Isle of Sodor Premier League – matchday 28 (3/2-3) – Title contenders down to three

Matchday 28 (3/2-3) in Review

Sunday Feature Match:         ONE team got a road win today…and the magic ride keeps goin’!

Related imageAnd then there were three, realistically.   #5 Crovan’s Gate‘s loss leaves then ten points behind the league leaders.  And today’s Feature Match result saw #1 Dryaw FC obliterate #4 Kirk Ronan 3-10!  At nine points back with just nine matches to go, it’s safe to call the Churchmen cooked.

Winger Christopher Wilbertson was Dryaw‘s star, as he scored a gentleman’s hat trick (a goal and two assists) in each half.  After the match, Wilbertson, had this to say to Noob:

"We're neither tall nor fast.   We have to play intelligently.  Our game plan was to go for just those 50-50 balls we had an 80% chance of getting."

Dryaw is famous as a quiet vacation village for intellectuals, particularly authors.   Noob knows no one else could’ve spoken or written so…eloquently about the team’s game strategy.   (Ok, maybe Ian Darke  )

 

Sounds about  right for Wilbertson, who also nearly broke his fool neck trying to recreate the famous “Klinsmann dive”.

Sun., 3/3
#8      Glennock                7   vs.    5     T12     Vicarstown
#20   Arlesburgh Utd.   5   vs.    3     T12     Marron
#15    Lakeside                 2   vs.     1    #10      Suddery
#5      Crovan’s Gate      4   vs.     5     #9      Junction & Sheds
#4      Kirk Ronan            3   vs.     10   #1       Dryaw

Continue down for Saturday’s results and feature match recap.  Click [here]  for the updated league table.

Saturday Feature Match:     A change in the Relegation Zone!

Image result for Norramby crestIt’s hard to call it a true upset, but Noob predicted a draw.  Instead, Ulfstead have climbed above the Cutline with a resounding victory!   A 4-4 halftime score was inline with expectations, but Ffarquhar looked fatigued again just minutes into the second half.

Image result for FFFC football crestSo, Ffarquhar drop to 18th, two points behind today’s victors.  Ulfstead is up to 17th, next have struggling Brendam United in their sights in the table.

On the table’s top, Peel Godred eked out a low-scoring win, but that’s good enough to climb back into 2nd place!   How?  Because #2 Knapford Town went to Castle Rolf and got busted in the mouth.   Peel now sit just a point behind Dryaw, who have their hands full tomorrow as they visit #4 Kirk Ronan.

Here are the day’s full results.  The Page with the Table will be updated following tomorrow’s matches.

Sat., 3/2
#3     Peel Godred         2    vs.     0        #16    Brendam Utd.
#11    Castle Rolf          13    vs.    6          #2     Knapford Town
#7     Wellsworth          5    vs.    4          #6      E.C.D.
#19   Tidmouth City    6    vs.    1          #14    Brendam Harbor
#18    Ulfstead                8    vs.    4         #17     Ffarquhar

’10 to Track’ Saturday (12/1) soccer match previews – Liga MX, Premier League lead the way

Noob could choose to define the mantra  here of “the ten most important matches to follow, for us – the newish American fans of the global game” any number of ways.

But in the quest to learn soccer, I’ve learned I want to embrace the game everywhere  its found.    Today’s Track proudly sports matches from all six continents and federations.

1. Santos vs. Monterrey – Liga MX

This is the second leg of the opening, Quarterfinal round of the Apertura (first half-season) Liguilla (postseason tournament). Tonight’s match completes the home-and-away series.

These are the #4 and #5 seeds. They finished in a three-way tie with another club during the regular season and statistically look very much alike. Monterrey won the first leg at their place, 1-0. Best aggregate score will advance in the bracket.

All the momentum is on the side of Monterrey right now. They haven’t lost in four matches and have conceded only two goals over that stretch. Santos haven’t win in four matches, only score three times over those games.

The winner will almost certainly face #1 Cruz Azul in the Semifinals. They’re up 2-0 in their Quarterfinal and have yet to host their match.   (10:00 PM Eastern, Univision)

RESULT:   Monterrey   0-2        on to the Semis to face Cruz Azul  

B. Manchester City vs. AFC Bournemouth – English Premier League

This may be the English match today involving the collectively two highest teams in the table, but it sure doesn’t look competitive. Man City are the world’s greatest club running at the moment.

Bournemouth are tied for 8th. More, Noob’s Fighting Cherries have lost three straight, all by 2-1 scores. They had an extremely hot streak to start the year, but that magic has cooled.   (10:00 AM, NBCSN)

RESULT:   Man City   3-1

Image result for letter B cherry

 

Noob’s been faithful to the quest for Number B.

Number B stays loyal with me in support of the Fighting Cherries of Bournemouth.

3. Lille vs. Lyon – Ligue 1

Once you get past 14-0-0 PSG, there’s quite a race going on in France! Lyon are #B. Lille is one of three teams trailing them by just a point. Top three will make the next Champions league.

Noob doesn’t think Lyon have the defensive ability to maintain their table position, will be one of the odd teams out for a top three finish. Defense is Lille’s greater strength and so they should be expected to get a result here at home.

RESULT:   2-2

4. Flamengo vs. Atletico PR – Brazil Serie A

The last round of matches begins in Brazil now. #B versus #7 isn’t usually shiny enough to capture Noob’s fickle gaze, but this is one with specific meaning.

Flamengo can’t catch Palmeiras (and hail to the champs!), nor can they be passed by anyone. They’re headed to the next Copa Libertadores, qualifying straight through to the Group Stage.

Atletico Paranaense right now are the odd team out of the CL mix. Top six get in and they’re in 7th. APR have lacked on defense compared to teams like Flamengo all year. But with the hosts having essentially nothing to play for, who knows – they may start all scrubs.

Noob’s guess is that APR gets a result today and is still stuck in 7th, headed to Copa Sudamericana – South America’s version of Europa League.

RESULT:   Atletico PR   1-2          But Atletico MG also one, so no Copa Libertadores for Paraense

Image result for Flamengo youth soccer

 

 

Meet Flamengo’s U10 squad.

They’re probably starting this match.

5. Nigeria vs. South Africa – Africa Women Cup of Nations

Let’s get someone a trophy – it’s the Final! This is the most prestigious tournament for national teams in Africa and is held every other year. This match is a one-off in Ghana, where the whole tournament has been being hosted.

Nigeria are the defending champs and #1 team in the CAF, and it’s not even terribly close. South Africa rate fourth-best (#38 and #50 worldwide). It’s worth noting, however, that South Africa beat Nigeria 0-1 in the Group Stage.

RESULT:   Nigeria   0-0  /  4-3  pk                Nigeria are chamPEEENS!

6. Olimpia vs. Real España – Honduras National League

This is the second leg of the Apertura playoff Semifinals. Regular season runners-up Olimpia earned a 2-2 draw on the road in the first match of this home-and-away series. Real are high-octane – all O, no D. At home, the better-balanced Olimpia-ns should take care of business.

RESULT:   0-0        so with the aggregate score tied at two, Olimpia advances on away-goals

Image result for high octane funny

 

 

 

 

If he does “The Pigeon”, Noob’s going on a killing spree.

7. San Pedro vs. Verdes – Belize Premier

Is this match, this league “important” in the football world? Probably not by most anyone’s standards. It’s one of the weaker leagues of Central America. But Noob is bound and determined that we will gain at least a passing familiarity with all other CONCACAF member leagues. Hallooo, neighbors!

More, this is a Semifinal! As the lesser, #3 seed, San Pedro host the first leg of the home-and-away series. They’re not out of their class when comparing defenses here.

But Verdes tied for first in the Opening Stage (like Apertura) regular season, only missing 1st by lesser goal differential. And this league was never anything but a two-team race. Verdes are light years better on offense.

RESULT:         it now appears this was slated for 11/30 but was postponed 

8. Fiji vs. New Zealand – OFC Nations Cup

Oceania’s confederation host this tournament just once every four years. It serves as the qualifier for both World Cup and the Olympics.

And here’s your final! It’s a one-off match, being played in New Caledonia, as was the whole tournament. These are the only OFC teams to rank in the top 100 worldwide. New Zealand are the defending champs and 20th-rated team anywhere by FIFA. Fiji are ranked #89 and will have to try and be happy with second place. Because they’re about to get wrecked.

RESULT:   New Zealand   0-8                 Wrecked indeed

Image result for New Zealanders funny

 

 

 

Well that explains it then.

9. Consadole Sapporo vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Japan J1 League

Just like Brazil’s top flite, this league is now in it’s last round of matches. The top three all qualify for the next AFC Champions League. Only champs (and congrats!) Kawasaki qualify directly to the Group Stage there. The next two will have to play in earlier rounds.

Hiroshima are #B, up just a point in the table on newly-minted AFC CL-titleholders Kashima and two above Sapporo. And what the fruit happened to Hiroshima? At one point they led the entire league by nine points. They’ve now lost seven straight matches. If they can manage a draw today, they’ll finish no worse than 3rd place and still qualify for the next CL. Even if they lose, Kashima has to win to pass them and knock them out of the top three.

Sapporo have won three of four and been reported by the Japan Times to be seen licking their chops endlessly in anticipation of this match.

