’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (11/27-29) soccer match previews – MLS Semis end the MWE!

The ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game” – hit their peak of importance today. MLS Semifinals! After tonight, we’ll know who’s playing for the big trophy.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s match results follow below. Remember you can always check back for results on every single day, plus often a note or two about who starred, or how the results affected what was at stake.

Thursday

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

Second leg of the Western Conference Finals! While any team would of course like to get a road win every time, #1 KC got the draw in Portland in the first match of this two-game series. Now they have the chance to take care of business at home.

But that scoreless draw has to be troubling for them. Goalkeeper Tim Melia of USMNT fame played well and Graham Zusi was a monster on the back defensive line. But Noob highlighted Daniel Salloi for that first match and instead of starring, he was the weak link, losing duels and not being terribly good with passes.

The 5th-seed Portland was better on passing, held the ball longer, and created more shots on goal. That didn’t and won’t matter if they can’t get better play from striker Jeremy Ebobisse though.

Ultimately, it’s hard to beat home cookin’. KC did what was necessary, if just, and should be a moderate to heavy favorite at home.   (9:30 PM Eastern, ESPN)

RESULT:   Portland    2-3           Diego Valeri with two Timbers goals, including the game winner at 90′

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

Some are calling the Eastern Conference finals the de facto league finals. Both teams had several more point in the the table than K.C.

#B Atlanta laid the smack down at their place in the first leg of this overall Semi, 3-0. Franco Escobar was the slightly-surprisng star with both a goal and an assist. This club has the best offense in the entire league. It will be interesting to see if they keep dancing with the girl that brought them and continue attacking, or try to take the air out of the ball with such a big lead from the first leg.

NYRB have a HYOOJ hole to dig themselves out of. Lots of goals will certainly mean the involvement of BrandonWright-Phillips, who looked like an MVP the first half of the MLS season. Not that he tanked after that, but his effectiveness definitely diminished. But if the right side of Red Bulls’ back line get manhandled again (Tim Parker, Michael Murillo), BWP’s possible resurgence won’t matter.   (7:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   NYRB   1-0         But it’s not enough!    ATL will host the single-match Final versus Portland.

Image result for the world of red bull funnySo long from…wherever the Red Bull box cart races were held.

Yeeeah.  Wow.

 

Extra Credit: Two Liga MX qf’s, a couple dozen group stage Europa league matches, Copa Sudamericana sf, El Salvador and Guatemala qf’s, second round Arab Club Championship

Wednesday

3. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur vs. Inter Milan – UEFA Champions League

You can scroll down to the Tuesday portion of the Midweek Track for a few extra details on the event, should you be a completely unseasoned Noobite.

Noob-reviled Hotspur is nearly out of Champions League, as is good, right and appropriate. When your club is named for an historic traitor (Harry Percy), good things cannot follow.

The scourge of England’s Premier League, Hotspur trail Inter by three points in the table and won the first match between them (tiebreaker). Since Hotspur’s remaining match other than this one is at #1 Barcelona, they’re in desperate need of a win today.

Hotspur are winners of five straight across all competitions. Inter are in just 5th in Italy’s Serie A. Where Hotspur lack a little offensive punch compared to many other top teams, Inter have been sagging on defense. Bad matchup for the visitors, sadly.   (3:00 PM Eastern, TNT)

RESULT:   Hotspur   1-0

Image result for sir topham hatt furious

 

 

Sir Topham Hatt — flexing the pimp hand.  Gotta keep it strong for those Hotspur COYS.

 

4. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Liverpool – UEFA Champions League

This is the most competitive Group going here. Liverpool and Napoli are tied for first. PSG are just a point behind and Red Star Belgrade only a point behind them in turn.

PSG are running roughshod over Ligue 1 – no losses or draws. Yet many people Noob reads suggest the league is not very good this year. Liverpool have yet to lose in Champions League, putting them in second place there. Neither team allow goals.

Both teams are stronger than the ones in Track Match three here. If either doesn’t qualify for the Knockout Round, that’s big news.   (3:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   PSG   2-1

5. Porto vs. Schalke – UEFA Champions League

Three matches from one event? Thought you were filtering event like these, Noob.

Oh, but I am. But I won’t ignore important ones this late in the Group Stage just for the sake of it. Porto is Portugal’s #1 team. That doesn’t make them one of the very strongest clubs remaining, but they won’t be a pushover for anyone next round. They’re dominating the Primeira Liga and can score and defend amazingly.

Germany’s Schalke trail Porto by two in the Group C table. An upset win today would guarantee them a berth in the Knockout Round. And it would be a remarkable upset at that. In the Bundesliga, they’re playing so darn badly that they’re fighting just to stay out of the Relegation Zone.

They don’t defend half badly, but they didn’t wow on offense last year and don’t score much at all now. Still, they lead the Group 3rd-place team by four, seem likely to sneak out of the Group Stage no matter how today goes.

RESULT:   Porto   3-1

Image result for schalke 04 funny

 

 

 

Is that the German Mr. Magoo?

 

6. Monterrey vs. Santos – Liga MX

Let the playoffs begin! This is the Liguilla. The eight best teams from the Apertura (first half-season) qualified. This is a bracketed tournament. Each pair of teams will play two-legged, home-and-away series.

