rangers vs. Gor Mahia – Kenya Premier

For 2018-19 CAF rankings, Kenya’s top league will move in at #22.  It’s not historically a very strong soccer country.

Gor Mahia haven’t mathematically wrapped up 1st place at the league’s only CL invitation, but they’re close.  2/3 of the way through the season or so here they lead the next-best by nine points in the table.  They ran away with the trophy last year, too.

Posta Rangers finished 4th, but currently are down in 10th place.  They weren’t great at scoring last season, and that weakness has seriously bitten them this year.

RESULT:   Gor Mahia   1-2

Image result for Nairobi funny

 

 

 

So long from Nairobi, home of Gor Mahia!

’10 to Track’ midweek Edition soccer matches – US Open Cup Semis lead the way

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

As the big Euro leagues start to roust themselves, it’s getting harder to justify a single Midweek Edition Track!  Soon, there will be re-expansion.

For now, Noob remains efficient.  Match previews are now posted through Wednesday.

Twitter:  @SoccerNoobUSA

Tuesday

  1. Dorados de Sinaloa vs. CF America – Copa MX

Welcome back to the Apertura (first half-season) Mexican FA Cup.   We’re still in the Group Stage – nine pods of three teams playing a single-round robin, with winners and the seven best runners-up advancing.

Veracruz lost both of their matches so far, so one of these two will win the Group.  Cups tournaments, for Noob, are all about looking for Minnow until their late stages.  Sinaloa is our underdog del dia.  They finished #B in their Clausura in the Ascenso MX (second tier) last season.

CF America is really good, so los Dorados will need all the home pitch advantage they can squeeze out of today.   (10:00 PM EST, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   0-0      With a match to go, these two have now both clinched at least runner-up status in the Group.  Still, two of the runners-up in this stage will not advance, so all still bears watching.

B.  Chelsea vs. Lyon – International Champions Cup

Most teams that aren’t already done are playing their third and final matches of this event.  That is the case for these two.  It’s just glorified friendlies, so the results don’t matter really, but these two are tied for 10th.  This is a home match for Chelsea, which is weird for this event.

Soon, their leagues will begin, so maybe the club will actually start their real lineups.   (3:00 PM, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   Chelsea   0-0  /  5-4  pk

Image result for letter B sunglasses

 

 

Number B, already keepin’ it real.

Charming the ladies.  Unlike that poser Number Two.

 

Wednesday

  1. Houston Dynamo vs. LAFC – U.S. Open Cup

It’s the Semifinals of America’s FA Cup today!  This is a knockout format, so no return leg to Los Angeles.

Both teams have been on skids in MLS.  Houston has lost three in a row, sunk all the way to 10th place in the West.  Since they’re almost certainly not Playoff-bound, perhaps this means they’ll be super focused on chasing this trophy.  Not every team is necessarily.

That brings us to LAFC, who are also winless in their last three.  They’re in 4th out West, seem very much in line for a postseason berth.  That’s hardly guaranteed, but they are also shooting for a top two-seed, good for one or more home pitch Playoff games.

LAFC seems more likely to sprinkle in more reserves and/or subs today.  between that and the GD between these two not being too far apart – despite the difference in table position – and Noob finds himself believing in Houston.  Not that Noob would ever, ever root for a city built on a swamp.  Down with bad urban planning!  (Don’t judge me poorly.  That cause is JUST.)

RESULT:   Houston   3-3  /  7-6  pk       Diego Rossi had all three goals for LAFC in the loss.

  1. Utah Royals vs. Washington Spirit – National Women’s Soccer League

This isn’t likely a match with playoff implications, but expansion Utah isn’t totally out of that picture.  The top four will advance.  Utah is in 6th, and got a surprising point two matches ago against might NC Courage.  They followed that up with a solid road win at so-so Houston.

Washington has lost six straight and sit in second-to-last.  They’re so bad, Noob wonders if they would even beat MLS’ D.C. United…

OK, that was mean.  But was it unfair?

RESULT:   Utah   1-0

Image result for that was mean

 

You’re no Richard Dawson!!  

Get off Noob’s back, Harvey.

  1. UNAL Tigres vs. Tapachula – Copa MX

The Group Stage rolls onward!  Nine pods of three.  Double round robin format.  All winners and seven runners-up will advance.

