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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for sleepy letter B

 

 

 

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

3. Pumas UNAM vs. Santos – Liga MX

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

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

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

4. AFC Bournemouth vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for fighting cherries

 

 

Infighting Cherries…

5. Lazio vs. AC Milan – Italy Serie A

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for confused by CHinese

 

 

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

7. La Guaira vs. Lara – Venezuela Premier

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

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

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

8. FC Olexandria vs. Dynamo Kiev – Ukraine Premier

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

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

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

Image result for fc olexandria

 

 

 

FC Olexandria, getting our Cyrillic on.

9. Copenhagen vs. Midtjylland – Denmark Superliga

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

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

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

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

10. Lechia Gdansk vs. Jagiellonia Bialystok – Poland Ekstraklasa

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

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

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

Image result for Gdansk funny

 

 

So long from Gdnask, Poland!

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

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

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

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

Tuesday and Wednesday matches and results are further down.

More Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Louisville    1-0        Hail to the champions!

Image result for close call soccer gif

 

Noob’er with the save!

 

If barely…

 

 

Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-1

Image result for America gif funny

 

Murican treasure Danny McBride is revved up for the game.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Argentina   4-0     

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

  1. Vidi vs. PAOK – Europa League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Vidi   1-0

Image result for harold and kumar at white castle

 

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

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

 

Wednesday

  1. CSKA Moscow vs. Roma – UEFA Champions League

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Roma   1-2

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

Stay for the chessboxing.  Yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. CD Aguila vs. Alianza – El Salvador Premier

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Alianza   1-2

Image result for el salvador gif

 

El Salvador Jr. – Mexican luchador.

Yeah,. Noob doesn’t get that, either.

 

Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

Might be “turrible”, but so what.

B.  Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX Femenil

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

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

RESULT:   Pachuca   3-2

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

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

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

RESULT:   Tigres   2-1

’10 to Track’ Sunday (11/4) soccer matches – MLS playoffs lead the way!

Noob is just 2-6 in the top division in his Scrabble tournament this weekend.  And I haven’t even faced the former national champ yet.   Welp.

So serving up the ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game – is sweet relief to me.  I’m still previewing a match from there this week, but I can’t wait to go salve my wounds with a return back to my fall-winter Sodor home next weekend.

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

It’s the Quarterfinals!   In this and the next round, teams face off in two-legged, home-and-away ties.  The lesser seed hosts first.  That’s #5 Portland.

The Timers have had quite the roller coaster season.  Their springtime was simply divine, filled with rain showers and blooming lilies and never a stormy cloud or loss to be seen.  But the summer heat made them inconsistent as could be.

Noob-reviled Sounders come in red-hot, on a five-match win streak.   The defense carried them most of the year.  Of late, it’s been their offense shouldering the load.  If that continues, this is a bad matchup for Portland, which struggled on defense compared to most Playoff clubs.   (5:30 PM EST, ESPN)

RESULT:   Portland   2-1

B.  NYCFC vs. Atlanta United – Major League Soccer playoffs

Atlanta were annihilated in their final regular season match by defending champs yet non-playoff bound Toronto.  That cost them the East’s #1 seed and the Supporters Shield.  But as the #B team, they still got a bye into the Quarters.

The New York Blues beat Philly in both of their last two matches.   That’s good work.  But Atlanta were the scoring champs of the entire league and played just as good of defense as New York City FC.   (7:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Atl   0-1

Image result for grouchy soccer

 

 

how Noob imagines the supporters for New York and Philly — grouchy

 

3.  Wellsworth vs. Ffarquhar – Isle of Sodor Premier

Since Noob’s in Asheville, NC, I’ll miss this fun matchup in the IoSPL’s inaugural season.

Wellsworth were going to be in the bottom of the three divisions.  But they made the Quarterfinals of the first-ever FA Cup this summer.  As reward, they get to play top flite.

Ffarquhar plays in one of the larger towns of the same name, also made the Quarters.  They were slated for PL status already.

These teams were about mirror images of one another statistically.  it’s hard not to lean on the visitors as favorites.  Suddric clubs all draw pretty much from their immediate locales for players.  Wellsworth is a small village — it’s just a numbers game.

Neither played much defense in the FA Cup, even compared to other teams.  That’s saying something.  Aggressive defense is quietly considered uncouth on Sodor.