RESULT:   2-2        And so Kawasaki win the league, Hiroshima hold on to second, and Kashima finish 3rd.    Sapporo – no AFC CL for yooooou.

10. Ballymena United vs. Linfield – Northern Ireland Premier

We finish our Track today with a shiny #B-#1 matchup. Does Noob care that it’s in one of the weakest leagues in all Europe? Not at all! (OK, maybe a little. They’ve fallen behind Gibraltar for goodness’ sake, which has the population of like Ames, Iowa.)

Anyway, the season is halfway complete in this semi-pro league. The race is shaping up to be a dramatic one. Linfield lead their hosts today by just a point in the table. Glenavon are just a point farther back, and defending champs Crusaders are just six back of their familiar spot.

The top four all average about two goals per game. But in this offensively-leaning league, it’s only Linfield that can defend as well. They’re the only club giving up less than a goal per game average.

RESULT:   Ballymena    1-2           We have a new leader in the NIFL Premier!

Image result for Slemish Mountain Saint PatrickSo long from Slemish Mountain, Ballymena – said to be first irish home of Saint Patrick.

This guy’s just a Sean Astin-wannabe though.

 

Extra Credit:   Any of the many second round English FA Cup matches, #5 Sheffield United vs. #B Leeds United – English Championship, #5 Grenoble vs. #1 Metz – France’s Ligue 2

#B Legia Warsaw vs. #4 Korono Kielce – Poland Ekstraklasa, #3 Zilinia vs. #B DAC 1904 Dunajska Streda – Slovakia Super Liga, #3 Domzale vs. #1 Maribor – Slovenia Prva Liga, #3 Malaga vs. #4 Granada – Spain’s Segunda Liga, today’s AFF Cup and women’s EAFF-1 matches

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition – Visiting a newish league, taking on Subway

The Midweek Track, where instead of ten matches each day, Noob teases out the same number over three days.  Ooh la LAH.

But what IS  Noob?    Noob is introducing the newish American fans of the global game to the leagues and tournaments of the world.  Local first, but ogling everywhere.

The Tracks are the backbone of the project.  Ten matches that can matter most for us.   More, Noob tells you the stakesWHY each match matters.  And I like to think sometimes that’s even new and fun for seasoned fans of the game.

And it’s Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs!    That madness lurks below (and after that, previous days’ match results.

Thursday

10. FC Goa vs. Bengalaru – India Super League

We finish the Midweek Track in a country with two “top-flite” leagues. (The other is the I-League.) ISL is similar to America’s Major League Soccer in that it is not part of a promotion/relegation system. (The I-League is.) Like MLS, it is run on more of a franchise-system. This is just the league’s fifth season, and it only received formal recognition by the Asian Football Confederation last season.

The AFC ranks “India club competitions” as #14. Noob’s not certain yet if that is a reference to both India’s leagues or just I-League, and so I am uncertain of the quality of this particular league. But this is Noob and this is part of what we do, learning the game from all over, and learning is a process.

Goa are currently #1 this young season, but they’ve played two more matches than #B Bengalaru. It’s the latter who are undefeated so far.   Just like last year this is a clash of styles. Bengalaru can do it all, but lean more on defense. Goa don’t seem to believe in defense even a little, but score seemingly at will.

RESULT:   Bengalaru   1-2          High drama in the battle for first!      The visitors led 0-1.   Then Mohamed Ali (yep) got yellows at 36′ and 47′ to get redded out.  Then Bengalaru had a player get a straight red at 59′.  

Equalizer for Goa at 72′, but Bengalru gets the decider at 77′.

And since the Midweek was frontloaded on matches, let’s flesh things out here on the back end, indulge in yet another —

NOOB SANDWICH REVIEWOOB!

Indeed, it’s time for the Noob to give his take on another sammich.  Because if there’s one thing Noob’s two target niche audiences want more than the footyball goodness here, it’s… whatever the cuss this has been.

But this time, s**t’s about to get real —

Image result for steak and cheese subway sandwich sunflower bread

Yup, Noober’s taking on a brand name.   This is Subway’s new Chipotle Steak and Cheese on Sunflower Crunch Bread.

Full disclosure:  Noob ordered steak, sans cheese and chipotle.  I added spinach, black olives, tomatoes, and a little lite mayo.  And I didn’t get it toasted.  Repeat.  I DECLINED THE TOASTEDNESS.  Some of what’s to follow is on me.

The vegetable-condiment combination is a standard for me and was not problematic here.  But the steak had no flavor.   Not bland flavor.  -None-.  It was like chewing water as far as taste.  Noob’s never experienced the like.  I thought perhaps I was having a stroke.

Subway — don’t make sammiches that make someone think he’s having a damn stroke.

And this was nowhere near the greater sin of this sandwich.

Sunflower Crusted Bread – mmmmmm…thanks for coming up with something a quarter-notch better than pencil shavings for to put in my mouth.

It looks like wet bird seed.  Well, it might literally be wet bird seed.   Crunch?   Zero.   Bitter taste.  While a little of that can be an interesting foil to another primary flavor, remember:  nil-flavor steak.

As added punishment, Noob was on the road and got this to go.   That meant wet bird seed ALL over my car.   Like need-to-have-it-detailed all over.   No cohesion between the bird seed and bread.

In a nutshell, sadness reigned.  Again, toasting — would this have married the bird seed and bread more closely?  Noob’s no culinary-physics expert.   Still learning soccer, dang it.  Would toasting have given a hint of flavor to the steak?   Hard to say.

Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs run on a 0-5 Sammich scale.  I give this sandwich 1 1/2 sammiches.

The vegetables and lite mayo couldn’t save this atrocity.  While I could credit myself there, I’m calling it a wash for my critical non-toasting error in judgement.

Thank you reading Noob Sandwich Reviewoob.  Join the…again, whatever this is by commenting here on the site.  Or find me at SoccerNoobUSA on Twittter.

Wednesday

9. Flamengo vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

Just one match for your Wednesday Track portion. It comes from South America’s top league, and things are heating up there.

With three league matches to go each, #B Flamengo and #4 Gremio have assured themselves of at least top-six finishes. That means they’ve qualified for next years Copa Libertadores – South America’s version of Champions League.

Neither is guaranteed a top four finish yet, though. Ending the season that high means entering the CL right at the Group Stage, not having to play any prior qualifying stages. More, Flamengo still have a realistic – if not probable – shot at the league title. They trail Palmeiras by five points in the table.

Flamengo have beaten a couple of also-rans 1-0 their last two outings. Before that, they hadn’t won in three matches. Gremio haven’t lost in four matches.

To look at the season-long stats, Gremio haven’t had the offense to quite compete for the trophy. But if recent trends for these two continue, this will be a tactical, low-scoring affair.   (6:45 PM, Rede Globe TV International, Premiere Futbol Clube)

RESULT:   Flamego   2-0

Tuesday

1. Italy vs. U.S.A. – friendly

The U.S. surely didn’t look like world-beaters when they lost 3-0 in England a few days ago. Their European tour continues now in Italy. The teams are ranked #19 and #23, respectively, by FIFA.

Italy have been playing in the UEFA Nations League. They have finished #B in their Group and not qualify for the Playoffs there.

After missing out on the World Cup, neither side has been doing a lot of winning, as they retool rosters with younger players. It’s all part of getting ready for future international competitions and even the next World Cup cycle.

A key matchup to watch will likely be in the midfield between New York Red Bull Tyler Adams and Jorginho of Chelsea.

Jorginho is a pass-happy fah-reeak, and clearly a talented one to be playing for a top club in the Premier League in England. Adams didn’t play in the U.S.’ last friendly, getting some rest after an MLS playoff match.

RESULT:   Italy   1-0            Minor note:  turns our the game was held in Genk, Belgium.     Major note:   This score could’ve been soooooo much worse.    U.S. were awful, only holding possession about a quarter of the match.

Image result for too American funny

 

Beers and eagle heads and American flag-beachwear.

Here we come, Italy!

B. Argentina vs. Mexico – friendly

If this match rings a bell, it’s because it should. The two faced off in Argentina just three days ago, with the home side taking the match 2-0.

Mexico made the World Cup quarterfinals, but have had little success in friendlies since then. Argentina also made the WC quarters, but they’ve only lost once since then. The two are ranked #12 and #16 by FIFA.

RESULT:   Argentina   2-0       Mexico actually looked pretty solid on may stat lines

3. Sweden vs. Russia – UEFA Nations League

Once again, here’s a link to Noob’s ‘Explainer’ of what this event is:

http://www.soccernoob.com/2018/01/01/uefa-nations-league-explainer/

This is a League B matchup. Russia lead the Swedes by three in points and in goal differential. That means Sweden needs a big, big win in this last match to overtake the Russians.

They carry FIFA-rankings of #17 and #41. Given that the Russian Premier League is rated well in the top-10 of Europe, Noob was surprised to find their MNT rank so comparatively low. But these things don’t always corelate.

RESULT:   Sweden   2-0          And that is just enough – the Swedes advance!

4. Scotland vs. Israel – UEFA Nations League

These League C combatants are tied for the lead in their Group. Last match and winner takes all. Scotland only need a draw to advance, as they hold the GD tiebreaker.

It will be interesting to see how the Scots play this. Their success has been just as much on offense as their D, yet given the situation, playing for a low-scoring draw is certainly defensible.

