Noob interview with Dryaw FC star striker Christopher Wilbertson. With wine. And authors. Weird again.

Wed., March 28, 2019 – Dryaw, Sodor –

Ah, Dryaw. Noob’s favorite place on the Isle. The village is a haven for writers and intellectuals, and cool as s**t people from Sodor and beyond. I’ve been lingering since last weekend’s Premier League feature match here.

Noob had just finished a meal at Joseph Tidy’s. I’d been dining with my usual suspect-friends – American author me Daniel Heck and 80’s TV Star (“The Fall Guy”), screenwriter and current vintner Doug Barr Image result for Doug Barr — as well as hard science fiction writer and PhD in astrophysics Alastair Reynolds  and his lovely wife Noordwijk. In stumbled a desperately forlorn Christopher Wilbertson – leading scorer and resident nutjob for IoS PL’s #1 Dryaw FC.

2002 Hollywood & Vine Cabernet Sauv 2480 What could be troubling him? Interview time. I excused myself from my dinner companions, swiping the last full bottle of Barr’s Hollywood and Vine Cellars 2002 vintage cab sav ‘2480’ off the table. Heck and Reynolds could argue whether the latter’s space-swashbuckly Revenger was high-end kids lit or straight sci-fi without Noob.

Image result for Alastair Reynolds holding Revenger(For the record, if the protagonist/s is/are young and the plot has no loops and any prominent adult characters are neutered of real power, it’s kid lit.  If no, than not.)

So I waved an already half-sluiced Wilbertson over to another table. He had a small smile for the only journo providing international coverage for Sudric soccer, but slumped upon sitting. Noob filled his glass and C-Dub went on the record:

Wilbertson: Kane may not be in it for the money, but I could surely use a windfall someday. Do you know what we get paid here? Do you even know what the currency of Sodor is?

Noob: Did I somehow miss half a conversation?

Image result for harry kane haley joel osmentWilbertson: Since I'm not as famous as that giant-headed Haley Joel Osment-looking diva, I even kept my dream more realistic than Kane's. I set my sights on the American Alliance of Football.

Noob: Riiiight. I can't believe Harry Kane says he wants to kick in the NFL someday.  [read the ESPN FC article]  Man-crush on Tom Brady has to be big in that equation. So, you were going to shoot for the upstart AAF, a developmental league.

Wilbertson: They're only weeks into their first season and already talking about folding. [Read the ESPN.com article]  Like they didn't know until now the NFLPA might be a little resistant to sending its younger players anywhere else. Pshaw.

Noob: Well, maybe the XFL will have better luck next year than they did in 2001.

Wilbertson: The whowha?

Noob: WWE's Vince McMahon started a league in 2001, was to be all wrestling-esque and fun. But it crapped out after a season.

Wilbertson: I could even play defense in a league like that! You've seen my signature goal-celebrating move.

Noob: The famous Klinsmann Dive you're always trying to recreate.

Wilbertson: Trying? Asshat.

Noob: We can still be friends.

Wilbertson: Just imagine the Dive, but now someone from the other team under me. I can kick and tackle in the fake-Wrestleball. Hope lives!

Noob: They prefer “fixed” to “fake”. And in this XFL incarnation, they're going to try to be a regular old developmental league.

Wilbertson: That sounds like it will be awful.

Noob: It will be.

Wilbertson: You are a bringer of ill news, Noob. Be gone.  Leave the vino.

And so I left Christopher Wilbertson openly weeping into his wine glass, so many other questions still rattling in my skull:

Would this affect his Premier League play going forward?  If so, could it cost Dryaw FC the title?  Did the XFL really plan on being boring as all get-out?  Could I get Doug Barr to put out a kick-ass syrah next growing sesason?  What’s Lee Majors doing now?  How will Noob end this oh-so-strange, meandering interview piece?

Image result for vince mcmahon confused gif

There’s one answered.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (12/4-6) soccer match previews – Copa Argentina Final completes our Track

The Midweek Edition now stands complete at ten.   There was just one match needed for Thursday to complete the set.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s matches and results now follow further down.

Please consider following Noob on Twitter @SoccerNoobUSA.com.  Inquire for details on how to possibly join footyball discussions with cool cats on Bros Talking Soccer’s new Slack.   And click an ad , if you are so inclined.  Some of the stuff is even soccer-related!

Back again tomorrow for Globetrotting Friday!

Thursday

10. Rosario Central vs. Gimnasia LP – Copa Argentina

The Final! And this match is a one-off in Mendoza – a neutral location. Noob is continually surprised that outside Europe in particular that such otherwise weak-seeming teams advance to title matches. Rosario are in 14th of 28 Primera league teams and Gimnasia in 21st. The winner gets much more than a few pesos and a trophy. There’s a qualification to the next Copa Libertadores up for grabs!

Trying to get excited for this one, but it may be tough to watch. Rosario doesn’t score much, and they look like an offensive juggernaut compared to Gimnasia. Catch this one at 7:10 PM Eastern on TyC Sports International if you dare. And have a deep enough satellite TV package.

RESULT:   Rosario   1-1  /  4-1 PK’s        All hail the Argentine champs!

Image result for Mendoza argentina weirdSo long from Mendoza!

At least you can stay in a cool vineyard “hotel” when visiting.

 

Wednesday

3. Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

Semifinals time in the Apertura (first half-season) Liguilla (playoffs)!

This this Round will also feature two-legged ties, same as the Quarters did. Regular season #1 Cruz Azul gets the honor of hosting the second leg of the home-and-away series, which means they open in Monterrey today.

Cruz Azul haven’t lost since October 20. They’d won five straight matches until finishing off their quarterfinal draw with a 1-1 draw last time out. Plenty of teams score as much or more than C.A., but none defend like them (just 13 goals given up in the 17-match regular season).