It is seeded just like the NCAA basketball tourney would be, and this is your 4/5 matchup. Santos has been a shade better on both sides of the ball. More, they haven’t lost to Monterrey in their last three matches. But Monterrey haven’t lost in three matches, while Santos didn’t win in any of their last three.   (10:06 PM, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:   Monterrey    1-0

7. Saprissa vs. Herediano – Costa Rica Premier

This is CONCACAF’s third-strongest league. They might argue they’re better than MLS. Mexicans might argue their second division league is better. Regardless, this is a sneaky-good football league.

And the Playoffs are already underway! The top four qualified for this postseason tournament. Apertura regular season champs Saprissa host this second match of the home-and-away Semifinal series. Herediano – the other perennial power here – finished 4th, won the first leg 1-0 at their place.

Saprissa was better on both sides of the ball all Apertura, but particularly so on offense. That one-goal deficit should be one they can overcome today, move on to the Final.

RESULT:   Saprissa   1-0       …which means the series was tied and they moved on to penalty kicks!    Herediano advances to the final on those, 2-4

Image result for costa rica premier logo

 

 

One foot-sport, one heart.  

But the logo’s more than a little puffy-nipply.   No.

8. Portmore United vs. Tivoli Gardens – Jamaica Premier

This, too, is one of CONCACAF’s stronger domestic leagues – almost certainly the best of the island nations in our federation. Hallooo, neighbors! Noob’s making a concerted effort to get to know ya. May I borrow a cup of sugar?

The top six finishers here will make the Playoffs, with the top two getting byes into the Semifinals. They’re a dozen matches into the season, and rhese two are #1 and #3. This is a classic best offense versus best defense scenario. An upset win wouldn’t move Gardens into 1st, but would tighten up an already good-looking race.

RESULT:   Portmore   2-0

Extra Credit:   the other UEFA Champions League matches, Costa Rican semifinal, Liga MX qf; 

Also, Spain’s Copa del Rey round of 32 match, Copa Argentina sf, Copa Sudamericana sf, Czech Cup Round of 16, Guatemala National League sf

Also, #1 Shkendija vs. #3 Academy Pandev in Macedonai’s Prva Liga, Russian FA Cup qf, very early round CAF Champions League, #3 Brittania vs. #2 Nacional in Aruba’s Division di Honor, second round Arab Club Championship

Tuesday

1. Lyon vs. Manchester City – UEFA Champions League

But make no mistake, I’m glad it’s back, baybeeeeee! A quick reminder for the newest Noobites what the it is:. League champions and other top teams of Europe in the crown jewel of all club tournaments. They’re currently in the Group Stage. Pods of four playing double round robins. Top two finishers from each will advance to the Knockout (single elimination, bracket-style) Stage. Everybody’s got two matches to go.

Man City is thought by many to be the #1 team in the world currently. They’re undefeated in Premier League play, lead Lyon by three point in the Group F table. But they’ve lost one match.

To Lyon. At Man City! The French team is a distant #B to undefeated Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 there, but #B nonetheless. They haven’t lost to anyone, anywhere, besides PSG since August. Yet strangely, that win over Man City is their only win in Group F. All their other matches have ended in draws.

So what’s at stake? Noob’s laser-focused of late on stakes, letting you know why any given match is important. Man City are almost 100% to advance to the Knockout Round now, and any result (win or draw) will seal that deal.

A win for Lyon would do the same. Anything else, and the door is very much open for the other two Group F clubs, trailing by three and four points, respectively. So yes, remaining undefeated with a draw would leave the, in jeopardy yet. What a tournament.

Oh, and based on ELO ratings (thank you, footballdatabase.com), Noob thinks Man City will win easily, 1-2 goal margin, in France.

RESULT:   2-2         Maxwell Cornet with a goal and an assist for Lyon as they blew two leads.  

B. AS Roma vs. Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League

Noob is often reluctant to feature multiple matches from the same league or tournament on a given day. I wish to act as filter for we newish fans, allow us to focus on the most important things, yet with a broad gaze. Eight matches today for UEFA CL. We can do two.

It’s an easy decision when the three-time defending champions are in the mix, too. Real and Roma are tied for the Group G lead. The next team down is five points behind. Look, these two are going through to the Knockout Stage no matter how the match ends today. But finishing 1st or runner-up matters for seeding in the next Round, so this match is still monster.

Defending champs or not, this isn’t the same Real team of recent years. Losing the greatest active player in the world – Cristiano Ronaldo – will have that effect. They’re in just 5th place in La Liga and just suffered a blistering 3-0 loss to Eibar. If you don’t know that name, that’s the point. And their newfound issues are on both sides of the ball.

Yet after a 3rd place Italian Serie A finish last year, Roma have slipped as many places as Real – down to 7th at present. They’d appeared to have the righted their ship to some degree of late, but than lost to Udinese last time out. Once again, if you don’t know that club, that’s the point.

Real’s crash back to earth this year has been the steeper fall. Still, Noob wouldn’t put Roma at any better than an even match for them at home.

RESULT:   Real   0-2

New feature! EXTRA CREDIT will appear with some frequency now – these are events, matches Noob scouted for a given date but that didn’t make the cut for the Track.

Extra Credit: Early round-Coupe de France, Scotland’s FA Cup, very early round 2018-19 CAF Champions League, later round EFL Cup (tournament of tertiary importance in England), and Semifinals of Africa’s women’s Cup of Nations – all are in action.

ALSO! Congrats to Guadalajara, UANL, America and Pachuca of Liga MX Femenil. They all just qualified for the Semifinals of the Apertura (first half-season) there.

Noob’s trying to learn women’s and more CONCACAF soccer in general, but the site I use (for the moment) screws up dates something fierce. I’d scouted the Quarterfinals I thought were today, but they’re in the books already. Part of the learning for Noob is finding the best resources.

