Champions and contenders
Taking the limelight this weekend will be Brazil, where the state championships reach their finale, and Mexico, where the scramble for the play-offs is entering an exciting phase. Meanwhile, the leadership battles in Argentina and Japan look set to intensify. FIFA.com picks out the games to watch in the major leagues outside Europe.
Argentinian Clausura: No margin for error
It promises to be another tense weekend for leaders Velez Sarsfield. Despite going unbeaten in 11 games this season, Los Fortineros are only a point clear of the chasing Lanus and after coming back from a two-goal deficit last time out against Colon, they need to keep their momentum going away to San Martin in Tucuman.
Now four points off the pace after that defeat, Colon will be aiming to get back on track at bottom-placed Argentinos Juniors.
Big game: Clausura contenders Lanus have the opportunity to put a dreadful Copa Libertadores campaign behind them when they entertain Estudiantes.
Player to watch: Velez's Uruguayan striker Rodrigo Lopez tops the scoring charts with eight goals, alongside Lanus front man Pepe Sand. Since putting four past Independiente nearly a month ago Sand has failed to score, however, while Lopez is in the middle of a purple patch.
Mexican Clausura: Behind closed doors
Empty stadiums will provide the backdrop for Matchday 16 in Mexico as the country battles to prevent the swine flu outbreak from worsening. Toluca and Pachuca have already qualified for the championship play-off league and a total of seven sides are still in contention for the remaining six places.
Guadalajara's lingering hopes hinge to a large extent on how they fare at home to direct rivals Puebla, while Atlas need to rediscover their form away to Morelia. Elsewhere, Jaguares travel to Pachuca hoping to find the Group 1 leaders in benevolent mood.
Big game: The university duel between Tecos UAG and Pumas UNAM promises much. The leading duo in Group 2 will both be targeting a win to enhance their championship credentials.
Player to watch: All eyes will be on Humberto Suazo and Salvador Cabanas when Monterrey and America meet on Saturday. The Paraguayan is the country's leading scorer this season with 11 goals, and the Chilean international is only three strikes behind. Unfortunately for Cabanas, his goals will probably not be enough to propel Las Águilas to the play-offs, while Suazo and his Rayado team-mates are all but through.
Japanese J-League: All change again?
Changes at the top have been a feature of the early part of the league season in Japan. Kashima Antlers are currently on top on goal difference from Urawa Red Diamonds and face JEF United Ichihara, who are just one place off the bottom after a single win in eight games. Montedio Yamagata and Nagoya Grampus are both three points behind the front two and face awkward engagements against Kashiwa Reysol and Kyoto Sanga respectively.
Big game: Things could tighten up even more at the summit when second-placed Urawa entertain Albirex Niigata, the side immediately below them, on Saturday. The showdown between the Brazilian sharpshooters, Albi's Pedro Junior and Urawa's Edmilson, should provide an interesting sub-plot in that contest.
Player to watch: Despite boasting the most potent strike force in the league, having scored 19 goals so far this term and with Leandro, Jae-Jin Cho and Yahusito Endo figuring large among the top scorers, Gamba Osaka are no higher than sixth. The reason for that is their leaky defence, which has been pierced 14 times to date, putting pressure on over-worked goalkeeper Yosuke Fijugaya.
Brazilian State Championships: Coronation time
After crushing Atletico Mineiro 5-0, Cruzeiro are virtually certain to retain their Minas Gerais Championship crown. Led by Kleber, Leonardo Silva and Jonathan, A Raposa are now aiming to maintain their unbeaten record in this year's competition.
Corinthians took a major step towards the Sao Paulo title when they won 3-1 away to Santos in the first leg of the final, thanks in no small part to the revitalised Ronaldo. With their fans cheering them on at the Estadio Pacaembu this weekend, O Timao will feel confident on completing the job.
Big game: The destiny of the Taça Rio is in the balance after Flamengo and Botafogo played out a 2-2 draw in the first leg. After losing the title to Fla in 2007 and 2008, O Fogao will be anxious to exact some revenge.
Player to watch: After coming off with an injury during Corinthians' Copa do Brasil tie with Atletico Paranaense, O Fenómeno could well be fit again to face Santos in the Paulista title decider.
In the MLS reigning champions Columbus Crew need points from their visit to Eastern Conference leaders Toronto if they are to clamber off the bottom. Over in the West, pacesetters Chivas USA take on San Jose Earthquakes in an all-Californian duel.
The Casablanca derby between Raja and Wydad is the weekend's main attraction in the Moroccan Botola. Nine points clear at the top, the Green Devils of Raja will virtually seal the title if they win. One side hoping for a Wydad victory are second-placed FAR Rabat, who have a home fixture against bottom club Mohammedia.