Monterrey haven’t proven to be quite as good on either side of the ball. But as one would imagine, they’re not that far off C.A.’s pace, given that they made the playoffs. They’ve not lost in five matches. But they’ve not beaten Cruz Azul in nine consecutive tries.

RESULT:   Monterrey   1-0                 Make that once in their last ten tries!

4. Manchester United vs. Arsenal – English Premier League

Arsenal just had a big, God-ordained win in the North London derby. After doing the Lord’s work in defeating named-for-an-historical-traitor (Harry Percy) Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur, can they get pumped up again for Man Utd.?

Man Utd have had a dismal year compared to expectations, the usual-title contenders wallowing in 8th place right now. They haven’t won a league match in a month. None of this has been a fluke, either, as they’re struggling on both sides of the ball. For this team to rise again, the great goalkeeper David de Gea is going to need to lead the way. Defense has been even weaker than offense on the season.

Arsenal are in 4th, which is the number of clubs EPL will qualify for the next Champions League. One would point out their offense as the best around if it weren’t for league #1 Man City blowing everyone out of the water in that department. Defense has been spotty for them, too, at least compared to other table-top clubs. German international Bernd Lemo has decidedly been the weak link. Looking for a shootout today.   (3:00 PM Eastern, NBCSN)

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for Sir Topham Hatt happy

 

Sir Topham Hatt cannot be cross so soon after a Hotspur loss.

5. Atletico Junior vs. Atletico PR – Copa Sudamericana

The Final! And crap on a cracker, Noob would’nt have been passing on covering this event had I not had bad info stuck in my head.

This tournament is the equivalent of Europa League, a tournament below the level of Champions League – or, in South America – Copa Libertadores. Noob did not think the winner of Sudamericana automatically qualified for the following years Libertadores, but they do. And that’s some high stakes.

Columbia’s Junior started in the this year’s Libertadores. After finishing 3rd place in their pod in the Group Stage there, they were dropped into this event. They’ve been very strong in their domestic league statistically, yet are just in 6th place right now. Trouble closing out the close matches, anyone?

Atletico Paranaense only qualified for this event, were not dropped down from following a Libertadores round. They just finished the Brazilian season one spot (7th) out of qualifying for the next Libertadores already.

Based on general knowledge of the pecking order of domestic leagues in South America and Elo ratings from footballdatabase.com, it seems fair to say Junior are an even match at best at home today.

RESULT:   1-1

6. Zamora vs. Deportivo Lara – Venezuela Premier

This is the second leg of the Serie Final, which pits the playoff champions from the Apertura and Clausura stages of the season against one another. The first match was played at Lara and ended in a 1-1 draw.

If one is interested in a couple extra details, scroll down to the Leg One match preview from 12/2. Suffice it to say here and now that Zamora are the hotter team the second half of the year and most definitely favored today at home.

RESULT:   Zamora   4-1          2018 Venezuelan chamPEEENS will dance with that sexy disco robot from the future of 1984

Winners get to party at KirovBar, Barinas (home of Zamora FC) for disco and with this guy….thing!

7. Ulsan Hyundai vs. Daegu FC – (South) Korean FA Cup

The Final! First leg, anyway. Second one will be at Daegu. In Europe, FA Cup winners typically just qualify for the secondary Europa League tournament. Here, the winner not only qualifies for the next AFC Champions League, they’ll enter at the Group Stage (the latest any team enters).

Ulsan finished the K League 1 in third place. That’s just high enough to net them an AFC CL berth, but not as late as the Group Stage. They have to play their way into that as things stand now, via a “playoff round”.

Daegu finished just 7th, didn’t qualify for squat. They’re not nearly as good on either side of the ball as Ulsan, but particularly trail them in goal-scoring.

That said, Daegu haven’t lost in any of their last seven matches across all competitions. They enter vastly hotter than Ulsan. Noob thinks Daegu are easily an even match for Ulsan, maybe even should be favored, given all the momentum they have.

RESULT:   Daegu   1-2            #7 in the league, but #1 in our FA Cup-hearts!   

8. Northeast United vs. Bengaluru – India Super League

Reminder: India has two top-flite leagues. The other is the I-League. ISL is the one that does not have promotion/relegation. It was created under more of an MLS-like franchise model to promote soccer in the country. They do not qualify teams into international competition like AFC Champions League.

But that doesn’t mean this #B-#1 matchup is any less shiny and alluring! Top four will make the league playoffs. Bengalaru are still undefeated eight matches into the season. They have a game in hand on Northeast, on top of leading them by four points in the table. These teams are the cream of the crop defensively, so look for a low-scoring affair today.   (9:00 AM, Asianet Movies)

RESULT:   1-1        Bengaluru saved their undefeated record at 90′ with a goal

Image result for shiny things funny

 

That… doesn’t feel relevant…

Who’s doing images around here now, anyway? 

Noob missed Dan the Intern-Inferno.

9. Turbine Potsdam vs. VfL Wolfsburg – Frauen-Bundesliga

Lyon may be the #1 women’s team in Europe, but it’s Germany’s top league that ranks most highly. And no German team is mightier than Wolfsburg – 10-0-0 so far.

Top two will qualify for the next women’s UEFA Champions League. That second slot looks likely to either go to Potsdam or Bayern Munich. No one’ going to get Wolfsburg though. After all, they’ve outscored opponents 46-2 so far. Good golly.

RESULT:   1-1         The leaders can bleed, they’re human!

Tuesday

1. UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

Time for the second leg of the Apertura (first half-season) Semfinals! All four teams are in action today. This matchup intrigues Noob a little more because UANL are undefeated. Guadalajara got a 1-1 draw at their own place, no small feat.

Matching up with the league’s best on their own turf likely to be a whole other matter. UANL scored over three goals per match during the regular season, 2/3 again as many as Guadalajara, and while playing about the same caliber of defense.

RESULT:   UANL   5-3        On to the finals!

