Ups and downs in the Americas

While Estudiantes Tecos dropped down to the Mexican second flight at the weekend, Newell’s Old Boys joined Boca Juniors at the top in Argentina and Sporting Kansas City extended their winning streak in the States.

In our weekly Americas update fills in the details on those stories and has the latest news from Brazil’s state competitions and more.

Newell’s move on up
Revitalised under the stewardship of Gerardo Tata Martino, Newell’s Old Boys made it five wins out of six by easing past Banfield 3-0 to pull level with Boca Juniors at the top of the table on 20 points. Santiago Vergini, Fabian Munoz and Victor Romero were the men on target for the Rosario side, while Rolando Schiavi also got on the scoresheet for Boca in their visit to Tigre. Unfortunately for Los Xeneixes, the defender put through his own goal late on to consign them to a 2-1 defeat and keep alive El Matador’s hopes of avoiding the drop. As it stands, Tigre still occupy one of the relegation places, albeit only three points behind San Lorenzo, who downed Godoy Cruz 3-0 to give coach Caruso Lombardi his first win since taking over.

That result cost Godoy boss Nery Pumpido his job, though the former Argentina keeper was not the weekend’s only managerial casualty. Also clearing his desk was ex-Albiceleste coach Alfio Basile, whose tenure at Racing Club ended with a 4-1 hammering in the Avellaneda derby against Independiente. Racing went ahead through Teo Gutierrez only for a brace from Facundo Parra and further goals from Patricio Vidal and Patricio Rodriguez to turn the tide emphatically in Independiente’s favour.

Mexico: Relegation woe for Estudiantes
The battle between Guadalajara rivals Estudiantes Tecos and Atlas to avoid the drop reached its conclusion yesterday. Heading into the latest round of games four points behind Atlas with three matches left, Estudiantes entertained Puebla on Friday and kept their faint survival hopes alive when Rubens Sambueza struck a late equaliser to give them a 1-1 draw.

The spotlight shifted to Atlas the following day and their meeting with attack-minded Monterrey at the Estadio Jalisco. The home side held their nerve, however, with Hugo Rodriguez’s first-half goal giving them victory and an insurmountable six-point lead over their city rivals, who now drop down to the Liga de Ascenso, Mexico’s second flight.

Major League Soccer: No stopping Kansas
Saturday’s eight-match card featured an enticing duel between the two Conference leaders, the West’s Real Salt Lake and the East’s Sporting Kansas City, who were indebted to a second-half header from French centre-half Aurelien Collin as they maintained their perfect record with win number six of the season. After slipping behind to a Kris Boyd strike, reigning MLS champions Los Angeles Galaxy hit back to beat the inconsistent Portland Timbers 3-1, their goals coming from Landon Donovan, Juninho and David Beckham.

San Jose Earthquakes twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with New York Red Bulls, which leaves the New Yorkers eight points adrift of Kansas City in the East. Kenny Cooper and Dax McCarty were on target for the men from the Big Apple, with Rafael Baca and Chris Wondolowski scoring for the Californians. The strikes leave Wondolowski and Cooper tied on seven goals with Thierry Henry as the leading scorers in MLS this season.

Brazil: Crunch time approaching
The play-off picture became clear in many of Brazil’s state championships over the weekend. In the Paulistão there were surprises aplenty yesterday, as Sao Paulo’s 11-game unbeaten run came to an end and Portuguesa went down, just months after clinching promotion to the Brazilian top flight. Another result that raised eyebrows was the 2-2 draw between Palmeiras and Comercial, which left O Verdão fifth in the table, consigning them to a quarter-final tie against fourth-placed Guarani, who will now have home advantage in the second leg.

Leaders with 46 points, Corinthians will take on eighth-ranked Ponte Preta, the very team they beat 2-1 this weekend despite fielding their second-string side. Runners-up Sao Paulo will face Bragantino, while Santos, inspired by Neymar and Ganso yet again, celebrated their centenary in style with a 5-0 demolition of Catanduvense at the Vila Belmiro and will now take on Mogi Mirim in the play-offs.

There were wins for three of Rio de Janeiro’s four leading sides yesterday, the only exception being Botafogo, who drew 1-1 with Boavista to finish second in Group A behind Flamengo. Os Alvinegros’ semi-final opponents in the Taca Rio will be surprise Group B winners Bangu, who swept to a 3-0 win over Resende. The other semi-final will pit together Flamengo and Vasco, who ended the regular season with a 3-1 defeat of Nova Iguacu.

The weekend’s big game in Chile was the meeting between Santiago foes Colo Colo and Universidad Catolica, which ended in a 1-1 draw after Michael Rios cancelled out Rodrigo Millar’s opener for El Cacique. Meanwhile, leaders Universidad de Chile won 1-0 at Union La Calera to open up a six-point gap on second-placed O’Higgins, who went down 2-1 on their trip to Huachipato.

It was also derby time in Paraguay, where the top-of-the-table encounter between frontrunners Olimpia and Cerro Porteno in second went the former’s way thanks to a solitary Sebastian Ariosa goal. The narrow win moved the league leaders seven points clear of their Asuncion rivals.

It was tough two days for the leading sides in Colombia. Deportes Tolima saw their cushion at the top reduced to two points when they drew 1-1 at Millonarios, with Santa Fe moving above La Equidad and into second on goal difference courtesy of a 1-0 win in their meeting yesterday. Second at the start of weekend, Atletico Huila dropped to third after losing 3-1 at home to Junior.