Isle of Sodor Premier League – IN REVIEW – matchday 32 (4/13-14): Away teams reign, title race shifts

Sat., 4/13                              [The Featured Match, which was previewed, is in bold]
#7    E.C D.                            1   vs.      6     #8    Wellsworth
#19  Tidmouth City         4   vs.     13    #10   Suddery
#11   Lakeside                     1    vs.      5      #1    Dryaw
#5    Kirk Ronan                0   vs.      7     T14   Marron
T16  Ffarquhar                   0   vs.     4     T14   Brendam Harbor

Sun., 4/14
#4   Crovan’s Gate            3    vs.    5    #20  Arlesburgh Utd.
T16  Ulfstead                       1    vs.    2      #9   Glennock
#18  Brendam Utd.           6   vs.    5     #13   Vicarstown
#6    Junction & Sheds    7    vs.    2    #12    Castle Rolf
#2    Peel Godred               7    vs.    8     #3    Knapford Town

[The updated table is under the “More Noobishness” Pages.  Smexy link. ]

Review Highlights:  

*  Knapford Town moves into 2nd, dropping Peel Godred to 3rd

*  Dryaw wins again, remains four points clear of #2

*  New last place team!

*  A tie for 16th forces IoS FA to announce how they will handle possible end-of-season tie in the table

What a crazy weekend on the Isle.  In addition to the highlights above, seven away teams won.  Suddery blasted sad sacks Tidmouth City for 13 goals.  And Brendam United climbed out of the Relegation Zone, leaving two teams tied on the Cutline.  This last forced FA prez Abban Clague to release a long-awaited statement regarding possible ties in the table at season’s end: 

Image result for old man typingShould two or more teams tie for 1st, they’ll have a Playoff at the national stadium in Suddery.   The same will be true if there is a tie surrounding the Relegation Line.   No other form of tiebreaker will be used.  This includes Goal Differential, despite pressure from our cousins in the English FA to follow their model.

Why?  For our new international audience:   On the Isle, when a team is down in a match, it is considered poor form to stop trying to score, to shut the game down to keep the final margin small.  That’s not fun

So we start our new era of nationally organized soccer by  honoring this tradition.   Victory will be rewarded, but not the margins.  And if our cousins across the Walney don’t like it, they can mizzle for all of me!   *mike drop*

Why Mr. Clague thought a mike drop worked in writing is beyond Noob.   Sodor is a strange place ofttimes.

Oh yeah, and that Feature Match between Peel Godred and Knapford Town?   All 15 goals were scored in the first half.   Over the second half, 11 shots found woodwork.   Twice, shots hit the crossbar and a post before plinking away from net.   It was odd beyond belief.  By game’s end, everyone was creeped out and quiet.   Noob’s just not ready to talk about it.   I miss drinking in Dryaw with my friends.

Image result for sobriety sucks

 

Isle of Sodor Premier League – matchday 31 (4/6-7) – Sat., #17 tries to stay above the Drop Zone, hosting #3 trying to stay in the title race

Having no major landmass to the near west of it, Sodor catches the brunt of truly severe storms.   Last weekend, the Isle got gobsmacked by one, so all games were postponed and the remaining season’s schedule simply shifted back a week.

Matchday 31 (Sat., 4/6) Preview    (Sunday preview to follow tomorrow)

#18  Ffarquhar                 vs.    #11    Lakeside
#6    Junction & Sheds   vs.    #8    Wellsworth
#12   Castle Rolf               vs.    #19   Tidmouth City
#2    Knapford Town      vs.    #14   Brendam Harbor

plus the Saturday Feature Match    #17 Brendam Utd. vs. #3 Peel Godred

This should be one dandy of a match, full of desperate energy.   United are just one slot in the table and one point ahead of #18 Ffarquhar – the  Relegation line.  PGFC are tied for 2nd, but four points behind league-leading Dryaw FC.   [Click here for the current table.]  Neither can afford to drop any points in pursuit of their respective goals with just a couple months of season remaining.

Image result for Boleyn fc crest United were featured in the Brendam Derby back in February and that brought them no good fortune whatsoever.  There got utterly trucked, 7-0, by intracity rivals Brendam Harbor.  Their trajectory, their problems have remained the same.   They absolutely cannot score.  On Sodor, where defense is typically an afterthought, that’s confusing and unmanageable.   They’ve scored all of two goals in their last four matches, going 0-1-3, are in real danger of the Drop.

Noob had the sense coming into this inaugural Premier League season that B-Utd. were going to be competitive, maybe even title-chasers.  Brendam’s one of the big, main towns on the Isle.  They’ve always done well in the friendlies, tourneys and small regional leagues that have popped up up for brief times here over history.  But I failed to realize that much more recently, the power had shifted to Harbor.

“United” was named such for the traditional reason.   They are an amalgamation of former, much smaller teams from just inland.  They do draw from Brendam Town, but more and more Harbor has been becoming the “city’s team”.   B-Utd. has had to become mostly a provincial team, drawing much more heavily from the countryside population for players.  That area of this southern peninsula is not populous, even by Sudric standards.

United want to become rivals to Harbor once again.   For that to happen though, they’ll need to remake inroads into Brendam proper, expand the player pool from which they draw.  Until then, they will likely continue to  struggle mightily.

Image result for PGFC crestPeel Godred were featured just last matchday, so Noob will abbreviate.  [Click here for that PGFC match feature article.]  They’re 2-0-2 in their last four.   And they need to string together wins in back to back matches for the first time in a while if they want to become the #1 contender to Dryaw.

Noob calls it:     Peel Godred  1-6         Peel’s style is unique on Sodor, and so more recognizable to the rest of the world.   They actually play some standard formations instead of throwing everyone forward all the time.  That gives teams here fits, and has been particularly disastrous for teams in the table’s lower half.   Noob’s  generous to write United might score at all.