Tapachula are one of the two Ascenso MX clubs in Group 9.  We Tracked them once already this stage, so we’re going to have some fun continuing to follow them. They got a draw in their first match with San Luis.  They’ve been on a great roll, having won the 2017-18 Clausura Ligulla.

UNAL needs to show why they’re a Liga MX team today, after dropping their first match to San Luis.

RESULT:   0-0     

  1. Celtic vs. AEK Athens – UEFA Champions League

This is the Third Qualifying Round.  After this, there is a Playoff Round to determine final entrants into the Group Stage, where the big boys of Europe enter the tournament.

This round is where Athens enters as the Greek Super League (15-ranked) champs.  Celtic, out of Scotland’s league (ranked #26) entered two rounds ago, has so far clobbered Armenian and Norwegian teams.

Despite the difference in league ranking, Celtic is the more accomplished team internationally in recent years, should be favored by a goal at home.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for AEK supporters riot

 

 

But are you ready for the standard Greek fans, Scotland?

  1. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC – Canadiaian Championship

This is just a four-team affair between Canadia’s three MLS teams and the USL’s Ottawa Fury.  The winner gets Canadia’s berth into the CONCACAF Champions League though.  As the country’s soccer federation soon has it’s own broader league (though without the MLS teams), Noob wonder’s if this Championship will field a lot more clubs in the coming years.

Vancouver is 7th place in MLS’ Western Conference, fighting for a top six regular season finish and Playoff berth.  Will they play all starters here?  Toronto are 9th in the east.  As they made the Final of the last CONCACAF CL and are less likely to get an MLS playoff berth, perhaps the will be more inclined to throw total effort into this affair.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Cerezo Osaka vs. Independiente – Sugura Bank Championship

This is a strange annual match.  It’s always in Japan, so Noob assumes sponsor Sugura Bank just pays both teams a pile of yen to show up for a glorified friendly.

This pits the J.League Cup winner – not the J.League regular season champ – from last year against the defending Copa Sudamericana (South America’s answer to Europa League) titleholder.

To give some idea of the relative strengths of the clubs, know that C.Osaka would be among the very favorites to win MLS if they played here.  And Argentina’s Independiente would probably beat them about 2/3 of the time on neutral pitches.

RESULT:   Independiente   0-1

Image result for scrooge mcduck pile of money gif

 

 

Winners get to go to the bank CEO’s house, go full Scrooge McDuck dive into a bottomless pit of yen.

  1. Home United vs. Ceres-Negros FC – AFC Cup

This is Asia’s secondary Cup tournament for clubs, though not really analogous to Europa League or Copa Sudamericana.  Clubs participating in this qualify out of countries identified by the AFC as soccer “developing” and “emerging” soccer nations.   Google up the criteria specifics if you are so inclined Noobites.  We streamline things here.

There are five geographically-based “zones” out of which clubs will advance to Inter-Zonal Finals and then final Finals.  This match is the second leg of the ASEAN (southeast Asia) Zonal Final.  They drew the first match.

Home United qualified by finishing 3rd in Singapore’s top league, which is ranked just above average in Asia.  This would not be high enough, but the champs are a Japanese club satellite team, and so ineligible for international competition.  The #B team got into AFC Champions League.

Ceres-Negros are from the Philippines, the runaway winners of their slightly better top-flite league.  It is ranked #17 in Asia.  They actually played in the pre-Group Stage of the AFC CL, but didn’t make the Group Stage, so they can still play in this one.  That’s nice.

RESULT:   Home   2-0

Thursday

  1. Cerro Porteño vs. Palmeiras – Copa Libertadores

The Round of 16 in South America’s version of Champions League is here.  This is the first match of the two-legged tie for these two.

Palmeiras qualified for the CL by finishing runner up in Brazil’s Serie A last year.  They went undefeated in the Group Stage to get to this Round, with an average match result of a two-goal victory per.

Paraguay’s top entrant finished #B in their Group, even goal differential.  They’re good.  But even at home, their only maybe an even match for their guests today.  The winner will take on either Chile’s Colo-Colo or Corinthians from Brazil – a traditional behemoth either way.

RESULT:   Palmeiras   0-2

Image result for General Pablo Rojas Stadium

 

 

So long from La Olla Nueva, Asuncion, Paraguay!