B. Montpelier vs. Lille – Ligue 2

Paris Saint-Germain are still undefeated, miles ahead of the pack. So the race is on for just two more Champions League berths. Lille have fallen to 4th, not having one in any of their last five outings. They’ve been outscored 8-3 over that time. Montpelier are #B in the table.

RESULT:   Lille   0-1        Lille jump up to # B

But wait, just two matches to start the week?  Yup.   Sounds like more high-quality content that soccer lovers everywhere want.   It’s time for a —

NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!

Last installment of NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB, Noob took Subway to task over there new steak sandwich on sunflower bread, a catastrophe if ever there was one.

Today’s featured sammich is much close to home for Noob.  My six year-old daughter – PersonNoob -created this one recently.

What you’re seeing is four pieces of wheat bread in a

 

single stack.   Each is liberally covered with strawberry jelly.  Here pictured, I’ve removed the top layer to show what she has smashed inside — a Little Bites “birthday cake”-flavored mini-muffin.

We know from “Fizzy’s Lunch Lab” television program that “wheat is sweet”.  But four pieces?   I applaud PersonNoob’s creativity, but one only needs more than two if you’re layering the sammich in different ways between slices.  I blame myself as a parent.

The mini-muffins are fine as prepackaged fare goes.  Certainly eaten my share of ones PN hasn’t finished on our way to her school.

To my surprise, the sweet jam and the “birthday” aspect of the muffin didn’t make this sickeningly sweet, at least not at the first bite.    Yes, I tried it, though only ventured that one bite.  As you might imagine, the texture was just straight up waaaay too much bread.

So does Noob dare really rate a sandwich his own sweet daughter created?   You betcha.   And while this is the highest rating I’ve yet given a sandwich, the finished product still didn’t do all that well.

On the Noob Sammich Review sammich rating scale of one to five Sammiches, I rate the “Extra-Tall Wheat Jelly and Birthday Cake Mini-Muffin Sandwich” at just 1.5 Sammiches.

’10 to Track’ Sunday (12/2) soccer match previews – Liga MX, Premier League derbies lead the way

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

Noob starts local and with Western Europe, but never ignores the world at large.  I hope that means there’s something here for any fan, not just Noobites.

Follow on the tweeterbox @SoccerNoobUSA.  Check back for match results.  And remember to never travel in a straight line.   Noob keeps things weird.

Note:  Noob’s sources for some CONCACAF things are…inconsistent.   The Ascenso MX (Mexican second division) Apertura Finals second leg may be today.  Really good league, probably one of the best five in CONCACAF.  Use your Google machine powers to find out more.

Also, there may be a Nicaraguan semifinal today.   Same CONCACAF weirdness issue on the interblag.

1. Pumas UNAM vs. Tigres UANL– Liga MX

Opening round of the playoffs, leg two! The top eight from the Apertura (first half-season) qualified. Pumas are the third seed, Tigres sixth. The first leg was at UANL and they won 2-1.

All the momentum is with Tigres. They’ve won four straight. Pumas have only managed one win in their last four tries. Winner will get either CF America or underdog Toluca.   (1:00 PM Eastern, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Pumas   3-1      And so they take the series 4-3 and advance

B. Arsenal vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier League

This is the North London derby. Remember to pronounce that “ar” instead of “er”. You wouldn’t won to sound literate! For the rawest of Noobites, a derby means they’re bigtime rivals.

Being one of Europe’s best leagues, four clubs will qualify from it for the next UEFA Champions League. Noob-dreaded Hotspur are #3, Arsenal #5 with the season just over 1/3 over.

Arsenal lost their first two league matches of the season but quickly righted their ship and haven’t lost since. This, despite the fact that they don’t play quite the same caliber of defense that the other title-contenders do.

Hotspur have won six straight across all competitions. They have proven capable of winning both high and low-scoring affairs, may well be the top threat to #1 Manchester City. They are also named for historic traitor to multiple kings Harry Percy, are worthy of our scorn. Not that this is likely to affect a match result. Noob just can’t help but throw it in there.   (9:05 AM, Telemundo)

RESULT:   Arsenal   4-2        for great justice

Image result for fat controller pissed off

 

 

 

Sir Topham Hatt is displeased by the Harry Percy fawners.

3. RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Bundesliga

Germany’s top league has had a topsy turvy table compared to normal this season. Things are starting to look closer to normal, but M’Gladbach is a club they’re not used to seeing so high up. The enter today #B in the table, and it’s no fluke. Good offense, sterling defense. And they’ve won four in a row over all competitions.

Leipzig either play whatever is better than sterling for defense or parks the bus and doesn’t worry much about scoring. Either way, it worked for them early in the season. They’ve lost three of their last four now though and they sit in 5th place. Top four get into the 209-20 Champions League.   (9:30 AM, FS1)

RESULT:   Leipzig   2-0

4. Alaves vs. Sevilla – La Liga

Spain’s is another top flite that’s table has been filled with less-familiar names at the top. Last year, these were the 7th and 14th-placed teams, respectively. Currently they sit #4 and #1. Top four here, too, qualify for the next CL.

Alaves have lost two of three. They’re not consistently dominating teams much further down the table. They appear to have the defense to perhaps flirt with a top-four finish, but Noob’s not banking on it.

Sevilla are really well-balanced. If it weren’t for hard-charging Barcelona, Noob might think they could truly contend for the title. Plus, Real Madrid appear to be waking from their early season slumber. They’re 5th and will climb higher. For the moment, we get enjoy a breath of fresh air, some new scenery at the top of the table.   (2:45 PM, beIN Sports en Español)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for Spanish fresh air

 

 

 

Eventually we’ll need these again.

5. Celtic vs. Aberdeen – Scottish League Cup

FA Cup – every club that’s a member or associate members of the Scottish Football Association. Challenge Cup – teams from levels 2-4 of the Scottish football pyramid, plus some lower clubs and a few non-Scottish invites.