Isle of Sodor Premier League – matchday 30 (3/23-24) – Sun. #1 take on the FA Cup winners

Matchday 30 (Sun., 3/24) Preview 

#2   Knapford Town   vs.    #15  Vicarstown
#4   Crovan’s Gate      vs.    #11   Castle Rolf
#13  Marron                   vs.     T7    E.C.D.
#6   Wellsworth           vs.     #18  Ulfstead

Plus the Sunday Feature Match:    #1 Dryaw hosts #14 Brendam Harbor

Hello from village Dryaw!   Noob usually attends both the weekend’s Feature Matches.   But no way I was going to interrupt my stay in Dryaw this week.   The preview’s a’comin’, but first, indulge Noob’s small peek into my long-term, part-time life here.

For those newer to all things Sodor, Dryaw’s a sizable village in the west central part of the Isle.  West and south along the coast are three of the large towns, all easy gets for finer dining.  Just east – estates, B&B’s, wine country.  And so, it’s become a haven for writers, whether for short vacation, extended stays, or even permanent residence.

me Noob’s been hanging and imbibing with his usual pair o’ pals.   American novelist Dan Heck (Google up his books, or even his new blog-archive of all things championships of all kinds) came for the week.  Image result for Doug Barr So did Douglas Barr, costar of 1980’s TV’s “The Fall Guy”.  Actor, writer, director, vintner – we’re all becoming best friends, it’s true.  He brought some of his newly available 2002 “2480 ” cab sav from his Hollywood and Vine Cellars.  Behhhst frehhhhnds.  So, Noob’s got more than a bit of a katzenjammer working as he writes tomorrow’s preview.

Related image Sportsball!   Ok.  Dryaw still lead Knapford by two in the table and Peel Godred by four (Peel’s Sat. result pending).  This, despite being just 1-1-2 their last month.  The road loss last week in the capital against midtable Suddery was a surprise.  Will they re-find their offense again today?  They’ve proven they can win high-and low-scoring affairs alike, but one goal is rarely going to get you any points on the Isle.

Image result for BHFC crest Brendam Harbor won the inaugural FA Cup this past summer, but surprisingly have not followed that up with a strong first PL season.   They’re just 14th in the table.  Being from one of the “main towns” on the Isle, they were certainly considered a league fave even before winning the Cup.

They’re one of the few teams on Sodor that play a reasonable semblance of defense.  They’ve certainly had their share of strong games on that regard, but when teams score much at all against them, the Harbormen have rarely shown they can compete in a shootout.  Motivation may start to become a question.   They’re safe from Relegation, yet have little hope of competing for a top-half table finish.

Noob calls it:      Dryaw  5-1        Dryaw’s been excellent at home, for the most part.   And they’ll be plenty motivated.  They know Knapford and Peel Godred also have home dates this weekend, matches against bottom half teams.

Isle of Sodor Premier League – matchday 30 (3/23-24) – On Sat., #3 tries to stay in the race; Ffarquhar tries to stay up

Matchday 30 (Sat., 3/23) Preview    (Sunday preview to follow tomorrow)

#20  Arlesburgh Utd.    vs.     #5    Kirk Ronan
#19  Tidmouth City       vs.     T7   Junction & Sheds
#16   Brendam Utd.        vs.    #12   Lakeside
#10   Suddery                    vs.     #9   Glennock

Plus the Saturday Feature Match:  #3 Peel Godred hosts #17 Ffarquhar

Deja vu all over again!   They played two weeks ago and face off again today.  Ffarquhar took the W at home, 5-3.   But this week we get to learn a little more about a new host town.

Image result for PGFC crestWelcome to “Peel”, at is referred more often than not, locally.   The small town lies in the north central part of Sodor.   It’s more or less the northern terminus for the train system that’s been fictionalized in the “Thomas” stuff.

It’s not a town of particular note, though truly a town in Sudric terms, as opposed to a village.  Aluminum factory.  Small lake nearby.   But there are lots of villages close at hand, and the folks there have chosen to feed their best players into PGFC, instead of fielding their own, smaller possible Championship clubs.

Peel sit just four points behind league-leading Dryaw FC.  While not defensive aggressively (almost no club on Sodor is), Peel are an interesting case.  They tend to not throw everyone forward, all the time, like so many here do.  Instead, they actually play formations more common in soccer the world over, especially preferring the 5-2-2-1, then trying to score on counters.

The last month, they’re 2-1-1.  Staying afloat is fine, but they can’t afford to drop any points hosting a team fighting the Relegation riptide, not at home, not if they are going to win the league.

Image result for FFFC football crestLast week’s victory over PG, coupled with Ulfstead‘s matchday 29 loss, put the Double F back above the Relegation line by a point.  It was their first win in a month, a stretch that included a loss to Ulfstead.  Since Ulfstead faces their own stern road test today (at Wellsworth), it wouldn’t be surprising to see this turn into a defensive affair.  A draw should be enough to keep FF out of the Drop Zone for at least one more week.

Noob calls it:        4-3 Peel Godred           If Ffarquhar don’t play there usual game (slightly more offensively-oriented than average), PG will win.   They’re a team that takes advantage of others’ mistakes and FF will make some if they stray from their usual style.

National holiday on Isle of Sodor (no weekend matches 3/16-17). But they beat an old man with sticks, that’s fun.

IImage result for Ides of March modern celebrationn recognition of March 15 as a national holiday on Sodor, no football matches in either of the Premier League or Championship were scheduled for this weekend.  Yes, the Ides of March are quite the spectacle here, thanks to the longstanding ancient Roman influence on the Isle.

It is also known as the Festival of Anna Perenna, and the related celebration is held in Vicarstown.    The Ides was once the first full moon of the Roman new year.  As a sort of a scapegoat ritual for the new year, the oldest man in Vicarstown is dressed in animal skins and and is beaten with reeds by everyone and chased across the Jubilee Bridge into Barrow, Cumbria, England.   He may not return until the next year’s Ides.

Image result for terrified old man

 

2018 Ides of March scapegoat Aemon Collymore

 

(That look is priceless.  He hadn’t heard 101 year-old John Culken passed away the night before.  The townies decided to surprise him mere minutes before releasing him in the town square for his beating, chase, and long vacation.)

 

Before you go feeling too badly for the fellow, he gets to rest and recuperate on Sudric taxpayers’ dime.   Traditionally – over the last 125 years, anyway – he convalesces at The Imperial Hotel.  Once rested, the geezer usually does “walkabout” of England or even greater Europe.

