Friday, July 08, 2016

European Super League 2016-17

Some of the richest clubs of European football have been making noise about permanent spots in the UEFA Champions League, or creating a closed European Super League. Naturally, I would prefer an open Super League, with promotion and relegation with the domestic leagues.

Since there are too many "big" clubs for one twenty-team league, I have created a twenty-team Super League and a second division with forty teams, split into East and West Leagues. To pick which teams are placed in which leagues, I used the UEFA Club Coefficients from the end of the 2014-15 season. After the 2015-16 season, two teams were relegated from the Super League to Division 2, replaced by the east and west champions. Two teams from each Division 2 league were relegated, replaced by the four teams that progressed the furthest in the Champions League and Europa League. (Ideally, this would just be the final four Champions League teams, with the relegated teams automatically qualified for the next season's Champions League so they have the potential for promotion as soon as possible).

Basel 1893 were relegated from the Super League to Division 2 West. Shakhtar Donetsk were relegated from the Super League to Division 2 East. PSV Eindhoven and Dynamo Kyiv were promoted to the Super League. Hannover 96, Twente, Metalist Kharkiv, and København were relegated to their respective domestic leagues. Wolfsburg and Gent were promoted to Division 2 West. Sparta Praha and Fenerbahçe were promoted to Division 2 East.

To keep the two Milan clubs in the same league, Wolfsburg are in the west league, even though they are east of Milan.

Here is a map of the sixty teams in the international leagues. Click the rectangle tab thing in the upper left to get to the list where you can deselect the separate divisions.

After some games, I will start posting standings.

Friday, March 11, 2016

European Super League 2015-16

UPDATED 5-29-16: The final standings have been added below.

Some of the richest clubs of European football have been making noise lately about permanent spots in the UEFA Champions League, or creating a closed European Super League. Naturally, I would prefer an open Super League, with promotion and relegation with the domestic leagues.

Since there are too many "big" clubs for one twenty-team league, I have created a twenty-team Super League and a second division with forty teams, split into East and West Leagues. To pick which teams are placed in which leagues, I used the UEFA Club Coefficients from the end of the 2014-15 season.

I envision these leagues playing standard double round-robins. Meanwhile, the remaining top teams in the domestic leagues would continue to play the Champions League similar to today's arrangement. The final four teams in the Champions League would thus be promoted to the Division 2 leagues, while the bottom two from each Division 2 league would be relegated to their respective domestic leagues. These relegated teams would be automatically qualified in the following season's Champions League so they have the potential for promotion as soon as possible.

Here is a map of the sixty teams in the international leagues. Click the rectangle tab thing in the upper left to get to the list where you can deselect the separate divisions.

Here are the final 2015-16 standings.

These standings include games only against teams in their division (Super League or Division 2). Note that some teams did not play any such games this season. I've positioned them based on their UEFA Club Coefficient rankings. That is the tiebreaker in general.

The four teams earning promotion from the domestic leagues, based upon who went furthest in this year's Champions League and Europa League, are: Wolfsburg, Gent, Sparta Praha, and Fenerbahçe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

US Soccer Combined Leagues 2016

UPDATED 8/28/16: Standings updated through today's games.

Just suppose that many years ago, the US Soccer Federation required all professional teams to play in the same league system. Just suppose that they decided that it would be best to always have two equal leagues, east and west, and then divide teams vertically into Division 1, Division 2, etc. Just suppose that, each year, they promoted the best teams from Division 2 and relegated the worst teams from Division 1.

And here's the big leap. Just suppose that we didn't have any more teams playing than what we actually have.

In 2016, the USSF has 60 professional teams. Three teams folded/withdrew after the 2015 season (Austin Aztex, Atlanta Silverbacks, and San Antonio Scorpions). New teams added to Division 2 West were Rayo OKC, Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and Swope Park Rangers KC. In the East, the new teams in Division 2 were Bethlehem Steel, Cincinnati, Miami, and Orlando City B.

To balance the leagues, Saint Louis was moved from the East to the West.

Here is a map of the teams. Click the rectangle tab thing in the upper left to get to the list where you can deselect the separate divisions.

Here are the current standings:

Since a wonderful home-and-away round robin won't actually happen in each league above, I will substitute that with ranking the teams by points-per-game, including each team's league and cup games actually played in 2016, only counting games against teams in its division (Division 1 or 2).