RESULT:   Scotland   3-2          Three goals for Celtic club member James Forrest as the Scots move on!

Image result for Scottish Jew

 

 

Um, what?   Why?….No…

5. Montenegro vs. Romania – UEFA Nations League

This is another league C matchup. Unlike the previous Groups – including the one in Match #4 above, this Group has four teams.

In truth, this match only matters at all if last-place Lithuania somehow beats or draws with Group leader Serbia. At Serbia. Unlikely.

Serbia lead Montenegro by two points in the table and their tied on GD. So here’s the breakdown: Romania have to win today to have any shot at 1st. If that happens and Serbia merely draw with (or lose to) Lithuania, Romania wins.

Montenegro and Romania are ranked #39 and #26 worldwide. Noob figures this to be a tossup since it’s in Monenegro.

RESULT:    Romania   0-1       Did their part…

6. Kosovo vs. Azerbaijan – UEFA Nations League

Here in League D, all the Groups have four teams. But in this Group, only two are in play for 1st. Kosovo lead Azerbaijan by two heading into this last match. So a win for the visitors and they win the group. Any other result and Kosovo advances to the Playoffs.

This Group has been a bit of a surprise. Faroe Islands came in with the nest FIFA ranking, the only one in the top 100. And Azerbaijan are 30 notches higher than Kosovo.

RESULT:   Kosovo   4-0       …but it’s Kosovo in a rout, so on the playoffs for them!

Image result for Faroe Islands sad

 

 

 

Faroe Islands realty – a wee bit Hobbit-y?

7. Curacao vs. Guadeloupe – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Scroll on up to yesterday’s post if you need a small refresher on what’s going on, at stake with this tournament.

Curacao have one their first two matches by a combined score of 15-0. That’s good for 5th place, and looks even better when you recognize most teams around them have already played three of their four games.

Guadeloupe are in 16th after their first to matches. Based on where these two rank in CONCACAF (not FIFA, as not a member, being a French territory), one might’ve expected their places to be turned around. But that’s part of the fun of this tournament. Four matches are all each of the 34 participating teams get, so there’s a lot of volatility.

RESULT:   Curacao   6-0       wowzerz       (also, this match may have been played yesterday)

8. Billericay vs. Chesterfield – England FA Cup

The “qualifying” stages done. Between teams advanced through those q-rounds and ones just now entering the tournament, there will have been 32 playing here in the First Round Proper.

Most of the 1RP matches are already done. It’s a Knockout event, meaning that they just play one game, host decided by random draw. But if the match ends in a draw, they have a Replay. This time, it’s at the other team’s place though. That’s how we get to this featured match. These two tied 1-1 in their first try.

Billericay are from the sixth level of the English football pyramid, making them very much a Minnow – an underdog. Looking for Minnows that make deep runs in the whole event is part of the fun of following this. They’re from Essex, and play out of the Ishthmian League’s premier division, to which they were just promoted this year. And they’re #B in their current league, meaning they have a very good chance to get Promoted once again!

Chesterfield play one league up, the National League. They’re not having a very good season there. In fact, if they do much worse, they might get sent down. These two may essentially end up switching places.

Noob thinks Billericay still isn’t quite an even match today at home, but wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re able to get another draw after 90′. If that happens, this time there will be no more Replays. They’ll play extra time, go to penalty kicks if need be, decide who advances today.

RESULT:   Chesterfield   1-3

Billericay Town F.C. Logo.png

Thursday

coming soon!

’10 to Track’ Sunday (11/18) soccer matches – UEFA Nations League leads us once again

European International break doesn’t stop the ten most important matches to follow for us – the newish American fans of the global game!   Can’t even slow this train down.

1. England vs. Croatia – UEFA Nations League

Here’s the link to my brief Explainer on what this event is:

http://www.soccernoob.com/2018/01/01/uefa-nations-league-explainer/

This is the last match to be played in this League A group of three. Spain is done, two points up on both these teams. So if either wins, that team goes to the Playoffs. If the match ends in a draw, Spain advances.

FIFA-ranked #5 England surely had no trouble with the USMNT in their recent friendly. They haven’t lost in their last four matches overall, between this event and friendlies. And the offense has picked up, with six goals in their last two matches.

#4 Croatia will be a stern test. They struggled after losing to France in the World Cup final. But a friendly win over Jordan and 3-2 win over Spain in this tournament seem to indicate they’re back in form.

Key players to watch today will be Raheem Sterling for England (two goals in the Spain match) and Tin Jedvaj for Croatia (two goals in their Spain match).   (9:00 AM EST, ESPN2)

B. Switzerland vs. Belgium – UEFA Nations League

This is another League A match. Different Group, of course. #1-ranked Belgium – who haven’t lost in six straight – lead the Swiss by three heading into this last match. But they’re tied on goal differential, so win of any margin for #8-Switzerland puts them in the Playoffs on the GD tiebreaker.

While it can be easy to overvalue friendlies, a home 0-1 loss to Qatar in their last outing isn’t promising for Switzerland. They haven’t beaten anyone but Group-last place Iceland (twice) since June.   (2:45 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Switzerland 5-2         Playoff time for the Swiss

Image result for icelandic letter B

buRES

 

Two letter A’s in the Icelandic alphabet.  Fine.

But there’s only one Number B.

3. Guinea vs. Ivory Coast – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

The ACN is next year, Africa’s top tournament for men’s national teams. Groups of four are competing in this current event, with the top two finishers in each getting in.

Two matches to go in Group H. Guinea lead Ivory Coast by three in the table. Between the two of them, they haven’t lost in ten matches overall. They’re ranked #65 and #64 in the world, respectively.   (12:00 PM, beIN Sports)

RESULT:   1-1

4. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon – France Division 1

This is the French women’s top flite. Lyon is the major power in all Europe, has been for years. They’re undefeated again, have outscored opponents 37-1.

Today represents their toughest test of the year. PSG are also undefeated, though someone got a draw on them. Their GD is 24-3. Noob thinks they can keep this within a goal, but no better.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for angry French women

 

Never doubt that the women of France aren’t tough tough tough.

5. SS Jeanne d’Arc vs. Besancon Football – Coupe de France

Like yesterday, we’re catching another early (7th-) round match of the French FA Cup in order to spy on a CONCACAF team.

Noob’s not sure how Reunion qualifies its two teams into this event. JdA only finished 5th in last year’s Reunion Premier. Neither did they win the territory’s own Cup tournament. They’re #B in this year’s league season, which is nearly done. They still don’t score much, but the defense has been much improved.

Besancon play in Championnat National 3, France’s fifth-tier league. This league has many regional divisions (groups). They play in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Group E). They’re in 5th place in their league season. They don’t score much, either. Noob’s not got the experience to handicap a match like this, but doens’t look like it’s likely to be a high-scoring affair.

RESULT:   Besancon   0-1  AET

6. Tauro vs. Arabe Unido – Panama National League

They’ve reached the Apertura (first half-season) postseason Semifinals here. This is the first match of a two-legged tie to see which will play for the title. Tauro are the #3 seed, play much more offensively than anyone else in that league. Arabe Unido won several close matches to get the #B seed. If Tauro score early in this, Noob predicts a rout will ensue.

RESULT:   Tauro   2-0

Image result for tauro fc

 

 

Noob is not down with the bull half-face thing.

That feels like nightmare-fodder.

7. Nicaragua vs. Haiti – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Six of CONCACAF’s best men’s national teams are not having to participate in this event. They will be placed in League A of the inaugural Nations League next year. All the other member nations are battling for placement in the various League levels, just like UEFA’s NL set-up. The top ten finishers in this event will also qualify for the Gold Cup, the federation’s biennial championship.

Since each team plays just four games, there’s a lot of room for volatility. And we’re getting it. Haiti are ranked just #102 in the world, yet are in 1st in this event with just this last match to go. They’ve outscored opponents 17-1.

Nicaragua are ranked even lower (#127), but also vying for a Gold Cup slot. They’re in 9th. They likely need a win to maintain their GC invitation, though a draw today doesn’t leave them out automatically. They only score half again as much as Haiti have been, are just an even match on their own pitch today.

RESULT:   Haiti   0-2

8. Brendam United vs. Brendam Harbor – Isle of Sodor Premier League

Noob’s exclusive coverage of the Isle’s inaugural FA league continues! I haven’t been able to yet give the IoSPL the attention I intended to, especially given how closely I documented the first-ever IoS FA Cup here over the summer. I’ve been hopping the pond quite a bit, soccer and other obligations keeping me stateside oft times.

Suffice it to say for now that these are historically two of the best teams on Sodor. Of course, that “history” is tons of friendlies and loose, sporadic league-like organizations that have come and gone over many years here. Now that they’re organizing their football on this national scale, it’s hard to know how much water past results hold.

Also, Harbor won the FA Cup. And on defense, a soccer virtue not typically held in particular esteem on the Isle. Shockingly, B-Utd didn’t even make it out of the Group Stage, finishing third there. Just couldn’t find the offense (four goals in three matches).

RESULT:   Brendam Utd   10-3         As often happens on Sodor, once a team is 2-3 goals late,  what little defense might’ve been happening evaporates.

Image result for what happened?

 

I don’t know.  The font just went weird.    

I blame having switched from MS Word to OpenOffice.