 

’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’ soccer matches – MLS and USL playoff hunts lead the way

it’s International Break for much of the league world.  That means we get MORE America and extra CONCACAF-feination in today’s Track!

Today’s Track may not be up much in advance, but I’m now Nine-Fingered Noob.  Went all Gollum on my own left ring finger at work last night.  OK, not really, did just slice off the tiniest bit.  Typing’s been hard.  Almost left all the inadvertent caps-lock stuff in just for fun.

  1. D.C. United vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

With three regular season matches to go, #1 Dallas lead KC and LAFC by four points in the Western Conference.   Kansas City is and has been the better team on paper all season.   But they’re getting draws late, whole Dallas hasn’t lost in about six weeks.   In fact, only one team has even managed to get a goal on them in the last four matches.

Wayne Rooney & Co. are now only two points out of 6th place and the East’s final playoff berth.  They, too, haven’t lost in six weeks.  They’re success has been realized on the offensive end.  But it troubles Noob that they haven’t kept a single clean sheet in that entire stretch.

Defense travels, so I’m saying Dallas gets the road win in what is likely considered an even matchup in the District.  As badly as MLS likely wants DCU in the playoffs, today is when they’re comeback dreams die.   (4:55 PM EST, Univision)

RESULT:   D.C.   1-0

B.  Netherlands vs. Germany – UEFA Nations League

This is a League A match.  There are four separate Groups of three in League A.  In each one, the teams play four matches, double-round-robins.

France leads this one with four points after two matches.  This is the second match for these two today.  If they draw, France ends up in the driver’s seat.  Only the winner of each Group makes the Playoffs.

Since League A is pretty much the dozen best clubs on the continent, they’re all likely making the 2020 European Championships anyway.  But this event is another avenue towards qualifying for that.  In the world, they’re ranked #17 and 12.   In the Netherlands, this should be a toss-up.   (2:45 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Netherlands   3-0      

Image result for font invented in 2018

 

A new tournament deserves a new-look Number B!

(Braille typeface front)

  1. Ireland vs. Denmark – UEFA Nations League

These two are part of League B.  Mirror image of A, just the next dozen down the rankings in Europe.

Denmark are actually 10th ranked in the world today.  UEFA rankings were used from a specific date, so the Danes must’ve been more down on their luck.  If the win this Group, they get promoted for League A when this event happens again, presumably, in two years.  And they’ll win it.

Ireland are FIFA-ranked just 30th.  They lost badly to Wales in their first match in this tournament.  Eire should be considered at least a full-goal underdog today.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Reno 1868 vs. Orange County – United Soccer League

Usually Noob gives the American second division it’s due other times of week.  But so much of the world is on International Break, we have room.  With the Playoffs nearly here, perfect timing!   Teams have just this last regular season match to go.

Top eight finishers in each Conference make the Playoffs.  OC all but has the #1 seed wrapped up, home field advantage galore.  They’d have to lose today and Phoenix would have to win their last game by five goals for another tiebreaker to even come into play between them.

Reno have more on the line.  They’re #5 in the West.  They’re only a point behind Real Salt Lake, so they could still end up with the four-seed and a home game to start the postseason.  In fact, it wouldn’t necessarily even require a win.  A tie and an RSL loss-combo would do the trick.

RESULT:   Reno   3-1

Image result for reno 1868 supportersSo Noob’s jumping on the Reno bandwagon today!

Anything to go against stupidly-named Real Salt Lake.

  1. Ottawa Fury vs. Charleston Battery – United Soccer League

Charleston can’t lose or move up from the four-seed in the East.  Noob suspect they’ll rest starters given that.

Ottawa has been gritty and gutty all year – not truly good though.  They’re in 9th place, two points and a ton of tiebreaking GD behind Bethlehem for the last Playoff berth.  They should be able to net a win against the Battery reserves.  Unfortunately for them, Bethlehem hosts the hapless Tampa Bay Rowdies.  And the Steel will be motivated.  They could jump as many as three spots in the standings with a win.

RESULT:   Charleston   0-2

  1. Puerto Rico vs. Martinique – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

You can catch a few particulars in yesterday’s and previous posts.

This match is the first of four for these two teams.  Martinique aren’t members of FIFA, being part of the French football system.  But they’re in our region’s federation and they’re pretty good, considered 12th-best among national team here.

PR are just #175 in the world, well in the bottom half of CONCACAF.

RESULT:   Martinique   0-1

Image result for Puerto Rico national football team 2018

 

 

And since Puerto Ricans are Americans, Noob gives them the “gofightwin” cheer.

  1. Vorkuta vs. SC Scarborough – Canadiaian Soccer League

Welcome to the Track, CSL!   Don’t be fooled by the name though.  This league is really mostly or entirely Ontario-based teams.  Starting next year – unless it is pushed back again – the Canadian Premier League begins.   These teams won’t be a part of it, not unless they’re changing names and Noob’s missed it.

In any case, this is the playoff final for the current top league in Canadia!  It’s at a neutral stadium in Ontario, though since all the teams are from greater Ontario  *shrug*  They finished #B and #4 in the regular season, respectively.  The league was kind of top heavy.  Scarborough will do well to keep this within a goal.

RESULT:   Vorkuta   1-0

  1. Vorkuta II vs. Halton United II – Canadiaian Soccer League Division II

And here’s the undercard!   Also the playoff championship.  Same stadium, just two hours before the D1 championship.   These were the top two in the division regular season.  This match should be a little more competitive, but once again is Vorkuta who are moderately heavy favorites.

