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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Bethlehem   2-2  /  7-8   pk

Image result for zoolander bethlehem steel

 

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

B.  Chelsea vs. Manchester United – English Premier League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Queretaro vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

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

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

RESULT:   Queretaro   2-0

  1. Barcelona vs. Sevilla – La Liga

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

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

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

RESULT:   Barcelona   4-2

Image result for almost sounded smart funny

Noob almost sounded smart there, eh?

But now back to vocab and counting work...

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

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

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

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

RESULT:        ppd

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   TNS   3-0

Image result for Welsh kung fu

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Razgrad   2-1

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

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

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

RESULT:   Catolica   1-0

Image result for south american geography funny

 

 

 

Don’t confuse Noob, cartographers!

Noob needs no help from you on that front.

  1. Nacional vs. Peñarol – Uruguay Primera

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   BP   2-1

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

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

’10 to Track’ Sunday (10/14) soccer matches – CONCACAF galore, plus new Sandwich Review(oob) feature!

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

And now, the perfect pairing – Sandwich Review Feature.

There’s real soccer info in here.  Somewhere.   But s**t’s about to get weird, y’all.

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

And then there were four.  Time for the Knockout Stage.  Three of the four will qualify for next year’s World Cup.

One will be #1 USA.  No one’s even scored on them all tournament.  Jamaica won’t.  They’re ranked #64 in the world.   (8:00 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   6-0      Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan with two goals apiece.   Now officially headed to 2019 World Cup.

B.  Panama vs. Canadia – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

The other Semifinal!  #66 vs. #5.   The Final and consolation matches will be far higher drama.   (5:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Canadia   0-7       Christine Sinclair and Adriana Leon with two goals each for the now officially World Cup-bound Canadiaians

Image result for dramatic letter B

 

 

Number B, rocking it as “dramatic dark sunset” Number B today.

Sultry.

  1. Poland vs. Italy – UEFA Nations League

This is a League A matchup.  Portugal is the third team in this Group within that league and they’re waaaay ahead after two games.   If either of today’s two want to have chance two in the group and make the playoffs, it’s vital they get a win today.

They’re ranked 18th and 20th in the world.  In their last ten collective matches, they have one win.  Therefore, Noob’s guess is they draw today.   (2:45 PM, ESPN)

RESULT:   Italy   0-1      While it wasn’t a draw like Noob predicted, Italia didn’t get their score until after 90′.

  1. New York Red Bulls II vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – United Soccer League

Last regular season match in the second division league.  These teams have cumulatively won their last 12 matches.  Talk about peaking at the right time!

#3 Pittsburgh can only drop down.  Even a draw and their three-seed is secure.  NYRB is in a three-way tie for 5th.  They can’t do better than #5, but could fall very far – even out of the top eight at the Playoffs entirely!

This will be a wide-open affair if Red Bulls control the pace.   They score like gangbusters, play the third-worst defense in the entire division.  Pittsburgh has always tried taking the air out of the ball.  Noob thinks Red Bulls score early, force Pitt to actually push forward for a change.  I think this is a home rout today.

RESULT:   NYRB II   2-1        And so Red Bull B-side do get the #5 seed

Image result for red bull funny

 

 

 

If I could walk on water/ if I could find some way to prove/

If I could walk on water would you believe in me/ ‘Cause I believe in yooooou.”

  1. Saint Martin vs. Saint Kitts and Nevis – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

The hosts today are from the northern, French part of the island country.  The Dutch half has its own team.  They are both very weak.  SKN are one of the top 20 teams in in the federation, though just 134th in the world.

RESULT:   SKN   0-10         not a typo

TIME OUT FOR A NEW FEATURE!

Noob Sammich Reviewbs.  Reviewoobs?    TBD

Not sure how often Noob will do this, but it starts NOW.   It’s not enough to just talk soccer.  Let’s talk about what soccer fans talk about.  And eat.  I’m talking SAMMICHES.

Corned Beef and Swiss Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Bread

 

 

Corned Beef and Swiss Shamrock Sandwich.

 

 

This is a Nature’s Own-bread sandwich recipe.   Noob decided to find a corned beef sammich to compare to my all-time fave.

