’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Saturday (9/1) – and working on a theme song

“Soccer Noob rockin Amuricuuuhhh! /

Mini-previews!  *clap clap* /

Insight!  *clap clapclap* /

O.K.notreallythatsecondwuuhhhhn!   /  *crickets*

Soccernoob rockin’ Amur-I-CUHHH!”

  1. Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City – Major League Soccer

Really, Track match No. 1 is all MLS.   This might be the most intriguing matchup, but all but two slated for today met Noob’s standards of high interest.  Good you up some ‘Muricuhn action today, Noobites.

Those goldurn Sounders Noob reviles so have won seven straight.  The first half of their season was so pitiful that this now has them in just a tie for the last Playoff berth (6th) in the Western Conference. They Haven’t allowed multiple goals in a match since their last loss.  On June 30th.

Tenured-Noobites will recall that Noob’s first exposure to a hardcore ‘Muricuhn soccer fan was a douchebag TA in college who was a bandwagon-jumping Seattle supporter.   And I’d still be rooting alongside The Management for KC today, given his ties to that area.  But the Sounders’ turnaround has been simply epic.  Much respect.

Sporting could do absolutely nothing right in July.  Noob would’ve best against them hosting mid-table FC Seoul (picked as a nod to The Management’s current business trip).   But now they’ve won four in a row themselves, are only a point or two from retaking 1st place back from FC Dallas.  They haven’t allowed ANY goals over that stretch.

This match might be a defensive slugfest.   But it’s going to be more than worth the view.  4:00 PM EST today online with ESPN+ or broadcast on Univision Deportes.

RESULT:   Seattle   3-1       So much for defense.  KC scored at 2′, though it was all Sounders after that.

B.  Cincinatti vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – United Soccer League

Yup.  We’re shifting to a second-division matchup instead of a second MLS one.  We’ll spread our love through multiple leagues.

And it is a doozy.  Cinci has all but wrapped up the Eastern Conference.  No surprise, as they’re making the move to MLS next year.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is in a tie for #B!   Noob adds the exclamation point because they’ve flown under my radar all year.   They were near the very bottom of the standings last season.  They couldn’t score then, and they don’t do much of it now.  But they’ve conceded just 14 goals all season.  To quote Tom Cruise from “The Firm”, “It’s not sexy, but it’s got teeth.”

You know, I never found that line quite so disturbing as I do now.  Must be seeing it written.

RESULT:   Cinci   2-1      But Pitt made them work for it.   FCC got it’s two goals in the last 10 minutes of regular time.

Image result for tom Cruise weird

 

Cruise without teeth.

Good LAWD.   This was an error in judgement.

Should’ve put in a Number B-image.

  1. Leon vs. UNAM Pumas – Liga MX

One of the radio hosts I listen to regularly pronounces the “MX” letters as they would be in Spanish.

We’re in Amuricuh.  We can say just “em. ecks.”   It’ll be fine.

(tied-for-8th versus tied-for-5th)  (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Pumas   1-2         Felipe Mora with a pair of goals

  1. Chelsea vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

Leicester City hosting Liverpool might have a shade more cache, but Noob’s giving the edge to his Fighting Cherries!  Given that they’re one of the three matches being given stateside TV coverage (10:00 AM, NBCSN).

Chelsea have been electric on offense in their first three matches, winning them all.  Bournemouth should’ve beaten Everton to get a third win, too, after they’d gone a man up.  My guys will do well to get a draw at one of the mammoth-budgeted teams grounds today.

RESULT:   Chelsea   2-0       Noob has read and heard some are encouraged by AFCB’s keeping the match scoreless most of the way.  I say you’ll rarely if ever get a result possessing the ball just 27% of the game.  Oy veh.

Image result for aFC bournemouth funny

 

Guys!   I’m pretty sure “standing on one’s head” is an expression regarding goalies.

Noob is worried.

  1. Washington Spirit vs. Sky Blue – National Women’s Soccer League

Four of the eight teams make the postseason.  These two have been out of the running all summer.  So why Track it?   It’s the only domestic top-flite ladies’ match today.  Also, Sky Blue is running out of chances to get their first win of the season.  This may be as close as they get.

RESULT:      ppd

  1. France vs. Mexico – international women’s friendly

France are the host country for the 2019 women’s World Cup, so they’re not having to play in the UEFA qualifying tournament.  Mexico needs the tuneup before they enter at the final stage of the CONCACAF qualifying event going on now.

They are ranked #3 and #25, respectively, by FIFA.  (3:00 PM, TV5MONDE)

RESULT:   France   4-0       Eugenie Le Sommer with two goals in the second half

Image result for waiting gif

 

They must wait, Inigo.  

We must all wait sometimes.

  1. Iceland vs. Germany – UEFA women’s World Cup qualification

Germany are #3 in FIFA and ranked #1 in Europe.  Yet they trail Iceland by a point in their Group table with just two matches left to play.  Only the winners automatically qualify, and only about half the runners-up will get to vie for one last berth in their own mini-tournament.

Iceland are only ranked 29th in the world.  But they upset Germany on the road 2-3 in the first match they played of this double-round robin.   Germany must get at least a draw today, or they could be sitting at home for WC 2019.

RESULT:   Germany   0-2       Svenja Huth with two scores

  1. Slavia Prague vs. Viktoria Plzen – Czech First League

I was just reading up today on the 80’s-90’s new jack swing group ‘Wreckx-n-Effect”.  Checking oneself before the possibility of wrecking oneself comes recommended, by them and Noob both.  Safety first.

What I did not know was that the group’s name originally was not spelled with an X in it.  That was only added after one of their members was shot, symbolic of his absence.

(League #1 versus #2)

RESULT:   Slavia Prague   4-0      S.P. take over 1st now on GD.   Tomas Soucek scored twice.  Plzen had a tough go of it after going down to ten men in the 1st half (red card).