RESULT:   Ffarquhar   1-5

  1. UNAM Pumas vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

With three matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season), Noob believes at least six teams have a realistic shot at the regular season title.

These two are in 4th and 3rd place, respectively.   Cruz Azul play the league’s tightest D, but their offense has scuffled this month.  Some of that may be the extra matches as they advance deeply in the Copa MX going on.

Pumas haven’t lost a match in a couple months.  I’m not sure they will catch CF America for #1. but I’d bet on them moving up a couple spots to #B.

RESULT:   Cruz   1-2          Cruz is the new #1

Image result for six is crazyZero to do with soccer, but PersonNoob (my daughter) loves M.L.P.’s “Mane Six”.

  1. Arsenal vs. Birmingham City – England Women’s Super League

Last season, Arsenal missed a top-two finish and invite to the Champions League by just one point in the table.  And they’re still feeling raw about it.  6-0-0, 31:3 GD.  It was Chelsea pulling the unbeaten number all last season, but there’s a new leader of this pack.

Nearly all the rest of the teams struggle to score a little, and #3 Birmingham is no exception.  They’ve only allowed three goals, but may well give up that many today.

RESULT:   Arsenal   3-1       Jordan Noobs with two goals, and the coolly-named Danielle van de Donk with the other for Arsenal

  1. Cork City vs. Dundalk – FAI Cup (Ireland)

It’s the Final!

Congrats to the league champs, Dundalk, upending two-time defending champs Cork City.  And now they wrestle over another trophy today.

Dundalk lead the Premier there in goal-scoring and defense.   It’s their offense that’s the greater strength.

Cork lost too many close matches to make it a close regular season title race.  But Dundalk have only managed draws their last two away matches.  Noob suspects they probably just rested starters with title in hand, but maybe they’ve spent themselves and the road has become hard.   And while this isn’t a home match for Cork, neither is it in Dundalk.  The big national stadium in Dublin hosts this one.

RESULT:   Dundalk   1-2      hail to the victors!

Image result for FAI Cup Trophy 2018

 

 

Soooo shiny

  1. Olimpia vs. Cerro Porteño – Paraguay Pro Division

Olimpia ran away with the Apertura regular season title and are doing the same here in the Clausura (second-half season).  They’ve already guaranteed themselves a berth into the next Champions League.

C.P. again find themselves #B.  Their D is sensational.  But if that’s the immovable object, Olimpia’s firepower is the irresistible force.  And they’re more irresistible – you saucy minxes – than C.P. is immovable.

RESULT:   2-2           Naughtiness ensued at 90′!   A red card for someone on each time and Olimpia hits a penalty at that mark

  1. Portmore United vs. Tivoli Gardens – Jamaica Premier

Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are the strongest leagues of those in the Caribbean subgroup in CONCACAF.

Portmore crushed it during 2017-18 regular season, then went on to win the tournament title.  Tivoli finished 3rd last year.  The new season is just seven matches in, but things look largely the same.  T.G. can play defense with the best of them, but can’t put it in the back of the net like Portmore.

RESULTL   Tivolo   0-1

Image result for Jamaican crush

 

 

Impress your fave Portmore fan and/or your own Jamaican crush with a lovely gift of Jamaican Crush.

  1. Le Geldar vs. Etoile Matoury – French Guiana Honor Division

Nation a FIFA member?  Nope.  Full CONCACAF member?  You betcha.  Two-horse race last year between these two, with Le Geldar winning the trophy by one point.

And that’s an even closer margin here than in most leagues.  In French Guiana, a win is worth four points, a tie worth two for each team, or one point just for showing up to lose.  so instead of two or three table-points being distributed like in most leagues, here it’s four or five.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Scholars United vs. Roma United – Cayman Islands Premier

We finish our Track with another matchup of 2017-18 #1 and #B teams!   This was another race decided by just a point.  But this league is different than most, or was last season.

These top two were both carried by their defense.   They didn’t Small Ball, but the next four teams in the table all played about as well or better on offense.  Just not the way these things happens in most places.

RESULT:   1-1

T.E. McField Sports Centre, George Town

 

 

So long from T.E. McField Sports Center, George Town, C.I.!

home of Scholars

’10 to Track’ Relegation Monday – the matches of Suckitude

Soccer scheds far and wide tend to run a little lighter right after the weekend.  Natch.