This is diced corned beef on whole wheat bread.  Swiss cheese.  A little Dijon mustard.  A little more horseradish sauce.  Plenty of reduced-fat cream cheese.

Noob’s all-time fave corned beef has the meat sliced.  Tomatoes, pickles, black olives, a little mayo.  Leaf lettuce is better.  I had it with shredded and that’s okay.

This sandwich is an affront to everything Noob believes in.  Diced meat of any kind, anywhere, is gross.   Put it in with all those soft ingredients and I start to doubt the possible existence of an omni-benevolent god in the universe.

Look, the Swiss cheese is fine.  Noob doesn’t need any on a cold sammich, but whatever.  Horseradish?   Like the music of Journey, I get what others like about it, but I don’t need to hear/eat it.  Cream cheese on any bread that soft?  Denied.

Put it all together and it’s…well, it’s diced meat in mouthful of mush.  That bread doesn’t look hearty enough to offer any respite from the rest of the awful texture.

Noob’s decided for now that the rating system will be on a 1-5 star system.  But instead of stars, the unit will be…Sammiches.

So!   This sandwich gets One Sammich from Noob.  It would get zero, but Noob has to leave room potentially finding an even lousier sandwich at some point.

Actually, let’s knock it down to just a half Sammich.  This sandwich pisses off the Irish by being shamrock-shaped on top of everything else.

Please respond with your reviewoob thoughts on Twitter @SoccerNoobUSA.  I’m also taking suggestions of sandwiches for future reviews.

  1. Chelsea Ladies vs. Arsenal – England Women’s Soccer League

Chelsea went undefeated in this league last year.  Still, they didn’t completely dominate on either side of the ball compared to their peers.  Arsenal finished 3rd, missing out on the Champions League by one point in the table.  The season is just getting going.

RESULT:   Arsenal   0-5        Changing of the guard?   Vivianne Miedema and Jordan Noobs with two goals each

  1. Marathon vs. Real Espana – Honduras National League

Marathon are tied for 1st in the table, though they’ve played two more matches than Olimpia.  Noob likes them to win the league though.  Not the very best on either side of the ball, but incredibly balanced.

Real Espana are in a three-way tie for 3rd.   They score more than anyone, but the utter lack of defense will make them midtable.  That trek starts today.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Palmeiras vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

Going to be moving day today in Brazil potentially!  The league leaders host #5, which are also the defending Copa Libertadores champions.

This may not be the most exciting game to watch, not if you’re looking for goals.  But only four points separate them in the table.  And only the top four teams qualify to start the next CL at the Group Stage level.  So it’s still very high drama.   (3:00 PM, GOL TV)

Palmeiras   2-0        Deyverson with two goals.    Botch clubs stay in same spots in table

Image result for so exciting gif

 

 

Craig Robinson, at least, appreciates defensive footyball.

  1. Internacional vs. Sao Paulo – Brazil Serie A

#3 hosting #4 as well today is what makes it so special for the league.

Sao Paulo led the league for quite a while, but have come back to earth, as expected.   They’ve stayed afloat with a few draws, but haven’t won a match since early September.  The offense has trickled away for them.

Inter are coming off a curious loss to meh-at-best Sport Recife.  They’ve won just one of their last four, which have all been draws or decided by a goal either way.   (3:00 PM, Premeire Futebol)

RESULT:   Inter   3-1          Leandro Damiao with two goals.  So much for “Moving Day”.   These two also stayed in same table positions.

  1. Kenya vs. Ethiopia – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

The top two finishers in each Group of four make the Cup next year.  All four in this one have won a match, so the race is super tight.  These two lead the others by a point in the table, but have already played one more match than them.

They are FIFA-ranked 107 and 149, respectively.  but Ethiopia’s actually only scored one goal in their three matches.  Noob thinks this is where the higher-ranked Kenya’s have their breakout match.

RESULT:   Kenya   3-0

Image result for Nairobi weirdSo long from Nairobi!

If the animals look weird, it’s because they’re scrap metal sculptures.

The world is weird.