And then there’s this one! It’s been being contested by the teams from the top four leagues. This is their one-off Final match. It’s in Glasgow, but not at Celtic’s actual home stadium. Not like they need a home-pitch advantage probably, either. They’ve been leading the Premier League there, while Aberdeen are down in 7th.

Celtic have only allowed six league goals all season, 15 matches. That’s insane. But while Celtic should be favored no matter what, Noob doesn’t have a sense of how big a deal this particular Cup is there. Some tournaments, some places, clubs use these as chances to give playing time to bench players.

RESULT:   Celtic   1-0       trophy time!

6. Manchester City vs. Arsenal – England Women’s Soccer League

It’s a battle of the two undefeated teams in the ladies’ top league in England! No one’s even gotten a draw with Arsenal, either. No wonder, they average over four goals per match.

Three teams have gotten draws with Man City. They score over twice as often as any other team in the league – yet only ¾ as much as Arsenal.

RESULT:   Man City   2-0

Image result for White Castle funny

 

Wish I could find the match on TV.   

Ready to party with leftover White Castle.

7. Heredinao vs. Alajuense – Costa Rica Premier

The Final! Noob loves some Costa Rican soccer. This league is every bit as strong as MLS. This is for the Apertura (first half-season) title. And this is the first leg, so they’ll play another match at Alajuense in a few days to complete things.

Alajuense tied for 1st in the regular season table, but lost out on goal differential. They had a quirky 22 matches in that not a single one ended in a draw. No other club had fewer than three.

Herediano tied for 3rd, but entered these Playoffs as the #4 seed, also losing out on GD. They’re a more traditional power there, but weren’t as strong on either side of the ball as their guests today.

RESULT:   Herediano   2-1

8. Deportiva Lara vs. Zamora – Venezuela Premier

Like most or perhaps all Latin American leagues, Venezuela divides their soccer year into separate Apertura and Clausura half-seasons. And for each half, they have a playoffs, crown a champions. But unlike many of those others, here the two tournaments champions face off at year’s end to decide an overall champion. Noob like-y.

Lara won the Clausura playoffs, despite finishing just 4th in the regular season. Zamora finished #B and then won the Apertura playoffs, but weren’t nearly so strong during the Clausura. There, they finished just 7th.

This is a two-legged, home-and-away series for the title. Zamora gets the honor of hosting the second leg, presumably by having the better overall record on the year. Both teams have already qualified for the next Copa Libertadores, so this is strictly for the shiny trophy.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for shiny trophy funny

 

 

The runner-up trophy.

Maybe…

9. Emelec vs. LDU Quito – Ecuador Serie A

Ecuador call their two half-seasons simply Opening and Closing Stages. Concept is the same as Apertura and Clausura though. Or maybe they use those words there and Noob’s sources are just goofy about not translating for Ecuador for some reason. The world is weird.

In any case, there are just two matches to go in the Closing Stage. Opening Stage champions LDU de Quito trail Emelec by two points in the table. As many as four other teams appear mathematically alive for 1st, but one of these two is going to win it.

Emelec haven’t lost in six straight matches. De Quito have also been on a tear. Well, save for a weird loss for soon-to-be-Relegated Tecnico Universitario.

This one’s a big enough match that GOL TV is actually airing it internationally. You’d have to have a deep, deep satellite package to get it here stateside, but it’s on at 12:00 PM.

RESULT:   0-0

10. Basel vs. Young Boys of Bern – Swiss Super League

We finish our Track back in Europe. Noob’s saved this one for last because while it’s an irresistible #B-#1 matchup, there’s no title race going on here.

YBB are ahead by a whopping 13 points in the table less than halfway through the season. That said, Switzerland are a highly-enough ranked league in Europe that they’ll qualify two club into the next Champions League.

Basel have been the more recent studs, but might really only be the fourth-best team this season. The defense is down this season, the offense not enough to make up for that lack.

RESULT:   YBB   1-3

Image result for Basel funny

 

 

So long from the Christmas Market in Basel, Switzerland!

 

Home of creepy, nightmare-inducing holiday mushroom figurines.

You’re welcome.

 

Extra Credit:   Liverpool vs Everton – English Premier League, any of the Second Round English FA Cup matches, #3 Hearts vs #2 Rangers – Scottish Premiership,  #4 Anderlecht vs #B Genk – Belgian First Division A

#2 Vidi vs #3 Budapest Honved – Hungarian NB 1, #3 Academy Pandev vs. #B Vardar Skpje – Macedonian Prva Liga, #3 Feyenoord vs. #1 PSV Eindhoven – Dutch Eredivisie, #4 Besiktas vs #3 Galatasaray – Turkish Super Lig

#5 Independiente vs. #6 Boca Juniors – Argentinian Primera, a Peruvian Primera semfinal, #B Al Nassr vs. #4 Al-Wehda – Saudi Premier, #4 Etoile du Sahel vs. #B Sfaxien – Tunisian Ligue 1

Quarterfinal matches from El Salvador and Guatemala, a semifinal from Honduras, #1 Village Superstars vs. #3 St. Paul’s United – St. Kitts and Nevis Premier, plus maybe a final from Panama.  Info on Panama is the worst.

’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’ Saturday (11/10) soccer matches – Champions Leagues, give us more!

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

Quirkly little slogan for the Track, the backbone feature of this project.  What does it mean, what is Noob?

The goal is to give starter-level preview several times a week on the most important matches for newer fans to follow.   Nothing taxing, yet informative on what’s going on in America, North America, England and beyond.  Local first, never local only.

And it’s all done with hopefully enough weirdness to bring something to even more seasoned fans.  The Quest for Number B.  Sandwich Reviewoobs.  Scorning “real” named teams that aren’t deserving.  Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage.  Hopefully soon a Stolen Mailbag feature soon.