We here at Noob take advantage by taking you on a journey of Suckitude!  Embrace the darkness of a Monday.  Let’s get to know some teams on the edge of getting Relegated from their leagues.

Or will we see Monday Miracles?

  1. Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo – Major League Soccer

Houston is about to put a wrap on their season.  They just won the U.S. Open Cup.  But they’re in 10th here in the West, need a win to stay even mathematically alive for a postseason berth (top six from each conference get in).

Noob’s hoping they can manage exactly that!   When the opponent is Seattle, Noob will root for almost any team.  Little would please Noob more than to see the Sounders just lose and lose until they drop from 5th to out of the playoffs.

Noobites, I can’t ask you to join me on this journey of scorn.  The first hardcore soccer fan I met long ago was a college T.A. of mine.  A bandwagon-jumping Seattle fan with no connection to the area.  I love to imagine his sad face when woe comes to his team.   (10:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   Seattle   4-1      Victor Romero Rodriguez with two second half goals.

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

Reminder:  Two Groups of four, top two finishers advance to the Knockout State.  Top three of those four make World Cup!

Cuba is not likely to be advancing.   They lost their first match 8-0.   Good LAWD.  88th in the world gets no respect.

The Canadiaians are one of the world powers, ranked #5.   Noob handicaps this match at Canada minus, oh, 15.   Unless a lot of Cuban national team fans are showing up to Edinburgh, Texas to turn it into a home-match feel.   (8:30 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   Canadia   0-12        not a typo.   really.

Image result for Canadian alphabet

 

 

Number B, a literary star the world over.

B is for bear, and bacon.  So much the bacon.

  1. Cork City vs. Bohemian FC – FAI Cup (Ireland)

The Irish FA Cup semifinal!   Winners gets runaway league champion Dundalk for the Cup.

Cork City won the 2017 league title and finished #B this year.   They’ll present a nice, clean changing facility and some lovely parting gifts to midtable Bohemian before whomping them by a goal or two.

RESULT:   Cork    2-1         On to the Final!

  1. Once Caldas vs. Leones – Colombia Primera A

Let’s move through the Sadness Soccer in order of likelihood of an upset, least to most.

Leones are last in the current league season and in the multi-year aggregate Relegation table.  They’re the only club that averages less than a point in the table earned per match.  They’re getting Booted to Primera B, if B will even have them.

Once Caldas are just a point out of 1st place currently.  Noob think’s favoring them by a goal and a half is generous.  To Leones.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for magnanimous funny

 

 

You’re darn right Noob is.

  1. Guayaquil City vs. Deportivo Cuenca – Ecuador Serie A

Seven goals in 12 matches.   Is Quayquil even trying?   Really, they need not.  Last in their stage and the season’s aggregate table.  To avoid Relegation, they have to leapfrog two teams.  The second one is 14 points ahead of them.  Quayaquil has only scored seven points this entire Stage.

Cuenca are below average themselves, so this might be one of GC’s few chances to get a full-fledged win, being at home today.   (8:15 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   1-1

Fun Fact:  The second time Europeans went to loot Quayaquil, they had to suddenly quit the expedition when a yellow fever epidemic broke out.

  1. Fluminense vs. Parana Clube – Brazil Serie A

Only one team in the league hasn’t scored twice as many goals as Parana, and that club misses that mark by just two scores.  The bottom four get kicked out of this league, and Parana are ten points behind second-to-last place.

They’re not just getting Relegated.  They’re going to get forced to all retire, take up Tiddlywinks.

Fluminense are utterly average, and that’s good enough to expect them to coast to a two-goal win today.   (7:00 PM, Premiere Futebol Clube)

RESULT:   Fluminense   4-0

Image result for tiddlywinks world championship 2018

 

 

 

World Tiddlywinks Championships.  Real.

[insert joke HERE]

 

  1. Tigre vs. Estudiantes – Argentina Primera

Argentina uses a three-season table to determine which clubs offend them most.  Tigre are second-to-last in that.  But so far this early season, they’re actually playing just bad soccer, instead of their usual horrific variety.