’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

Image result for soccernoob buap

 

 

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

Image result for fc olexandria

 

 

 

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’ Jetsetting Friday soccer matches – USMNT, El Tri lead the way

Pack a bag and let’s set off!  Lots of fun fact about lots of teams, leagues and their locales await in today’s ten mini-previews.

  1. U.S.A. vs. Brazil – international friendly

We last saw the USMNT in action in a 1-1 draw at who are now World Cup champs France.  Today we see them take on FIFA-ranked #3 in East Rutherford, NJ.   The U.S. is #22.

This and probably several friendlies to come will be primarily used to build experience for the American very young players.  The average one tonight will be under 24 years old.

Christian Pulisic – perhaps our best youngster – has been out with an injury with German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund.  Look for Tim Weah to be the name heard most tonight.   (7:30 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   Brasil   0-2       no Tim Weah appearance

B.  Mexico vs. Uruguay – international friendly

Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is the most experienced player his side will field today, with 95 international appearances.  Otherwise, like with the US team, they will be playing comparative kids.

#16 Mexico impressed in the Group Stage of the World Cup, getting past Germany and into the bracketed Round.  But #5 Uruguay went even farther in the WC, eventually losing a Quaterfinal to France.  (10:08 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Uruguay   1-4

Image result for letter B friendly

 

 

Number B – looking positively friendly!

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

The NWSL playoff clubs are set in name, though not yet in seeding with just one match each to go.

With even a draw, Seattle would clinch the #B seed and home field advantage for the First Round against Portland.

Should Seattle win today, Chicago could pass Portland for #3.   That’s big.  No one wants to play #1 North Carolina Courage to open the playoffs.   (10:00 PM, Lifetime Channel)

Fun Fact:   The Thorns’ crest is designed to look somewhat similar in part to the Portland city flag.

RESULT:   Portland   3-1      Lindsey Horan with a pair of a scores.   Portland will be the #B seed for the Playoffs, hosting #3 Seattle.

  1. Italy vs. Poland – UEFA Nations League

Scroll down to the Midweek Edition just below this post to see particulars on this new international event.

This should be a very even match, though advantage to the Italians since it’s at their place.  FIFA ranks the teams as #12 and #18.  UEFA currently ranks them in the confederation as #8 and #9.  Poland was actually ranked higher by UEFA than Italy at the start of the Group Stage of the World Cup, which is what was used for seeding this event.

Nothing in that last paragraph matters too much on the field today though.   (2:45 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for angry italian supporters

 

 

Fun Fact:   Italians are still feeling strongly about missing the last World Cup.

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

With frequent flyer miles to burn, Noob brings us back stateside for second-division action.

3rd place hosts 6th in this Eastern Conference Keystone State battle.  Or is that Massachusetts?  Noob’s not going to look it up, live with the mystery.   I wonder which state consumes the most Keystone Light?  I wonder if Keystone Light would sponsor Noob?  I have no pride, would shill for anyone.

Top eight in each conference make the Playoffs.  No one’s catching Cinci, but Pitt only trail defending champs Louisville by a point in the table.  Small ball’s worked for them this year.  Low scores for everyone.  The visiting Steel take the opposite tack.

Fun Fact:   Pitt’s all-time leading season scorer was from Saint Lucia.

RESULT:   Pitt   4-1       

  1. Basford United vs. Staveley Miners Welfare – England FA Cup

This is the first match of the third round of the tournament.   English folks would say the event doesn’t really start for a long while yet, when the Premier League teams have entered the fray.  But we’re still paying attention.  It’s fun to learn about the teams and leagues farther down the pyramid there.

Basford play in the seventh level of said pyramid.  Teams below that really don’t have much chance to be Minnow, make the “tournament proper” and try for a deeper run.  This team plays in the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League, and are based out of suburban Nottingham.   Early this league season, they’re #B in their table.

Staveley MW are in 6th place in the Northern Counties East League, tier nine.  They’re visiting today for this one-off match, but are from the Derbyshire area.  Noob liberally handicaps them as a two-goal underdog today.

RESULT:   Staveley   1-3

Image result for basford United crest

  1. Guyana vs. Barbados – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Like with the UEFA version above, scroll down to the Midweek Edition below for some details on this event, also a new one.