At least one team from each Division 1 league will be relegated and at least one team from each Division 2 league will be promoted. The final number will be determined by the number of professional teams in 2017 and the resultant promotions without relegations to even out the divisions. Without adjustments to the number of teams, three would be relegated and three would be promoted. Since four new teams have been announced next year, only two relegations are shown for each Division 1 league.

The Division 2 teams shown as "ineligible for promotion" are B teams. B teams can't be in Division 1.

Friday, October 09, 2015

US Soccer Combined Leagues 2015

UPDATE 1-20-16: Final standings below, with modified relegation/withdrawals based on 2016 teams.

Just suppose that many years ago, the US Soccer Federation required all professional teams to play in the same league system. Just suppose that they decided that it would be best to always have two equal leagues, east and west, and then divide teams vertically into Division 1, Division 2, etc. Just suppose that, each year, they promoted the best teams from Division 2 and relegated the worst teams from Division 1.

And here's the big leap. Just suppose that we didn't have any more teams playing than what we actually have.

In 2015, the USSF had 55 professional teams. Two teams folded after the 2014 season (Chivas USA and Dayton Dutch Lions). New teams added to Division 2 West were Austin Aztex, Colorado Springs Switchbacks, Portland Timbers 2, Real Monarchs SLC, Seattle Sounders 2, Tulsa Roughnecks, and Vancouver Whitecaps 2. In the East, the new teams in Division 2 were Jacksonville Armada, Louisville City, FC Montreal, New York City, New York Red Bulls II, Saint Louis, and Toronto II.

To accommodate regional travel, Atlanta Silverbacks moved from the West to the East, while recently promoted Columbus Crew entered the West.

Here is a map of the teams. Click the rectangle tab thing in the upper left to get to the list where you can deselect the separate divisions.

Here are the final standings for 2015.

Since a wonderful home-and-away round robin didn't actually happen in each league above, I've substituted that with ranking the teams by points-per-game, including each team's league and cup games actually played in 2015, only counting games against teams in its division (Division 1 or 2). Orange County and Sacramento played each other twice this year, and no one else in Division 1, making those games very important in these standings!

LA Galaxy II are ineligible for promotion since "B" teams are not allowed in Division 1.

At least one team from each Division 1 league will be relegated and at least one team from each Division 2 league will be promoted. The final number will be determined by the number of professional teams in 2016 and the resultant promotions without relegations to even out the divisions. Without adjustments to the number of teams, three would be relegated and three would be promoted. Based on the announced number of teams in 2016, two teams from each division will be relegated and three promoted, as shown above.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

US Soccer Combined Leagues 2014

Just suppose that many years ago, the US Soccer Federation required all professional teams to play in the same league system. Just suppose that they decided that it would be best to always have two equal leagues, east and west, and then divide teams vertically into Division 1, Division 2, etc. Just suppose that, each year, they promoted the best teams from Division 2 and relegated the worst teams from Division 1.

And here's the big leap. Just suppose that we didn't have any more teams playing than what we actually had and have.

In 2014, the USSF had 43 professional teams. Two teams folded after the 2013 season (Antigua Barracuda and VSI Tampa Bay), while several new teams joined. In the West, LA Galaxy II, Oklahoma City Energy, and Sacramento Republic entered Division 2. In the East, Indy Eleven and New York Cosmos entered Division 2.

Here is a map of the teams. Click the tabby rectangle thing in the upper left to get to the list where you can deselect the separate divisions.

And here are the final standings at the end of the 2014 season.

Since the wonderful home-and-away round robin didn't actually happen, I've substituted that with ranking the teams by points-per-game, including each team's league and cup games actually played in 2014, only counting games against teams in its division (Division 1 or 2).

At least one team from each Division 1 league is relegated. Four teams from each Division 2 league are promoted due the influx of new teams for 2015, to balance out between Divisions 1 and 2.

It's curious that the two last-place teams in these charts actually ceased professional soccer in real life.

US Soccer Combined League 2013

Just suppose that many years ago, the US Soccer Federation required all professional teams to play in the same league system. Just suppose that they decided that it would be best to always have two equal leagues, east and west, before dividing teams vertically into Division 1, Division 2, etc. Just suppose that when they had enough teams, they split into Division 1 and 2 and promoted the best teams from Division 2 each year and relegated the worst teams from Division 1 each year.

And here's the big leap. Just suppose that we didn't have any more teams playing than what we actually had and have.