RESULT:   V II   3-2           chamPEENS!

Image result for so much canada

 

 

 

Just how much Canadia can you handle at once?

  1. DR Congo vs. Zimbabwe – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

Once again, Noobites can look at yesterday’s or past posts for some specifics on this event.

These two are both tied for the lead in their four-team Group (top two finishers make the Knockout Stage.  Congo (not DR) are tied with them, but have played one more match than these two so far.   They are ranked #40 one of Africa’s best – and #117 by FIFA.  So naturally, DRC are expected to lay waste to their guests.

RESULT:   Zimbabwe   1-2        Upset city!

  1. Central Cordoba de Santiago vs. Gimnasia LP – Copa Argentina

FA Cups are all about looking for Minnows – non-premier league underdogs.  And here in the quarterfinals we get one to root for.  Cordoba were relegated to the second division last year.  In fact, they’re below average even there early this league season.

Gimnasia are just a midtable team.  But they’re top -flite, should be considered a 1-2 goal fave on the road in this one-off match.  The winner will face River Plate in the Semis – an historically excellent team, but one that’s been more midtable themselves of late.   (2:00 PM, TyC Sports International)

RESULT:   Gimnasia   1-1  /  3-4  PK

Image result for santiago del estero funny

 

 

So long from Santiago del Estero!

Noob’s terrified to translate the parts he doesn’t know.  Blessedly rusty Spanish for meeeee.

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday (10/12) soccer matches – from MLS to, well, everywhere

This was such a fun Track to write.  No one match jumps out above all others, but there’s a ton of fun and learning in today’s soccer travelog.

As always on Fridays, Noob starts us at or close to home, then we jet-set off to corners of the football globe ignored by most of the interwebs.  Feast.   Feast!!

  1. LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo – Major League Soccer

Los Angeles have pulled onto a tie for #B in the Western Conference with just three matches to go in the regular season.  Since the top two finishers get a bye out of the first round, that is high drama!   They’re actually still in 3rd, behind Sporting Kansas City on goal differential.

The Falcons suffered a puzzling loss two matches ago, getting blasted by the hapless Chicago Fire.  Even on the road, that’s not a club Playoff times should be getting blown out by.  But they did bounce back in their most recent match, skunking Colorado at their place, 0-3.

Houston have been eliminated from Playoff contention already.  They’ve played better ball of late, certainly highlighted by their U.S. Open Cup victory over Philly in the Final.  With that trophy in hand, it’s hard for Noob to imagine this the Dynamo matching LAFC’s energy, motivation.

For LAFC, the names to know have been Diego Rossi and Adama Diamonte.  The one Noob’s seen coming up more recently is Walker Zimmerman, a young defender from Georgia.  If he continues to be a consistent help in goal-scoring, this team will be hard to stop now and in the postseason.   (10:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   LAFC 4-2         The winning goal?    Walker Zimmerman

Image result for Walker Zimmerman funny

 

 

Hey, Walker, could you talk to Heinken about sponsoring Noob?

B.  Croatia vs. England – UEFA Nations Cup

Noob’s given some details a while back on this new European tournament, but I did not revisit them when previewing matches from it during this last Midweek Edition Track.  Here’s a wee bit:

This is a new event is meant to largely replace a bunch of friendlies all the teams are already playing anyway.  UEFA plans on having this played every other year.  All the men’s national teams in Europe may participate. The top 12-ranked teams play in four Groups comprising League A.  The next dozen play in League B, and on down the line.

Noob will detail particulars another time, but teams from all the Leagues within this Cup can use this tournament as another qualifying route into the next (2020) European Championships, the premier tournament for national teams which is held every four years.

So!  Croatia and England are currently FIFA-ranked #4 and #6 in the world, respectively.  In this competition, they are in League A (top league), Group 4 (arbitrarily numbered).   Both have a lot of catching up to do with the other Group member – Spain.`

Spain beat England 1-2 on the road and walloped World Cup runners-up Croatia 6-0 at home.  Only 1st place in each of these Groups get to move on to the League Playoffs.  The other two shall receive NO fruit cup.  None whatsoever.   (2:45 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   0-0     The draw all but guarantees that Spain will win this League A Group

Image result for letter B fruit

 

 

 

Number B – taunting those who will not receive fruit cup.

  1. U.S. Virgin Islands vs. Curacao – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

The six teams that played the final 2018 World Cup qualifying event (Hexagonal) already qualify for League A in the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League.  This tournament is being used to determine which other six teams will join them in League A.  The other teams will be placed in Leagues B and C, based on how they do this in qualifying tournament.

Each of the 34 teams in this event will play four matches, so goal differential could end up meaning a lot.  They’ll each play a match against another team club from each of the quartiles, which are based on a CONCACAF Rankings Index.  In other words, each team will play a roughly even cross-section of opponents, for fairness.

U.S. Virgin Islands are at a bit of a disadvantage.  On top of being only ranked #201 in the world, they don’t get to play any true “home” matches.  This is presumably because of the damage from Hurricane Maria.  So this and their other are being played in Bradenton, Florida.  They’re in the bottom quartile, lost their first match to Canadia 8-0.

Curacao – a country a ways off the coast of Venezuela and affiliated with the Netherlands politically – has a much stronger team, ranked #81.  In this event, they’re in the second quartile.  But their 10-0 trouncing of Grenada has them in 3rd place for now.