Image result for imperial hotel barrow in furness

Games resume next Saturday!

’10 to Track’ match previews for weekend 1/19-20 – call Noob “Mr. CONCACAF”

Noob’s return to Tracking important matches for rolls on!

This weekend, trying out something new.

Image result for CONCACAF

What follows are the most important matches from the top 20 leagues in CONCACAF.

Enjoy, as we get to know leagues and clubs from all over our local federation.

1. UANL Tigres vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX
  • CONCACAF league rank:        they don’t do those, but MX is #1
  • Table positions:                        Apertura #5, #2
  • Stakes:                                           top 8 make the Liguilla
  • Time of season:                         Clausura just starting

For the rawest of Noobites, Mexico divides its football year into two separate tournaments – Apertura and Clausura. They’re just a game into the Clausura, so let’s look at the year’s first half:

Cruz Azul were the regular season champs! But they lost in the Liguilla (postseason tournament) final to #B CF America. They sported the best defense in the league, should be a contender once again.

UANL finished in 6th, also qualifying for the Liguilla. Their goal differential was second best in the league, but it wasn’t bad luck that kept them from a higher table position. They struggled against top competition, if often losing close at least. And they ran up scores against lesser foes. They’ll need to figure out how to get more scoring versus the real contenders if they want to join their ranks.

RESULT:   Cruz Azul   0-1

B. Atlas vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil
  • CONCACAF league rank:             hmmm…well, nowhere near as good as U.S.
  • Table positions:                             Apertura #4, #B in Group 2
  • Stakes:                                               top four from each Group make the Liguilla
  • Time of season:                             Clausura just starting

Mexico’s professional women’s league has their season divided the same as the men’s side. In this league also they are just starting the Clausura.

Unlike the men’s side, the women’s league is divided into two Groups of nine clubs each. Top four from each make the Liguilla, and these two were both in it. These two were the best defensive teams from their Group. They sported the best two defense in the league. Both will have to show they can score a lot more in order to challenge Group champs UNAL.

RESULT:        this match seems to have not been played;  an update will follow if more info becomes available

 

Image result for image redacted

 

The Number B image originally shown here was redacted.

I blame the agents of worn-out Number Two.

3. Oaxaca vs. Sonora – Ascenso MX
  • CONCACAF League rank:           might be third-best
  • Table positions:                             Apertura #6, #4
  • Stakes:                                               top 8 make the liguilla
  • Time of season:                             Clausura just starting

Previously, Noob has paid little attention to second-tier Mexican football. And while I may not spend a lot of type on it, as perhaps the third-best league in the region, we’ll get to know it a little.

There were just two or three teams in real contention for the regular season Apertura title. But that liguilla is just as shiny a trophy, and it was the #5 seed that won it. Oaxaca’s got the goal-stopping ability to make a push higher in the table here in the Clausura. Sonora’s got to win some close games this go-round or they won’t.

It’s worth noting, kind of sadly, that these clubs aren’t really offered a chance at Promotion into Liga MX. The overall winner is technically eligible, but there are safeguards in place so the last place Liga team can pay a bunch of money to stay in the top flite.

Fun Fact:   Oaxaca’s nickname – The Alebrijes – is a term for art depictions of fantastical creatures.   The form and term comes from artist Pedro Linares.  After falling ill, he had dreams of unreal animals and drew them upon waking.

RESULT:   Sonora   0-1

The rest are Caribbean region matches.  Two quick things:

  • I assume a rough correlation between a national team’s official ranking and the country’s domestic league strength.  I’ve never found formal rankings for the latter.
  • Here’s how the CFU (Cariibbean Football Union) qualifies teams for CONCACAF Champions League and CONCACAF League (which is itself a pathway to CL):

Image result for caribbean club championship

 

This year, countries with professional and semi-professional leagues can send two teams to the new Caribbean Club Championship.

 


Image result for caribbean club shield

Other countries’ leagues can send their winners to the second-tier Caribbean Club Shield tournament.

 

The particulars of how each event qualifies teams to the CL and CONCACAF League can wait for another day.

4. Mount Pleasant vs. Portmore United – Jamaica National Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:                about #6*
  • Table positions:                               #5, #1
  • Stakes:                                                  top six make league playoffs
  •                                                                  top two get byes
  •                                                                  Caribbean Club Championship berths
  • Time of Season:                                unsure!

Last year, this 12-team, league played a double round robin. This year, they’ve just reached that point and are playing on! But it’s not the playoffs.

Currently, this league is seeing a three-horse race for those top two spots. Portmore – which made the Caribbean Club Championships last year – have a narrow lead, but their defense is suspect. Fortunately for them, Mount Pleasant is a small-ball team – don’t score much, don’t concede many.

RESULT:   1-1

Mount Pleasant Football Academy Logo.png

 

Noob is looking for comments on what the interjection means.   Actual part of the Academy crest.

Here or @SoccerNoobUSA on Twitter

5. Agoaudo vs. Kourou – French Guiana Division d’Honneur
  • CONCACAF league rank:               top 15
  • Table positions:                              #1, #6
  • Stakes:                                                 Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of season:                               approaching halfway

French Guiana could send two teams for the Caribbean Club Shield, but is not.  Maybe after this season.

Agoaudo are undefeated, lead the next team in the table by nine points. That’s not quite as big a gap as it looks like at first glance. This league awards four points for a win, two for a draw, and one for just showing up. Second-best offense in the league, runaway best D.

Kouro are merely midtable. Noob’s not certain they have the D to maintain a top-half finish in this 12-team league.

Fun Fact:   Nearby Agoaudo’s home of Apatou is the Guiana Amazonian Park.  Suriname is a French department (state, more or less), and this park is the largest French national park.

6. Moulien vs. USBM – Guadeloupe Division d’Honneur
  • CONCACAF league rank:        top 15
  • Table positions:                        #1, #3
  • Stakes:                                           Caribbean Club Shield
  • Time of season:                         halfway

Guadeloupe are sending 2017-18 their champs – Moulien – to the Club Shield, unlike French Guiana. That same club leads the league this year, too, but what a race it looks like so far! They lead the next team in the table by just a point, and three other clubs are within just five points.