Saturdays are a little less weirdness, a little more footyball.  Dig in!

  1. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate – Copa Libertadores

South America’s Champions League has reached its Final!   This is the first match of the two-legged, home and away tie.  Not that either will be travelling far.  Both are based in Buenos Aires.

This is one of the fiercest rivalries in sports anywhere in the world.  The fact that the teams are only in 8th and 10th, respectively, in the Argentine Premier so far means nothing here and now.  These are two historical powers in the country and on the continent.

They’re only about ten matches into the league season.  River Plate will climb.  The offense might not be quite everything it could be, but the defense is #1 in the league.  Juniors have gone the other way so far – top four-offense, struggling on D.

Two quick Fun Facts about this matchup.  A year ago, it couldn’t have even happened as a Final.  Previously, if two teams from the same country reached the Semis, they had to face one another.  The goal was to try and ensure the Finals were a multi-nation affair, help the ratings.  That rule was just removed.

Also, both teams were formed in Boca, the same barrio of Buenos Aires.  River Plate are now based in Belgrano, a northern barrio.   (3:00 PM EST, Fox Deportes)

RESULT:     suspended due to rain; now slated for 2:00 PM EST tomorrow on Deportes

B.  Persepolis vs. Kashima Antlers – AFC Champions League Final

Another Final!   And this time, the trophy’s being handed out.  Japan’s 2016-17 J1 League runners-up Kashima won the first leg 0-2.

Today, they try and finish things off against the defending Iranian domestic league champions.  By Elo rating, Kashima is the better team.  But the difference is small enough that Persepolis should be considered the favorite at home.   But by two goals?  Not likely.

RESULT:   0-0      Kudos to the champs!  Kashima takes the title

  1. Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – English Premier League

Three clubs remain undefeated in England.  Hotspur is not one of them, but rather right behind them in 4th.   If they can maintain a position at least that high in the table, they’ll qualify for next year’s Champions League.   Palace are down in 14th.

They’re on a three-match win streak across all competitions, but haven’t kept a clean sheet in five.  That’s rather the opposite of their league season to date.   The defense has been quite solid, but the offense isn’t what the truer title contenders have shown.

Tenured Noobites know how Noob feels about Hotspur.  The club is named for historical multi-king traitor Harry Percy.  Rather than spew my usual bile and vitriol over this fact, I’ll use this as an opportunity to preview a hopefully-upcoming feature.  Noob is working on an interview with Will Rivard, creator of website Tottenham Hotspur World (Twitter: @WorldHotspur).

I hope it will be a chance at a slightly deeper dive than Noob gives for individual clubs, the sort of site to which newer fans graduate from Noob.  Perhaps a little club history, news on the current state of the team and where it’s headed, maybe even an explanation on why it’s named for such a cretinous yahoo as Harry “Hotspur” Percy.

Whoops.  I said no bile and vitriol.  Just look for it soon, Noobites.   It should be a treat.

RESULT:   Hotspur   1-0

Image result for sir topham hatt

 

 

Wow, Sir Topham Hatt looks something other than cross for once!

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Puebla – Liga MX

Two matches left for these two in the Apertura (first half-season).  The top half of the league (eight clubs) will qualify for the Liguilla (postseason tournament).

Puebla are in 11th place.  They’re just three points behind 8th-place Pachuca.  Still, they likely need to win both they’re remaining matches to leapfrog the necessary clubs and climb three steps in the table.  Trouble is, they’ve allowed 2+ goals in seven consecutive matches.  They’ve been bottom-four defensively to date.

Tigres are in 7th.  They just broke a three-match non-winning streak with a road W over midtable Morelia.  Before that clean sheet, they’d allowed 11 goals over their last four matches.   (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Tigres   6-1

  1. Metropolitan Police vs. Newport County – England FA Cup

Yesterday, Noob featured a Minnow Watch and here we get another!   This is the first round of the “Competition Proper”, where teams as high as the third-tier of English football enter the tournament.  Previously, teams from the lower divisions have been battling to get to this point.

Metropolitan Police are one of three seventh-tier teams to have survived those qualifying rounds.  They are out of the Southern League Premier Division South, based in Surrey.  They’re just midtable there, and playing dreadful defense.

Newport Town come calling today, from level four of the English football pyramid.  They’re tied for 5th in League Two, though it’s hard to see how.  They make their host’s defense look divine.

Too just look at stats in their respective leagues, this could be a shootout.  Or given the gap in pyramid level, Newport may just come in and crush them.

RESULT:   Newport   0-2

SmallMetPolicelogo.png

 

 

Higher-league teams could take a lesson from the fine crest-work.

  1. FC Porto vs. Braga – Portugual Primeira Liga

Braga are the lone undefeated team remaining here in UEFA’s #7-ranked league.  Tied with them – FC Porto.   Both lead the rest of the league on both offense and defense.  Top two finishers make the Champions League next year.

A draw would leave both vulnerable to fellow powerhouse Sporting CP just behind.  A win for either gives them a real leg up in the title race, even here early in the season.

RESULT:   Porto   1-0

  1. Connah’s Quay vs. Barry Town – Welsh Premier

The Welsh top flite may be one of Europe’s weakest, but Noob’s always down for more tied-for-1st place action!

Connah’s Quay is no surprise.  They finished 3rd last year, about as low as Noob’s seen in my brief time closely following the footsball.

Barry Town?  Yeah, they were in 7th last year.  They’ve won seven of eight matches running, though every win but one by a single goal.  Soccer may not be a high-scoring affair typically, but that’s unusual even in this sport.  They’re not strong enough up front to keep this up all season long, will drop to midtable.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Audax Italiano vs. Palestino – Copa Chile

What an odd Final.  With a Copa Libertadores berth going to the FA Cup winner, one would think the best teams would be getting here.  Audax and Palestino are well down the Premier League table in Chile, 11th and 13th, respectively.

