The ten most important matches to follow for us – the newish American fans of the global game. This is Noob’s mission, our mantra, a recipe for learning successness.
America, Mexico, CONCACAF, Western and all of Europe, South America, and anywhere at all in the world. This is Noob’s very general guideline for measuring that importance from out perspective.
(Matches are grouped in reverse chronological order by day.)
LAFC vs. L.A. Galaxy – Major League Soccer
As a famous Spanish derby is nicknamed “El Clasico”, so the City of Angels have decided their intracity rivalry is “El Trafico”. This time around, we even get a match that actually matters in league terms!
Expansion-LAFC continue to impress. They score the most in the Western Conference, league-wide are only surpassed by Atlanta United. They trail FC Dallas by just four point for 1st place.
Only four more points and two slots in the standings we find the surging L.A. Galaxy. They may actually be playing better offense than anyone now, including LAFC. They haven’t been held scoreless in a league match in 14 straight matches. They’ve won three in a row, and no one (outside U.S. Open Cup) has beaten them since May 30.
LAFC gets scoring from all manner of places nowadays, but there’s no denying that Zlatan is the catalyst. He leads the team in scoring, despite not starting the year with them. The one-time (perhaps) best player in the world and still comically-egomaniacal, talented Swede opens things up for everyone. Midfielder Chris Pontius has seen particularly huge benefits – a name to continue to look for in the stat line if they are make a push to be a Playoff #1 seed. (10:30 PM EST, ESPN)
RESULT: 2-2 LAFC blows a big lead at home, giving up goals in the 81′ and 86′.
Suggested reading. Alternate title — “El Jurassico”.
U.S.A. vs. Japan – Tournament of Nations
This event is an annual invitational with just four teams. The matches are friendlies – no bearing on any other events. they’re playing a round robin and that will be that. But apart from being Amuricuh and our interest automatically being peaked, this match features the #1 and #6-ranked teams in the world. Color me intrigued. This is one’s in Kansas City. (7:00 PM, FS1)
RESULT: USA 4-2 Alex Morgan goes for three goals
Steven Colbert is ready for Muricuhn soccer, are you?
Atletico Madrid vs. Arsenal – International Champions Cup
You know the story now for this event. Pile of big European top clubs, glorified friendlies. These two finished #B and a disappointing #6 in their respective leagues last season.
Noob’s intrigued to see this one on TV. Singapore’s National Stadium just opened a few years ago. The tiny nation is really pushing to upgrade the quality of their football. (7:30 AM, ESPNU)
RESULT: Atletico 1-1 / 3-1 pk
Gremio vs. Sao Paulo – Brazil Serie A
Noob might not normally feature this match. But #7 versus #B still really matters there. And Gremio is really in a three-way tie for 5th, just happen to be down on goal differential. As the top-rated league in South America, Brazil gets six teams into Copa Libertadores (think: Champions League). Throw in that Gremio are the defending Libertadores champions and we’re in.
Sao Paulo didn’t even make that Copa last year, but they’ve won four in a row to climb within three of the league-leaders (Palmeiras). Gremio continue to play small ball, and it’s hard to argue with last year’s 4th-place league finish and the continent’s top trophy in their case. It will be fun to see if a traditional powerhouse can stem the momentum of their streaking hosts. (6:30 PM, Premiere Futebol Clube)
RESULT: Gremio 2-1 Come from behind win, two goals for player simply named “Everton”.
So long from Noob, and a streaking Frank the Tank!
Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union – Major League Soccer
Here we have two clubs scrapping for playoffs berths, which go to the top six in each of the two divisions. So far, it’s not been working out.
Houston must’ve fallen even farther than Noob had realized. They’ve actually not lost in five straight matches, yet are still in just 8th place in the West. Over this stretch, they’ve been winning high and low-scoring games – good signs for a team that has disappointed compared to expectations to date.
#7 Philly just went down to surprising surging L.A. Galaxy in their own house. Prior to that, though, they’d two consecutive wins! A road upset wouldn’t move them into the East’s top six, but the Union would be knocking on the door.
A victory today would move the Dynamo in a playoff slot. Veteran midfielder Romell Quioto from Honduras leads the team in assists. His name has been popping up a lot in the stats sheet recently for those and his own goals. Houston needs his play to stay elevated for their climb to continue. (9:00 PM EST, ESPN+)
RESULT: Philly 1-3 Houston scored first, but the Union tied before the half. in H2, Dynamo lost a star player to a questionable straight red car and went down easily with just ten men for the remainder.
Philadelphia remains in 7th, Houston slips to 8th because of other match results.
Veracruz vs. Dorados de Sinaloa – Copa MX
When Noob features league games, teams both from about the top quarter of a league meet the standard. But when it comes to Cup/Copa tournaments – especially early I love to shine a light on Minnow. These are underdogs from lower divisions, often in positions to maybe earn an upset.