Estudiantes are playing horrifically.  Surprising.  This is typically a midtable club.   Noob’s forced to consider this a toss-up at worst for Tigre!   (6:00 PM, TyC International)

RESULT:   Tigre   1-0

Fun Fact:  The team no longer plays in the actual town of Tigre, bur rather in Victoria, Buenos Aires.

  1. Nittaidai vs. NTV Beleza – Japan Nadeshiko 1

In Japan’s top women’s league – one of the world’s strongest – they automatically Relegate just one team.  But the next team up the table will have to play in a Relegation Playoff with a second-tier team for the right to play N1 next year.

Nittaidai are in that latter position.  The season is young, but it appears there will be a big gap between the bottom three teams and everyone else.  Noob makes no prediction on which wins this game of Melancholy Musical Chairs and survives.  They’re all equally crappy.

Oh, and Beleza win the league every year of late and should beat them by 2-3 in their own house.  Wheeee!

RESULT:   Beleza   0-4

Image result for nittaidai fc

“Yay – successful huddle!”

  1. Botosani vs. Dinamo Bucaresti – Romania Liga I

This is one of the European leagues that separates into Championship and Relegation subdivisions later in the season.  Just under a dozen matches in, it appears these two aren’t among the top candidates to actually get Relegated.  But they’re not far above them (11th and 12th of 14).

Both can actually score about as well as low-end midtable teams.  But they defend like wet papier-mache.

Not Exactly a “Fun” Fact:   The stand Dinamo’s ultras use is named after Catalan Hildan, a player who died at age 24.

RESULT:   Botosani   2-0         Maybe the tiniest of Miracles!

  1. Hapoel Tel Aviv vs. Ashdod – Israel Premier

We finish the Track with the least likely Relegation candidates that still qualify for today.   These two are two pretty average clubs that currently fall just below that Championship/Relegation line, same as Romania has.

HTA look to be trying to make every game 0-0.  It’s not an uncommon strategy for teams like them that were just Promoted, but that style of play rarely holds up over a whole season.

Ashdod don’t score much more.  Noob thinks they’re more likely to drop then climb into the top half and avoid danger.  This may be the Suckitudiest match of all, as Noob looks for it to be 0-0.

RESULT:   0-0       Ding!

Image result for hapoel tel aviv funny

 

 

 

Heavens!  Is that Hapoel’s junk just fallen clean off and sitting there IN the crest?

’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’ 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 Sunday (8/26) – the best of footyball, home and abroad!

Noob tends to get more than a bit silly covering and learning about soccer.

Noobstradamus, in-house prognosticator.  Always fighting with The Management.  Screaming about Tottenham Hotspur being named for an historic traitor.  Lamenting teams from cities built on Swamps.  The quest to displace Number Two with Number B in all lists…

But weekends, things get (comparatively) serious.   End your weekend relishing in the umami-like rich goodness of Sunday’s mini-previews.  You’ll laugh a little, you’ll learn more.

Please considered following Noob on twitter: SoccerNoobUSA.com, and remmeber to check back for match results.

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

Rivalry Week has saved one of it’s heartiest hate-matches for last.  On top of the intra-regional malice, there’s a lot at stake.

Six from each conference make the Playoffs.  Right now, Portland sits in 6th, just two points up on Seattle.

Please, Timbers, turn things around!  Long-tenured Noobites may recall that my first ever experience with a hardcore soccer fan was a college TA/Sounders bandwagon jumper.  I want that wagon to fall off a cliff!  Noob may not be stable or normal, but I am consistent and sincere.

The problem is, Seattle’s been playing extraordinary ball for two months, not having lost a match since late June.  No one’s scored twice on them over this period. Portland, meanwhile, has lost three straight games.  Two of those were against teams not likely to make the Playoffs themselves.  Timbers have conceded nine goals in those matches.

If Portland are to do as they should, they’ve got to get the heart of their defense right.  International centerback Larrys Mabiala has been épouvantable, while goalkeeper Jeff Attinella has been just as abysmal.   (9:30 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   Seattle   0-1

Image result for larrys Mabiala funny

 

Larry’s started believing he’s Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix”.

May be the issue.

B.  New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United – Major League Soccer

English all-time great Wayne Rooney has been everything D.C. could’ve dreamt.  Since he’s arrived midseason, they’ve won five, drawn one, and lost no matches.  They’re still six points out of the six and final Playoff slot in the East, but are now 8th.  Given that they were in the basement for the entire first half of the season, that’s incredible.