Moulien will try to keep the score low. Not that they can’t score well themselves, but #3 (and likely true top threat for the title) USBM prefer a wide-open style themselves, and would play it far better.

RESULT:   USBM   0-3              There’s your new league #1!    Three teams trail by just a single point in the table.

Image result for Moulien

 

 

As a former radio dj, just thought this was cool.

7. St. Paul’s vs. Village Superstars – St. Kitts and Nevis Super League
  • CONCACAF league rank:                 top 20
  • Table positions:                                 #3, #1
  • Stakes:                                                   top 4 make league playoffs
  •                                                                   Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of Season:                                 over 1/3 done

Village Superstars are the defending champions, will play Club Shield.   They lead the league this year as well, but their hosts today and Newtown United are going to both be there ’til the end.

These two sport excellent offenses, but lead the league in D.  It will be interesting to see what sort of pace St. Paul’s will try and dictate at home.

Fun Fact:  St. Paul’s are based out of the town of that name, but play their games in the national capital, Basseterre

RESULT:   1-1

8. Interwillemstad vs. UNDEBA – Curacao Sekshon Paga
  • CONCACAF league rank:        top 20
  • Table positions:                        #6, #B
  • Stakes:                                          top 6 make league  playoffs
  •                                                          Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of season:                        earlyish

The season looks to only be 18 matches long here in the former Netherlands Antilles. So even at seven matches in, things are looking serious. Unbeaten Scherpenheuvel have opened up a five point lead over UNDEBA. But this is a good matchup for the visitors. They score goals like crazy, but play about no defense. But scoring is exactly where Inter struggles.

Curacao will host the Club Shield.   Jong Holland are the defending champs here, but deep down the table this season.

RESULT:   Inter   2-1        The winners climb into a three-way tie for 4th place.    The losers fall into a tie for #B in the table, six points behind the league leaders.

Image result for inter willemstad 2018-19

9. West United vs. Robin Hood – Suriname Topklasse
  • CONCACAF league rank:       top 20
  • Table positions:                      #8, #B
  • Stakes:                                         Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of season:                       earlyish

Robin Hood are the defending champs, representing the league in the second-tier Club Shield tournament. They are one of three still undefeated teams here in 2018-19. They trail Leo Victor by four in the table.

The real question in this league would seem to be will Inter Moengotapoe (3rd place) be able to keep pace? So far offensive numbers say no. But it’s early. They should beat midtable West Utd. in their own house by a couple today.

Fun FactWest Utd. are from the Coronie District, of which the four towns have fewer than 4,000 people.

RESULT:   Robin Hood   2-4

10. Grenades vs. Parham – Antigua and Barbuda Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:         top 20
  • Table positions:                         #3, #5
  • Stakes:                                            Caribbean Club Shield berths
  • Time of season:                          halfway

It may just be the halfway point, but there are also just nine match days remaining. Parham are just five out of the lead, but it feels like they have too many clubs to leapfrog to make a title run.

Grenades are just three back of the defending champs – Hoppers – and have the defense to stay in the race. This could be a tricky home game though. Parham are something of a traditional power here.

RESULT:   Grenades   1-0       Grenades  climb to #B, Parham slip to 6th.

Image result for Antigua Recreation ground

 

So long from the Antigua Recreation Ground in St. John’s, home of Grenades F.C.!

Capacity:  12,000

’10 to Track’ Relegation Monday (1/14) matches – more Suckitude than you can handle or deserve!

Monday’s world league scheds are exceptionally light today.  So, before we dig into Matches of Suckitude – ones that feature teams about to get Relegated for their poor performances – we start with some match mini-previews of happier import.  Enjoy.

1. Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – English Premier League
  • UEFA league rank: #B
  • Table positions: #B, #11
  • Stakes: top 4 go to Champions League
  • Time of season: middle

The defending runaway champs can retake the league lead today with a win. They’ve reeled off four straight wins since a two-loss speed bump that allowed Liverpool to move into 1st. The last two of those were by a combined score of 16-0, though over non-Premier foes in Cup tournaments.

Wolves are in 11th, but would move into the top half of the 20-team table with a draw and jump to 8th or 7th with a win. How is a team that was just promoted doing so well? Money infusion from the Chinese conglomerate that bought them. (Thank you to the Bros Talking Soccer podcast guys for the answer to that one on their Slack.) They win with smallish ball – low scores for everyone. It’s not likely to work today…but “defense travels” is an axiom for a reason!

RESULT:   City   3-0

B. U.A.E. vs. Thailand – Asian Cup

The Group Stage of Asia’s national team championships is nearly done. The pods of four are playing just a single round robin, all matches in the host Emirates. The top two from each Group automatically advance to the next round. The four best third place finishers will also move on.

U.A.E. have already mathematically advanced. Thailand are tied with India for runners-up, but down to them on head-to-head tiebreaker. The AFC ranks homers U.A.E. #4 and Thailand #8 (FIFA ranks #79 and #118). But no matter – the Thais are so far the best of the third-place sides, are all but certain to advance as well.

RESULT:   1-1        The Thais advance as the Group runners-up!

Image result for letter B cartoon sword

 

 

Number B is back, and the quest to be rid of Number Two in lists is ON.

3. Newtown vs. St. Paul’s – St. Kitts and Nevis Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank: they don’t really do them
  • Table positions: #B, #3
  • Stakes: top 4 play for the title
  • Time of season: over 1/3 done

Two similar teams chasing Village Superstars for the trophy!

RESULT:   1-1

4 and 5.

Gotta be honest. It’s late here on Sodor where Noob is wintering. Gotta save time for continuing to put together the coming Isle of Sodor Premier League page.

So. The Coppa Italia (FA Cup is in its Round of 16. Also, there’s also a second division Portuguese league match you can Google up, should the Spirit move you.

And now, Matches of Suckitude!

6. Aris Thessaloniki vs. Lamia – Superleague Greece
  • UEFA league rank: #13
  • Table positions: #8, #14 (of 16)
  • Stakes: bottom 3 Relegated
  • Time of season: middle

Lamia are a fair bit better than the bottom two teams. They are one of three teams realistically trying to stay out of the last Relegation slot. That said, the fourth-to-last place team will play the 4th-place D2 team for the right to play Superleague next year. Lamia can’t score worth a darn, are likely to stay right where they are.