So in 2013, the USSF had 39 professional teams. This would be split into 20 in the East Division and 19 in the West Division (fewer teams because of greater travel distances). Enough teams had been announced to start in 2014 that the USSF would know they need to divide vertically into Divisions 1 and 2 to keep the league sizes manageable and still have every team play each other twice, home and away. So the USSF declared that the top eleven teams from each division, East and West, would stay in Division 1, while the bottom teams would be relegated to Division 2 to join the new teams in the new leagues.

Here is a map of the teams and a chart of the final standings.

Since the wonderful home-and-away round robin didn't actually happen, I've substituted that with ranking the teams by points-per-game, including all league and cup games actually played in 2013.

Note that Colorado had the same points-per-game as Minnesota and Vancouver. Colorado won the tiebreaker on head-to-head games.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

NASL flags

My bit of heraldic knowledge makes me stare at soccer team logos and scratch my head. Many teams use shields, but they wrap so much stuff around and across the shield, that it's clear they don't mean the shield to actually stand alone.

So I thought to make them stand alone.

What follows is a compilation of NASL team armorial banners, which are flags based strictly on the coat of arms, which is what's on the shield. Except, though, that I deleted the words.

For the teams without shields (thanks be to them), I just put their logo on a plain background, but deleted the non-stylized words. I had to keep the word for the Rowdies, otherwise it would be an exceedingly boring flag.

Carolina RailHawks:

Edmonton:

Fort Lauderdale Strikers:

Indy Eleven:

Jacksonville Armada:

Miami:

Minnesota United:

Rayo Oklahoma City:

Ottawa Fury:

New York Cosmos:

Puerto Rico:

Tampa Bay Rowdies:

San Antonio Scorpions (last season 2015):

Atlanta Silverbacks (last season 2015):

Soccer balls!

Monday, May 13, 2013

March 19 - Waikoloa

In the morning, from our hotel room, I could see Mauna Loa looming over the shoulder of Hualalai. Mauna Loa is bigger and flatter, by far.

Before we left the room, we ate a snack of coffee and macadamia nuts. It would tide us over for a little while.

Pink

We took a walk around the resort. At the far end from our hotel building, there was an enclosure with a few flamingos. They weren't too active.

Nene in the Zoo

Another enclosure had a few nene, the local goose. It's the state bird of Hawaii and related to the Canada goose.

Orator's Table

Hilton had also brought in cultural objects from around the Pacific, like this orator's table from Papua New Guinea. Apparently it was used in meetings such that whoever had his hand on the carving could speak and was required to speak the truth (or face divine punishment, I think).

Hawaiian Decor

The resort is a big park. Fish, fish, and more fish swam in the lagoon. Snorkelers, kayakers, and a paddle boarder plied the waters, as well.

Water's Edge

We left the Waikoloa resort for a couple hours, heading up the Hapuna Beach. Sunny. Pretty. Fun.

Eventually we had enough. We got back in the car, but we weren’t ready for the hotel yet. We thus turned up the hill to Waikoloa Village. It’s a golf course resort island five miles from the sea, but there are few houses and a grocery store. We bought sandwiches, sushi, and smoked marlin.

Back down the hill, we stopped briefly at Anaeho‘omalu Beach, but didn’t get out. There was no good place to park and watch the ocean while we ate, so we headed back to the hotel.

On the Disney Canal

Since the canal boat was waiting at the lobby, we took it back to our building.

Arrival at the Palace Tower

Sunset over the Pacific

When the sun descended westward, we ventured forth to watch one last tropical sunset before our vacation ended.

Sunset Buddha

Chunlin and Mark at Waikoloa

Waiulua Rocks Sunset

A couple hours later, at about 8:30, we decided to go have a mai tai or two. This turned into just another walk around the resort, however. At that hour, all the bars in the resort were closed and the restaurant service was glacially slow. We never did get that last tropical drink.

We sat on the grass and stared at the stars, enjoying the warm evening.

At 9:30, Chunlin wanted to watch another movie. I picked _Seven Psychopaths_, which turned out to be a very bad movie for Chunlin to try to fall asleep to. Lots of quiet conversations interspersed with gunfights and explosions. I watched it to the end, as I always do. I get sucked in to movies so easily.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

March 18 - South Kohala

From the tiny town of Puako, we headed down the dead-end road past many homes to a shoreline access point near the end.

Chunlin on Puako Lava

The shoreline here is seemingly endless lava rocks and tidepools.