9. Tahiti vs. New Caledonia – Women’s World Cup qualification

Eight teams from the OFC are vying for one spot in World Cup next year. They’ve been divided into two Groups, with the top two finishers in each advancing to a Knockout Round.

This is the first match for both teams. They’re ranked #157 and #155 in the world. This makes them the fourth and third-best teams in this federation.

RESULT:    N.C.   2-4

10. Vitoria Setubal vs. Tondela – Portugal League Cup

The Taca de Liga has just reached its Group Stage, where 16 teams remain. They’ve been divided into Groups of four. Only the winners of each will advance to the Knockout Round.

This is not the country’s FA Cup, but rather a secondary Cup tournament contested by only clubs from the top two leagues. V.S. is a midtable Primeira Liga team, while Tondela is a fair bit worse. The point here isn’t so much this particular match so much as to just introduce Noobites to the tournament period.

RESULT:   Tondela   1-2

Image result for Setubal funny

 

So long from Setubal!

Come for the soccer, stay for the boutique apartments.

’10 to Track’ Saturday (11/17) soccer matches – UEFA Nations League leads the way once again

This site serves two purposes, or such is Noob’s intent.   We learn about the leagues and tournaments of the world through the lens of a newish American fan.  And it’s all presented with pretty oddball humor oft times, something for fans Noobite and veteran alike (hopefully).

Weekends, though, the zaniness gets comparatively left by the wayside.  Even during this, the European International Break – which in turn affects most of the world – Saturday and Sunday will offer the best matches of the week.

So let’s dig in and see what goodies the day has to offer.

1. Italy vs. Portugal – UEFA Nations League

Here’s a direct link to understand the basics of what this tournament is: http://www.soccernoob.com/2018/01/01/uefa-nations-league-explainer/

Portugal are in the driver’s seat to win the Group and make the Playoffs. They already lead Italy by two in the table and still have a match to play after this. For Italy, this is fourth and final Group Stage match.

Italy must have a win today and than likely are forced to root for Poland to beat Portugal in the final match for those two. If Italy win by more than two today, than a Poland-Portugal draw would suffice. If Italy can at least get a draw today, they will have avoided any possibility of being Relegated to the League B for the next incarnation of this tournament in 2020-21.

Italy have dropped to #19 in the FIFA rankings and failed to even qualify for the last 2018 World Cup. In getting an 0-1 win over Poland in this tournament, they had their first win of any kind since March, a streak of six matches. Just like our U.S. men’s national team, they’re trending towards younger players in a reset, and it’s showing.

Portugal made it all the way to the World Cup quarterfinals, are ranked #7 in the world. They beat the Italians 1-0 in their first meeting of this event and have one three straight matches. (2:45 PM EST, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   0-0

B. Serbia vs. Montenegro – UEFA Nations League

This one is in League C, yet that means there’s more at stake, in a way. Those League A teams are all likely to qualify for the 2020 European Championships through a variety of channels. Not so necessarily with teams down here. Each League’s winner automatically qualifies for the Euros, and this may be the only realistic shot for some teams.

Both these teams have played four of their six matches. League C groups have four teams each, unlike the three-team pods in League A, so their double round-robin is longer. Serbia are a point clear of Montenegro and two ahead of Romania.

The teams are ranked #35 and #39, respectively. Given that Serbia won the first match between them on the road 0-2, it’s hard not to see them as the favorite today.

RESULT:   Serbia   2-1

Image result for unrealistic letter B

 

The Number B brings unmitigated joy!

No Number Two ever prompted that degree of delight.

3. Palestino vs. Audax Italiano – Copa Chile

It’s the second leg of the Final! And the stakes are high. The winners qualify for the next Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League). Neither of these teams was anywhere near the top of the country’s Premier League standings, so this has been there only possible path.

In the first leg, Palestino scored the only goal at 90 +3′. Now they have the chance to take care of business at home for the title. But they’re particularly challenged on defense typically, so don’t look for them to be able to take the air out of the ball and hold on for a 0-0 draw for the match.

RESULT:   Palestino   3-2        Victors!    Congrats on Copa Libertadores invite

4. UPNFM vs. Platense – Honduras National League

Honduras’ football season is divided into separate Apertura and Clausura halves. The Apertura regular season is completed and the Playoffs have begun. The top six make these Playoffs, with the top two seeds getting byes.

These two enter as the #3 and #6 seeds. UPNFM earned a 1-1 draw in the first match of this two-legged quarterfinal tie. They’ll likely look to push the pace at home, which is going to be very hard on the visitors. Platense didn’t score much all regular season. Anything but an 0-1 win for Platense is probably doom.

RESULT:   Platense   0-1      On to the Semifinals!

Image result for soccer doom

5. Namibia vs. Guinea Bassau – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

The CAF’s premier national team competition is next year. This tournament is the play-in for that. Groups of four, each clubs plays a home-and-away round robine. Top two finishers in each get invites to the ACN.

South Africa hosting Nigeria might be the best game from this event today. But more is at stake in this one. These two are tied for 1st after four matches. More, the two teams below them in their Group each have a win and a draw. And Zambia is easily the highest-ranked team in the group, so one can expect them to make a push their last two matches.

Namibia’s been the best of this bunch on defense, G-B on offense. Midfield control may well decide this one. A low-scoring draw would serve both reasonably well, giving both a four-point lead over the others. That feels an unlikely conspiracy though. A win for either all but guarantee a top-two finish.

RESULT:    0-0       low-scoring draw it is

6. Barry Town vs. T.N.S – Wales Premier

It’s International Break in Europe, but that’s not keeping the Welsh top flite from gearing up. Surprising Barry Town are merely average on both sides of the ball, yet sit tied for 1st nearly halfway through the season. They even just pulled off a very solid road draw against co-leaders Connah’s Quay.

Perennial power The New Saints have been perhaps even more surprising, at least of late. They’ve dropped two matches in a row to midtable clubs and only got a draw against another just before that. The studly offense has simply vanished somehow.

This is one of Europe’s weaker leagues, so only the winner will get a berth in the next Champions League.

RESULT:   T.N.S.   0-2

Image result for surprising gif

 

Steve Carrell is pleasantly surprised by Barry Town.  Perhaps.

7. ASE Matoury vs. US Concarneau – Coupe de France

The French FA Cup is just getting underway. Well, the Regional Leagues’ amateur clubs have been competing to get to this, the Seventh Round. This is where qualifying teams from France’s overseas territories enter in, as well as the pro teams from League Two.

The overseas territories’ entries are the reason Noob is choosing to start highlighting this competition so early on. Some of those territories are CONCACAF members, and I’m more focused than ever on our getting familiar with our neighbors.

Noob’s not certain how ASE Matoury qualified from French Guiana. They and US Matoury finished #B and #3 in 2017-18 Division d’Honneur and are playing the Coupe, but not winners Le Geldar.

US Concarneau play out of the third division Championnat National league, where they’re struggling on defense and sitting midtable. Noob doesn’t have any sense of how the leagues and clubs compare, so it will be fun to see how the overseas territorial clubs do.

RESULT:   Concarneau   2-3

8. Edinburgh City vs. Alloa Athletic – Scotland Challenge Cup

Teams from levels two through five of the Scottish football pyramid compete in this Knockout tournament. They also invite a handful of teams from other nearby countries.

This is a quarterfinal match. Hosts Edinburgh are from the fourth-tier Scottish League Two, for the moment. They’re winning it, would be promoted if they finish #1.

Alloa are struggling in the second division Championship league, having just been promoted themselves. Still, Noob would easily favor the visitors to win by a goal or two here on the road.

RESULT:   Edinburgh City   2-2  /  4-3   pk            Upset City!   E.C. climbs back from an 0-2 whole to take it in penalty kicks.

Image result for edinburgh city fc 2018

9. Tolima vs. Santa Fe – Colombia Premier

The top eight make the Clausura (second half-season) here. This is the second leg of a quarterfinal two-legged tie between the #1 and #8 seeds. Tolima won the first match 2-1. Even on the road, Santa Fe still shouldn’t be counted out though. Statistically, these teams aren’t that far apart.

Colombia determines its entrants into Copa Libertadores by aggregate table, combining the Apertura and Clausura regular season records. That takes a tiny bit of the shine off things for these Playoffs, but but not much.

RESULT:   Santa Fe   0-1        But it’s Tolima who advance, 4-3 on penalty kicks

10. Hassania Agadir vs. Raja Casablanca – Morocco Botola Pro

We finish out Track in one of Africa’s best leagues. The most recent rankings as this sixth-best on the content, and their on pace to climb as high as #B by 2020.

This match features the current league leader against #10. Wait, 10? Yep. International Break means slimmer pickings, but this is an important match there, too. Raja Casablanca have only played half as many matches as many clubs there because of having been playing in the Champions League. They’ve not lost any of their four matches and are statistically the best team.

Agadir can really defend, are likely to be near the table’s top all season long, competing for one of the two CL berths for next year. But R.C. defend just as well and score a lot more.

RESULT:   0-0

Image result for agadir funny

 

 

So long from Agadir!

 

not trick photography

goats climb Argan trees for the fruit in Agadir.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition (11/13-15) soccer matches – UEFA Nations League leads the way

Saturdays and Sundays, Noob endeavors to highlight the ten most important matches to follow on each, for us – the newish American fans of the global game.