RESULT:   Curacao   0-5

Fun Fact:   US VI are “The Dashing Eagle”

  1. Algeria vs. Benin – Africa Cup of Nations

Unlike the above two tournaments, this is the premier national teams tournament for Africa, held every to years.  it is currently in its Group Stage.  Pods of four, double round robin, top two finishers will advance to the Knockout Stage.

They’re two matches into the Group Stage.  To no one’s surprise, the Algerians are 2-0.  Perhaps to the mild surprise of some, Benin have a win and a draw.  FIFA ranks them reasonably close together (#69. #88).  But the CAF lists Algeria as the fourth best team while not even listing Benin in the rankings (top 18).

This above discrepancy makes this tough for Noob to handicap.  But Algeria is good enough in a vacuum that at home they should be easily favored by a goal.  Benin would celebrate a draw, keeping them well ahead of Togo, probably the Group’s most likely candidate to advance as runner-up.

RESULT:   Algeria   2-0

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Has to be this guy’s, oh, third Track appearance. 

Noob wants him on staff.

  1. CSD Macara vs. Delfin – Ecuador Serie A

HooWHEE!   That was a lot of mumbo-jumbo to try and digest.   Let’s cleanse our palate with some league action.

Macara are #1 in this Second Stage of the season.  The winners of each of the two stages vie for the league title.  They finished just 8th in the First Stage, so are something of a surprise here.  The defense has looked much better.   Their GD, however, belies a club that could easily be slipping back to midtable soon.

Delfin are tied for #B with another traditional league power, First Stage champs Emelec.  Statistically, they’re a little better than Macara.  Since that’s where the match is, this should be a dandy to watch – if you have a deep enough satellite package to catch this on GOL TV (9:00 PM).

RESULT:   1-1

Fun Fact:   Macara play in the city of Ambato.  They are named for an army fort.

  1. Tajikistan vs. Palestine – Bangabandhu Cup

The Final!   But the Final of what?

This tournament is a standalone event in Bangladesh.   Their football federation hosts this event every so often as a tribute to their nation’s founder, for whom it is named.  It was last held in 2016, the year before, and then before that last in the mid-90’s.

In the past, most participating countries have sent their national men’s teams reserves squad or elite youth teams.  This year, however, five of the six nations sent their A-clubs, including our two finalists.

Tajikistan’s team is ranked #120 in the world, while Palestine’s is #100.  They both advanced out of the same Group in that Stage.  Palestine won their matchup there 2-0.  But Noob smells a penalty shootout to decide this one!

RESULT:   Palestine   0-0  /  3-4 PK        Hail to the victors!

Bangabandhu Gold Cup logo.png

 

 

 

The pure, unadulterated joy of having started your own nation.

  1. Basque Country vs Venezuela – men’s international friendly

Noob proffers as mission statement that these Track’s embody “the ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game”.  Fridays, even I must confess the matches I include may not match up with that perfectly.

But this site is the outgrowth of my own soccer learning journey.   I think this is important because I didn’t know about it.  Let’s be global-game citizens!

The story here is “Basque Country”.  This team represents the autonomous, adjacent Basque areas of both Spain and France.  That said, the players are all from top Spanish clubs right now.  This team has existed since 1930, though they’ve only played an average of maybe three matches every two years.  Early in their existence, had Elo ratings been a thing, this team would’ve ranked #4 in the world!

The biggest non-FIFA football organization in the world is CONIFA, which represents peoples and teams from autonomous regions, national and regional diasporas, and stateless peoples.  Yet Basque Country has never been a member.

But they’re trying to get into FIFA!  And there’s at least indirect precedence for a team like theirs to be represented.   The United Kingdom serves as an example of one nation with multiple countries having membership.  And then places like Faroe Islands display that an autonomous country that is still truly a part of another nation (Denmark) can have membership.

Basque Country’s situation is apples to oranges to both examples above.  Still, they have commonalities with both.

As for today’s match?  It’s a friendly.  No idea how often BQ practices together.  The result isn’t what’s important, at least to Noob.   It’s that it’s happening at all that I love.

RESULT:   Basque Country   4-2

  1. Faafu Nilandhoo vs. New Radiant – Maldives Dhivehi Premier

And now we continue our journey to comparative footyball hinterlands once again with some far-flung leagues!   Maldives is an islands-nation southwest of southern India.  Their league is ranked just below average in Asia, 24th of 46 associations.

New Radiant are in 3rd place, but look statistically like the league’s best team.  Best offense and defense both.  Faafu Nilandhoo are in 8th of 10 clubs, on spot above the Relegation line.   Noob’s simply stunned that there’s at least one more league in the Maldives to which anyone could be sent down.

RESULT:   New Radiant   0-1

Fafà Picault.jpg

 

Never mind that he’s an American born to Haitian immigrants.

Noob thinks Philadelphia’s Fafa Picault needs to someday play for Faafa Nilandhoo.

  1. RC Bobo-Dioulasso vs. Comoe – Burkina Faso Premiere Division

This west African country’s league isn’t ranked on the continent.  And these two teams are low-midtable at #10 and #11.  And the season is just a few matches in.  But hey, they’re playing!

RESULT:   0-0

Fun Fact:   The Bobo language-speaking natives of Bobo-Dioulasso refer to the city simply as “Sia”.  Soooo much easier to pronounce.