Heck, Palestino is only two spots clear of the Relegation Zone!   Noob wonders if a team has ever qualified for the CL and been Demoted in the same season.

This is the first leg of the two-legged, home and away Final.  Between the higher table position and actually having a positive goal differential, Noob supposed Audax has to be the favorite.

RESULT:   Palestino   0-1

Image result for odd chili

 

Mediterranean Chickpea Chili

C’mon, that’s odd chili.

*sigh*  Who’s running images here with Dan the Intern-o Inferno gone?

  1. Zrinjski Mostar vs. FK Sarajevo – Bosnia and Herzegovina Premier

We return to Europe for a #B-#1 matchup.  The league is only ranked #40 (of 55) by UEFA, yet that only rachets up the drama.  Only one club can earn a Champions League invite.

Sarajevo made a late push to finish even 3rd last season.  Now, they lead the pack by five points.  They’ve averaged over two goals per match, which is astounding.  More so, because they’re among the league leaders at goal-stopping, too.

This isn’t must-win for Mostar, as the season is only halfway done.  Yet falling behind by eight points should they take the L at home today would have them in a bad way.  They’re the #B offense in the league, but by a lot.  It will be curious to see if they try pushing the pace at home, or take some of the air out of the ball.  Noob thinks if they make the game wide-open, they’re going to go down.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Newcastle Jets vs. Sydney FC – Australia A-League

We finish the Saturday track down under in a top-ten Asian League.   Yes, Noob knows they’re their own continent.  They left the OFC for the AFC some years ago.

The season is so young Down under that we’re better served looking at last year’s table.  it was a weird one.  Sydney FC blew everyone out.  Even so, Newcastle had no close competition for runners-up position.

Three matches in this year, Sydney have yet to lose.  Newcastle sits in dead last.  They’ve only scored twice.  Maybe they should try wresting Usain Bolt away from Central Coast Mariners since he hasn’t yet completed a contract with them.   (Yes, that Usain Bolt.  He’s been training with CCM for a while now.)

RESULT:   1-1            Jets’ Nicholas Cowburn equalizes at 87′

Image result for Electrofringe newcastleSo long from Newcastle!

Home of Electrofringe, part of the annual This Is Not Art festival.

experimental electronic and technologically-based art

’10 to Track’ Saturday (11/3) soccer matches – USL playoffs, Liga MX, Premier League lead the way

Noob endeavors to both help us learn about American soccer and the sport from points around the globe, but also to make it weirdly funny throughout.

Saturdays are hardly devoid my inanity, but MAN are the matches but good.  USL playoffs, Liga MX, Premier League, and a bevy of #1-#B matches.

And resident prognosticator Noobstradamus pops in to share what he knows today!

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

It’s the Western Conference Final in America’s second division playoffs!

These were the West’s top two scoring clubs during the regular season, and they’ve scored a dozen goals between them in four postseason matches.   Look for a shootout, look for it on ESPN+ (10:00 PM EST).

Winners gets defending champs Louisville FC in the Final   Noob thinks the team with the better seed will host.  O.C. are #1, Phoenix #3.   LFC were #B in the East.

RESULT:   Phoenix   1-2

B.  Arsenal vs. Liverpool – English Premier League

Liverpool is one of the three remaining undefeated teams in the league.   Last year’s star Mo Salah isn’t scoring at nearly the record-breaking clip he did last year, and the goals aren’t being replace elsewhere.

This might be a game where they can break out, though.  Arsenal are in 4th, yet play shite for defense.   That may be hyperbolic.  But not by lots.

On a Noob note:  Tenured Noobites know the scorn I have for Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur.  Named for a two-time historical traitor.   And they name a club after him.  Heathens.

Arsenal is their primary rival.  Yet Noob doesn’t hold them in much higher esteem than any club Hotspur is playing on a given day.   Is Noob doing the soccer wrong?   You can comment on this Post or hit me up on Twitter – @SoccerNoobUSA.   (1:30 PM, NBC)

Image result for sir topham hatt cross

 

 

Interact with the Noob, or face the crossness

  1. Kashima Antlers vs. Persepolis – AFC Champions League

Time for another final!    This is the first match of a home and away two-legged tie.

Their domestic leagues are ranked closely together.   Japan’s J1 league is deeper than the Persian Gulf Pro League.  Noob would’ve guessed this meant the Iranians were to be favored.   But Noob’s fave site for Elo ratings (footballdatabase.com) is back up after a few scary days down.  It indicates these two are about perfectly equal.

Kashima play more quality competition.  But Persepolis plays fabulous defense.  Noob cannot handicap such an even-looking match!

It’s time to call on the prognostication powers of Ancient and All-Soccer Seeing Noobstradamus.

Image result for Noobstradamus

 

 

It’s strange when a vision takes hold, what seems clear and what is mist.  Even without the hanging scrolls dedicated to Takemikazuchi,  I would know this for Kashima Shinto Shrine.   

 

Kunii Zen’ya I were sparring in classic Kashima Shinryu fashion.  Our swords were appropriately thick bamboo, with large hilts.  The spiraling nature of the discipline’s movements had us starting and finishing in identical positions.  It was a dance, even as we strove to strike one another.

Motion and Stillness.  Origination and Manifestation.  We danced the beginnings of the Universe through the FiveFold laws.  Offense and Defense.  Emptiness and Reality.  Each pairing always as One, just as our whirring swords seems to be One as well.  Yin and Yang as One.  More clacking bamboo.

I let my concentration slip when one of the many birds on the torii we practiced under moved.  CLACK.  Kunii Zen’ya had perfect control of his weapon, specifically chose to strike a whip-fast blow to my sword-arm.  A lesson.  

I bent down to retrieve my own dropped sword when a scroll wafted down in front of me.  The bird had knocked it loose from its hanging, the distraction.