The Red Bulls were playing like the league’s best team midsummer.  And they haven’t lost in their last four outings.  And they’re still #B in the conference.  Still, are they fading a tiny bit?  Road draws against NYCFC and non-playoff Vancouver are okay.  A workmanlike road win against awful Chicago is good enough, just.  A close home win over good-but-fading-themselves LAFC…

Maybe it’s just the road being hard.  Yes, Noob’s imagining NYRB’s imminent demise.   (7:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   NYRB   1-0

Image result for imagine letter BNumber B, doing some messed up reimagining of self.

Is it not enough to merely be usurping Number Two’s place?

  1. Newcastle vs. Chelsea – English Premier League

Last season, Newcastle surprised with a 10th-place finish, having just been Promoted from the second division.   But they’ve followed up on that so far.  A loss Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – even at home – is clearly forgivable.  The home, scoreless draw to just-Promoted Cardiff is less so.

Chelsea have won their first two against pedestrian competition.  After a disappointing 5th-place finish in defense of their previous league title, they won’t be sleeping on anyone.  Missing out on Champions League (top four get invites) will have that effect.   (11:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Chelsea   1-2

  1. Santos vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

What a gigante match!  #3 hosts the only undefeated remaining and #1.  They’ve scored 22 goals in their six matches.  This doesn’t guarantee a shootout though.  Cruz Azul have only allowed one.   (7:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for giant soccer ball

 

 

Gigante!!

Hey, no hands.   I don’t see you in-net.

  1. Cray Valley Paper Mills vs. Ashford Town – English FA Cup

It’s not so much that this individual math is “important” that it’s neat to know that the FA Cup has already begun.  The big-league clubs won’t enter the competition for some time.

In truth, teams from this far down the football pyramid are unlikely to get anywhere near the Round where the Premier League clubs start playing.  But who knows, maybe we’ll have a history-making Minnow!

CVPM play out of the 9th-tier Southern Counties East League (formerly known as “Kent League”), in which they finished 6th in the higher of its two divisions.  They’re from Eltham, which is in the Greenwich Borough (southeast greater London).

Ashford town finished 12th in the 8th-tier Southern League Division One last season.  This year, they’ve made a lateral move to the Isthmian League.  They’re from Stanwell – just northeast of greater London – in the Surrey area of Spelthorne Borough.

RESULT:   Cray Valley   4-1

  1. Marseille vs. Rennes – Ligue 1

The French top league is already three matches into their season, but this is the first one that’s featured two teams from the top quarter of last season’s table.  These two finished in 4th and 5th, meaning they were the best two to not get invites to Champions League.

At least Marseille only missed the CL berth by a point in the table.  There was a massive gulf in the table between them and Rennes.

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for you are not invited

 

 

Would it make a difference if Noob and Rennes brought delicious scones?

 

  1. Jamaica vs. Antigua and Barbuda – women’s World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)

Reminder:  This is also the women’s CONCACAF Championship, doubling as qualification for next year’s WC.

This is the second round of Group Stage.  To get here, each had to win their previous group.   FIFA-ranked #133 A&B didn’t allow a goal in the previous stage’s three matches, but only scored five themselves.  #71 Jamaica, meanwhile, had a GD of 18-2.  Home team by a couple goals today, easily.

RESULT:   Jamaica   9-0         not a typo

  1. Dorados de Sinaloa vs. Correcaminos UAT – Ascenso MX

Welcome to the Track, Mexican second division!   Noob’s making a concerted effort to stay closer to home, with more CONCACAF/Western Hemisphere/North Amuricuhn matches than ever before.

Sinaloa are in 12th of 15 teams this Apertura (first-half season).  UAT are in 8th.   Noob sources are conflicted as to whether seven or eight team will qualify for the postseason Liguila, but either way, Correcaminos are right on that line.

Los Dorados have yet to win a match, but it’s early.  Noob thinks they will get a result at home today.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for welcome and fuck off

 

 

Yes, um, it’s Ascenso league coverage.

Do what now?

  1. Club Brugge vs. Anderlecht – Belgium First Division A

Club Brugge more or less ran away and hid from the pack over the regular season.  When it came time to play the last 10 matches in a Championship division, they fell back to earth a little, but still win the title.