  1. Al-Jaish vs. Al-Taliya – Syria Premier

This league is so fresh into its new season, Noob looked more at last year’s standings.  Al-Jaish won the league – by one goal in differential as a tiebreaker over Al-Ittihad.  And as the #15 league in Asia, they only get one club into their Champions League.  Al-Taliya finished 6th.

RESULT:       now listed for Monday, 10/29

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So long from Damascus, home of Al-Jaish!

Yeah, Noob doesn’t recall any banana peel-slippage story from the New testament.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/29) – MLS, EPL, El Clasico lead the way

Noob tries to bring something unique to the internet landscape —

A shared, live-action learning journey of mine also meant to be one for YOU.  Learning about the best clubs, leagues, and tournaments the world over.  how it all fits together.  BUT.  Coupled with the most oddball humor-angle.

Today, at least you’re rewarded with a treasure trove of high-quality matches from the biggest leagues.   But there will still be weirdness.  I promise.  And you’ve been warned.

  1. Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

Dallas and Kansas City keep going back and forth for the #1 seed in the Western Conference.  Electric boogaloo!  They’re back on top by two points with a tie to tough Columbus Crew bookended by nice (if predictable) wins versus Houston and Vancouver (who just fired their coach).   A great sign for them is that they’re succeeding playing low and high-scoring matches of late.

The #4 Timbers have trended the other way, losing two of three.  Both were on the road, but 4-1 thrashing by Houston has to be of particular concern.  Even in their home win over Columbus, they’ve played shite for defense.   At 32, is keeper Steve Clark getting a bit long in the tooth, feeling the late season lots more perhaps then his younger counterparts?   (10:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   0-0

B.  D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact – Major League Soccer

D.C. still have five points to make up on Montreal for the East’s last Playoff slot.  It’s been an impressive second-half season comeback for the former bottom-feeders.  Wayne Rooney money appears money well-spent.

But they’ve not beaten Montreal in their last seven tries (3D, 4L).  To break that streak, they’ll look to control the pace, make it a fast and flying match.  Montreal’s success of late has been on a suddenly improving defense, peaking at the right time of year.   (7:00 PM, ESPN+)

RESULT:   D.C.   5-0        Rooney with two goals.   Acosta with a goal and three assits

Image result for letter B bird

 

 

Not the fastest-flying bird, Number B.

Yet still, nice call namedropping the Bobolink.

  1. Queretaro vs. Tigres – Liga MX

You just have to love the format in Mexico (and other Latin, South American countries) where they divide the annual league soccer calendar into two separate tournaments.  Each match is -so- important.  In fact, Noob requires your love for this!   Liga MX WILL have it.

OK, that got weird for a bit.  Welcome to Noob, if you’re new.  This match features two teams right on the edge of qualifying for the Liguilla (postseason).  Top eight clubs get in, and there’s a three-way tie for 7th-9th right now.  Wave hi, combatants.

UANL Tigres are the story here.  They haven’t lost a match since mid-August.  They’re also coming into this key road match off two clean sheets.  They’re better on both sides of the ball than Queretaro.  Which makes this match being IN Queretaro so awesome.  Noob’s absolutely finding someone with ESPN Deportes in order to catch this one (6:00 PM).

RESULT:   Tigres   0-2    A.P. Gignac with both goals

  1. Chelsea vs. Liverpool – England Premier League

These two just played a few days ago, in the EFL Trophy tournament.  (Chelsea won 1-2).  You can learn a Noob-bit about it on the Vocab page for this site.

I’d love to be able to truthfully say I didn’t include in on that day’s Track because I knew they were playing a more important league match today.  But that would make me a lie-ahh!  Noob scouted it.  Fully intended to do a mini-preview.    Crapped the bed, skipping right over it on the ol’ spreadsheet.

Oh, how long will Noob suffer his own Noobishness!  Will this Dantean circle of hell ever be written out of the accursed book?

Get a grip, Noob.  There’s no soccer in “The Inferno”. 

Oh, The Management, you cannot pull Noob from the fire and anguish in my own mind, brought on by my own footyball incompetence!

Just – do the damn mini-preview.

Right!  Liverpool are #1.  6-0-0.  Two other clubs are 5-1-0.  Chelsea is one of those.  Neither has the overall offensive striking capability of defending champs Man City, so this match is super-duper key to the league race.  Also, Liverpool hasn’t beaten them in their last four attempts.

Names to Listen For:  For Liverpool, Mo Salah is the smexy name, as he broke the league scoring record last year.  But it’s striker Daniel Sturridge that’s been keeping that engine firing of late.  Eden Hazard remains the focal point of everything Chelsea does.

There.  Feel better?  Hey now!  Put your shirt back on and that wire coat hanger away! 

The Management apologizes for needing to redact the next would-be portion of the blog, as Noob punishes himself so catastrophically as to make this the internet’s first-ever “snuff blog”.   (12:30 PM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   1-1     And guess who scored?  Hazard and then the very late one to tie it from Daniel Sturridge!

  1. Juventus vs. Napoli – Italy Serie A

Last year’s runaway #1 and #B teams from 2017-18 occupy the same two spots this year early on.  With world’s greatest player-Cristiano Ronaldo, Juve are 6-0-0 and looking unstoppable.

Napoli were soooper fun to watch for their wide-open offensive style last season, may once again pose the only real threat to Juve.  They’ve netted six goals their last two games, getting back into form.   (12:00 PM, Rai Italia)

RESULT:   Juve   3-1      Ronaldo with a pair of assits

  1. Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid – Spain La Liga

It’s “El Clasico” – two of the mighty powers of Spain’s always top-heavy league.  Real are tied for 1st with the current world dominator Barcelona.   They’ve had heaps of trouble with #3 Atletico in recent matches though.