The Shinto teachers say birds are messengers of the gods.   The Scroll read, “Kashima 3, Persepolis 1.”

So shall it be, Noobites.  Unless it’s not.  That’s happened once or twice before.  Don’t bet the farm.   But that’s a true Vision.  Yeah.

RESULT:   Kashima   2-0           Well, got the winner and margin right, anyway.

4.  CF America vs. Toluca – Liga MX

CF America are finally on top of the Mexican top flite table.   Noob says “finally” because e they’ve only lost two matches, yet have been merely lurking just outside that position all Apertura (first half-season) long.   They’re tied with Santos on points, but ahead on tiebreaking goal differential.

Toluca are in 5th.   They were undefeated in September and looking like they could contend for the title until they dropped a 2-0 match to putrid Atlas to end the month.  They’re going to make the Liguilla (postseason, top eight-finish) just about no matter what happens these last three matches.  They’re base stats are nearly as good as CFA’s.

Perhaps Noob’s not allowing that Toluca simply fell asleep for what they thought would be a cakewalk with Atlas.  But with the half-seasons only being 17 matches each, I’d think teams would be on top of their s**t at all times.   (9:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Celtic vs. Hearts – Scottish Premiership

This isn’t one of Europe’s very strongest leagues, but they’re cracking the UEFA top 20 right now!  Also making this match intriguing is who’s #1 in the league right now.

In Noob’s admittedly brief time (a year and change doing this site), this league has always been about Celtic and Rangers.  And it may return to that again soon.  But for now, I’m enjoying seeing some new blood atop the table.  Thank you, Hearts.

Celtic are #B and will remain so no matter who this match turns out.  Both teams are well-balanced, but Celtic really are a shade better on both ends of the field.  At home, they should prevail, pull within a point of the league leaders.

RESULLT:   Celtic   5-0        Edsonne Edouard with a pair of scores

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

Brought to you by the Dept. of Redundancy Department, it’s First Division A-time!

Perhaps Noob should not mock so.  It is the #8 league in UEFA, after all.  And lookit!   They brought is a shiny #1 versus #B matchup.  I know just where to display these in my blog-home.

Brugge are your defending champions, but it’s Genk who are undefeated.  Both score an absolute of crapton of goals, far more than any other clubs in this league.  See if you can find yourself an internet stream for this one.  And if their commentary available, let Noob know if the Belgians also enjoy non-standard measurements like “crapton”.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for silly man gif

 

 

David Schwimmer has the right of it.

  1. Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Dynamo Kyiv – Ukraine Premier

No new blood atop the table here In the #8 league in Europe.  Yup!   And for being so awesome, they get two slots in the next Champions League.   Unless FC Olexandria continue to surprise, these two will be the recipients of those CL invites.

Donetsk lead #B D.K. by five.  Their 36 goals scored in just 13 matches is so outrageous Noob had to doublecheck.   That’s twice as many as D.K.

Dynamo Kiev do sport the league’s top defense, but barely.  Just above – you guessed it.   Donetsk.  But!  The Dynamo have beaten Donetsk in all three of their last matches.

RESULT:   Shakhtar   2-1        Come from behind win, with the winner being scored at 90′

  1. Atromitos vs. PAOK – Superleague Greece

last season, Atromitos finished 4th, just behind the historic “Big Three” in Greece.   That triumvirate is rarely cracked.  this season so far, They’re #B, and four points up on two of the giants.  Today, they host the other titan, current #1 PAOK, in a battle of the last two undefeated clubs here.

This league will get two CL berths.  Noob thinks the usual suspects are just to balanced to let an interloper like Atromitos stay there long.   Perhaps they can earn a draw at home today, keep the dream alive for another week or more.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for atromitos supporters riot

 

 

As always, the Vegas line on will their be rioting and police in gear to stop it is OFF.

  1. Astana vs. Kairat Almaty – Kazakhstan Premier

Our last leg here in Europe takes us down the table to a very average league, but one that is on the rise (#28).

This isn’t a terribly meaningful match, but the siren song of #1 vs. #B is too much for Noob.  The season is already almost done here.  Astana has wrapped up the title and K.A. are cemented at #B.   This is the way of things, at the very least of late, in Kazakhstan football.

RESULT:   Astana   3-2

  1. Guangzhou Evergrande vs. Shanghai SIPG – China Super League

We finish our Saturday Track with one more #1 versus #2.   China’s league gets the maximum two slots in the next Champions League, and these two are all but mathematically locked in.  And to no one’s surprise.  Perennial powerhouses.

But Evergrande only lead SIPG by two in the table, so the title is very much up for grabs!  And SIPG have beaten their guests today in three straight.  Neither team has lost since forever, except three weeks ago when SIPG beat G.E.

RESULT:    SIPG   4-5       SIPG Are now your league #1.    And did you know they have a player who simply goes by “Hulk”?

The Chen Clan's Academy.jpg

 

 

So long from Guangzhou!

The Chen Clan’s Ancestral Hall and folk art museum

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Sunday (8/26) – the best of footyball, home and abroad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Seattle   0-1

Image result for larrys Mabiala funny

 

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

May be the issue.

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   NYRB   1-0

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

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

  1. Newcastle vs. Chelsea – English Premier League

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

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

RESULT:   Chelsea   1-2

  1. Santos vs. Cruz Azul – Liga MX

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

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for giant soccer ball

 

 

Gigante!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Cray Valley   4-1

  1. Marseille vs. Rennes – Ligue 1

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

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

RESULT:   2-2

Image result for you are not invited

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

RESULT:   Jamaica   9-0         not a typo

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for welcome and fuck off

 

 

Yes, um, it’s Ascenso league coverage.

Do what now?

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

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

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

RESULT:   Brugge   2-1

  1. Qarabag vs. Neftchi – Azerbaijan Premier

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

 

So long from Baku, home of Qarabag!