Tuesday through Thursday, we do just ten over the three days.   Either way, we’re local, Western European, and then the world.  Mini-previews that introduce us to the teams, leagues and tournaments everywhere, and what the stakes are — why each is important to the teams involved, and so can be to us.

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s matches and results follow below.

Thursday

4.  England vs. U.S.A. – friendly

This is the last friendly of the year for USMNT.  After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the youth movement continues for the team.  They’ve already been running very young, and now two of the few veterans who would’ve been on the roster are out due to injury.

Perhaps the most noteworthy cal-up is goalie Jonathan Klinsmann, son of the former German USMNT manager.  He’s with German Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin, but Noob gathers hasn’t been a key part of things there yet.

In other big news, American’s young, oft-thought #1 superstar Christian Pulisic (with Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund) is coming off injury and on the roster for the first time in a while.  Tyler Adams of New York Red Bulls is back from being hurt as well.

Finally, this may be the last match as interim head coach for Sara Chan.  Talk is that Columbus Crew manager Gregg Berhalter is likely to take the reigns for the American team shortly.

The Management would like to apologize for Noob’s greivous error.  The interim manager of the US Men’s National Team is Dave Sarachan.  He is not an Asian or Asian-American women named Sara Chan.  Thank you for your time, attention and patronage of Noob.

Sooooo…you don’t think a women could do the job, The Management?

That is not what I said. Merely that –

Moving on!  Sexist pig 🙂

England’s all-time leading scoring Wayne Rooney – currently of MLS’ D.C. United club – will be making a farewell appearance for their national team.  He last appeared for them in 2016.

These are the 23rd and 5th-ranked teams in the world.  Noob’s read that gap might be exacerbated by the fact that the Three Lions will likely be playing their top squad or something close.  They’re currently also playing in the new UEFA Nation’s League tournament.  I would think that means they’d rest starters for a friendly, but we shall see.   (3:00 PM EDT, ESPN2)

RESULT:   England   3-0         Not a strong showing for the Americans on any front.

5.  Croatia vs. Spain – UEFA Nations League

A reminder of what we have here:

This is a new tournament, largely replacing international friendlies in certain parts of the soccer calendar.  UEFA intends to hold this every other year.  All 55 national teams are participating.  They are divided into four leagues, based on rankings around the last World Cup.  The top dozen are in League A, the next 12 League B, and so on (though more than a dozen in C and D each).

The Leagues are in turn each divided into equal cross-section Groups of three or four.  In each Group, the teams will play home and away double round robins.  In League A, the four winners will have a Playoff to determine the event champion.  In the other leagues, the Group winners will have a Playoff as well.  The winners of all four Playoffs automatically qualify for the 2020 European Championships.

So that’s what’s going on and what’s at stake.  This matchup is one in League A.

Currently, Croatia is ranked #4 in the world, Spain 9th.  But Croatia haven’t had good fortune since making the World Cup final last year.  Their only win since then is a 2-1 win over Jordan.  Spain won the first match against them 6-0 in this event.  The Spanish lead England by two points in the table for 1st.   (2:45 PM, Galavision)

RESULT:   Croatia   3-2        Last minute goal for the winners!

6. Luxembourg vs. Belarus – UEFA Nations League

Most or all of the teams in League A will actually qualify for the 2020 Euros through other channels, so this event is more important for teams in the lower Leagues’ teams.

Here in League D, the Groups are four teams each.  Luxembourg lead Belarus by a point after four matches.  They’re ranked #84 and #78 in the world, respectively.  This isn’t the sort of match you’ll find on TV – at least not stateside.  But it should be a shootout! The two have collectively outscored their opponents 16-1 so far.  Belarus won the first match between them in this event 1-0.

RESULT:   Belarus   0-2

Image result for luxembourg men's national football team 2018

 

 

The Lux MNT of 1920.

7.  Iran vs. Trinidad and Tobago – friendly

Welcome to what might be the only English language preview of this match anywhere!

FIFA ranks them #30 and #93 in the world.  This makes Iran the #1-ranked team in Asia.  They’ve lost just once in their last six matches, all low-scoring affairs.  That includes a pretty decent win against Morocco (#47).

T&T, tenured Noobites may recall, was the last team the USMNT played in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers last year.  Our Caribbean counterparts were victorious, keeping the Americans out and allowing Panama their first-ever appearance.  More recently, they’ve won just once in their last four outings, all all low-scoring.  But the W was a decent one, over higher-ranked U.A.E.

OK, not much of a preview.  But we’re going to get to know our CONCACAF neighbors as best we reasonably can.

RESULT:   Iran   1-0

8.  Israel vs. Guatemala – friendly

Noob just trained a college kid at work this week.  He grew up abroad, all over.  Mom is in the Foriegn Service.  His favorite place was doing high school in suburban Tel Aviv.  He’s working towards working for them as well, will work towards getting back to that spot.

He follows soccer, but mainly Premier League.  He likes tracking his favorite players, not club teams.  Noob isn’t super-player specific at all, so that’s all I really have to say about that.

The Management:  Going to preview the match?

Nah.  I just like to write whatever.

RESULT:   Israel   7-0          not a typo

9. Sao Paulo vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

It may be “International Break” for Europe, but there’s still hawt domestic league action in other places!

The season is nearing it’s end in Brazil.  The top six all qualify for the next Copa Libertadores (South America’s champions league).  These two are tied for 4th.  Fourth place itself is an important table position, as it’s the lowest one from which the club will automatically enter the CL Group Stage.  The two below will have to fight through a qualifying round.

Sao Paulo was red hot much earlier in the year, occupying the top spot in the table for a good while.  But they’ve only won one in their last nine, albeit that stretch is littered with many draws.  It had looked like the defense might be what would cause them trouble based on early-season numbers, but its their offense that has done a disappearing act of late.

Gremio have cooled off a little of late themselves, though not nearly to Sao Paulo’s degree.  Some of that may have been because they were defending their Copa Libertadores title.  They lost in the Semis and can now focus on a top-four finish in league play.   (4:00 PM, GOL TV)

RESULT:   1-1

10.  Deportivo La Guaira vs. Deportivo Tachira – Venezuela Premier

We finish our Track with some domestic league Playoff goodness.

Like in many Latin countries, Venezuela divides its season into two separate league tournaments.  This is the second leg of the Semifinal of the Clausura (second half-season) postseason playoffs.  They finished #B and #3 in the league.  La Guira tied for best offense in the league, but lost the first match of this series 0-1.

The winner will get #4 Deportivo Lara or barely-qualified #8 Caracas.

RESULT:   La Guaira   3-1

Image result for Estadio Olímpico de la UCV

 

So long from Caracas! 

La Guaira is  both a city and club, but their Estadio Olimpico UCV home is in Caracas.

Wednesday

3.   Panama vs. Argentina – CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualification

Like yesterday’s UEFA WC qual. match, this is a Playoff – one last chance to get in. Panama finished 4th in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament and Argentina finished 3rd in the CONMEBOL version. The teams are ranked #66 and #37 in the world, respectively.

Now they are playing off for one more berth. And the Panamanian women’s quest to join last year’s men’s national team in being the first ever to qualify from their country is nearly over. Argentina won their home half of this two-match series 4-0. Panama aren’t scoring 5+ today.

RESULT:   1-1         Argentina are World Cup-bound

Tuesday

1. Scotland vs. U.S.A. – women’s international friendly

The #1 world ranked American ladies continued their tuneups for next year’s World Cup.   #19 Scotland could only keep possession a little over 1/3 of the time.   Alex Morgan’s goal was the only one of the match, so 0-1 U.S.

Image result for usa usa usa gif

 

 

Thanks for keeping us pumped, Miley.

USA!  USA!

B. Switzerland vs. Netherlands – UEFA Women’s World Cup qualification

The Group Stage winners of this event all qualified for next year’s WC.   The four best runners-up have been participating in Playoffs to determine one last qualifier.

#18 Switzerland and #10 FIFA-ranked Netherlands were the last two standing.   The Dutch gals won the first match of this home and away two-legged tie in dominating fashion, 1-3.   The pace was slower for today’s second leg, a 1-1 draw.

And so, congrats to Netherlands and good fortune in in 2019!

 

Image result for letter B party

 

Number B is down to party with the Dutch gals.

 

Tired out old Number Two need not RSVP.

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – eep! #11, too – USL Final

Midweek Edition – time to slow down, tease out ten most important matches, for us – the newish American fans of the global game – over three days.  Think of it as a soccer slow jam, if you will.   Listen to a 90’s R&B fave whilst you read.

OK, or maybe not.  That got weird.  Again.

Tuesday and Wednesday matches and results are further down.

More Thursday

11.  Louisville FC vs. Phoenix Rising – United Soccer League

Good LAWD!   You’d think Noob would learn a lesson.  I tend to scout out matches for Track inclusion five days in advance.    This FINAL  Amuricuh didn’t appear on my primary sched source because it doesn’t do TBD.  Phoenix played their Semfinal  four days ago.

But that’s the reason, not an excuse.  And at least it can be rectified now, hours before kickoff.

Louisville are the defending tournament champions.  In the Eastern Conference this year, they finished #B, well behind MLS-bound FC Cincinnati.  They get to host this one-off final.  No return to leg to Phoenix, this is it.    Phoenix Rising look becomes Phoenix Risen with an upset win.   Noob says upset because they finished 3rd in the West.