Image result for wreckx n effect

 

 

 

Rest in Power, Brandon Mitchell.

  1. Consadole Sapporo vs. Vissel Kobe – Japan J1 League

4th versus 5th doesn’t quite match Noob’s criterion coming out of an 18-team league.   But The Management must be appeased.  Since he’s a Japanophile, Match Nine is a sop to him.

Only the top three from Japan make the AFC Champions League.  With the season 2/3 over, this isn’t quite and elimination match, but both sides will likely play like it’s one.  And they should.

Neither has quite the defense to match up properly with the top three teams, yet Noob thinks both teams will be tight and we’ll have a low-scoring affair here today.

RESULT:   Sapporo   3-1      Kobe lost a player to a red card right at the half.

  1. Metz vs. Lens – France Ligue 2

At time of scouting, this was a 1-2 matchup.  But Niort just climbed to #B in the table as Noob was writing, so it’s #1 versus #3. But Niort have played one or two more games than these clubs, so they’re cheaters and we’re Tracking this. 😊

I thought about going back and featuring Columbus vs. NYCFC.  But variety is the spice of life.  And since there’s spice, we’re letting the French cook.  Not Ohioans.

Last season in Ligue 1, an attacking side of The Management, Dan the former Intern-o Inferno and I could’ve scored on Metz.  And so they finished last and were unceremoniously Relegated.  Lens were a bottom-feeder in this league, but stayed afloat with enough draws.

And look at them now!  Metz says they’re ready to go right back up, are 5-0-0, scoring at will.    Lenz have yet to let anyone score on them.  Viva la France!  Top three will all get automatically Promoted to Ligue 1 at season’s end.

RESULT:   Metz   2-0      It’s a Track full of red cards!   Lens lost a man mid-first half.

Image result for cathedrale st etienne metz stained glass

So long from Metz, Lorraine!

Cathedrale St. Etienne – home of perhaps the world’s broadest stained glass collection.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – filtering the finest footyball beans for YOU

The soccer scheds are getting fuller, the Track’ed matches all the sweeter.

Tuesday’s matches are below Wednesday’s here now.  Thursday’s are coming soon.

Thursday

Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas – Major League Soccer

10.  It’s hard to fathom that Houston could win the U.S. Open Cup.  They’re hosting the Final against Philly in late September.  A good thing they’ve put all their eggs in that basket, because their league basket is mildewy and coming unwoven.

They’re in 10th in the Western Conference after five straight league losses.  The competition’s been strong over that stretch, true.  But this is the big league and you’ve got to pick some points. Now they’re 10 points behind 6th place and the last playoff spot.  The Dynamo are cooked.  The offense is gone.

Dallas, meanwhile recovered from a two-game skid last time out with a W over Minnesota.  Good thing, too, as KC has won three straight and was looking prime to take 1st place back.   (9:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for HOuston weird

 

So long from the Art Car Parade in Houston!

(Don’t worry.  Noob knows it’s an atrocity.  The town was built on a swamp.  It will all sink into oblivion soon enough.)

Wednesday

  1. NYCFC vs. New York Red Bulls – Major League Soccer

#3 hosts #B in the Eastern Conference.  Both are almost certain to make the Playoffs (top 6 in each conf.).  But since the top two seeds will get a bye in the postseason, this edition if the Hudson River Derby is particularly important.

NYCFC just got ambushed in Philly, 0-2.  They’ve given up nine goals in their last four matches.  NYRB have been simply taking care of business this month, with results in their last three outings.  They’ve played one less match than The Blues – an advantage in the table, if not on the pitch today.

Sean Johnson hasn’t been helped by his back line much of late.  They’ve not leaned on the defense much all season, truth be told.  But the goalkeeper’s got to staunch this bleeding if they’re to stop this fade.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for sean johnson nycfc funny“I will hug it and squeeze it and call it George.”

(Random? Sure.  Does Noob care?  Not a whit!)

  1. Portland Thorns vs. Sky Blue FC – National Women’s Soccer League

Sky Blue have two draws in last three matches!

New Jersey’s last place NWSL club hasn’t had much to celebrate this season.  They still only have five points, half as many as second-to-last place Washington.  So they’ll take these little successes and run with them.

The Thorns are in 3rd with just three matches to go before the Postseason.  Four clubs are within four points of them in the table, so they shouldn’t be sleeping today.  A win today would all but guarantee them a top-four finish, which means playoffs.

RESULT:   Portland   2-1

Image result for Sky Blue FC funny

 

 

 

“If you go into their net more than ours -just this once- I’ll take you to the Shore.  Please??”

  1. Cruz Azul vs. Toluca – Liga MX

After making the Liguilla (postseason) in the 2017-18 Apertura (first half-season), they fell into the table depths in the Clausura.  They are back.  They’ve allowed just one lone goal in their five matches this new season.  No other team has conceded fewer than four.

But now they get their first tough test of the season.  Say hello to the last Clausura’s regular season champion.  Toluca is in 6th, but with their offense, they’ll rise.   (8:00 PM, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   Cruz Azul   1-0

  1. Young Boys of Bern vs. Dinamo Zagreb – UEFA Champions League

Switzerland’s and Croatia’s European league-rankings aren’t far apart – both in about the teens.  Still, YBB is only just now entering the competition.  (See Tuesday’s UEFA CL match below for Round details.)

D.Z. have had to advance through two rounds already.  They walloped a club from Israel and skunked one from Kazakhstan.

Based on the Elo ratings Noob uses, YBB would be favored even at a neutral site.  While I don’t think formal football gambling works this way, I would still take Dinamo if given a goal.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for soccer gambling funny

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

Given that the top eight in each conference of America’s second-tier league, these two are looking very good.

Portland’s reserve side has climbed to 5th in the West on the back of three straight high-offense victories.