These two national teams are ranked #16 and #22 within the federation.  Strangely, FIFA ranks Barbados as the stronger team (#160 versus #182).

Fun Fact:  Hindi, of all things, is one of the prominent languages of Guyana.

RESULT:   2-2      It’s possible this match was actually played yesterday.

  1. Cruz Azul vs. Pumas UNAM – Liga MX Femenil

Noob almost feels sort of bad.  Usually on Fridays we jetset around to soccer hinterlands less known.

There are just so many interesting things happening in North American region and Western Europe…they can’t be ignored.  We have our priorities, Noobites.  More, we’ll actually visit a pretty broad spectrum of locales on Relegation Monday.  Noob has plans, such tremendous plans.

Mexico’s top women’s league is divided into two Groups.  These two are last place and 4th in one of those.  Cruz Azul and the other group’s bottom-feeder (Necaxa) are the only two winless clubs now.

Pumas have only scored four times and conceded two goals in their first six matches.  This would not be a fun game to watch, in Noob’s opinion.  But now we know a little bit more about our soccer world, and that is the point.

RESULT:   Pumas   0-2

Image result for cruz azul football women funny

 

 

 

Fun Fact:   Noob did not create this.  This is a real marketing image for Cruz Azul.

Kinda AIDSy.

  1. Longford Town vs. Cork City – FAI Cup (Ireland)

Longford Town are one of two teams of eight remaining not from the Premier League here.   They play in the next division down, and are merely midtable there.

Cork City are starting to look like they won’t quite successfully defend their 2017 Premier League title, sitting #B in that league.  Still, they’ll be more than a handful for their hosts today.  Cork by a couple.

Fun Fact:  The town of Longford is noted for its many single-chambered megalithic tombs, known as “portals dolmens”.

RESULT:   Cork   0-7      Longford were already down 0-2 at 39′ when they lost a player to a straight red.   Kieran Sadler had a pair of goals.

  1. Parnu vs. Minsk – Baltic Women’s League

We’re finally treading a bit further afield!

This league is a standalone, meaning its results have no bearing on any other events of any sort.  The competing clubs are the top two finishers from last year’s top women’s flights in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  They’ve also thrown in one from Belarus for spice.

Noob thinks they’ll each just play each other once, except for clubs from the same county not playing one another at all.

Gintra Universitateas from Lithuania are the defending champs, but it’s today’s visitors that are running away with the title.   Minsk (Belarus) have one all five matches and have a 27-0 GD working.  Good LAWD.  Estonian Parnu JK are in 3rd.

RESULT:   Minsk   0-6

Image result for Parnu weird

 

So long from the Viking Spa Hotel in Parnu!

Town is renowned as a tourist destination.

’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’ 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

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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

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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

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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: Globetrotting Friday

TGIGF!

Since the World Cup is bringing new Noobite eyes, here’s our m.o.  Noob normally previews the ten most important matches to follow for us – the newish American fans of the global game.

On Friday, we start with these matches of matches, but then span the globe!  Friday schedules tend to be light, so we pack our gear, head off for soccer hinterlands less-known.

Let’s get to know some clubs, leagues and locales.  Up, up, and away.

  1. Brazil vs. Belgium – FIFA World Cup

And then there were eight, Noobites.  It’s a shame these two are meeting this early in the tournament, being the #B and #3-ranked teams in the world.

Brazil managed only a draw against Switzerland (which also advanced from the Group Stage), but has handled business perfectly since.  They beat Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16, with both teams getting mouthy during and after the match.  Brazil star Neymar did his usual routine by flopping around on the ground like he’d been Tasered when someone breathed on him hard.

Belgium made a little history in their last match, falling behind 0-2 to the loveable Japanese team before storming back.  If Noob understand correctly, no team in WC had come back from down two goals to win (maybe win specifically in regulation time) since WEST Germany back in the 1970’s.

Belgium’s subs saved them, being more physical than the starters and keying their comeback victory.  Talk is that they will start with more “power” for this match, play some of those guys earlier. And Belgium has already been the highest-scoring team in the tournament. Still, star midfielder de Bruyne is who to watch – the team goes as he does.  For Brazil, it’s Neymar.