Noob doesn’t think they can even compete for a draw today. Thessaloniki score twice as much, are just as good on D.

RESULT:   Thess   1-0

Image result for Lamia football

 

 

 

Aaaaand stab yourself in the head.

7. Alki Oroklinis vs. AEL Limassol – Cyprus Premier
  • UEFA league rank: #18
  • Table positions: #9, #3 (of 12)
  • Stakes: bottom half do Relegation playoff
  • Time of season: middle

Worst offense and defense in the league. How A.O. are higher in the table than three clubs is beyond Noob. They’ll be doing well to keep this to a one-goal loss against the #3 side.

Fun Fact:   The team owner re-named the club after a fave of his that had just gone bankrupt and dissolved.   What the cuss?

RESULT:   AEL L   1-3

8. Hapoel Tel Aviv vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv – Israel Premier
  • UEFA league ranking: #27
  • Table positions: #12, #1 (of 14)
  • Stakes: bottom 8 do Relegation playoffs
  • Time of season: middle

Side note: This league has dropped a tied-for-worst nine notches in the European rankings this last year.

HTA aren’t likely to escape the Relegation playoffs at season’s end. Their small-ball ways aren’t working out. Ten draws in 17 matches have kept them from the table’s very bottom. And MTA are going to put up with none of their nonsense. Undefeated, best offense and defense in the league.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for hapoel tel aviv funny

 

We’re not taking you seriously with those stretches, HTA.

Get a Peloton for warmups.   Something.

9. Glacis United vs. Boca Juniors – Gibraltar Premier
  • UEFA league ranking:          #51
  • Table positions:                     #7, #9 (of 10)
  • Stakes:                                        last place gets Relegated
  • Time of season:                      middle

#51 of 55 leagues? Hey, it’s a rock with about the pop. of Ames, Iowa and they’re not #55. Noob’s actually more impressed that they even have a Second Division to which a team can be sent down.

The 9th-place finisher will have a playoff with the #B from the second tier. I’d say their offense is the worst thing ever, but last place-Lions only have two goals on the entire season to Juniors’ six. Truth be told, Glacis aren’t light years better, but at least they’re not giving up buckets of goals.

Fun Fact:   Argentinian Boca Juniors called and they’d like their name back.  Like, now.

RESULT:   Glacis   6-1

10. Red Star vs. Lens – Ligue 2, France
  • UEFA league ranking: n/a, second-tier league
  • Table positions: last, #5
  • Stakes: bottom 3 get Relegated
  • Time of season: middle

Two other league clubs are as poor on defense as Red Star, but those play a little to a lot more offense. Red Star might climb to 19th over no-goals Nancy, but won’t get higher.

Lens are well-enough balanced to stay in the top five and participate in the Promotion Playoffs later, if not so good as to be a threat to the top two and get automatically moved up.

RESULT:   1-0

Image result for saint-ouen flea market huge

 

So long from Saint-Ouen (greater Paris), home of Red Star FC.

HUGE flea market, but is super-“professional”.

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday (1/11) – Liga MX, Asian Up, CAF Champions League lead the way

Noob’s return continues!   Last Monday we celebrated Relegation matches of suckitude for the first time since the holidays.   Today, we return to our Globetreotting ways.  When the biggest leagues provide a little less, we spend our Friday perusing matches  far and wide!

Come, Noobites!   Let’s discover a world of soccer.   As always, we start close to home —

1. Atlas vs. CF America – Liga MX
  • CONCACAF league rank:            doesn’t have ’em, but this is #1
  • Table position:                               Apertura #15, #2 and Liguilla winner
  • Time of season:                              early

Atlas won their first match of the Clausura (second half-season of the Mexican football year). They needed a hot start after crapping the bed for first half-season. After getting just 11 goals that whole time, they already have two.

This is America’s first match. They’re awesome and will almost certainly perform terrible deeds upon their host tonight. View the carnage at 10:00 PM on Univision Deportes.

Fun Fact:  La Barra 51  are Atlas’ primary supporters group, named for 1951 – the last time and I think only time they ever won the top-flight championship.

RESULT:   America   1-2

B. Palestine vs. Australia – Asian Cup

This is the quadrennial championship for the AFC. The qualification rounds are done and the Group Stage is at hand. All the remaining matches are being held in U.A.E. Six pods of four teams each each duke it in a round robin out for two slots in the next, bracketed round.

Defending champs Australia (#41 in the world, #2 in the AFC) actually lost their first match. HYOOJ. Jordan also won their second match, so it’s looking like one slot will be theirs.

Palestine are rated the 16th-best national team in Asia, #99 overall by FIFA. They had a scoreless draw with Syria to open this stage.

RESULT:   Socceroos   0-3

Image result for letter B sexy

 

 

 

 

Number B- enticing you to join the question to be done with Number 2.

 

3. Leeds vs. Derby County – EFL Championship
  • UEFA league rank:                     n/a; second-tier league in England
  • Table positions:                        #1, #6
  • Teams promoted:                      3
  • Time of season:                          middle

Even as only England’s second-highest league, this is probably a top-15 league talent-wise in Europe. The top two teams will be Promoted to Premier League, with the next four having a playoff for one last slot.

Leeds still lead the league, but they’ve allowed it to be a tight race after losing two league matches in a row (and their recent FA Cup match as well). Both were road losses, but six goals conceded is bad against Nottingham and QPR.

Derby have kept their hopes afloat with a lot of draws of late. They don’t appear to have the defense to hold a top-six position, recently or over the season as a whole so far. Noob predicts a shootout today. First one to three goals wins!

RESULT:   Leeds   2-0

emblem

 

 

One of Noob’s all-time favorite crests.

So many design elements here give it a three-dimensional look.  This would make a fine ornamental piece.

 

4. Lobi Stars vs. Mamelodi Sundowns – CAF Champions League

If it seems like the last iteration of this tournament just ended, you’re not wrong. They’re moving from a Feb-Nov. timeframe to an Aug.-May format in 2019. So this 2018-19 version is the tweener, running Dec.-May.