The O.C. have also been getting goals like gangbusters, winning three in a row as well.  In fact, they haven’t lost since July 7 and have scored twice or more in all their contests.    Noob ends the Wednesday portion of the Midweek Track with what could look like a pinaball-ish score.

Tuesday

  1. Seattle Reign vs. Houston Dash – National Women’s Soccer League

Welcome to the only top-division match in America today.  This match is sneaky-important for both teams.

Seattle seem to have a firm grip on #B in the table with three matches to go, yet that four-point lead over the Portland only looks big because of how close the next several teams are to one another.

That’s where we find the Dash.  They’re tied for 6th, yet trail Chicago for the fourth and final Playoff berth by just two points.

Houston have scored six goals their last two matches, but Seattle maybe be more impressive of late on the other side.  The Reign haven’t conceded a goal their last three games.

RESULT:   Seattle   2-0

Image result for where did you go funny

 

 

Can’t find offense anywhere here!

(And no, Noob is not above using cute aminahl pictures to lure in readers.)

B.  UNAM Pumas vs. Queretaro – Liga MX

Noob would mock 12th-place UNAM without end for their lack of goal-scoring, but Atlas haven’t scored once this Apertura (first half-season).

Pumas are scoring twice a game on average, sit in 5th place.  But they scored all those goals the first couple games, haven’t found the back of the net in their last three outings.  Check this one out on ESPN Deportes at 8:00 PM to see if either can get on the board.

RESULT:   Queretaro   0-1

Image result for letter B wild animal

 

 

 

Sorry, Number B.

No B in “puma” anywhere.

  1. Benfica vs. PAOK – UEFA Champions League

They’ve reached the “Qualification Round” in Europe.  12 clubs paired off, the survivors of these two-legged ties all make the Group Stage.   That’s where the competition is considered to truly begin.

PAOK finished #B in Greece’s Superleague last season, had to make it through two Rounds already just to get this far.  They most recently beat Spartak Moscow.

Benfica also finished #B in their league.  But since it’s a more highly-ranked league, they’ve only had to play one Round so far.  They defeated Fehnerbace out of Turkey to get here.

True to the league strengths, the Elo rankings this two have on footballdatabase.com indicate to Noob Benfica is easily a one-goal favorite at home.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Independiente vs. Santos FC – Copa Libertadores

South America’s version of Champions League is in its Round of 16.  These are the last pair of clubs to not have played the first match of their two-legged tie.

Independiente finished just 6th in Argentina’s Premier last season – not quite good enough to qualify for CL.  They’re here by virtue of having won the 2017 Copa Sudamericana, the continent’s second-tier competition.  They’re a sound, defensive-minded bunch.

Santos finished 3rd in Brazil, CONMEBOL’s best league.  They’re considered the fifth entrant from Brazil.  Santos also plays a tight defensive game typically.  Look for this to go 1-0 or 0-1 at most.  Independiente is a full-goal fave based on the Elo ratings.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for Copa Libertadores cartoon

 

 

Noob’s not sure what harpooning a rabbit has to do with CL or Santos FC.

But I’m down with it.

 

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday soccer matches – spanning the globe for soccer-ness

Fridays are a little light on the world scheds, so Fridays here at Noob we steal Samsonite’s luggage and head off to see the world!

As always, the Track will start at or close to home, then it’s off to footyball hinterlands of wonder.

Please don’t forget to check back for results, follow on Twitter at SoccerNoobUSA.  And in the name of all that’s holy, stop assuming the drink cart carries absinthe.

  1. Houston Dash vs. Washington Spirit – National Women’s Soccer League

Just top the four from the NWSL make the playoffs.  Washington are long-since eliminated.  7th-place Houston is just four points behind 4th-place Orlando.  That’s a lot of teams to have to leapfrog, but hope lives.

The Dash have been winning and losing every other match like clockwork for weeks.  If pattern holds, they’re due for a loss today.  But the Spirit have lost seven in a row.  And they score only about goal every other game on average.  And they’re really bad.  And they won’t win today.

But Noob roots against you, Houston Dash?  Why?

RESULT:   Houston   4-0

Image result for daft to build a castle in a swamp

 

You can’t build cities on swamps and expect good things.

B.  Atlas vs. Monarcas Morelia – Liga MX

Little Billy Donovan from Springfield writes:

Dear Mr. Noob,

I’m in grade school and I can count.  Well. 

So, what is up with never using a Number Two and putting in Number B instead?

First of all, Little Billy, thanks for being a great Noobite.  No questions are dumb here, because Noob doesn’t anthropomorphize sentences.

Depending on how one chooses to look at it, Number Two has been the victim or instigator of problems people have when listing off points for time immemorial.   Say someone’s having an argument and trying to logically list points.  So often, things spin out of control:

“Why am I leaving your sorry ass??  One!   You always leave the toilet seat up.  B!  You never answer my texts within 0.45 seconds when you’re at work.  Three!  You –

     — Ha!   You can’t even make a list right.  You went ‘One’ and then ‘B’ as if you’d labeled your first point ‘A’.  So fine, leave!  You’re a dysfunctional albatross around my neck anyway.”

See the issue, Billy?  So Noob says, “Why not just replace Number Two with Number B In all lists, permanently and forever?”  More, Noob doesn’t likely need to tell a grade schooler of all people about the negative connotation of “Number Two”.  So –

1, B, 3, 4, etc. when it comes to lists.    But Noob’s not crazy.  Still count normally in non-list contexts.   You would still say, “I have two apples in my Grizzly Adams lunchbox”.

RESULT:   Morelia   0-1

Image result for grizzly adams lunch box

  1. Birmingham City vs. Swansea City – English Championship

No English Premier League matches today doesn’t mean we can’t get our British footyball fix.  Though this is equal part Welsh, thanks to Swansea.  They were Relegated after last season.  They couldn’t kick a ball and hit the broad side of a barn.