Anderlecht went from second to third over that same stretch, seemingly having hit a wall, finishing those last ten matches with a negative GD even.  If they want to have a shot of their own at the hardware, they’ll have to have improved defense in 2018-19.  The were easily the worst in that regard of all the top clubs, and didn’t have offense that made up for it.

RESULT:   Brugge   2-1

  1. Qarabag vs. Neftchi – Azerbaijan Premier

We finish today’s Track in UEFA’s #23-ranked league.  Like most other European domestic leagues, they’re just getting started.

If you don’t already, get to know the name Qarabag.  They are the perennial power in here, easily the favorite to once again decimate all before them and get the league’s one CL berth.  Their offense is good.  They’re defense was about impenetrable.  They conceded less than a goal every other game on average last season.  Neftchi was 3rd.

RESULT:   1-1

 

So long from Baku, home of Qarabag!

Is that a Death Star they’re building or a seven-star hotel?

(Both!)

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (8/12) – MLS, EPL, Liga MX, Soooooper Cups!

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

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

*snicker*

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

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

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

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

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

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

B.  UANL Pumas vs. Pachuca – Liga MX

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

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

RESULT:   0-0     So much for a shootout

Image result for letter B explore

 

 

Number B, that’s so random.

 

You really get me, don’t you.

  1. Arsenal vs. Manchester City – English Premier League

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

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

RESULT:   Man City   0-2

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

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

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

RESULT:   Bayern   0-5

Image result for super soccer

 

 

 

Get ready for all manner of super-ness.

  1. Barcelona vs. Sevilla – Spanish Super Cup

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

RESULT:   Barca   2-1

  1. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

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

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

RESULT:   Saprissa   1-0

  1. Rijeka vs. Hajduk Split – Croatia First League

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Alianza vs. Santa Tecla – El Slavador Premier

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for El Slavador

 

 

 

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

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

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

RESULT:   YBB   2-3

  1. Molde vs. Brann – Norway Eliteserien

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

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

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

The sllllllamon of El Sllllllllavahdoooooohhr!

The Management:  Rrrriiiight…

RESULT:   Molde   5-1

Image result for Molde Norway salmon

 

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

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

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (5/19) – MLS and more FA Cup finals action!

The ten most important matches for us- thew newish American fans of the global game – to follow.  Noob’s mantra.

But share with your experienced friends!  Noob’s coverage of leagues the world over might interest even the most seasoned fans.  Let’s dig in, Noobites.

  1. Portland Timbers vs. LAFC – MLS

Expansion LAFC haven’t lost in six straight matches.  Portland have one four in a row.  Something’s got to give!

They shouldn’t have trouble getting up for a home match against the #3 team in their conference, but 5th-place Portland are coming off a match with regional rival Seattle Sounders.  Much will hinge on the goalkeeping, and Timbers’ Jeff Attinella hasn’t conceded one in the three matches he’s played.   (3:00 PM Eastern, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:   Portland   2-1     Timbers climb to 3rd (though league matches are still pending at time of this update)

Image result for Jeff Attinella funny

B.  Seattle Reign vs. Chicago Red Stars – NWSL

#B hosts #4 in America’s top women’s league.  Seattle have scored seven in their last two games.  Look for the Reign’s Megan Rapinoe to continue her solid striking.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for animated letter b gif

 

 

Solid, striking Number B!

  1. Chelsea vs. Manchester United – English FA Cup

It’s the Final at Wembley!

Chelsea absolutely crapped the bed in their last league match, but presumably they can wake up with a trophy on the line.  And Manchester United only scored twice in their last three games.  Noob wouldn’t put money on this game even if sports gambling were already legal all across America.   (12:15 PM, Fox Deportes)

Noobstradamus Sees:   0-0, then Chelsea in PK’s!  They redeem themselves for a league 5th-place finish and missing out on the next Champions League.

RESULT:   Chelsea   0-1     So Chelsea win the league last year, the FA Cup this year, and word is they may well sack their manager.  Harsh.

  1. Bayern Munich vs. Eintracht Frankfurt – DFB Pokal (German FA Cup)

It’s the Final in Berlin!