The qualification round is done, and this is the first day of the Group Stage. Four pods of four clubs each compete in a double round robin for two slots each in the next, bracketed round.

Lobi won last year’s Nigerian Premier. This league is ranked #13 in Africa. Just a notch higher and they would’ve qualified the maximum two teams into this event. The Stars’ success is predicated more on defense than scoring.

The Sundowns are one of two teams from the #6-ranked South African Premier. Their league season is about halfway over. They;re in 4th place, but have 3-4 matches in hand over the teams above them. They’re also undefeated, though with lots of draws. They’re even more defensive-minded than Lobi.

If either teams scores, it will be Mamelodi. They should be considered a 1-2 goal favorite today.

RESULT:   Lobi   2-1

Image result for soccer compression socks funny

 

 

 

Soccer compression socks.

5. Mantab vs. Conaree – Saint Kitts and Nevis Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:                 n/a; prolly not in the top few Caribbean                                                                             ones
  • Table positions:                                 #8, #5
  • Clubs relegated:                                  2
  • Time of season:                                   over 1/3 done

The winner of this league will probably qualify for the next Caribbean Club Shield – a new second-tier tournament for semi-pro and amateur clubs in that region. But neither of these two are likely to be vying for that.

Conaree aren’t bad, but don’t have the offense to nearly compete for international competition. Mantab are just trying to stay in the country’s top flite. The bottom two here will be demoted to First Division next season. Mantab couldn’t score even with the help of a map to the back of an opponent’s net. They’re above the cutline now, barely, and in real danger.

Fun-nish Fact:  Mantab’s home city of Basseterre – the SKN capital – has been destroyed seemingly countless times by war and natural disaster.

RESULT:   1-1

6. Somerset Trojans vs. Robin Hood – Bermuda Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:               n/a; perhaps a little stronger than SKN
  • Table positions:                                last, first
  • Clubs relegated:                                2
  • Time of season:                                 middle

Undefeated Robin Hood are in a dead heat with Pembroke Hamilton for the league lead, tied on table points and goal differential. Noob tends to favor well-balanced teams like Robin Hood, but P.H. are the defensive stalwarts of the country.

Should be a fabulous title race, especially with wide-open styled X-Roads Warriors close in 3rd. Noob thinks this is one of the region’s fully professional leagues, which means they’ll be able to send up to two clubs to the Caribbean Club Championship.

Somerset have yet to win their first match. Their stats aren’t much worse than other bottom teams here, but they’re deep in last just the same. Defense is their undoing.

RESULT:   Robin Hood   3-5

Image result for somerset bermuda

 

 

Forget the footyball!

Noob’s down for learning that.

7. Tefana vs. Central Sport – Tahiti Ligue 1
  • OFC league ranking:                       n/a; probably about 4th INHO
  • Table positions:                              #4, #2
  • Stakes:                                                 top four make league playoffs, top two make                                                                  OFC CL
  • Time of season:                                almost halfway

Noob estimates this league’s strength based on guessing that national team and league strength probably corelate with smaller nations like these.

There’s actually a three-way tie for #B right now. Defending champs Central don’t bother with defense so much, but score like gangbusters in league.

Seven of the 10 league teams are very much in the hunt. It will be interesting to see if Tefana cam hang on to a spot. They’re well-balanced, but lack enough on offense to make Noob guess no. Manu Ura, more traditional powers Pirae or both will pass them eventually.

Fun Fact:  Tefana are one of two clubs to advance as far as the OFC CL final (2012).

RESULT:   2-2

8. Al Hilal vs. Al Raed – Saudi Pro League
  • AFC league ranking:                  #7
  • Table positions:                          #1, #9
  • Stakes:                                             top three make AFC CL
  • Time of season:                           middle

It’s not quite a two-horse race in Saudi Arabia, but it’s close to being such. Defending champs Al Hilal should be able to maintain their position atop the table hosting a midtable club.

Al Raed have overachieved to date this season. The second-worst offense in the league should be a lodestone around their necks that drags them down close to, if not into, the Relegation Zone.

RESULT:   1-1

WATCH: Al-Hilal supporters pull off freakishly good Mortal Kombat mosaic

 

 

Pretty cool “Mortal Kombat” mosaic the Hilal supporters pulled off.

9. Police vs. AS Kigali – Rwanda Premier
  • CAF league ranking:             unranked
  • Table positions:                    #5, #6
  • Stakes:                                       one berth in CAF CL
  • Time of season:                      almost halfway

Rwanda’s top flite may not be ranked at present, but they are slated to be #17 next version! That will still only be good enough for one league berth into the Champions League there though.

These two are all but out of the running. Police are nine points out of first in the table, still have maybe a glimmer of hope. Kigali are three points further back. Too many draws there. But for anyone to catch the top two, someone’s going to have to figure out how to score on them anyway. They’ve combined to allow just seven goals between them all season.

Fun Fact:  The Police F.C. manager’s first name is “Innocent”.

RESULT:   2-2

10. Adama Kenema vs. Dire Dawa City – Ethiopia Premier
  • CAF league ranking:              tied for #13
  • Table positions:                       #9, #10
  • Clubs Relegated:                       3
  • Time of season:                        earlyish

Like aforementioned Nigeria, Ethiopia’s league needs to climb just one more notch in the rankings to earn a second Champions League invitation. Neither of these clubs are likely to be there. They’re below average of the 16, making them slightly more likely candidates to to be Relegated.

Kenema’s going to be the better team, perhaps finish in the top half, given their offense. Dire Dawa will likely stay just where they are, scuffling along as they neither score many goals nor give up too many.

RESULT:   Adama   1-0

Image result for adama ethiopia funny

 

 

So long from Adama!

Adama University – cool building

’10 to Track’ returns — Relegation Monday! plus CONCACAF and other goodness

After a semi-farewell and long holiday break, Noob returns!     Twitter: @SoccernoobUSA

The plan remains to feature exclusive Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage here.  Soon!  I’m still wintering on Sodor, putting things together, even as the season is half-finished.   To get a feel, check out this site’s Page for last summer’s inaugural Isle of Sodor FA Cup.