Phoenix conceded far fewer goals than many other Western clubs – including those that made the playoffs.  But they don’t play any better on that end than L’ville, and their hosts have more firepower.  Noob smells a title decided by penalty kicks, but on paper this is advantage reigning champs.   (8:00 PM, ESPN2).

RESULT:   Louisville    1-0        Hail to the champions!

Image result for close call soccer gif

 

Noob’er with the save!

 

If barely…

 

 

Thursday

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

The Conference Semifinals continue!  This is the second match of a two-legged tie.

The five-seed Portland won the first match 2-1 at their place.  This broke #B Seattle’s five-match win streak.  Noob has suggested this was a bad matchup for Portland.  Seattle’s offense had been playing their best ball of the season and defense is where Portland had often struggled.

That Timber defense did just enough to win.  Now we get to see if they can hold up on the road.  If they had a weakness, is up the middle some.  Expect to see Seattle run at defender New Zealander Bill Poni Tuiloma to try and get to and through veteran keeper Jeff Attinella.   (10:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Seattle   3-2       And they don’t use away-goals as a tiebreaker.  Still, congrats to Portland!   They won 6-8 on penalty kicks.

  1. Portugal vs. U.S.A. – women’s international friendly

The FIFA #1-ranked ladies head to Lisbon to face the 33rd-ranked team in the world.   They’ve only ever met six times and the U.S. has won all the matches.

With a win today, the USWNT will have it’s 500th-ever program win since forming in 1985.  They should get it by a goal or two, even on the road.   (1:00 PM, ESPN2)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-1

Image result for America gif funny

 

Murican treasure Danny McBride is revved up for the game.

  1. Argentina vs. Panama – Women’s World Cup qualification playoff

Panama finished the CONCACAF World Cup qualification tournament in 4th place.  Only the top three finishers gained entry.  But Panama gets one last shot.  Like their men’s national team counterparts did last year, if the women get in, this will be their first WC ever.

Argentina finished 3rd in the Copa American Feminina, a South American tournament held once every four years.  The top two finishers qualified for WC.

This playoff is a two-legged tie, so they’ll play again on 11/13.  The teams are ranked #66 and #37 in the world, respectively.  Given the oft-seeming lack of parity in the women’s game, that difference is mammoth.  Expect Panama to win on the road outright.

RESULT:   Argentina   4-0     

Honorable Mention:   Congrats to Platense, winners of the Honduran Copa Presidente!   Noob was going to preview this match, but it was played yesterday.  My scouting had shown it slated for today.

  1. Vidi vs. PAOK – Europa League

Good thing Noob keeps back-up matches handy for such occasions.

This is Europe’s second-most prestigious international club tournament.  The Qualifying Rounds are done and the “event proper” – the Group Stage – is halfway complete.

Clubs have been divided into Groups of four each, playing double round robins.  Top two finishers in each will advance to the Knockout Stage.  And remember, the winner of the whole shebang gets an auto-pass into next year’s Champions League.

There are a slew of matches today.   Noob’s highlighting this Group L match because of how things sit in the table.  Chelsea have won all three of their matches and will not be caught.  But all three other teams are tied!

MOL Vidi qualified for the Champions League by being last year’s Hungarian top-flite winners.  They were knocked out in one of the later qualifying rounds by AEK Athens, and so have been dropped into this tournament.

PAOK were Greece’s runners-up last season.  They also qualified for Champions League, falling one win shy of making the Group Stage there.  Portugal’s Benfica housed them.

On paper, PAOK are the favorites by a fair bit.   They play out of UEFA’s 14th-ranked league compared to Hungary’s at #33.  In terms of Elo rating, the Greeks are 100 points more highly-rated.  They should probably win 5/8 of the time on a neutral pitch.

But this ain’t no neutral pitch.  More, Vidi won the first matchup in Greece, 0-2.

RESULT:   Vidi   1-0

Image result for harold and kumar at white castle

 

One of Noob’s dream’s is to own a White Castle in Vidi’s home city of Szekesfehevar.

It translates, of course, to “white castle”.

 

Wednesday

  1. CSKA Moscow vs. Roma – UEFA Champions League

Today’s slate of CL games may not quite match up with yesterday’s matches.   But Group G may be about to turn into a super-tight race if the home team

CSKA-Moscow were the runners-up in the Russian Premier League.  This is a stronger league than many realize, ranked #6 by UEFA.  They’re in 3rd, but just two points behind their visitors today and Real Madrid.

That all said, Roma are a lot better.  They finished 3rd in last year’s Serie A (#3 in UEFA).  Noob-fave for Elo ratings footballdatabase.com is back up, indicates a pretty be gulf between the two.  Even on the road, Roma should win this by goal or two.  The Soviet side just doesn’t score enough.

Roma won the first Group Stage matchup with CSKA-M 3-0.

RESULT:   Roma   1-2

Image result for funny Russian sportsCome to Moscow for the surprisingly decent soccer. 

Stay for the chessboxing.  Yep.

  1. Plaza de Amador vs. Costa del Este – Panama National League

One of Central America’s stronger leagues?   Nope.   Getting to know all our CONCACAF neighbors just the same?  Aww yeeeah.

One last round of matches and the Apertura is complete.   Noob’s sources are in conflict, sio I reserve the right to correct this after the fact 😊   What I believe is that the top six clubs all make the postseason tournament.  The top two will get byes.

CdE can lead #B Tauro by three, others by four or more.  They can do no worse than #B and will get a bye.  They haven’t won any more matches than several other teams, but have earned a lot of draws and suffered only two losses.

PdA are in a three-way tie for 3rd, lead the other two on tiebreaking goal differential.  none of them can finish worse than 5th, so they’re qualified for the postseason.  This is the league’s Small Ball club – they appear to pack it in on defense and not score much themselves.

RESULT:       Noob has no idea.   It now appears this may have been a Copa match.  it may be that it ended 0-0.  Or it may have been cancelled.   The entire Copa may have been cancelled according to one source I saw.  *shrug*

  1. CD Aguila vs. Alianza – El Salvador Premier

El Sllllllllavadoooohhhhhrrrrrr!   Always am compelled to get that out of my system.

This is a bit stronger of a league.  Top eight of 12 make the Apertura postseason tournament.  Here, they have four more matches to go.

These are the #3 and #B clubs.   Aguila has almost no chance to catch Alianza, are playing to maintain their current table position.  This is a pretty well-balanced club, though perhaps a bit soft on defense.

Alianza are just a point behind #1 Santa Tecla.  They’re better than balanced.  A- defense and A++ offense.  Noob knows that’s not a real thing, but you get the idea.   They’re going to win the Apertura.

RESULT:   Alianza   1-2

Image result for el salvador gif

 

El Salvador Jr. – Mexican luchador.

Yeah,. Noob doesn’t get that, either.

 

Tuesday

  1. Napoli vs. Paris Saint-Germain – UEFA Champions League

It’s the most prestigious club competition in all world football, Europe’s championship.  The early “qualifying” rounds are long since done now and the biggest teams have joined the qualifiers here in the Group Stage.   Here, we have eight Groups of four clubs each. Top two finishers advance to the bracketed Knockout Stage.

This is where Noob very much takes liberty with the Track’s mission statement.   There are many CL matches today and nearly all are more “important” than any others anywhere.  But fans who want info on every single match aren’t typically here.   Noob and Noobite we be, and I will filter.

The most interesting match today appears to be this one.  Why?  Because PSG are really, really good.  They’re blowing away everyone at home in Ligue 1.

And they’re in 3rd in this Group.  The idea of them not advancing to the next Round is borderline unthinkable.  Yet with half the double round robin complete, they trail Liverpool by three as well as being a point behind Napoli.

Napoli – Italy’s Serie A runners-up – aren’t quite as good on paper, but not far behind.   If they can hold serve at home and get a win, that puts PSG in a bad way.

PSG has been scoring like crazy, will try to push the pace.  Napoli’s been relying on defense so far, so ball control midfield should determine who can control the pace.    (3:00 PM, TNT)

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for NBA on tnt crewNoob’s starting a petition to have the Charles & Co. do the Champions League!

Might be “turrible”, but so what.

B.  Pachuca vs. CF America – Liga MX Femenil

Three matches to go in the Apertura (first half-season).   These are Group One (of Two) #1 and #B.   Top four from each make the Liguilla (postseason tournament).  These two are already in, but Pachuca can pretty much wrap up the #1 seed with a win today.   They already have a three-point lead.

Both teams are very balanced, should maintain the top two seeds no matter how things go today.  #3 Toluca scores a ton but gives up too many to likely be a threat.

RESULT:   Pachuca   3-2

  1. Tigres UANL vs. Guadalajara – Liga MX Femenil

This is also a #1-#B matchup, but maybe not quite as dramatic.  UNAL lead the Guad Squad by seven.  A win would wrap up the top spot.

This is a bad matchup for the visitors.   They’re a touch better on defense, but can’t score compared to other top Group Two clubs.

RESULT:   Tigres   2-1

’10 to Track’ Midweek Edition soccer matches – MLS, oodles of CONCACAF lead your Wednesday

Midweek time – that means ten matches over three days instead of ten each.

What can Noob say?   There are just so many hours in the day, and we’re expanding, adding great new features soon!

