The leaders in Argentina, Brazil, the USA and South Africa all failed to win at the weekend, though it was insufficient to drop them from the summit, while, by contrast, the pacesetters in Mexico and Australia maintained their positive form. FIFA.com reflects on the latest action outside Europe.
Major League Soccer: Play-off line-up finalised
A lone strike from New England Revolution’s Shalrie Joseph ensured the play-off hopes of Kansas City Wizards ended in the penultimate round. Colorado Rapids secured the final ticket to the top eight with a 3-1 win at the erratic Los Angeles Galaxy. The competition's leading marksman Edson Buddle opened the scoring, but the Rapids levelled via a Juninho own-goal, before Conor Casey and Omar Cummings sealed the three points. Joining Colorado in the play-offs later in the month will be the Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes.
High Stakes: New York Red Bulls missed out on the chance to seal the Eastern Conference title with a 2-1 reverse at Philadelphia Union. First-half goals for the home side from Fred and Michael Orozco Fiscal proved too great a margin to make up for the team from the Big Apple, who were without star recruit Thierry Henry.
Headline-grabber: Columbus Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer secured his place in the history books as only the second MLS goalkeeper to get on the score-sheet, which he did by blasting home an injury-time equaliser from close range in his side's 2-2 draw with Toronto FC on Saturday.
Argentinian Apertura: Colon do chasing pack a favour
Estudiantes saw their lead trimmed to three points after being held to a 1-1 draw at Colon. Gaston Fernandez restored parity from the penalty spot after Esteban Fuertes had given the mid-table hosts an early advantage. Nearest challengers Velez Sarsfield and Arsenal closed the gap with respective victories. The former triumphed 2-0 away to Quilmes, while the Sarandi outfit snatched all three points courtesy of Pablo Aguilar's last-gasp winner.
High stakes: Boca Juniors scored their second consecutive win to move further away from the bottom reaches of the ladder. Lucas Viatri and the inimitable Martin Palermo on the score-sheet for the Buenos Aires giants in an important 2-0 home win over Huracan.
Headline-grabber: A brace from Colombian Giovanni Moreno allowed Racing Club to complete a 2-1 comeback win over Argentinos Juniors and stay in touch with a pack of teams hunting Estudiantes.
Brasileirao: Cruzeiro fall, Fluminense held
Cruzeiro, who only assumed pole position last weekend, almost relinquished it in Round 30 of 38. A Raposa went ahead at Gremio through Walter Montillo, but goals from Junior Vicosa and the in-form Jonas earned the hosts a 2-1 win. However, second-placed Fluminense failed to take full advantage, a goalless draw at home to Rio rivals Botafogo denying them top spot.
High stakes: Internacional’s title hopes took another hit as they capitulated 3-0 at Flamengo to drop seven points off the pace. O Mengão continue to prosper under new coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo and now seem to have erased the prospect of relegation.
Headline-grabber: Sao Paulo and Santos played out a remarkable match, with the former running out 4-3 victors. After five goals inside the opening 20 minutes, a last-gasp winner proved costly for O Peixe, who remain six points off the summit.
South African Premiership: Sundowns suffer anguish against Pirates
Soweto giants Orlando Pirates, looking to end a seven-year title drought, beat leaders Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 thanks to a brace by Thulasizwe Mbuyane. Two points adrift of the summit are Golden Arrows, who drew at Bloemfontein Celtic, and also Ajax Cape Town, whose derby against Santos ended 1-1.
High stakes: Reigning three-time champions, SuperSport United have bounced back from a shaky start to sit mid-table after edging Durban side Amazulu 1-0 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Headline-grabber: It was a sterling performance from teenage Bafana Bafana midfielder Andile Jali that orchestrated the downfall of the expensively-assembled Sundowns, who nevertheless remain in pole position after five rounds.
Cruz Azul maintained their two-point lead at the top of the Mexican Apertura thanks to a 3-0 win over Santos Laguna. Nearest challengers Monterrey stayed on their tails by beating Toluca 2-0. At the other end of the spectrum, Atlas remain rooted to the bottom after losing 2-1 at fellow strugglers Tecos.
Muang Thong United are a whisker away from retaining the Thai Premier League title and now need just one point from their final two outings, after nearest challengers Chonburi and Buriram PEA finished up 2-2 in their contest. A draw in next Friday’s visit to Samut Songkhram will be sufficient for the rising giants of south-west Asian football to claim their second league title.
One of the traditional highlights of the Australian A-League season proved to be non-contest as the woes for champions Sydney FC continued with a 3-0 loss against Melbourne Victory, leaving the Sydneysiders marooned at the bottom of the ladder. Unbeaten leaders Adelaide United retained their six-point margin over second-placed Brisbane Roar, despite being held to a goalless draw at Gold Coast United.