Birmingham City was on the fringe of Relegation discussions last year themselves.  Opposite problem.  Second-worst defense in the ECL.

But it’s a new season, and everyone will dream of climbing back up to the Premier League and the bajillions of tv dollars that come with it.

Fun Fact:   Birmingham were the first English club to play in European competition, losing to Barcelona in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup of 1956.

RESULT:   0-0

  1. Schweinfurt 05 vs. Schalke 04 – Germany FA Cup

Most anywhere else Noobites will find this game written about, the tournament will be referred to as “DFB-Pokal”.   The tournament participants are of a strange makeup to me.  All the clubs from the top two leagues.  That makes sense.  Only four from the third-tier league.  But then 24 teams come out of lower, regional divisions.

Schweinfurt is one of the last group.  They play out of the Bayern Regional League, which is fourth-tier.  They finished second in it last season.  They qualified for this event by winning the Bayern Cup tournament.

And today they get last year’s #B team from Bundesliga.  At least they had enough luck to get to host the match.  Minnows are fun to root for, but Schalke by two today.

RESULT:   Schalke   0-2

Willy Sachs Stadion 001.jpg

 

Schweinfurt play at Willy-Sachs Stadion.

Sometimes jokes are too easy.  Noob chooses to exercise a little grace.

  1. Wydad Casablanca vs. Mamelodi Sundowns – CAF Champions League

Africa’s CL is in it’s Group Stage still.   The 16 remaining teams are divided into pods of four, in which they play double-round robins.  All winners and runners-up advance to the Knockout Stage.

Wydad are the defending champions and lead their current Group.  They are a Noob-fave because of their unique name, being for a famous Egyptian actress-singer.  Which is odd, given that the team is in Morocco.

Mamelodi are out of South Africa’s Premier League.  They’re tied with a Guinean team for #B in the Group right now, though they lead on away-goal tiebreaker.  By rating (footballdatabase.com), this would be a very even matchup on a neutral pitch.  The defending titlists have to be favored on their home pitch today.

RESULT:   Wydad   1-0

  1. Martizburg United vs. Kaizer Chiefs – South Africa Premier

So let’s move cross-continent in our Globetrotting!   South Africa’s Premier is 5th-rated on the continent.  It’s also getting the 2018-19 season started.

These two finished 4th and 3rd in last year’s edition, narrowly missing out on the two CL berths afforded the country.  It will be especially interesting to see if Chiefs can stay near the table’s top again.  Based on goal differential, they overachieved, and only had an average offense at best.

RESULT:   0-0

Please enjoy this musical interlude from the U.K.’s Kaiser Chiefs.

  1. JS Saoura vs. MC Oran – Algeria Ligue 1

Algeria’s top flite ranks 4th in Africa, so we’re still seeing major quality on our trek today.

JS Souara may also get Tracked sooner or later for being in the current CAF Champions League, as they finished #B in this league last season.  MC Oran came in at fourth, but never truly threatened.  They score almost at will, but Noob’s not sure they play a goalie based on the numbers.

Fun Fact:   Saoura are based in the town of Meridja.  That’s Arabic for “little swamp”.

Didn’t we just cover how we feel around here about Swamp Cities.  Bad urban planning!  Down with them and the teams that inhabit them!

RESULT:   Saoura   2-0

  1. Deportivo Maipu vs. Temperley – Copa Argentina

It’s the Round of 32 now in this single-match Knockout FA Cup.  Maipu play in Torneo Federal A, one of the nation’s two third-tier leagues.  Temperley got mercifully Relegated out of the Premier last year.

Maipu host today.  They’ve also already beaten Chacarita Juniors, another team that got booted down to second-division last season.  Minnow watch!

RESULT:   Temperley   0-4

Image result for Argentinian wine rack

 

Maipu are known as “los Botelleros” – “the wine racks”.

Weird.  But Noob likes malbecs ok, so ok.

  1. Skenderbau Korce vs. Partizani Tirana – Albania Superliga

The 34th-ranked league in UEFA, really Noob?  Oh yes.  There’s a special reason for this inclusion.

Skenderbau, in March, was banned for 10 years from international UEFA competitions.  They had to forfeit their spot in the current Champions League to Kukesi.  This is the stiffest penalty ever handed out.  Match-fixing was the issue.

Applying mathematical algorithms to gambling patters is a or perhaps THE big new way match-fixing is discovered now.  Skenderbau are fighting the ban, and it will be fascinating to see just how accepted the methodology is.

RESULT:   S.K.   1-0

  1. Buxoro vs. Lokomotiv – Uzbekistan Super League

We take out rest from jet-setting at last in Asia.  This is the 10th-best league there.  As such, they will receive two berths into the next AFC Champions League.

Lokomotiv aren’t quite in line for one, but they’re threatening – tied for 3rd.  Buxoro are in 5th, not likely to make a big move.  Negative GD, and they have particular trouble putting the ball in the back of nets.  In the table, they’re problem is a lack of draws.  They actually have more losses than most teams in the entire league.

RESULT:   Lokomotiv   0-1

Image result for buxoro funny

 

So long from the “old town” of Buxoro!

(As if the whole town isn’t ancient.  People living there for 5000+ years.)

’10 to Track’ midweek Edition soccer matches – US Open Cup Semis lead the way

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

As the big Euro leagues start to roust themselves, it’s getting harder to justify a single Midweek Edition Track!  Soon, there will be re-expansion.

For now, Noob remains efficient.  Match previews are now posted through Wednesday.

Twitter:  @SoccerNoobUSA

Tuesday

  1. Dorados de Sinaloa vs. CF America – Copa MX

Welcome back to the Apertura (first half-season) Mexican FA Cup.   We’re still in the Group Stage – nine pods of three teams playing a single-round robin, with winners and the seven best runners-up advancing.

