World Leagues review
Domestic competition at the pointy end of the table continues to hot up across much of the globe, no where more so than in Japan where the long-term leaders have suffered an astonishing form reversal. There are fascinating ongoing struggles for supremacy in USA, China, Argentina and Mexico, while in Australia the leading pack could not be any more congested.
FIFA.com looks back on another eventful weekend in the major leagues outside Europe.
American Major League Soccer: Record streak
Columbus Crew extended their unbeaten home run to 24 matches with a 2-0 win over Los Angeles Galaxy with Eddie Gaven and Steven Lenhart on the scoresheet. The Crew have a five point gap on Chicago Fire who were forced to rely on a goal from Brian McBride in the latter stages to force a 2-2 at home with Toronto.
Big game: Chivas USA missed a golden chance to make ground on Western Conference leaders Houston Dynamo but a 1-1 draw at lowly New York Red Bulls could prove costly come season's end. Sacha Kljestan missed an injury-time penalty to compound Chivas' pain.
Headline-grabber: Jeff Cunningham ensured Dallas enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 winning margin against Real Salt Lake. Cunningham scoring his fourth brace of the season to move alongside Conor Casey at the top of the MLS goalscoring charts.
Australian A-League: Log-jam at the summit
A tight competition ladder became even more congested after round eight of the A-League with just one point separating six teams at the top. The high-flying Gold Coast United suffered a second defeat on the trot, this time a 3-2 home reversal at the hands of champions Melbourne Victory. Despite playing with ten-men for the entire second half, Gold Coast looked set for a deserved share of the points until Victory skipper Kevin Muscat won it with a twice-taken penalty late on.
Big game: Brisbane Roar inched past Sydney FC with a lone second-half strike from Sergio van Dijk enough to separate the sides in a 'six-pointer'.
Headline-grabber: Costa Rican international midfielder Carlos Hernandez scored a strong candidate for goal of the season with a long-range bomb for Melbourne Victory.
Japanese J.League: Leaders in free fall
Kashima Antlers' season is in danger of imploding with the champions losing their fourth match in the last five and cutting their seemingly unassailable lead of ten points down to just one. The latest defeat came at the hands of Nagoya Grampus who inflicted a heavy 4-1 scoreline after being two goals to the good inside the opening quarter-hour. Shimizu S-Pulse are now just one point adrift of Kashima after they edged past Vissel Kobe 1-0.
Big game: It was a crucial encounter when Sanfrecce Hiroshima hosted Albirex Niigata but a 2-1 win for the visitors saw the former left in fourth and missing an opportunity to make ground on Kashima.
Headline grabber: Midfield star Yasuhito Endo scored a brace for Gamba Osaka in an important 2-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale, with the result lifting the Asian champions into third, four points behind Kashima.
Chinese Super League: Lead up for grabs
Beijing Guoan briefly took charge of the competition ladder with a return to form and a 1-0 win at Qingdao. Lang Zheng headed the game's only goal in the early stages, but Henan Jianye went on to defeat Shanghai Shenhua 2-0 and retake pole position.
Big game: Dalian Shide claimed bragging rights by winning the ‘national derby' with a 2-0 triumph over champions Shandong Luneng. Zhao Xuri opened the scoring with a free-kick with Zhao Mingjian sealing the result in the dying moments.
Headline-grabber: Mao Biao scored the game's lone goal for Tianjin as they secured three crucial points Changchun to move fourth and within sight of the leading pack.
Estudiantes maintained top spot in Argentina with a 2-1 triumph over Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors. Jose Luis Calderon and Enzo Perez scoring the crucial goals, with the prolific Martin Palermo replying for Boca. Champions Velez Sarsfield eased part Huracan 2-0 to stay two points off the pace, as are Banfield who defeated Newell's Old Boys 2-1.
In the Mexican Apertura, Toluca scored a 2-1 win over Cruz Azul to sit atop the standings after ten rounds. Jaime Lozano opened the scoring for Cruz with Chilean striker Hector Mancilla equalising, before Edgar Duenas grabbed the winner on the hour mark for the Red Devils fourth consecutive win.
In Iran, surprise leaders Peykan continued their stunning start to the campaign run with an impressive 2-1 win at Persepolis. They are now a point clear of Esteghlal after eight rounds.