But I’ve missed doing the near-daily Tracks, previewing the most important matches from the U.S., all CONCACAF, Premier League, continental Europe, and the world!

So for now, I’m bringing back Relegation Monday and Globetrotting Friday – the most unique content I provided.   So enjoy!   Today, several matches feature teams about to be Relegated, from “important” leagues to those far-flung.  Then there’s a few matches of happier  import.    Dig in.

1. Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Club Bilbao – Spain:  La Liga
  • UEFA League Rank:     #1
  • Table positions:            #14, #18 (of 20)
  • Clubs relegated:             3
  • Time of season:             middle

Noob’s return to at least Tracking on “Relegation Mondays” starts with a realistic upset chance! Athletic have only lost one of their last six matches. I’m not saying they’re storming the league and going to make a move on a midtable position, but only allowing one goal in their last four matches is a big step forward.

Celta Vigo, at home, should be favored. Their goal differential even indicates they may be worthy of a higher table slot. But they’ve not scored in two matches. Noob senses this is a bad matchup for them.

Fun Fact:    Bilbao are The Lions.  Their stadium was built near a church which was named for Saint Mammes, a Christian saint thrown to the lions.  He pacified them.  

So they named themselves after tamed animals?   Never mind from before.  You’re getting Relegated.

RESULT:   Athletic   1-2        The Lions climb to 17th place, above the Drop Zone for now

B. Moreirense vs. Aves – Portugal Primeira Liga
  • UEFA league rank:        #7
  • Table positions:             #7, #17 (of 18)
  • Clubs relegated:             3
  • Time of season:              middle

Aves have the worst defense in the league, and it’s not particularly close. That said, they’ve only allowed one goal in each of their last to matches, against excellent competition. They didn’t win either, though, and haven’t done so since late November.

Moreirense seem to be overcoming a dreadful start to their season when it comes to goal-scoring. They’ve won three of four matches running and scored multiple times in all of them.

RESULT:   Moreirense   1-0

Image result for letter B pumped up

 

 

The Quest for Number B to displace worn out Number 2 in lists is back on!

Clearly, the people want their Number B.

3. Ermis Aradippou vs. Enosis Paralimni – Cyprus First Division
  • UEFA League Rank:         #18
  • Table positions:                last, second-to-last
  • # of Clubs Relegated:      1
  • Time of Season:                 middle

One of Noob’s first ever Twitter (@SoccernoobUSA) followers is a Cypriot mother of two First Division players. This league will always have a little piece of my heart. Thankfully for Mom, her boys play for far better clubs than these sad sacks!

Aradippou have earned points in just three matches all season so far. They won their last match, but that was in their FA Cup. Against a Second Division club that is considered a “refugee team”. That haven’t played in their home city since the Turkish Invasion of 1974. Aradippou haven’t beaten a league foe since November.

Paralimni have earned draws in their last two league matches, lead Aradippou by five points in the table. Road wins may be tough to come by, but Noob wouldn’t be able to call this in upset even so. Both teams are just so lousy.

RESULT:   0-0          That seems more than fitting

4. Mont Bleu vs. Muungano – DR Congo First Division
  • CAF league rank:        #3
  • Table positions:         #12, last place of 16
  • Clubs Relegated:         3
  • Time of season:           uncertain

Last season, the Linafoot may only have been about 14 matches. This season, some clubs have already reached 15. The format also seems to have changed from three league divisions to one.

So what does Noob know? That Muungano have won just once and drawn not at all in their 11 outings. This is one of three teams that play far worse defense than everyone else. None of them look likely to climb out of the Drop Zone no matter when the season ends.

Mont Bleu are a bit better on both sides of the ball, though not nearly good enough threaten climbing to midtable.

RESULT:      ppd

Image result for OC Muungano

5. Ndanda vs. Ruvu Shooting – Tanzania Premier
  • CAF league rank:        #24
  • Table positions:         #17, #16 (of 20)
  • Clubs Relegated:         4
  • Time of season:           middle

Ndanda may be on the edge of daylight, but their goal differential is the worst in the league. If they had a strength, maybe they could climb. But they’re bottom-three in both O and D.

Still, a win today would move them above the Cutline (for the moment). Ruvu score a lot more, but sport the league’s worst defense for it. If Ndanda want to prove Noob wrong, this is a home must-win.

Fun Fact:  Ndanda’s Nangwanda Sijaona Stadium has a capacity of 15,000.

RESULT:   Ruvu   0-1

6. Muslim FC vs. Karachi Port Trust – Pakistan Premier
  • AFC league rank:       #46
  • Table positions:         #11, #13 (of either 14, 15 or 16)
  • Clubs relegated:         2, 3 or 4
  • Time of season:          very late

The number of league teams is higher now than when it last seemed to have played, in 2014-15. Assuming they’re still playing a double round robin, this season is on the verge of finishing. It started with either 15 or 16 teams. One or two of them aren’t playing for financial reasons. Bottom line is, just 14 appear to be actually playing and two of those will be Relegated.

And so, welcome to the worst-ranked league in Asia! Hey, they’re playing. Love football? Want to see it develop, improve everywhere. Noob’s got your back, Pak.

KPT and one other team are vying to stay in the country’s top flite. Baloch Nushki are playing, but have long since been mathematically cooked. And if it weren’t for Baloch Nushki, KPT would have the worst defense in the league.

Muslim are not much higher, yet appear safe in their position. They play small-ball, neither scoring nor conceding many goals at all. KPT won’t get one on them today, and they will go down a league.

RESULT:   Muslim   2-0

KPT FC Logo

 

 

We hardly knew ye

7. Rayo Majadahonda vs. Las Palmas – Spain’s Segunda Division
  • UEFA league rank:         n/a – second-tier league
  • Table positions:             #19, #11 (of 22)
  • Clubs relegated:             4
  • Time of season:              middle

Majadahonda are in a three-way tie for 18th through 20th in points in the table. But they’re one of the four worst in goal differential, simply must score more if they want to stay afloat. Try for at least a goal per game, fellas. It’ll work wonders.