Veracruz lost both of their matches so far, so one of these two will win the Group.  Cups tournaments, for Noob, are all about looking for Minnow until their late stages.  Sinaloa is our underdog del dia.  They finished #B in their Clausura in the Ascenso MX (second tier) last season.

CF America is really good, so los Dorados will need all the home pitch advantage they can squeeze out of today.   (10:00 PM EST, ESPN Deportes)

RESULT:   0-0      With a match to go, these two have now both clinched at least runner-up status in the Group.  Still, two of the runners-up in this stage will not advance, so all still bears watching.

B.  Chelsea vs. Lyon – International Champions Cup

Most teams that aren’t already done are playing their third and final matches of this event.  That is the case for these two.  It’s just glorified friendlies, so the results don’t matter really, but these two are tied for 10th.  This is a home match for Chelsea, which is weird for this event.

Soon, their leagues will begin, so maybe the club will actually start their real lineups.   (3:00 PM, ESPNEWS)

RESULT:   Chelsea   0-0  /  5-4  pk

Image result for letter B sunglasses

 

 

Number B, already keepin’ it real.

Charming the ladies.  Unlike that poser Number Two.

 

Wednesday

  1. Houston Dynamo vs. LAFC – U.S. Open Cup

It’s the Semifinals of America’s FA Cup today!  This is a knockout format, so no return leg to Los Angeles.

Both teams have been on skids in MLS.  Houston has lost three in a row, sunk all the way to 10th place in the West.  Since they’re almost certainly not Playoff-bound, perhaps this means they’ll be super focused on chasing this trophy.  Not every team is necessarily.

That brings us to LAFC, who are also winless in their last three.  They’re in 4th out West, seem very much in line for a postseason berth.  That’s hardly guaranteed, but they are also shooting for a top two-seed, good for one or more home pitch Playoff games.

LAFC seems more likely to sprinkle in more reserves and/or subs today.  between that and the GD between these two not being too far apart – despite the difference in table position – and Noob finds himself believing in Houston.  Not that Noob would ever, ever root for a city built on a swamp.  Down with bad urban planning!  (Don’t judge me poorly.  That cause is JUST.)

RESULT:   Houston   3-3  /  7-6  pk       Diego Rossi had all three goals for LAFC in the loss.

  1. Utah Royals vs. Washington Spirit – National Women’s Soccer League

This isn’t likely a match with playoff implications, but expansion Utah isn’t totally out of that picture.  The top four will advance.  Utah is in 6th, and got a surprising point two matches ago against might NC Courage.  They followed that up with a solid road win at so-so Houston.

Washington has lost six straight and sit in second-to-last.  They’re so bad, Noob wonders if they would even beat MLS’ D.C. United…

OK, that was mean.  But was it unfair?

RESULT:   Utah   1-0

Image result for that was mean

 

You’re no Richard Dawson!!  

Get off Noob’s back, Harvey.

  1. UNAL Tigres vs. Tapachula – Copa MX

The Group Stage rolls onward!  Nine pods of three.  Double round robin format.  All winners and seven runners-up will advance.

Tapachula are one of the two Ascenso MX clubs in Group 9.  We Tracked them once already this stage, so we’re going to have some fun continuing to follow them. They got a draw in their first match with San Luis.  They’ve been on a great roll, having won the 2017-18 Clausura Ligulla.

UNAL needs to show why they’re a Liga MX team today, after dropping their first match to San Luis.

RESULT:   0-0     

  1. Celtic vs. AEK Athens – UEFA Champions League

This is the Third Qualifying Round.  After this, there is a Playoff Round to determine final entrants into the Group Stage, where the big boys of Europe enter the tournament.

This round is where Athens enters as the Greek Super League (15-ranked) champs.  Celtic, out of Scotland’s league (ranked #26) entered two rounds ago, has so far clobbered Armenian and Norwegian teams.

Despite the difference in league ranking, Celtic is the more accomplished team internationally in recent years, should be favored by a goal at home.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for AEK supporters riot

 

 

But are you ready for the standard Greek fans, Scotland?

  1. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC – Canadiaian Championship

This is just a four-team affair between Canadia’s three MLS teams and the USL’s Ottawa Fury.  The winner gets Canadia’s berth into the CONCACAF Champions League though.  As the country’s soccer federation soon has it’s own broader league (though without the MLS teams), Noob wonder’s if this Championship will field a lot more clubs in the coming years.

Vancouver is 7th place in MLS’ Western Conference, fighting for a top six regular season finish and Playoff berth.  Will they play all starters here?  Toronto are 9th in the east.  As they made the Final of the last CONCACAF CL and are less likely to get an MLS playoff berth, perhaps the will be more inclined to throw total effort into this affair.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Cerezo Osaka vs. Independiente – Sugura Bank Championship

This is a strange annual match.  It’s always in Japan, so Noob assumes sponsor Sugura Bank just pays both teams a pile of yen to show up for a glorified friendly.

This pits the J.League Cup winner – not the J.League regular season champ – from last year against the defending Copa Sudamericana (South America’s answer to Europa League) titleholder.

To give some idea of the relative strengths of the clubs, know that C.Osaka would be among the very favorites to win MLS if they played here.  And Argentina’s Independiente would probably beat them about 2/3 of the time on neutral pitches.

RESULT:   Independiente   0-1

Image result for scrooge mcduck pile of money gif

 

 

Winners get to go to the bank CEO’s house, go full Scrooge McDuck dive into a bottomless pit of yen.

  1. Home United vs. Ceres-Negros FC – AFC Cup

This is Asia’s secondary Cup tournament for clubs, though not really analogous to Europa League or Copa Sudamericana.  Clubs participating in this qualify out of countries identified by the AFC as soccer “developing” and “emerging” soccer nations.   Google up the criteria specifics if you are so inclined Noobites.  We streamline things here.