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

(Both!)

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for 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

Image result for keisuke honda funny

 

 

So long ’til tomorrow, from Noob and Keisuke!

 

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

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – ICC, Copa MX, UEFA Champions League lead the way

Noob’s on vacation in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.  Noobites will want to scroll back a Track or two to get extra details on some tournaments and leagues.

Otherwise, it’s keep calm and carry on with the footyball mini-previews!

Tuesday

  1. Barcelona vs. AS Roma – International Champions Cup

Roma got clocked by Arsenal in their first ICC match.  Barcelona beat Tottenham  Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur in penalties after regulation went 2-2.   Smart money would therefore be on Barcelona to come out on top today in Arlington, though smarter money would stay un-wagered to begin with.  ICC is just glorified friendlies, after all.

RESULT:   Roma   2-4

B.  Tapachula vs. Atletico de San Luis – Copa MX

When it comes to FA Cups, Noob’s always on the lookout for Minnow, underdogs.  Both these clubs are from Mexico’s second-tier league – Ascenso MX.

Tapachula finished 8th in the last Clausura (second half-season) standings, only qualifying for the Liguilla (postseason tournament) by virtue of beating out the 9th-place team deep on tiebreakers.  Yet on they went to win it!

San Luis finished just 10th, struggling on offense.  This will be a particularly interesting matchup because Tapachula excels on offense only.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for letter b animated gif

 

Here’s a dolphin and Number B excelling at their own sport.

  1. FC Sheriff Tiraspol vs. FK Shkendija – UEFA Champions League

This is the Second Qualifying Round – still a ways to go before the Group Stage, where purists say the event proper really begins.

These two were last season’s champions from the 38th and 34th-ranked leagues in UEFA.  Shkendija – out of Macedonia – won the first match of this two-legged tie 1-0.  Either they or the Moldovan domestic league champions will advance to the Third Q.R. to play Red Bull Salzburg out of Austria.

RESULT:   0-0    And so Shkendija advances on aggregate

Wednesday

  1. Arsenal vs. Chelsea – International Champions Cup

Premier League is just a couple weeks from kicking off, and here we get something of a preview.

These are two clubs that had disappointing league seasons last year.  In this event, Arsenal have lost in penalties to Barcelona and destroyed Paris Saint-Germain.  Chelsea have played just one of their three matches, losing in penalties to Inter Milan.  Today’s match is in Dublin.   (3:00 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   Arsenal   1-1  /  6-5 pk

Image result for England vs ireland funny

 

 

 

Not soccer-related.

Noob neither has nor needs a reason.

  1. Orange County vs. Portland Timbers II – United Soccer League

With MLS on All-Star break, we shift our gaze to America’s second division.

There’s a widening gap in the Western Conference between the top five and the rest of the pack.  Orange County are in a three-way tie for 3rd, while Portland are one of the best of the rest in 6th.  Top eight will make the Playoffs.

It’s Timbers II’s defense that keeps them from breaking into the upper echelon.   Noob thinks they’ll make the playoffs, but as the bottom seed, not 6th.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Midtjylland vs. Astana – UEFA Champions League

The Second Qualifying Round rolls along.  Noob’s selected this one to feature for the competitiveness.

Denmark’s second-best club is probably just an even match on their own pitch against Kazakhstan’s top club.  Astana won the first match in tie two-legged tie 2-1.  The winner will next face Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia’s top entrant.

RESULT:   0-0     Onward and upward for Astana

Image result for Denmark weird

 

 

Denmark – where you can sleep in a giant beer can.

  1. Akwa United vs. Lobi Stars – Nigeria Pro League

Hello, Nigerian Pro League, it’s been a while!  Have you lost a little weight?  You look sensational.

This league has been ranked #12 in Africa, the lowest spot that still allows the club to qualify two clubs to the CAF Champions League.  The rankings for next year’s competitions have already come out and Nigeria will have fallen a little.

So this year so far, these are the two clubs in line for CL berths, #1 and #B in the table.  But the table is tight at the top.  The teams tied for 3rd are just three points out of Bth , and two more are just a point below them.  Noob thinks Kano Pillars may be the best team in the league, will jump one of these two if they quit getting so darn many draws.

RESULT:     ppd

8.  Zapatepec vs. Cruz Azul – Copa MX

Last Clausura, Zapatepec finished fourth in Ascenso MX.  Trouble on both sides of the ball, yet perhaps their success is of guts and grit.  Cruz Azul finished in 12th in Liga MX.

Noobstradamus hasn’t been divining a great deal of late, and so his vision was a bit cloudy.  Look a for at least a tie and perhaps even a full-on upset by the home side.

RESULT:   Cruz Azul   2-3

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Cloudy?  I never used that word.  I am the all-seeing Noobstradamus!

(Maybe I said “murky…”)

 

Thursday

  1. U.S.A. vs. Brazil – Tournament of Nations

This four-team event has it’s third and final pair of matches in the round robin today, this time taking their tour to Chicagoland.  The standings don’t matter, as this is a stand-alone set of friendlies.  But they’ve carried a little more weight than some (I.C.C.) since these are something of a tuneup for the 2019 women’s World Cup.

U.S.A. and Australia are in a dead heat for 1st, Brazil just a point behind them.  Aus could sneak in and take home the trophy today, as they have 0-2 Japan today.

RESULT:   U.S.A.   4-1

  1. Ah Ahly vs. Ismaily – Egyptian Premier League

Al Ahly absolutely wrecked this league last year, and this is the best league on the continent by far.  Lots of teams in the world carry the name “Ahly”, but this is the one to know.  Ismaily finished a distant #B in 2017-18.  This is the first match of the new season for both.

RESULT:   1-1     Mo Sherif got a goal for the hosts at 90′ to salvage a draw.

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So long from Cairo, where Noob will be hitting the Khan Al Kahili Bazaar after the match.