Statistically, Las Palmas are perfectly average in every way. Yet strangely, they haven’t won a match since October, mostly achieving draws. High or low-scoring, doesn’t matter. They can’t seal the deal. Look for a 0-0 draw today, and contain your excitement, Noobites 😛

Fun Fact:   This is the highest Majadahonda have ever been in the Spanish football pyramid, having just been promoted this year.

RESULT:   0-0

Non-Relegation Matches of Treeemendous Consequence!

OK, might’ve oversold that.

8. Lille vs. Sochaux – Coupe de France

The French FA Cup is in it’s Round of 64. This is the only match for the event today. Lille is the current #B team in Ligue 1, while Sochaux are barely above the Relegation Line in Ligue 2. The only reason this match might not be a blowout for the home side is that Noob’s read this FA Cup is considered by clubs even less important than other top European leagues’ clubs consider theirs, which is so-so at most.

Here’s the link for the event. Hopefully your technology translates it for you readily.

RESULT:   Lille   1-0

9. Waterhouse vs. Cavalier – Jamaica Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:        don’t think they do them; #B  Caribbean maybe
  • Table positions:                       #B, #3
  • Stakes:                                          top 6- league playoffs bracket, top 2 get byes
  • more Stakes                               Top two will have option to play Caribbean Club                                                           Championship.
  • Time of season:                        2/3 through regular season

#1 Portmore and Waterhouse have the offense. Cavalier boasts the top D. Unfortunately for them, Waterhouse is almost as good in that regard. The home team today is probably the most talented in the league.

Even given the relative table positions, a Cavalier win should be considered an upset. But given that they were just promoted to top flite this season, they’re performing incredibly.

RESULT:   Cavalier   0-1         So be it – upset!     These two are now tied in the table on points.  Cavalier is still in 3rd on GD.

10. UNDEBA (Banda Abou) vs. Scherpenheuvel – Curacao Sekshon Paga
  • CONCACAF league rank:                gotta think it wouldn’t be high
  • Table positions:                               #3, #1
  • Stakes:                                                 top six make the playoff subdivision
  • more Stakes                                      at least one club will have option to play in                                                                      new second-tier 2020 Caribbean Club Shield
  • Time of season:                                very early

Welcome to the former Netherlands Antilles! The top at some point the top six will be moved into their own Championship Subdivision. It’s unclear to me if at some point the top four from that will have their own bracketed playoff not. But the season is just a few matches in, so there’s all kinds of time to figure it out.

Scherpenheuvel are undefeated, outscoring opponents 12-1 to date. Banda Abou’s GD is 18-9. Can’t think their lack of defense will serve them well over a full season, but that 3+ goals per game average sure is shiny.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for stoba goat papaya

 

 

Be inspired to find or make some stoba, a traditional stew from these parts.

And be bold!   Do the goat with the papaya.

Classic Noob revisited – “We are D-2” / “We Are the World”

Noob is preparing to morph this project into largely exclusive coverage of the inaugural Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage.    There will be joy.

In the meantime, please indulge in the D-Twos-Day Interviews.    This was the final post in that category (Page on right for all of them). 


Welcome, Noobites, to the final 2017 edition of D-Twos-Day Interview.  Noob’s had the unparalleled pleasure of interviewing coaches and myriad figures from the part of the soccer world we most celebrate: North American second division leagues!

But one of them, the North American Soccer League, is on its last legs.  They need our help!  Inspired by the 80’s classic song that raised nearly $150M in 2017-adjusted dollars to aid famine relief in Africa, Noob has gotten together an all-star cast to record a new version of”We Are the World”.

Thank you to all the surviving artists involved with the original for joining us.  Special thanks to Dominic Kinnear for not breaking out mid-song into any Rush classic.

And no, Noob has no idea how this will help.  But it WILL.  And if you don’t get this, go back and check out all the great Interviews!  The segment returns in 2018.

Lionel Richie:   There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When D-2 must come together as one.
Paul Simon:   A tier-two league is dying
And it’s time to lend a hand to NASL
Paul, Kenny Rogers:   A soccer gift for all.

Noob:  Noob can’t go on pretending day by day
That somehow, some way it’s gonna get saved
Tina Turner:   We’re all a part of D-2’s big family
Billy Joel:  And the truth, you know,
Noob, Tina, Billy:   Is this is all we neeeeeeeed

Choir:   We are D-2.  We are the coaches
We are the fans, the concerned parties
So let’s keep singing
Diana Ross:   It’s a choice we’re making
It’s not just USL
Diana Ross and NASL federal case judge Margo K. Brodie:   It takes both leagues to make a better day
Just wait and seeeeeee!

Puerto Rico FC head coach Marco Velez:   Thought Noob was my tio, but now I call him Noober
And our lives together are stronger and free
Willie Nelson:   As we have shown you, by calling him “asshat”
Willie and Marco Velez:   We’re strong.  And nothing can defeat us now!
(background: Cyndi Lauper – “but Miami FCeeeeeeee!)

Edmonton FC head coach Colin Miller:   Called him the C-word – in Scottish Gaelic
But he mailed me booze, 30 years old
Turns out Noob’s no dick!

(background: Noob – “Could we find a way to rephrase that please?)

New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso:  D-2 status be damned
Noob agrees with me
It’s true we should just care
About qualiteeee!

L.A. Galaxy asst. coach Dominic Kinnear:   When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all
Huey Lewis:   But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall
Cyndi Lauper:   Well, well, well!  Let’s realize that a change can only come
Huey, Cyndi, Kim Carnes, and OKC Energy ‘Grid’ fan club prez Joseph Pugh:   When we stand together as one!
(Joseph Pugh cont.:  “WOOO!!  Do it, Nooner!)

Choir:   They went dark-arts, went Santeria
Burned rabbit bones and burned Pele’s jock
To save our leaaaaague!
Incoming USL club owner Bobby Jones:  Noob hates my teams’ name – boring Austin FC.
Jacksonville Armada owner Robert Palmer:  At least he didn’t think you were a reincarnated pop-rock arteeeeest.

(key change!)

Choir:  We are the fans, the concerned parties
So let’s keep singing
It’s a choice we’re making
It’s not just USL.
It takes both leagues to make a better day
Just wait and seeeeeee!