The first of Mexico’s two season Copas is just beginning. 27 clubs from the top two divisions of football divided into Groups of three compete for 16 spots in the Knockout Round. Veracruz finished very low in Liga MX standings during last season’s Clausura (second half-season.), averaging well under a goal per game.
Meanwhile, Sinaloa finished #B in the Ascenso. They sported one of the best defenses at that level. Noob’s not sure how many changes these clubs make in their shortened off-seasons, but if their makeups largely remained the same, Dorados could perhaps earn a draw here. Any result is necessity for advancement, as neither of these clubs is going to beat Club America in this Group.
RESULT: Dorados 1-2 Sinaloa with the upset after starting down 0-1.
Noob truly hopes so.
I’ll bet those birds played futsal when they were little to learn that ball control.
Celtic vs. Rosenborg – UEFA Champions League
Noob has perhaps a bad habit in re-explaining each event in each post in more details than is necessary for Noobites who read here regularly. So, see match #1 in this Track for a few general details.
Once again, Noob’s selected a match to feature here out of many slated for today simply because this one involves the westernmost team in action.
Celtic are the super-dominant Scottish powerhouse perennially. This hasn’t translated into tons of international tournament success. But they destroyed an Armenian squad last round 6-0 in two matches and they carry a higher Elo rating (footballdatabase.com) than Norwegian champs Rosenborg.
Rosenborg’s one advantage today is that they are in form, halfway through their league season. The Scottish Premier hasn’t started up yet. Still, they’d be satisfied with a draw today and then taking their chances at home in the second match of this two-legged tie.
Their leagues are both middle of the road in the UEFA rankings. The winner gets AEK Athens in the next round, which enter the competition at that stage.
RESULT: Celtic 3-1
AC Milan vs. Manchester United – International Champions Cup
Reminder: ICC is a big pile of really good European clubs playing in the US and around the world playing friendly, warming up for their domestic leagues about to begin. So it’s hard to handicap them, as any given club is as likely to be playing reserves as starters.
Still, they’re big names, and the games in the U.S. draw very well. This one is at the Stub Hub Center in L.A. (Carson). The teams finished #6 and #B in their leagues last year, respectively. (11:00 PM, ESPN)
RESULT: Man Utd 1-1 / 8-9 pk Wait, why are they using penalty shootout in a non-knockout tournament?
Phil Hartman. Not soccer-relevant.
Noob neither has no needs a reason.
PAOK (Greece) vs. FC Basel (Switzerland) – UEFA Champions League
The best thing about PAOK playing outside Greece is that maybe their hooligan fans won’t be in so riled up and in such force. Noob and The Management cheer for Basel. Just because he saw their stadium once. And they’re not Greek soccer hooligans.
This is the Second Qualifying Round. The event-proper isn’t considered to be really starting until the Group Stage begins. There are several matches from this tournament today. Noob rather arbitrarily chose this one by virtue of it involving the westernmost club of the bunch.
These two qualified to enter at this round, did not have to play the First QR. These and two other clubs entering here got in by finishing runners-up in their domestic leagues. This is called the “League Path”, as opposed to the “Champions Path”. Really doesn’t matter as far as Noob can see.
Their leagues are rated 16th and 12th, respectively, within UEFA. Their Elo-ratings (footballdatabase.com) are pretty close as well. This two-legged tie should be a very competitive one. The winner will take on Standard Liege, Belgium’s FA Cup winner, in the Third QR.
RESULT: PAOK 2-1
News outlets probably just keep violent PAOK soccer supporter-footage a button-click away at all times.
B. Zacatecas vs. Leon – Copa MX
Just as Mexico’s Liga and Ascenso MX seasons Apertura (first half-season) are beginning, so is their Apertura Copa tournament. The Group Stage is nine pods of three clubs each. The winners and the seven best runners-up will all advance to the Knockout Stage.
Noob’s chosen to feature this match out of several today because it looks like the best chance for an upset. Leon finished just 13th in the 2017-18 regular season Clausura, being ghastly on defense. Zacatecas won the second division Ascenso.
Zacatecas would’ve been Promoted to Liga MX for this year, but Noob heard Mexico’s FA changed the rules in some way so they couldn’t potentially see big-money Guadalajara get Relegated. So no club’s moved between the two. Noob thinks “The Miners” can get a draw today.
RESULT: Zacatecas 4-3 Leon came on fast and furious with two late goals to make this a riveting match.
Not soccer-relevant, but we also quest to learn about Number B here.
Funny how Number B’s belly gets pointed out, but Letter D’s big backside gets a pass.
Tuesday and Wednesday