Atletico like to keep the scores low, were and are a very defensive-minded group.  But if Real can find the back of the net early today at home, this is their match to lose.   (2:45 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for El Clasico funny

That actually looks like a fight scene from the Elijah Wood Movie “Green Street Hooligans” to Noob.

  1. USBM vs. Phare du Canal – Guadeloupe Division d’Honneur

How serious is Noob of late about us getting to know our CONCACAF brethren?   I didn’t look up and don’t even feel the need to double check my spelling of this league’s name.  Boom!

This league is unusual.  1)  They’re in CONCACAF despite being an overseas department of France. B)   They’re even part of the French football system while being in our local federation.  3)  Teams get four points for a win, two for a draw, and one for just being on the schedule (by which I mean a loss).

Ooh, and check out how close this title race was last year.  CSM beat both these teams out by a single point.  These two finished #B and #3 and were themselves separated by just one tiebreaking goal in differential for the entire season.

The season just started a week or so ago.  Noob is curious to see if the league race is wide open year to year if the same teams will be front-running again.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Thun vs. Young Boys of Bern – Switzerland Super League

FC Basel is the name Noob consistently hears on satellite radio shows regarding Switzerland.  But it’s YBB who are 8-0-0 to start.  (Check out Noobstradamus’ vision regarding YBB’s last home game to learn some history on the naming of city-Bern.  If you can pick it out through the sheer inanity!)  They’re scoring well over three goals per match and sports the league’s top defense early on.

#B Thun score second-most in the land, but have to sacrifice D to do it.  Still, this may be the top contender to Bern’s likely title.  No other club in the league even has a positive GD to date.

RESULT:   YBB   1-4

Image result for Thun Switzerland funny

 

Noob’s going to start playing lottery, win, and buy Oberhofen Castle on Lake Thun.

You’re invited to party.

  1. Riga vs. RFS – Latvia Higher League

Noobites will also see this as “Virsliga” some places.  Because Noob knows you’re going to look for Latvian football content multiple places.  *bonnnnngggg*  It’s the 42nd-ranked league in UEFA, after all.

But what can Noob say?  I’m attracted to shiny things, and nothing glistens like a 1-B matchup.   And every member country gets at least its champ into Champions League.  Noob actually does know you’ll be looking at that.

They’re about 2/3 of the way through their season already.  Riga have opened up a four-point lead on both Riga and Ventsplis.  While not unique, it is rare to see a team on top that leans so heavily on their defense only.  Their offense is actually below average compared to the entire eight-team league.

Riga had won 13 matches in a row until their scoreless draw last outing.  If not for a tough start to their season, they’d already have bought polish for the league trophy.

Meanwhile, RFS just got off a three-match, scoreless losing streak.  If they can get a W today, this league race is going to be a dandy to follow, #42-rank or not.

RESULT:   Riga FC   1-2     Noob had the home and away sides turned around

  1. APOEL Nicosia vs. AEK Larnaca – Cyprus Super Cup

One of Noob’s first-ever Twitter (@SoccerNoobUSA) followers was a proud mama of two boys who both played or maybe even still play for APOEL.  Cypriot soccer will often win a tiebreaker for Track inclusion.

Also, please join Noob in shock and amazement at not realizing how strong this league is.  I’d have guessed closer to eighteenth from the bottom than actual #18 in UEFA.

After 20 years of the event being held in Nicosia, the times have changed.  Larnaca hosts today.  They won the country’s FA Cup last season to earn their place here.  APOEL won the league title, as is often the case.  With apologies to that lovely APOEL mom, Noob thinks Larnaca’s rise will continue.  They’re winning today in AET or penalty kicks.

RESULT:   Larnaca   1-1  /  1-4  pens       Wow.  Called that one!

Image result for Catacomb of Faneromeni Church

 

 

So long from the Catacomb of Phaneroni Church, Larnaca!  

 

The city name most likely means “coffer”, referring to the massive number of sarcophagi found at this and other sites in the city.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   KC   3-0

Image result for Ike Opara

 

Defense:  Top-notch

Ike’s head wear choice:

YOU make the call.

B.  Philadelphia Union vs. NYCFC – Major League Soccer

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

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

RESULT:   Philly   2-0

Image result for B is for bag

 

 

 

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

Tres chic, Number B.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Monterrey vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

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

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

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

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0

Image result for that's a thing?

 

 

Yes, Fox Sports 2 is a real channel.

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

  1. Chelsea vs. Arsenal – English Premier

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

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

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

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

  1. Lazio vs. Napoli – Serie A

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

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

RESULT:   Napoli   1-2

Image result for lazio funny

 

 

 

Plastic bottle-gladiator guy on the Lazio Plaza.

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   El Jadida   2-0

  1. Royal Pari vs. The Strongest – Bolivia Premier

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

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

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

RESULT:   R.P.   1-0

Image result for pirates computers

 

 

 

Yup.  Went there.

  1. Corinthians vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

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

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

Noob learned a few interesting things though:

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Gremio   0-1

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

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

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

RESULT:   Cinci   3-0

Image result for Cincinnati weird

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   KC   0-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Portland   0-2

Image result for letter B swamp monster

 

 

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

  1. CF America vs. Monterrey – Liga MX

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

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

RESULT:   CFA   3-0

vs Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier

Premier League is back!

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-2   Traitorous Ones   *shakes fist*

Image result for sir topham hatt angry

 

 

Noob refuses to use Hotspur’s full name.