And there you have it.  Mini-preview, enough to get you through over-the-neighbor’s-fence chat level.  Now go, be free!  Google you up some deeper pregame analysis if the itch needs more scratching.  Noob will, too.

RESULT:   Belgium   1-2     Brazil headed one into their own goal off a Belgian corner kick.    de Bruyne scored the game-winner.

Image result for chatting over the fence

 

 

“Your soccer knowledge impress me.

Mytwitfacespacebookme sometime, you hunky yard-raker, you.

B.  East Coast Diesel vs. Cronk – Isle of Sodor Cup

The Round of 16 continues, as does Noob’s seemingly exclusive online coverage of the inaugural Sudric FA Cup!  Let’s get to know our combatants.

E.C.D is one of the two clubs formed in Vicarstown, which is just across the water from Cumbria, England.  They dominated their Group, winning all three matches by a total margin of 10-1.

They’ve been projected to be included in the first-ever IoS Premier League in a few months, though barely.  Their inclusion seems guaranteed now.  Which of the three divisions clubs will play in will be in part based on how teams fare in this tournament.

Diesel are a big-boy team.  They control space in the end thirds of the pitch, are as close to a physical team as Sodor has.  Teams that have success against them control the midfield with ease.  E.C.D.’s guys aren’t fast.

Cronk are slated to be in the Second Division, and not expected to complete for the title in Year one.  They may be the weakest team to have survived the Group Stage.  That said, they did manage a draw against much bigger Tidmouth City after being blown out by Knapford Town.

From a distance, Cronk proper looks like little more than an overgrown estate on a big rock overlooking a valley.  It is a traditional and historic village, just oddly- (and coolly) placed, overlooking the pristine Hawin Ab valley in the center of the Isle.  The small villages of Abbey, Kildane and Maron are all nearby, providing a bit larger of a pool of potential players to draw from than perhaps some realized.  Might be why they’re having a measure of success.

The winner today gets either Tidmouth City or Callan.

RESULT:   E.C.D.  0-0  /  5-4 pk       Scoreless after 90′ is NOT something one expects in Sodor.  A pop-up shower good and wet the field about 10 minutes in and that affected the pace.  

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Noob just rents a room above the bar, my fave watering hole in the ‘Vic.

  1. Portland Thorns vs. Utah Royals – NWSL

Expansion Utah are making a move on the Playoffs!  A home draw against #B Seattle was a fine result, and then they walloped horrid Sky Blue FC.  They’re just a point behind Chicago for the last postseason berth.

Portland are trending the other direction, a point behind Utah in the table.  They only achieved a draw with Sky Blue before losing to Seattle.  Hardly a terrible loss, but will the Thorns be energized or deflated after losing to their regional rivals?

RESULT:   Portland   4-0

  1. Penn FC vs. Bethlehem Steel – USL

Bethlehem are in 8th place, hanging onto the last playoff slot in the Eastern Conference by the hair on their Steely chins.  They just thrashed 7th-place Charlotte.

Penn are in 11th and loved to take the air out of the ball early in the season.  They hadn’t been as successful that style as fellow Pennsylvanians Pittsburgh Riverhounds.  They scored a lot more in June and are on a five-match unbeaten streak.

RESULT:   Penn   3-2

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Derek Zoolander — #1 supporter

  1. Persija Jakarta vs. PSM Makassar – Indonesia Liga 1

And now we Trot the Globe!  Welcome to the #27-ranked league in Asia, just a shade below average.   The drama is anything but, though.  Just over a dozen matches into the season and 18th/last place and 1st are separated by just ten points in the table.

And #1 is Makassar.  Jakarta are four points behind in 3rd.  Only the league’s winner will even possibly make the AFC Champions League.  They could be instead assigned to the lesser AFC Cup.

Fun Fact:  Persija Jakarta are “the Kematyoran Tigers”, named for a subdistrict in Jakarta.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Lao Army vs. Lao Toyota – Lao League

We move now a little north and a little farther down the AFC league rankings (#35) to Laos!  This league has eight clubs, down from 14 just two years ago.  Noob’s sources are conflicted as to whether two teams are still being relegated annually.