Frankfurt faded down the stretch in the Bundesliga, finishing 8th.  Bayern did very Bayern-y things to everyone in winning the league title.  No reason to think they won’t crush today.  If Frankfurt keeps it within a goal, it will only be because Bayern has everyone fall back defensively after getting the lead.   (2:00 PM, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   Frankfurt   1-3    Well, color Noob shocked!   Bayern dominated everywhere by the scoreboard.

And now Bayern’s manager retires and Frankfurt’s manager is his replacement.  Wild schtuff.

Image result for frankfurt funny

 

The Frankfurt Hotel.

Your team has whatever beating it takes today coming.

  1. Celtic vs. Motherwell – Scotland FA Cup

Staying in the British Isles, it’s another Final!   While not on their actual home pitch, this one is held in Glasgow, Celtic’s home city.  However rough a time Frankfurt will have above, double it for Motherwell.  Celtic won the league again, while “The Steelmen” didn’t even crack the top half of the table.   (10:00 AM, GOL TV)

Noobstradamus Sees:   Celtic ‘however many they want’ – 0

RESULT:   Celtic   2-0

  1. Lyon vs. Nice – Ligue 1

These days, France only get three teams into Champions League, down from the max of four.  That’s bad news for either Lyon or Marseille.  #3 Lyon leads Marseille by just a point in the table.  They have the tougher matchup, hosting #6 Nice, who are fighting for a Europa League berth.  Marseille host #13 Amiens.

Lyon has oodles more offensive firepower than Nice, but all they need is a draw.  Look for this to go very low-scoring, probably that draw.   (3:00 PM, TV5MONDE)

RESULT:   Lyon   3-2    And so they hold off Marseille for 3rd place and the last Champions League berth.

Image result for oodle

 

 

Disallowed!

  1. Goztepe vs. Galatasaray – Turkey Super Lig

Turkey’s top-flight title race remained as good as any in Europe, right through today!

Galatasaray lead two clubs by just three points.  More, they are currently only tied in tie-breaking goal differential with one of them (Fenerbahce).  So they could win today and still not finish 1st.  More, they’re not even guaranteed a top-two finish and CL slot.

Galatasaray also have the toughest matchup today of all contenders.  Their opponent is higher in the table than their rivals’ opponents today, and they’re on the road to boot.   (12:00 PM, beIN Sports)

Noobstradamus Sees:   A 3-1 win.  Goztepe is barely average, despite they’re reasonably good spot in the standings.

RESULT:   Galatasaray   0-1     All four top teams won on this, the last day of league play.  Congrats to the G’men- champions!  Fenerbahce claim Turkey’s second and final CL berth with a come-from-behind win as well today.

  1. Rijeka vs. Hajduk Split – Croatia First League

#B Rijeka could tie #1 Dinamo Zagreb on points in the table on today, the last day of league play.  But the tiebreaker is already won by D.Z. (and congrats to the champs!)  They lead #3 Split by just a point.  They’re both headed to Europa League, but whoever finishes higher will get to enter that competition one qualifying round further in.

RESULT:   Rijeka   3-1

Image result for rijeka funny

 

Come to Rijeka for the football.

Stay for a pie at Gvardijan Pizzeria.

  1. Maribor vs. Olimpija Ljubljana – Slovenia Prva Liga

Slovenia’s first tier might not be quite in the top half of UEFA leagues, but #1 vs. #B will never fail to win Noob over!  Three league matches to go, and Maribor lead O.L. by just a point.  And only one can go to Champions League.

Noobstradamus Sees:  …that while Ljub may not have lost a match since last December, they haven’t won that many, either.  Maribor have been doing almost nothing but winning for months.  Hosts win 2-1 today.

RESULT:   Ljub   3-1      We have a new #1 in Slovenia!   Come-from-behind win with the decisive goal scored at 90′.

  1. Dynamo Kyiv vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – Ukraine Premier

Congratulations to league champions Shakhtar Donetsk!  There will be nothing but pride on the line today, but Noob never ignores a #1 vs. #B matchup.  Kyiv qualify for Europa League for their season’s efforts.

RESULT:   D.K.   2-1

Image result for Kiev funny

 

 

So long from Kyiv!

(Isn’t the world just weird and magical?)

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (3/18) – All four of Europe’s top leagues repped

The ten most important matches for the newish American fan to follow.  It’s what Noob does.  I filter better than Brita.