There are five geographically-based “zones” out of which clubs will advance to Inter-Zonal Finals and then final Finals.  This match is the second leg of the ASEAN (southeast Asia) Zonal Final.  They drew the first match.

Home United qualified by finishing 3rd in Singapore’s top league, which is ranked just above average in Asia.  This would not be high enough, but the champs are a Japanese club satellite team, and so ineligible for international competition.  The #B team got into AFC Champions League.

Ceres-Negros are from the Philippines, the runaway winners of their slightly better top-flite league.  It is ranked #17 in Asia.  They actually played in the pre-Group Stage of the AFC CL, but didn’t make the Group Stage, so they can still play in this one.  That’s nice.

RESULT:   Home   2-0

Thursday

  1. Cerro Porteño vs. Palmeiras – Copa Libertadores

The Round of 16 in South America’s version of Champions League is here.  This is the first match of the two-legged tie for these two.

Palmeiras qualified for the CL by finishing runner up in Brazil’s Serie A last year.  They went undefeated in the Group Stage to get to this Round, with an average match result of a two-goal victory per.

Paraguay’s top entrant finished #B in their Group, even goal differential.  They’re good.  But even at home, their only maybe an even match for their guests today.  The winner will take on either Chile’s Colo-Colo or Corinthians from Brazil – a traditional behemoth either way.

RESULT:   Palmeiras   0-2

Image result for General Pablo Rojas Stadium

 

 

So long from La Olla Nueva, Asuncion, Paraguay!

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Globetrotting Friday (6/22) – World Cup, Isle of Sodor Cup, and off to footyball hinterlands!

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

On Fridays, that gets messed with.  We look at a couple matches that “matter” and then jetset off for wild and exotic football locales!  A little learning, a lot of fun, and you may just end up more edumuhcated than your soccer fan veteran friends.

Liftoff!

  1. Brazil vs. Costa Rica – FIFA World Cup

Welcome back to Group E!   All four teams have played a match now.  Serbia were the only to get a win, beating Noob-surrogates Costa Rica.  Brazil had a draw with the Swiss.

Costa Rica are the Noob choice for the Group Stage for the cheering.  They’re ranked almost right next to the U.S. worldwide, so seem a good surrogate for how ‘Muricuh might’ve fared.

There have been multiple arguments, with at least one broadcast live in their home country, between Costa Rica players since their first match in Russia.  Brazilian star Cutinho will likely be able to take advantage – or just win on having superior players.  They’re ranked #2 in the world for a reason.

There you have it, Noobites!   Just enough preview to get you through water cooler chat.  Now go, be free!  Noob will be reading more in-depth stuff on the interwebs in advance of the match.  Do likewise, should the Spirit move you.

RESULT:   Brazil   2-0    And with that, sadly Noob-fave Costa Rica is eliminated

Image result for water cooler chat funny

B.  Houston Dash vs. Portland Thorns – NWSL

*shakes fist at Houston*   Swamp City-builders!  You don’t build on marshland.  Noob and The Management stand against you.

OK, with that bit of oddity out of the way, second-to-last place Houston have taken advantage of three straight home matches to put some distance between themselves and Washington.  They’re even within striking distance of the top four and a postseason berth!  They beat Washington, surprised Seattle with a W, and then most impressively earned a draw against league champions-in-waiting North Carolina.

To compare, 5th-place Portland got dubbed 1-4 by NC.  In general, they are fading.  They need to find their offense again or will wind up the next Dash victim.

RESULT:   Portland   1-3

Image result for letter B swamp monster

 

 

Number B is here to scare some sense into you, Houstonians.

  1. Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Penn FC – USL

For newer Noobites, let’s get real:   Often locale will trump “quality”.

TB and Penn are merely tied for 10thh in the Eastern Conference.   In Noob’s quest to himself learn and then in turn introduce you to soccer that could be most important to you, we’re going to get to know teams close to home.  Even when they’re potential also-rans in the second tier.

But hey — they’re only two points out of 8th and the league playoffs, so this is something of a key match!  If the match isn’t a draw, the mountain the loser has to climb gets really tough, even here at about the season halfway point.

The Rowdies are the better team, have the offense to perhaps make that move toward 8th.  At home, they should handle the team we knew last year as Harrisburg City.

RESULT:   Penn FC   0-2

  1. Arlesburgh vs. Brendam Harbor – Isle of Sodor Cup

Future Second Division Arlesburgh are the only team in Group D to net a win.  Any sort of result over one of the tourney-faves Brendam Harbor and they will be looking prime to advance to the knockout stage.

The Harbormen only managed a draw against D2 Lakeside in their first match.  They’ll be looking to break out the offense today and move toward the bracketed round.  They’re on the road for their second consecutive match, and so are slated to host their third and final one Arlesdale United.

Fun Fact:  Arlesburgh is perhaps the oldest settlement on Sodor.  As such, they have one of the largest supporter groups on Sodor – The Ancients.

RESULT:   Brendam Harbor  1-2

The fans dress like old people, stand entire matches.   The ones who look just middle-aged are, in fact, toddlers.

Image result for old people cheering

  1. Spartaks vs. RFS – Latvia Higher League

UEFA’s 41st-ranked league is strange in one regard:  About a dozen matches into the season, 1st and 5th place are separated by eight points.  5th and 6th are separated by twelve.

Spartaks are in 4th, but have played one less game than the two teams immediately ahead of them.  They are also the last team to beat #1 RFS.   The visitor’s today sport the best offense in the league.

Fun Fact:  FK Spartaks is closely identified as much or more with their Swimming School.

RESULT:   RFS   0-2

  1. Soccernet vs. FCI Levadia – Estonia FA Cup

The point here is just to know that the event is happening, really.  Both teams are from Tallinn The home side is from the 6th tier of Latvian domestic footyball.  FCI Levadia is one of the top-flight league powerhouses.