If that’s still happening, Lao Army are set to get The Boot, second-to-last place.  They don’t defend.  Noob’s not sure they try.  And that’s a bad tach when #1 is coming to town.  Lao Toyota have more than 4x the goal differential of any other team.

RESULT:     now slated for tomorrow

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Fun Fact:   Lao Army are from the capital, Vientiane, which translates originally as “city of sandalwood”.

  1. Selenge Press vs. Daren – Mongolia Premier

Asian league #41.  The winner here will also only qualify for AFC Cup, and a Preliminary Round at that.  But hey – they’re playing!  These are the 5th and 6th-place teams in the league, respectively.

Fun Fact:   Ulaanbaatar translates to “Red Hero City”.  Most of the clubs in this league are from there, the capital.

RESULT:   Daren   0-2

  1. Nam Dinh vs. Song Lam Nghe An – Vietnam V.League 1

Let’s yo-yo up to the top half of the federation’s rankings (#19).  Even up here, the league winner may make Champions League or Asia Cup.

Nam Dinh are about to not be “up here”.  They’re in second-to-last place.  Should they stay there, they’ll have to play a Relegation match or matches with a V.League 2 club at season’s end.   Nghe An are one of the most successful clubs in the nation’s history, but only in 6th this year.

RESULT:   Nghe An   2-3

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Fun Fact:   Water puppetry was created in the Red River Delta region, which Nam Dinh calls home.

  1. Mawyawadi vs. Rakhine United – Myanmar National League

Same situation here in the #25 league.  The winner might go to CL or AFC Cup.

Not that either of these teams need worry about that.  Mawyawadi are in distant last place.  They’re biggest team weakness:  football.  Rakhine are in 9th place, should spend their season trying to stay out of second-to-last place and getting demoted.

Fun Fact:   Nay Pyi Taw – the purpose-built national capital city might be the home of Mawyawadi.  or it might be the former capital, Yangon, that is their home base.  Noob’s sources are conflicted.

RESULT:   2-6   Rakhine

  1. Zaria vs. Victoria Bardar – Moldova Cup

We’ll end the Track making or way back westward into Europe.  This FA Cup is in its Round of 16.  Zaria are in last place in the top-flight league, but won the first match in this two-legged tie 1-4.  Victoria Bardar are a midtable, second-division club.

This is one of the most competitive ties going this round.  There have been about nothing but epic blowouts in between most of the other teams.

RESULT:   Zaria   4-1

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Fun Fact:   In 2009, Zaria auctioned off a one-year player contract online.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Globetrotting Friday (5/11) – from MLS to around the planet!

TGIGF!

Please keep your trays in the upright and locked position.  Your about to jet off with Noob on our weekly football adventure!  Buckle up.  It will get weird.    Again.

  1. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo – MLS

Everyone in the Western Conference is chasing KC and LAFC. The Whitecaps so far are the best of the rest.  For #6 Houston to eke out a road win, look for Argentinian national midfielder Tomas Martinez to need a big game.   (10:30 PM Eastern, NBA League Pass 6)

Noobstradamus Sees:   Houston 2-1, with a goal and assist for Martinez

RESULT:   2-2     Martinez did get a goal.  Houston scored the go-ahead goal in 89′ and then Vancouver tied it right back up at 90′!

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And welcome to the Track, Tomas.

B.  Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. Indy Eleven – USL

Your division two-undercard is also a #3 versus #6.  This is likely to be a defensive slog, er, artistic performance by both sides.

Noobstrdamus Sees:  Pittsburgh’s surprising undefeated streak continuing as they claim 1st place.  They have yet to lose all season.

RESULT:   0-0

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Noob…doesn’t see how going incognito has a bird is relevant, Number B.

  1. Derby County vs. Fulham – English Championship

Wolverhampton and Cardiff City finished in the top two spots in England’s second division, earning automatic promotion to Premier League next season.  Now it’s time for the next four in the table to battle for the third and final spot.

#6 Derby Co. has bounced back from a mostly-catastrophic April (three straight losses) to not lose in their last three.  Fulham lost their last match – one that didn’t matter to them in the table – and before that last lost in early January.