We’ve already added “Noob Sandwich Reviewoobs”.   Scroll back a couple of Tracks to see the first installment.

Also, Noob is slated to appear on the Bros Talking Soccer podcast Sunday.  We’ll keep you posted on when it’s available on the various platforms.   And no, despite being Twitter-familiar with one another, Noob’s is not sure the Bros know what they’re getting into.  It may go very “normally”.  It may be very “Noob”.   God help us either way.

Finally, Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage will begin this weekend!

Noob hasn’t negotiated exclusive rights or anything.  But no one else is covering it, so we WILL.     Noob covered their inaugural FA Cup which ended a couple months ago.  Thought someone more mainstream would grab the baton and cover IoSPL.  Nope.

So Noob’s packing his bags, ready to split some time between here and some of my fave B&B’s and such on Sodor.  It’s going to be….well, it’s going to be content.  Yay!

(Tuesday and Wednesday matches and results follow further down.)

Thursday

No real preview work today.   Real Salt Lake plays for Playoff seeding against eliminated-New England.   Remember, Noobites:  Real Salt Lake means “royal” and we carry no truck with monarchy on our soil.  None!

Wednesday

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

Not only did D.C. do it – climbing back from the Eastern Division basement, but they’ve climbed into a playoff spot (6th place) with three matches to go.  His massive price tag aside, anyone who thought it wouldn’t be worthwhile to get former all-time European great Wayne Rooney was mistaken.

This all said, there are those three matches to go.  They could climb one more spot up the table, but they could get passed by Montreal (just one point back).

How does their schedule compare with Montreal’s?  Defending champs Toronto FC and their last regular season opponents Chicago fire are bad and worse.  Sandwiched in between they’ll host much tougher (#3) NYCFC.  Montreal play Toronto and newly-eliminated from contention New England.  So Noob thinks the difference may come down to can D.C. get at least a home draw against NYCFC.

I’ve only started learning all but the biggest stars’ names here the second half of the season.  If you’re a tenured Noobite, you’ll know Rooney’s right-hand man is Luciano Acosta.   But look for impact from Russell Canouse, a young midfielder who got the only goal their last outing – a massive win over the West’s #1 FC Dallas.  He was rewarded with a slot on the MLS Team of the Week.  Which I hadn’t known was a thing.  Learningess!   (7:00 PM EST, ESPN+)

RESULT:   1-0   D.C. Utd.          Who else by Mr. Worth-Every-Pound Wayne Rooney

Image result for russell canouse

 

 

A ball, for Noob?  Thanks, Russ!

(Now where are Rooney and Lucky Acosta… get some serious signatures up in here.)

 

Canadia vs. U.S.A. – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

Actually, but virtue of making this Final, these two have now already qualified for next tear’s WC.  Congrats, gals!   Not that they or anyone are surprised.  They’re ranked #5 and #1 the world.  Only Canadia even allowed a single goal to be scored against them.

Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, Drunk-Disney Alex Morgan — we know the USWNT team some.  So here’s a shoutout to Canadia’s Christine Sinclair.   She’s a veteran, still a superstar, and trails retired U.S. player Abby Wambach by seven for all-time most international goals scored.  That’s men’s or women’s side.

She won’t get seven today.  Canadia may not score here in Frisco (greater Dallas) today.  But her presence gives them a real chance.  Noob still favors the Americans by two, but we could finally see both teams get their first competitive match in a while.   (8:00 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   0-2         Hail to the victors!

  1. Panama vs. Jamaica – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

This match still matters in terms of WC entry.  The winner gets in, the loser gets absolutely none fruit cup.  None at all!  Friscoans (Friscites?) will deny them at all opportunities before the loser goes home.

They’re tanked #62 and #64.  Whichever wins, it’s that team’s first ever time making World Cup.  High drama!   (5:00 PM, FS2)

RESULT:   Jamaica   2-2  /  2-4  PK

Image result for soccer drama

 

 

Real board game.   

Noob just up started the ol’ Christmas list.

  1. Canadia vs. Dominica – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

Double-dip Noob Canadiaian!

All the men’s teams in CONCACAF playing actually “qualify” for Nations League next year.   But the top ten finishers will make the next Gold Cup.  Those are our region’s championships.  There, they’ll join the six teams that made the final six for World Cup qualifying last year.

Canadia should be there.  They’re ranked #7 in all CONCACAF (if only 79th in the world), trailing only #6 Jamaica in terms of teams that have to play this event to make said Gold Cup.

Dominica are in the bottom half of CONCACAF, ranked #177 by FIFA.  In their first match, they got a draw against higher-ranked Suriname.

Noob is so torn!   Two workplaces ago, I worked with a guy both from Canadia and from Dominca.  Both were cool d00dz.  Funny, I’ve forgotten Canadiaian Ty’O’s first name.   Not sure I ever knew Dominican Julie’s last name.  But he was a laugh riot, even without my being able to understand half of what he said in his thick accent.

I remember one time having to help Julie decipher a speeding ticket, one he got for going so far over the speed limit that a court appearance was mandatory.   Ah, memories.

Wait, soccer, what?

  1. Cruzeiro vs. Corinthians – Brazil Cup

It’s the Final of the Copa do Brasil!   Second leg.  Cruziero took the first leg 1-0.

This is especially important compared to so many FA Cups the world over.  For example, in Europe, the winner is typically qualified for the second-tier Europa League.  Not Champions League.  Here, however, the winner gets into Copa Libertadores, S. America’s version of Champions League.

It’s extra super important this year because Brazil’s top league sends only six teams from there into the CL.  And these two traditional powers are somehow down in 10th and 11th place currently.  And the season there is in its home stretch.   This could be both these clubs’ only reasonable shot at CL.   (8:45 PM, Fox Soccer Plus)

RESULT:   Cruzeiro   1-2      Whoopsie!    Listed Cruzeiro as home team.  They were the visitors for today’s second leg.  Congrats, hombres!

Image result for copa do brasil 2018

 

 

Noob’s diggin’on the trophy, too.

  1. CD Aguila vs. Santa Tecla – El Salvador Primera

Aguila are tied for #B with undefeated Alianza.  Santa Tecla lead them both by two points in the table, but have played one more match than Alianza (the best team in the league in reality).

The soccer year here is divided into Apertura and Clausura (first and second-half seasons). Of the two winners, the one with the better aggregate record will qualify for the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.  The other champion and the runner-up with the better aggregate record will get into the CONCACAF League, a tournament through which teams can qualify for the Champions League.

The three teams listed are way ahead of everyone else here in the Apertura.

RESULT:   Aguila   1-0     Aguila and Alianza are now in a tie for 1st

  1. La Equidad vs. Tolima – Colombia Primera A

In Colombia, the two stages of the season are Apertura and Finalizacion.  The winner of the postseason knockout tournament following each makes the Copa Libertadores.  So it’s not nearly as strong a league as Brazil.  But hey – they’re playing!

Tolima finished 3rd in the Apertura regular season before winning the postseason.  They’re part of a three-way tie for #B.

Leaders La Equidad have been a surprise this Stage, as they were below average during the Apertura.  They still don’t score like the biggest boys.  Noob thinks they’re primed to get upset at home.

RESULT:   Tolima   0-1       There is now a four-way tie for 1st

Image result for insurance team funny

 

A club nicknamed “The Insurance Team” just isn’t destined to stay at the top.

 

 

Tuesday

  1. U.S.A. vs. Peru – international men’s friendly

USMNT lost last week to Colombia 4-2.  It was a match in which they came from behind, but lost in the end.  It’s a very, very young roster, and in particular the backline was raw as could be.  Today, Coach Sarachan is switching back to a veteran, former Premier League goalkeeper – Sporting Kansas City’s Brad Guzan.  Critics argue the team should push nothing but youth.

The inclusion of veteran Michael Bradley is drawing ire from this crowd.   That’s not a defensible stance.  But Noob thinks that there are enough friendlies to go around.  If you want the players to learn, experience against great opponents, is, well, great.  But mixing in some seasoned folks to teach them from their own side, in their own locker room has to be valuable, too.

Today’s match is being held at UCONN’s soccer field, an oft-used venue for USMNT.  The two teams here are ranked #22 and #21 by FIFA.  Peru just finished pounding Chile 3-0 at the Hard Rock venue in Miami.  That team is ranked #12.    (7:30 PM EST, ESPN2)

RESULT:   1-1        U.S. looked decent when pressing forward.  When they could maintain possession at all.

Image result for too much america

 

 

Noob doesn’t get it.

Get to the footyball matches any way you can, Amuricuh.

B.  Mexico vs. Chile – international men’s friendly

And Mexico’s is ranked 15th, so it’s another quality matchup!  On paper.   That 0-3 loss was telling, and what it turns out it tells us is that Chile did not bring its top stars.    It’s being held at Liga MX club FC Queretaro’s home stadium in

But that’s okay, we’re here to support our CONCACAF neighbors.  Raul Jimenez scored the winning penalty kick-goal for Mexico in their last outing over Costa Rica.   This match will feature a lot of youth on both sides of the ball, so we’re not expecting a ton of goals, but perhaps another dramatic finish just the same.   (9:45 PM, Unimas)

RESULT:   0-1   Chile          The visitors score at 90′ in what was a pretty even match

Image result for mexican neighbors funny

 

Noob’s not going political on this site.  Just not in my ken.