RESULT:   FCI Levadia   0-12       Words fail sometimes…

Image result for gif the more you know funny

  1. Than Quang Ninh vs. Sanna Khanh Hoa – Vietnam V.League 1

They’re all chasing Ha Noi in Vietnam for the only AFC Champions League slot the league receives.  They won’t be caught.  We’re still going!

#B hosts #4 in a very crowded part of the table.  Today’s visitors from Nha Trang have overachieved a little being even this high up.  Their negative goal differential gives them away.  TQN aren’t posers, might be the only team that could get a sniff at catching Ha Noi.

Fun Fact:   TQN have only two players who are not Vietnamese.  Both are Brazilian.

RESULT:   SKH   1-2

  1. EB / Streymur vs. KI – Faroe Islands Premier

Welcome to the track, Faroe Islands!   You’re an independent country that is somehow also part of the Kingdom of Denmark.  And we love you.  Despite or maybe even because you’re the 51st-ranked UEFA club of 55.

Unsurprisngly, Faroe Islands only get one team into the Champions League.  it’s a two-horse race, and KI are behind the league leaders by five in the table.  Matches against midtable teams like EB / Streymur are exactly the kind they can’t drop.  They likely won’t even, on the road.  KI is much better on both sides of the ball, can control this game no matter what sort of pace their hosts try for.

UnFun Fact:   In 2014, perhaps EB’s greatest player was killed when a bunch of boxes of frozen fish fell on him when he was on a trawler.

RESULT:   KI   0-2

Image result for gunnar zachariasen

 

 

Too sad and weird for Noob to have made this one up.

  1. Voorwaarts vs. Inter Moengotapoe – Suriname Topklasse

Inter is sort of the best of the rest in Suriname.  The title chase is down to three teams nearly two dozen games into their season.  I.M. are 4th.  Voorwaarts are 9th.

Despite the country being not far off the Brazilian coast, this is a Caribbean-cultured nation.  And they are in CONCACF, not CONMEBOL.  Noob welcomes you to the track!

Fun Fact:   S.V. Voorwaarts was founded in 1919 by schoolkids from the Hendrickschool.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Fosa Juniors vs. Meava – Madagascar Champions League

It’s an avalanche of newcomers to the Track today!    Good luck on your season that’s just starting.

This league is divided into four Groups.  These two finished in the middle of their zones last season.  That’s all Noob’s got for you on this one.  But they’re on our radar now, and we’ll be back to learn more some Friday soon.

Fun Fact:  Fosa Juniors are from the region of Boeny in the northeast, pop. around 800,000.

RESULT:   Fosa Juniors   3-0

Image result for village straddling river

 

So long from scenic Arlesburgh, Isle of Sodor!

Be jealous of Noob’s eleveted B&B.

’10 to Track’ soccer matches for Globetrotting Friday (4/20) – MLS, NWSL, Liga MX keep us closer to home

TGIGF!  yet today, we won’t be hitting the soccer hinterlands quite like usual.  This is a rare Friday sched that’s chock full of great matches, in leagues Noob covers and you crave.

  1. Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – MLS

Nearly every team has played five games, an arbitrary benchmark Noob uses to stop leaning on the previous seasons’ stats so heavily and look at what’s in front of us.

So what’s in front of us?  KC is #1 in the West, and they’re doing it with a wide-open style.  They lead the league in offense.  Vancouver is in 3rd.  They’re two road wins this early are impressive.  But ultimately, this team isn’t scoring enough goals.  Bad matchup for them today.

Noob’s thinking KC 3-0.  The Management should be pleased, since he is pro-all things KC.   (9:00 PM Eastern, NBA League Pass)

RESULT:   KC   6-0

Image result for happy Manager funny

 

Where were you hiding that cake, The Management?

Noob likes chocolate cake.  Noob will root for KC.

B.  Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns – NWSL

In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes of a thorn in his flesh.  Three times he prayed for its removal.  Each time, the Lord told him His grace would be sufficient instead.

Noob’s not quite sure how this can fit here, but I will say Washington needs to pray here.  The Capitol gals finished in last in 2017.  Just three games in this year they are better.  But they aren’t playing any defense, and that’s not going to bode well against the defending champs.

RESULT   1-1

Image result for holy letter B

 

 

Number B,. any chance that Holy Spirit-dove is Washington’s mascot?

  1. Puebla vs. CF America – Liga MX

Two matches two go in the Clausura (second half-season).  America sit in 3rd, and are all but mathematically guaranteed a Liguilla slot, top-eight finish.

Puebla are in 13th – not out, but on life support.  Their GD isn’t all that bad, but their guests today are tied for the best defense in the league.   Must win for “The Sweet Potatoers”.     (8:00 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Puebla   3-1      Puebla pulls into a three-way tie for 9th, just a point behind the two teams tied for 8th

  1. Dijon vs. Lyon – Ligue 1

France’s slip in the UEFA rankings this year means they only get three Champions League invites now.  This has Lyon sweating bullets.  They’re tied for 3rd with Marseille.  Dijon shouldn’t present a problem today, except that the game is there.  One never knows what the road may bring.    (3:00 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   Lyon   2-5

Image result for mustard problem

 

 

 

Lies!  Clearly there is a problem related to mustard.

  1. Connah’s Quay vs. T.N.S. – Welsh Premier

It’s #B vs. #1!   That’s always eye-catching for Noob, even if The New Saints have already claimed the league title.  TNS score close to twice as much as anyone else, but will they be motivated now?

CQ are in position to get the only automatic Europa League berth here, but only lead Bangor City by three in the table.

RESULT:   TNS   1-3

  1. Millwall vs. Fulham – English Championship League

This may only be second-tier football, but this league has ranked as high as 14th before in the overall UEFA rankings.  And this match should be a doozy.

