After eight rounds at the top of the table, Corinthians were knocked off the summit in Brazil on a weekend where sequence-ending was the order of the day across the Americas. Indeed, as we discover in FIFA.com’s customary review of the best of the action, MLS outfit Houston Dynamo celebrated ending a winless streak lasting nearly a month, while Argentina’s Banfield also won to draw a line under a run of six defeats.
Brazil: Vasco on cloud nine
The past few days could barely have gone better for fans of Rio de Janeiro outfit Vasco da Gama. First of all coach Ricardo Gomes, who has been hospitalised after a stroke, was given the all clear sooner than expected, with doctors giving a positive prognosis for his recovery. O Gigante da Colina swiftly followed up this excellent news by making light of the absence of veteran star Juninho Pernambucano to hammer Gremio 4-0 at home, featuring a stunning goal from Diego Souza.
The win took Vasco into first place on 45 points, a position which was sealed after previous leaders Corinthians, on 43, were beaten 3-1 by regional rivals Santos. The defeat sent O Timão into third place, after fellow Paulista outfit Sao Paulo sank Ceara 4-0 – thanks in part to fine efforts from Casemiro and Rivaldo – to move second with 44 points.
USA: Bruin and Keane catch the eye
The latest round of MLS matches ended a number of negative runs, starting with Eastern Conference outfit Houston Dynamo, whose 2-1 victory against San Jose Earthquakes supplied their first three points since 20 August. The winning effort was hit by 21-year-old striker Will Bruin, who grabbed his first goal since April just five minutes after coming off the bench, and was finally able to repeat his ‘dancing bear’ celebration – much to the Dynamo fans’ delight.
Fellow Eastern Conference outfits New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union put an end to eight-game winless runs by picking up 1-0 wins against FC Dallas and Columbus Crew respectively. Less pleased with their weekend’s work will be Western Conference bottom side Vancouver Whitecaps, who remain without an away win following their 3-0 defeat by LA Galaxy. Starring for the latter, whose involvement in the title-deciding play-offs is already guaranteed, was ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker Robbie Keane, who grabbed a goal and an assist.
Argentina: Erviti does it again
Apertura champions as recently as 2009, Banfield finally won their first match of the 2011 edition after six opening defeats. Coach Ricardo Lavolpe’s charges won 1-0 at All Boys, thanks to Juan Eluchans’ solitary strike, though El Taladro stay in last place.
At the other end of the table are revitalised Boca Juniors, who beat fellow high-flyers Lanus 2-1 to move onto 17 points and leave their beaten opponents in third on 14. Experienced performer Walter Erviti continued his rich vein of form for Los Xeneizes, after scoring his second winning goal in two games. Sandwiched between Boca and Lanus are surprise packages Atletico Rafaela (16 points), who continued their fine start to the season with a 3-1 win over San Lorenzo.
Mexico: Jaguares leap into first
Without attracting undue attraction, Jaguares have stealthily climbed up the table, with Saturday’s thrilling 5-3 win over America sending them level in top spot in the general standings after nine matchdays. Standing out above the crowd was attacking midfielder Edgar Andrade, thanks to two goals and an assist.
Jaguares thus enjoy a share of first place in the Apertura 2011 with Cruz Azul, victors against Monterrey, and Guadalajara, who were humbled 4-1 by Puebla. Buoyed by a 4-0 midweek thrashing of Toronto in the CONCACAF Champions League, 2011 Clausura champions Pumas UNAM ended a three-match winless run by hammering Toluca 4-1 and taking their own points tally to 14.
In Paraguay, the country’s traditional heavyweights are among the pacesetters, though the season is shaping up to be closely fought. Proof of that came on Sunday, when leaders Libertad were beaten 2-0 by bottom side Sol de America. Libertad stay in first on 14 points, though only six points separate them from sixth-placed Rubio Nu. In third are Olimpia (13), Cerro Porteno are fifth (12), while Nacional (2nd) and Guarani (4th) have also enjoyed strong starts.
Finally we go to Venezuela, where leaders CD Lara are unbeaten with 16 points from six games. Their latest success came 2-0 away against Monagas and keeps Lara a point clear of closest chasers Caracas, who thrashed Mineros de Guayana 4-0.