They make the Fat Controller very cross.

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

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

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

RESULT:   the O.C.   3-4

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for honduras funny

 

 

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

  1. Shakhtar Donestsk vs. Vorskla – Ukraine Premier

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

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

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

RESULT:   Donetsk   4-1

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

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

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

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

Image result for blarney united fc

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   2-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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So long ’til tomorrow, from Noob and Keisuke!

 

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

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (8/4) – MLS back from All-Star break

After months of compressing the weekend matches into a single Track!  No more!  MLS in full swing again, the best of Europe rousing from its slumber.  Back to full Tracks for Saturday and Sunday.  Let’s dig in.

  1. Orlando City vs. New England Revolution – Major League Soccer

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.  The Management and Noob waggle our fingers at you and laugh, Orlando.  You can’t exist in a city built on a swamp and expect anything but bad ends.  Losers of four in a row.  Only one win in the last, oh, two months and change (and that over over-aged Toronto).  9th place in the Eastern Conference.

Not that New England’s doing much better of late, losers of three straight.  At least they’re still holding onto the East’s 6th and last playoff berth.  Matt Turner and that back line have allowed seven goals over those losses.  Philly will catch them posthaste if that doesn’t get shored up pronto.   (7:30 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   3-3

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Turner might consider turning his superpowers back on.

B.  Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City – Major League Soccer

The Management will be breaking out the pork rinds and sushi boat for this one.  Add his KC ties to the righteous loathing of Swamp Cities and you’ve got him pulling out all the stops.

He should be bringing out any lucky charms he has as well.  Sporting’s lost three in a row and didn’t win a league match all June.  They’ve fallen from 1st to 5th in the West.

While the road is never easy, they could be catching Houston at the right time though.  Dynamo have lost two in a row, courtesy of some porous defense.  They’re down in 9th now, four points out of a playoff slot.   (8:00 PM, Univision)

RESULT:   KC   0-1

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Number B is all about the road.

And won’t swerve to avoid Number Two if it comes to it.

  1. Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX

Pachuca improved their offense over the course of 2017-18, moving from 12th in the Apertura (first half-season) to 9th in the Clausura.  Not quite enough to make the Liguilla (postseason tournament).  It’s their defense CFA will look to exploit as they look for another top-three finish.

RESULT:   CFA   1-3

  1. Inter Milan vs. Lyon – International Champions Cup

These may two of the weakest teams in this event, but there are no slouches to be found anywhere.  Inter finished fourth in Serie A last year while Lyon was third in Ligue 1.

While some clubs have already finished their three matches in this shiny pile o’ friendlies- tuneups for the impending league season starts – Inter is playing just their second now.  They lost to Chelsea in penalty kicks.  Lyon has played just once so far as well, topping Portugal’s Benfica.   (2:00 PM, ESPN)

RESULT:   Inter   1-0

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Pile o’ friendly pandas

  1. FC Cincinnati vs. Nashville FC – United Soccer league

Cinci haven’t lost a league match since May, and so now lead the Eastern Conference and are tied for the most points in the entire league.  The only losses they’ve suffered over that stretch have been in penalties to MLS’ Minnesota United and a narrow one to Spanish La Liga club Espanyol.

After a fabulous spring and early summer, expansion cub Nashville are wilting in the dog day-heat.  They haven’t beaten anyone outside of lowly Toronto II since early June.  The offense is flat-out gone.  That said, they’re still in 7th and in line for a Playoff berth.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Paris Saint-Germain vs. AS Monaco – France Super Cup

The “big” European leagues are all about to start up.  That means it’s Sooooooooooooper Cup time!  These don’t count towards league standings or anything else, but a shiny trophy will still be awarded.

PSG won both Ligue 1 and the FA Cup last year.  As the league runner-up, ASM gets to make the trip.  Trip?  Yep.   They’re playing it in the Guangdong province of China for some reason.   (8:00 AM, beIN Sports En Espanol)

RESULT:   PSG   4-0

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Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre, Guangdong province

  1. FC Porto vs. Deportivo das Aves – Portugal Super Cup

This one will almost certainly go to Porto, the defending league champion.  Aves had a magical run to the FA Cup title, but finished just 13th in league play, woefully on goal-scoring.  This one’s in Portugal, though at a neutral site.

RESULT:   Porto   3-1

  1. PSV Eindhoven vs. Feyenoord – Netherlands Super Cup

They’ll play the Dutch version at PSV’s place, their reward for winning the Eredivisie last year.  Feyenoord won the FA Cup, finished 4th in the league.

RESULT:   Feyenoord   0-0  /  5-6  pk

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Good thing the fans won’t get weird…

  1. Gremio vs. Flamengo – Brazil Serie A

Gremio are tied for 4th and host the league #1 today.  The top six will all get invites to the next Copa Libertadores, but only the top four will get ushered through right to the Group Stage.  These two allow fewer goals than any other clubs in the league.

RESULT:   Gremio   2-0

  1. HJK vs. RoPS – Finland Veikkausliga

We finish our Track with a 1-2 matchup!  It may be just the 38th-ranked league in Europe, but this and other northern European summer leagues are over halfway through.  The stakes are heating up.

HJK are the defending league champs and lead all others in offense by a mile.  RoPS are ten points back now.  The desperately need a road upset today to keep any credible hope alive for catching the leaders.

RESULT:   2-2

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So long from Helsinki (HJK’s home city)!

Noob’s still trying to “read” the Sibelius Monument.