  1. Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders – MLS

Dallas stumbled down the stretch last season and finished 7th in the Western Conference, just missing the playoffs.  Noob-reviled Seattle finished #B.  They did it with a top defense.  It’s a new season, sure, but Dallas needs to get on the board first, or it could be a long day.   (5:00 PM Eastern, NBA League Pass 6)

RESULT:   Dallas   3-0     And there was JOY

Image result for Seattle meme

 

 

 

Man, I really loathe you, Seattle!

B.  Wigan Athletic vs. Southampton – English FA Cup

Wigans’ defeat last round of Premier League titans Man City was the upset of the season worldwide.  The third-tier league side have to believe anything is possible now.  They get a comparatively manageable foe today.

Southampton are two leagues above Wigan and that should mean everything.  But will they even be putting all their energies into this tournament?   They’ve slipped into the Relegation Zone in Premier League, could not be blamed for saving starters for those matches.  (9:30 AM, FS2)

RESULT:   Southampton   0-2

Image result for letter B zany

 

 

 

Number B’s taking it all in stride.

  1. Bethlehem Steel vs. Richmond Kickers – USL

Last year’s #8 hosts #14.  But it’s the one American division two game today.  And…

RESULT:   Bethlehem   4-1

Image result for bethlehem steel zoolander

 

…the return of superfan Derek Zoolander!

  1. Marseille vs. Lyon – Ligue 1

This is Lyon’s last, best chance to make a move on a Champions League berth for next year.  The league has slipped in strength and now only gets three slots.  And Lyon is in 4th, by five points behind their hosts today.

RESULT:   Lyon   2-3     Lyon with the winner at 90′!

  1. RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich – Bundesliga

Maybe 6th-place Leipzig can hope the undisputed German champs will play a bunch of backups on the road today, rest up for their current Champions League run.   (1:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Leipzig   2-1     They’re still in 6th, but now 4th and a C.L. berth is at least in sight.

  1. Villareal vs. Atletico Madrid – La Liga

It’s hard to imagine undefeated Barcelona suddenly going on a skid.  At eight points back, #B Atletico has to be hoping beyond hope for exactly that.

Villareal, meanwhile, are in a tight four-way race for three Europa League invites.  They’re probably the best of those four, but that doesn’t mean they can’t lose this game of Spanish musical chairs.   (1:30 PM, beIN Sports en Español).

RESULT:   Villareal  2-1      Winner at 90′ + 2!!

Image result for violent musical chairs

 

 

Musical Chairs – to the death!!

 

  1. Sampdoria vs. Inter Milan – Serie A

5th-place Inter Milan have played one less game than 4th-place Lazio, and trail them by just a point in the table.  That’s the last spot for a Champions League berth.

Noobstradamus prognosticates they will not play for a mere draw, even on the road against a tough 7th-place Sampdoria side trying to qualify for the next Europa League.  The hosts like to play a wide open game, and Inter would be better off trying to beat them at it than slowing things down.  2-3 is the score of the predestined shootout.   (7:30 AM, Rai Italia)

RESULT:   Inter Milan   0-5    Well, I had the number of goals and winner right.   Not a total bed-crapping.

Image result for Noobstradamus

 

 

 

barba fluente, niente pantaloni

  1. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

Alajuense took over the Clausura (second half-season) lead with their win yesterday.  But Saprissa and Herediano are just one and two points back, respectively.  There are just a few games to go, so better believe the league leaders are hoping for a draw in this match.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Apollon Limassol vs. APOEL Limassol – Cypriot First Division

Tied for 1st in Cyprus!  This league has already separated into its Championship and Relegation halves.  Apollon lead by virtue of greater head-to-head goal differential, but the odds of that mattering by the end seem low.

RESULT:   Apollon   4-2

  1. Cluj vs. FCSB – Romania Liga I

In Romania, too, they have divided into their league two halves now.

These two were just four points apart in the table when the regular season ended.  Before starting the Championship part of their season, the points they’ve all earned are halved (and then rounded up), so now these two are even closer.  #1 and league’s best defense hosts #B, league’s best offense.  Classic.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for romania classic funny

 

Noob had not known TV classic Beverly Hillbillies  was remade for a Romanian audience.