Millwall are in 6th, with competition hot on their heels for that last spot in the Promotion Playoffs.  Fulham are in 3rd and guaranteed at least a PP spot already.  But they’re also only a point behind #B Cardiff City.  If they can pass them, they’ll be automatically moved up to Premier League.

RESULT:   Fulham   0-3     Fulham climb to #B by two points, though one must note they’ve played two more matches than #3 Cardiff.  

Image result for hot british heels

 

“Hot on their heels”.  English Sexy Pointed Toe Shoes.

Not bad, Dan the Intern-o Inferno.  But find some better ankles next time.

  1. Braga vs. Maritimo – Primeira Liga

Portugal’s is the highest-ranked league (#7) to only get two Champions League slots.  This means Braga has work to do.  They’re in 4th, six points behind #B Benfica.  Maritimo are tied for 5th, but they’re merely playing to be the best of the rest.  Big gap between the top four and all others here.

RESULT:   Braga   2-0     Braga move into a tie for 3rd.  They’ve played one more match than Sporting CP with whom they’re tied though.

  1. Istanbul Basaksehir vs. Kayserispor – Turkey Super Lig

A reminder:  This is a top 10 league in Europe.  We pay attention.

Galatasaray – 60, Besiktas 59, Istanbul 59.  Fenerbahce 57.  Say hello to the most dramatic league finish coming.  Five matches remain for everyone.  Just two will make CL.

I.B. are better on both sides of the ball than the #6 visitors today, should take care of business.  Kayser aren’t playing for any Euro-postseason.

RESULT:   Istanbul   3-1   I.B. move into 1st.  They’ve played one more match than the teams right behind them though.

Image result for giant turkey leg

 

 

Um, Dan the Intern-o Inferno?  Turkey Super Lig.  LIG.

Cute though.

  1. Reims vs. AC Ajaccio – Ligue 2

Congrats, Ligue 2!  Noob had a Paraguayan game scouted for this slot today, but Independiente fell out of the top quarter of their league.  Denied!

France’s second division automatically promotes two to Ligue 1 annually.  Reims are #1 and they’re unlikely to be caught now.  ACA are #3.  That’s good to make the league’s Promotion Playoffs, but they’re also just a point behind #B Nimes.

RESULT:   Reims   1-0

  1. Melbourne City vs. Brisbane Roar – Australia A-League

More denial!  Noob had an Algerian Ligue 1 match all lined up, but Hussein Day fell off the radar like Independiente.

Instead, we finish our globetrotting Down Under.  It’s the Playoffs!  The top two regular season finishers are getting byes.  Four more face off in Knockout matches to see who plays the league leaders.

Melbourne City finished third, Brisbane 6th.  Noob has confirmed that the Playoff champions – not the regular season champion – gets an Asian Champions League invite.  While not confirmed, Noob assumes the loser of the Playoff final will get the other invite.

RESULT:   Melbourne City   2-0

Image result for denied funny

 

 

 

Good thing this makes sense.

Ten to Track (8/8/2017)

1. Real Madrid vs. Manchester United – UEFA Super Cup

Last season’s Champions League and Europa League winners face off in an event which confuses the Noob mightily. Europa League is like the American NCAA basketball NIT – for league also-rans. So the winner of the second-rate event vs. the best in the world? The Noob will track it for the names, but is confused mightily.

Also worth noting:  host city Skopje, Macedonia rated with Trip Advisor as the #4 City in the World that Makes You Say “Whowhere?”

B. Yeovil Town vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – EFL Cup (first round)

The Noob is learning! I now understand the EFL Cup is not the FA Cup. This one is restricted to teams in The Football League – the top four divisions of play in England.

Yeovil is from League Two, the fourth tier in England. Prior to achieving this level, they had one of the best records in the FA Cup for “non-league” (below fourth tier) teams. The Noob loves big little guys, and so The Glovers are adopted.

3. Red Star vs. Auxerre – Coupe de la Ligue (first round)

More learningness! This is France’s equivalent of the EFL Cup. Only teams from their top three leagues can qualify.

Red Star is a small, Division 3 Parisian team from the northern burbs; a working class team to be sure. Their name is not translated from French.  It’s the actual name. It’s like the Norman linguistic invasion, but in reverse. Or not…

4. Necaxa vs. Morelia – Copa MX

Best combination of teams in group stage play this day.

5. Hibernian vs. Ayr United – Scottish League Cup

I -think- this is analogous to the two Cups above, where there’s another FA Cup that is broader in scope at some point in the year. Ayr U. is the reining 3rd Division champ, might have a puncher’s chance against a lower-rung Premier League side.

6. Lanus vs. The Strongest – Copa Libertadores (round of 16)

Bracketed play begins in the Copa, though this one’s not knockout/single match. This match is the second “leg” of the two-legged “tie” between these two clubs, a home and home affair. “Aggregate” is knotted at 1-1.

7. Real Esteli vs. Aguila – CONCACAF League (group stage)

-Not- the CONCACAF Champions League, though related. Qualifying teams from Latin American and the Caribbean face off in this tournament for a slot in the actual federation Champions League. Mexico, Costa Rica and the U.S. are the only countries that likely matter there.

8. Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit – NWSL

The Management does not enjoy teams from cities built on swamps! The Noob is inclined to go along, whether out of fear or likeness of mind.

Orlando is in 6th place, in striking distance of a league postseason top four slot. But time is running out on their comparatively short season.

9. Orange County SC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks – USL

The Switchbacks – a nickname we love, but is not enough for Noob Adoption Status yet – tenuously hold the 6th and final league postseason spot.

10. Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Rochester Rhinos – USL

The Noob has is surprised about the Islander nickname for Harrisburg, and wonders if he should be embarrassed about that. They have a shot at home against 5th place Rochester. Away from “the island”, H City sucks out loud.