Puako Tidepools Chunlin

Turtle in the Tidepool

We spotted three sea turtles in the area. One just sat in the shallow water. Another was searching for something. The third was eating off the bottom and swimming back to sea. It would brace itself as the waves came in the narrow channel, then release and go with the flow as the waves went back out.

Urchins of the Sea

A couple local men waved us over to look at two eels that they fed mahi guts. The bigger eel grabbed the guts in a death spiral, keeping the smaller eel away from it. After a minute, both eels scurried under rocks, leaving a lot of food behind.

Back on the road, we headed for our hotel, driving through a red rock area.

At the Hilton Waikoloa Resort, it was unclear where to park to register. I think they prefer if you use the valet parking. At the front desk, we got quite a spiel about the resort. I tried to hurry her along and it took less time than the family in front of us.

I then went to park the car as Chunlin waited, but I lost the parking lot gate key card. Chunlin had picked it up and thought it was her room key. After frantically searching the car near the gate, I drove back up the hill to the lobby building to search there, whereupon I got the card back from her.

Drive to the parking lot, walk back to the lobby building, get on the resort train with Chunlin, and eventually at our room. Whew.

Yard

Waiulua Bay Sunset

Little Flames Big Flames

After sunset, we semi-escaped the resort to the local mall foodcourt for dinner. Loco moco, kapua pork, teriyaki beef.

The train at the Waikoloa Hilton is slow. After dinner, we walked the quarter mile from the lobby building to our hotel building and the train probably hadn’t even arrived at the lobby yet. The other train was waiting at our hotel, the north end of the line.

We walked along the lagoon, paused on a bridge. The bright half-moon and a million stars shone overhead. I blocked the few lights with my arms and stared into space. Stars, stars, and infinite stars. Living in the city, I don't get to see stars much anymore. Bummer.

Back at our room, Chunlin drifted asleep while a movie played. I wrote and thought about tomorrow. Last day tomorrow.

Friday, May 10, 2013

March 18 - North Kohala

Honoipu Rocks

Chunlin Spots a Whale!

In the northwest corner of the Big Island, we found a spot called Honoipu. Lovely. Chunlin spotted some whales while I had my eye to the camera.

Mahukona Blue

Driving down the road south by the sea, we could see the green peaks of Kohala Mountain above us, up where we were that morning.

Later, the snow-capped Mauna Kea made an appearance. More whales in the sea.

Pu‘ukohola Heiau Clouds

Naptime

After viewing old piles of rocks and napping on a bench, we went in search of ibuprofen. We turned off the highway at Puako and stopped at the store. Chunlin felt better soon with pills in her. Gluten doesn’t feel good but she loves the way it tastes.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

March 18 - Driving Kohala, Hiking Pololu

We had a continental breakfast in the motel’s “lanai” that was nothing like a lanai, but just a ground floor room with one tiny window. They had pineapple butter that Chunlin loved, sort of like apple butter. It was from a local source that we can’t find online. Bummer.

Soon, we were on the road. North on the Kohala Mountain Road through sunny rangeland. The ocean sparkled blue in the distance, far below. Mauna Kea was finally visible, as well as Hualalai Mountain near Kona. A couple clouds clung to the peaks. Golf courses and resorts were discernible through the haze below us, patches of green standing out on the red, brown, and black.

We crested the hill. Ironwood trees shaded the road, giving only gaps of views across the fields of grass and cactus.

King Kamehameha of Kapa‘au

We stopped briefly in Kapa‘au to pay our respects to the king.

Reaching

Keokea Beach Park

We stopped briefly at Keokea Beach to use the facilities.

A coconut tree has many coconuts.

Shortly, we were hiking down to Pololu Beach.

Pololu Trail

Down down down. ...It's not that far, really.

Pololu Beach Below

Chunlin on the Rocks

Beach of Cobbles

Mark on Pololu Beach

And then we went back up up up.

Chunlin and  the Ocean Blue

Hot hot hot in the sun sun sun.

After cooling off, we got in the car and drove back to Kapa‘au for lunch. Pizza!

While we waited for food, a little yellow bird with tiny legs hopped around the parking lot outside our restaurant window. On the tv was a video about taro farming -- the third time we’d seen it (also at the Hilo bed and breakfast and at breakfast at the Waimea motel). When a breeze flowed through the restaurant, it was very nice. I was still sticky from the hike, though.

Chunlin liked the Greek pizza. Both it and the pizza we had in Kona had thin crusts that weren’t crispy.