A twist in Brazil and a play-off push in MLS

While misfiring forwards failed to hit the ground running after the international break in Argentina, there was action aplenty in Brazil, where the title race was reignited, and in USA, where the play-off picture began to take shape.

FIFA.com reports on all this and more in our latest round-up of the Americas leagues.

Brazil: Atletico Mineiro exert pressure
In a fixture which could prove pivotal in the final destination of this season’s Brasileiro, Fluminense had their lead at the top of the standings cut to six points after going down 3-2 in Belo Horizonte to nearest rivals Atletico Mineiro. The home side were aggressive and took the game to their visitors from the off, while some inspired performances from the big names on both sides ensured the fans got their money’s worth. Flu withstood the early pressure and went ahead early in the second half, having previously struck the woodwork three times. For O Galo, Ronaldinho was again influential, providing two assists, as were 20-year-old midfield sensation Bernard and striker Jo, who helped himself to a brace. For Flu, Fred was again the stand-out player, weighing in with a goal and an assist.

Argentina: goal drought
In stark contrast to the torrential rain that fell across the country this weekend, the goals practically dried up on Matchday 10 of the Torneo Inicial, with only 12 strikes in ten games – the second-lowest tally thus far in the championship. Newell's Old Boys, the only side still unbeaten, remain two points clear of nearest challengers Racing Club after the pair played out a scoreless draw. Quick to take advantage were Velez Sarsfield, now just a point behind Racing after a late Alejandro Cabral strike earned them a 1-0 win away to Tigre, who parted company with coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena in the aftermath.

Next Sunday brings the latest edition of the country’s superclásico with protagonists River Plate and Boca Juniors struggling for form. The former are a lowly ninth and went down 1-0 to Quilmes at the weekend, while the latter are in fifth after a goalless draw with Estudiantes gave them only their second point from the last four games.

MLS: drama in race for play-offs
Houston Dynamo, DC United and New York Red Bulls all sealed play-off berths from the Eastern Conference, although the latter two gave their fans some anxious moments. The Washington outfit made sure of their place with a 3-2 stoppage-time win over already eliminated Columbus Crew, while the New Yorkers had to sweat it out before advancing with a 0-0 draw against Sporting Kansas City, who lead the way in the Eastern section and are already safely through.

Nor was there any shortage of drama in the Western Conference. Vancouver Whitecaps’ loss to Portland Timbers briefly opened the door for FC Dallas, who failed to take advantage by going down to Seattle Sounders. Boasting a four-point lead over Dallas with just one matchday remaining, the Whitecaps have become the first side from Canada to reach an MLS play-off series. Also assured of berths this season are Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy.

Meanwhile, Chris Wondolowski strengthened his position as the league’s top marksman by taking his tally for the season to 26. The San Jose Earthquakes striker has one remaining game against Portland to get the two goals he needs to beat the single-season mark set by Roy Lassiter during the inaugural Major League Soccer campaign of 1996.

Mexico: chance gone begging for Chivas
After showing a marked improvement and earning points from their last three outings, CD Guadalajara let slip a chance to move into one of the qualifying positions for the end-of-season liguilla by losing 3-1 away to Atlante. With a brace from Chilean forward Esteban Paredes, the latter moved level on points with their visitors to remain in contention. Perhaps already looking ahead to next weekend’s Guadalajara derby against Las Chivas, Atlas succumbed 3-2 to a visiting Real de San Luis side and now have a struggle on their hands to stay in the top flight. Toluca, for their part, regained top spot on goal difference after an emphatic 4-1 victory over Santos Laguna. Meanwhile, Tijuana, who have been battling it out at the summit with Toluca, lost their two-point lead after a 2-2 draw with Cruz Azul.

Elsewhere
In Chile’s superclásico, Carlos Munoz got the only goal of the game to give second-placed Colo Colo victory over arch-rivals Universidad de Chile and move two places ahead of them in the table. After the ignominy of beating routed by La U 5-0 and 4-0 in their two most recent derbies, El Cacique exacted a measure of revenge and moved to within two points of leaders Rangers.

Thanks to a hat-trick and stellar performance by Fabian Estoyanoff, Penarol crushed El Tanque Sisley 4-0 and moved up to second in Uruguay’s Apertura Championship. Los Aurinegros are now just a point behind pacesetters Defensor Sporting, who prevailed 3-1 against Danubio. El Tanque, who had been leaders before their visit to the Estadio Centenario, dropped to fourth, having also been overtaken by Nacional, who have a game in hand on the top sides.

A brace from Nicolas Munoz handed Metapan a 2-0 win over Alianza and the outright lead in El Salvador’s Apertura. Elsewhere on Matchday 12, Once Municipal continued their poor recent form, slumping to a 4-0 defeat against defending champions and third-placed Aguila.