But it seems a border wall might be susceptible to a Ned Flanders attack.

  1. France vs. Germany – UEFA Nations League

Groups of three, top finisher only from each advance to the Playoffs.   This is a League A matchup, meaning these two are from one of the Groups that are ranked by UEFA in top dozen.

They’ve both played two of their four matches.  Germany have yet to score, though they still earned a draw in one of those games.  France lead the Netherlands by a point in the table.

These two teams are ranked as tied for #1 and #12, respectively, in the world by FIFA.   Noob’s becoming less convinced those numbers matter in this tournament.

This is a new event, one designed to add some meaning to parts of the calendar that were previously filled with simply international friendlies.  It’s a pathway to getting into the 2020 European Championships, but that may not be motivating teams of this caliber.  They’re almost certainly going to be there no matter how they do here.   (2:45 PM, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   France   2-1      Antoine Griezmann with both goals for the home side in the come-from-behind win

’10 to Track’ Sunday (10/14) soccer matches – CONCACAF galore, plus new Sandwich Review(oob) feature!

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

And now, the perfect pairing – Sandwich Review Feature.

There’s real soccer info in here.  Somewhere.   But s**t’s about to get weird, y’all.

  1. U.S.A. vs. Jamaica – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

And then there were four.  Time for the Knockout Stage.  Three of the four will qualify for next year’s World Cup.

One will be #1 USA.  No one’s even scored on them all tournament.  Jamaica won’t.  They’re ranked #64 in the world.   (8:00 PM EST, FS1)

RESULT:   U.S.A.   6-0      Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan with two goals apiece.   Now officially headed to 2019 World Cup.

B.  Panama vs. Canadia – CONCACAF Women’s Championship / World Cup qualification

The other Semifinal!  #66 vs. #5.   The Final and consolation matches will be far higher drama.   (5:00 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Canadia   0-7       Christine Sinclair and Adriana Leon with two goals each for the now officially World Cup-bound Canadiaians

Image result for dramatic letter B

 

 

Number B, rocking it as “dramatic dark sunset” Number B today.

Sultry.

  1. Poland vs. Italy – UEFA Nations League

This is a League A matchup.  Portugal is the third team in this Group within that league and they’re waaaay ahead after two games.   If either of today’s two want to have chance two in the group and make the playoffs, it’s vital they get a win today.

They’re ranked 18th and 20th in the world.  In their last ten collective matches, they have one win.  Therefore, Noob’s guess is they draw today.   (2:45 PM, ESPN)

RESULT:   Italy   0-1      While it wasn’t a draw like Noob predicted, Italia didn’t get their score until after 90′.

  1. New York Red Bulls II vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – United Soccer League

Last regular season match in the second division league.  These teams have cumulatively won their last 12 matches.  Talk about peaking at the right time!

#3 Pittsburgh can only drop down.  Even a draw and their three-seed is secure.  NYRB is in a three-way tie for 5th.  They can’t do better than #5, but could fall very far – even out of the top eight at the Playoffs entirely!

This will be a wide-open affair if Red Bulls control the pace.   They score like gangbusters, play the third-worst defense in the entire division.  Pittsburgh has always tried taking the air out of the ball.  Noob thinks Red Bulls score early, force Pitt to actually push forward for a change.  I think this is a home rout today.

RESULT:   NYRB II   2-1        And so Red Bull B-side do get the #5 seed

Image result for red bull funny

 

 

 

If I could walk on water/ if I could find some way to prove/

If I could walk on water would you believe in me/ ‘Cause I believe in yooooou.”

  1. Saint Martin vs. Saint Kitts and Nevis – CONCACAF Nations League qualification

The hosts today are from the northern, French part of the island country.  The Dutch half has its own team.  They are both very weak.  SKN are one of the top 20 teams in in the federation, though just 134th in the world.

RESULT:   SKN   0-10         not a typo

TIME OUT FOR A NEW FEATURE!

Noob Sammich Reviewbs.  Reviewoobs?    TBD

Not sure how often Noob will do this, but it starts NOW.   It’s not enough to just talk soccer.  Let’s talk about what soccer fans talk about.  And eat.  I’m talking SAMMICHES.

Corned Beef and Swiss Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Bread

 

 

Corned Beef and Swiss Shamrock Sandwich.

 

 

This is a Nature’s Own-bread sandwich recipe.   Noob decided to find a corned beef sammich to compare to my all-time fave.

This is diced corned beef on whole wheat bread.  Swiss cheese.  A little Dijon mustard.  A little more horseradish sauce.  Plenty of reduced-fat cream cheese.

Noob’s all-time fave corned beef has the meat sliced.  Tomatoes, pickles, black olives, a little mayo.  Leaf lettuce is better.  I had it with shredded and that’s okay.

This sandwich is an affront to everything Noob believes in.  Diced meat of any kind, anywhere, is gross.   Put it in with all those soft ingredients and I start to doubt the possible existence of an omni-benevolent god in the universe.

Look, the Swiss cheese is fine.  Noob doesn’t need any on a cold sammich, but whatever.  Horseradish?   Like the music of Journey, I get what others like about it, but I don’t need to hear/eat it.  Cream cheese on any bread that soft?  Denied.

Put it all together and it’s…well, it’s diced meat in mouthful of mush.  That bread doesn’t look hearty enough to offer any respite from the rest of the awful texture.

Noob’s decided for now that the rating system will be on a 1-5 star system.  But instead of stars, the unit will be…Sammiches.

So!   This sandwich gets One Sammich from Noob.  It would get zero, but Noob has to leave room potentially finding an even lousier sandwich at some point.

Actually, let’s knock it down to just a half Sammich.  This sandwich pisses off the Irish by being shamrock-shaped on top of everything else.

Please respond with your reviewoob thoughts on Twitter @SoccerNoobUSA.  I’m also taking suggestions of sandwiches for future reviews.

  1. Chelsea Ladies vs. Arsenal – England Women’s Soccer League

Chelsea went undefeated in this league last year.  Still, they didn’t completely dominate on either side of the ball compared to their peers.  Arsenal finished 3rd, missing out on the Champions League by one point in the table.  The season is just getting going.

RESULT:   Arsenal   0-5        Changing of the guard?   Vivianne Miedema and Jordan Noobs with two goals each

  1. Marathon vs. Real Espana – Honduras National League

Marathon are tied for 1st in the table, though they’ve played two more matches than Olimpia.  Noob likes them to win the league though.  Not the very best on either side of the ball, but incredibly balanced.

Real Espana are in a three-way tie for 3rd.   They score more than anyone, but the utter lack of defense will make them midtable.  That trek starts today.

RESULT:   2-2

  1. Palmeiras vs. Gremio – Brazil Serie A

Going to be moving day today in Brazil potentially!  The league leaders host #5, which are also the defending Copa Libertadores champions.

This may not be the most exciting game to watch, not if you’re looking for goals.  But only four points separate them in the table.  And only the top four teams qualify to start the next CL at the Group Stage level.  So it’s still very high drama.   (3:00 PM, GOL TV)

Palmeiras   2-0        Deyverson with two goals.    Botch clubs stay in same spots in table

Image result for so exciting gif

 

 

Craig Robinson, at least, appreciates defensive footyball.

  1. Internacional vs. Sao Paulo – Brazil Serie A

#3 hosting #4 as well today is what makes it so special for the league.

Sao Paulo led the league for quite a while, but have come back to earth, as expected.   They’ve stayed afloat with a few draws, but haven’t won a match since early September.  The offense has trickled away for them.

Inter are coming off a curious loss to meh-at-best Sport Recife.  They’ve won just one of their last four, which have all been draws or decided by a goal either way.   (3:00 PM, Premeire Futebol)

RESULT:   Inter   3-1          Leandro Damiao with two goals.  So much for “Moving Day”.   These two also stayed in same table positions.

  1. Kenya vs. Ethiopia – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

The top two finishers in each Group of four make the Cup next year.  All four in this one have won a match, so the race is super tight.  These two lead the others by a point in the table, but have already played one more match than them.

They are FIFA-ranked 107 and 149, respectively.  but Ethiopia’s actually only scored one goal in their three matches.  Noob thinks this is where the higher-ranked Kenya’s have their breakout match.

RESULT:   Kenya   3-0

Image result for Nairobi weirdSo long from Nairobi!

If the animals look weird, it’s because they’re scrap metal sculptures.

The world is weird.

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

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

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

  1. LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo – Major League Soccer

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for Walker Zimmerman funny

 

 

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

B.  Croatia vs. England – UEFA Nations Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for letter B fruit

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Curacao   0-5

Fun Fact:   US VI are “The Dashing Eagle”

  1. Algeria vs. Benin – Africa Cup of Nations

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

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

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

RESULT:   Algeria   2-0

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

Noob wants him on staff.

  1. CSD Macara vs. Delfin – Ecuador Serie A

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

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

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

RESULT:   1-1

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

  1. Tajikistan vs. Palestine – Bangabandhu Cup

The Final!   But the Final of what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   Basque Country   4-2

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

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

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

RESULT:   New Radiant   0-1

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

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

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

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

RESULT:   0-0

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

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

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

RESULT:       now listed for Monday, 10/29

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So long from Damascus, home of Al-Jaish!

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