Noobstradamus Sees:   The allure of something like a quarter billion pounds in added Premier League revenue being a strong, strong motivator.  Derby Co. overcomes a deficit at home, wins the first leg of this quarterfinal 3-2.

RESULT:   Derby Co.   1-0

  1. Guingamp vs. Marseille – Ligue 1

Noob once had a nasty case of Guingamp on his left foot.  That stuff will eat the flesh right to the bone if you’re not careful!

The Management here, apologizing once again for the randomly-non sequitur ramblings of Noob.  Is this something Farside comic-ish related to a foot disease like necrotizing fasciitis?

I like dogs.   I forget math sometimes.

Weirdo.  Anyway, this match is important because Marseille are one point outside of 3rd place and the league’s last CL berth with two league matches to go.  Don’t make me do your job, Noobstra-dumbass.

RESULT:   3-3     Marseille went down to ten men due to a red card at 66′.  Guingamp scored the go-ahead at 70′, but Marseille tied it back up at 81′.

  1. Reims vs. Nimes – Ligue 2

Where Noob deems nothing is as it seems.  *Noob beams*.

What the actual f– um, fruit?  The Management wonders if we need to talk to Human Resources.  #1 and #2, er, “#B” in France’s second division.

RESULT:   2-2    And that ends the regular season in France’s second division!  These two are promoted for next year to Ligue 1.  Next come the playoffs for the next three teams in the table to see which other club moves up.

  1. Antalyaspor vs. Istanbul Basaksehir – Turkey Super Lig

Turkey’s clubs have just two matches each to go, and nothing is decided at the table’s top.  Istanbul Basaksehir is tied for #B (3rd on tiebreaker though), trailing #1 Galatasaray by three and leading Besiktas by just one in the standings.

This is definitely a Hiccup Watch match.  Antalyaspor are in 12th and have done nothing against any of the top four clubs this season.  But anything can happen on the road, and I.B. cannot afford a Hiccup here.   (1:00 PM, beIN Sports En Español)

Noobstradamus Sees:   Istanbul eking this one out.  They’re offense is the weakest of the four top teams, but Antalyaspor can’t stop a beach ball generally.   I.B. 1-3, with a the third being a meaningless late one.

RESULT:   I.B.   0-2

Image result for turkey club sandwich

 

Yup.  Turkey club on top of a table.

No apologies.

  1. Erzurum BB vs. Umraniyespor – Turkey First League

Welcome to the Track, Turkey second division!   Just like in England’s second tier, the top two get auto-promoted, while the next four duke it our for a third slot moving up.  These two finished #5 and #4, respectively.  Both have been rolling.

Noobstradamis Sees:  …Erzurum’s freaky two-headed bird crest emblem.  Not a vision, just a plain old nightmare.  Umraniyespor wins 1-8.  Maybe.

RESULT:  EBB   4-3

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  1. Leipaja vs. RFS – Latvia Higher League

it’s very early in this European summer league, where these two are #1 and #3, and are tied for the largest GD so far (+10).  Let’s have a shootout!

Noobstradamus Sees:   Leipaja 4-3

RESULT:   RFS   3-5

  1. Ismaily vs. Al Masry – Egypt Premier League

Perennial powerhouse Al Ahly has already claimed the title, but this league gets two berths into the next CAF Champions League.  #B Ismaily is up on #3 Al Masry by five in the table, but this is the host team’s last match of the season.  Al Masry have one more after this in which to earn points.

Noobstradamus Sees:   …that Ismaily hasn’t lost since February.  it will be hard-fought by Al Masry, but the final will be 2-2, securing ismaily’s CL invite.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Al-Jazeera vs. Al-Wehdat – Jordan Premier

Let’s end the Track with a celebratory congrats to Al-Wehdat, you’re 2017-18 Jordanian champs!  This is the last match of the season for these two.  Al-Wehdat are tied for #B and Noob presumes a Confederations Cup slot (think: Europa League for Africa).

Noobstradamus Sees:  ….a grand party for Al-Wehdat!

RESULT:   Al-Wehdat   0-4

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And so long from Amman, Jordan!