World Leagues review
Upsets unfolded in the USA, where just four sides remain in the hunt for MLS glory, while another two teams booked their places in the play-offs in Mexico. With the race to win the regular season - and duly secure a place in the overall final - in the Korea Republic reaching its climax and the title contenders all winning in Argentina and Brazil, FIFA.com reflects on the latest developments outside Europe.
Major League Soccer: And then there were four…
The participants in the respective MLS conference finals were decided, with reigning champions Real Salt Lake and big-spending New York Red Bulls both losing out. Favourites Los Angeles Galaxy saw off Seattle Sounders and will face FC Dallas in the Western Conference decider. In the east, San Jose Earthquakes, conquerors of Thierry Henry’s Red Bulls, won through to a meeting with Colorado Rapids.
High stakes: Columbus Crew were just six minutes from progressing until Colorado Rapids' Conor Casey scored to send the match into extra time. The tie eventually went to penalties, and the 2008 champions suffered heartbreak as Brian Carroll sent the tenth spot-kick high over the crossbar.
Headline-grabber: Never far from the headlines, David Beckham provided both assists as his Galaxy side built on a 1-0 first-leg victory with a 2-1 win at home.
Argentinian Apertura: The chase continues
Long-term leaders Estudiantes beat nine-man Lanus 3-0, with all the goals coming after the interval. Second-placed Velez Sarsfield stayed three points off the summit but had a much harder time seeing off a stubborn Banfield. The reigning Clausura champions twice came from behind before eventually succumbing 3-2, with substitute Jonathan Cristaldo netting the winner just four minutes after entering the fray.
High stakes: Traditional heavyweights Boca Juniors slumped to a 2-0 loss against high-flying Arsenal Sarandi, despite the return of creative midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme following a long spell on the sidelines. The result leaves Los Millonarios facing the prospect of relegation, which is determined by results over the last three seasons.
Headline-grabber: Unfashionable All Boys continued to state their presence among Argentina’s elite, with the newly-promoted club victorious over River Plate thanks to a lone second-half goal from Juan Rodriguez.
Brasileirao: Status quo at the top
Fluminense, Corinthians and Cruzeiro all recorded hard-earned victories as the battle for the league crown intensified. Flu maintained a one-point margin over the two fellow title contenders, with a lone Tarta strike enough to defeat Vasco da Gama. Goals in each half from Elias and Dentinho gave Corinthians a 2-0 triumph at Sao Paulo, while Cruzeiro had Thiago Ribeiro to thank for their 1-0 victory at Vitoria.
High stakes: Botafogo's 0-0 draw at struggling Avai dropped them six points off the pace, all but ending their title ambitions.
Headline-grabber: Highly-rated forward Neymar scored both goals as Santos drew 2-2 at Atletico Mineiro. The brace lifted the 18-year-old to second on the scoring chart, behind Gremio’s Jonas.
Korean K-League: Seoul outlast Jeju
FC Seoul claimed first place in the regular season, and a berth in the overall final, by defeating Daejeon Citizen 2-1 at home. Jeju United had been trailing the capital club by a single point, but could only manage a goalless draw against ten-man Incheon United. Meanwhile, Lee Dong-Gook struck twice as defending champions Jeonbuk Motors beat Suwon Bluewings 5-1 to finish third. Jeonbuk’s opponents in the first round of the play-offs will be Gyeongnam, who came from behind to hold AFC Champions League finalists Seongnam Chunma to a 2-2 draw at home.
High stakes: Ulsan Horangi jumped to fourth with a 2-1 win at Gwangju Sangmu thanks to a double from Jose Ortigoza, meaning a home contest against fifth-placed Seongnam.
Headline-grabber: Safe in the knowledge that victory on their own turf would suffice to maintain pole position, Seoul went ahead courtesy of an early goal from in-form Jung Jo-Gook. Daejeon fought back midway through the second half, but substitute Kim Chi-Woo sent the home crowd wild with only three minutes remaining.
America and San Luis became the latest teams to secure places in the Mexican Apertura play-offs. The former claimed a 1-0 win at Atlante thanks to Vicente Vuoso's 65th-minute goal, while San Luis held Santos Laguna 1-1 to join their opponents, Cruz Azul and Monterrey in the Liguilla. With one round remaining, Pumas, Morelia, Pachuca, Toluca, Jaguares, Guadalajara and Tigres will fight for the remaining places.
Waitakere United consolidated their position atop the New Zealand Football Championship standings after emerging victorious in their city derby against Auckland City. The result gives Waitakere maximum points from their opening three games and also provides an edge ahead of next week’s OFC O-League contest against the same opponents. Auckland City scored after just 90 seconds only for the visitors to equalise through Allan Pearce, with a double by Ryan de Vries sealing the three points.
Chilean Clausura leaders Colo Colo overcame the odds to grab a crucial injury-time equaliser from Javier Campora and earn a 2-2 draw against Universidad de Chile in the Santiago derby. Colo Colo finished the match with nine men but still rallied for a late share of the spoils, which left El Cacique with a three-point margin over second-placed Universidad Catolica and seven ahead of Universidad de Chile.
ES Setif skipped four points clear at the top of the Algerian Ligue 1 after just seven rounds, thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win at MC El Eulma and the fact their two closest rivals, MC Saida and ASO Chlef, played out a 1-1 draw which left them level on points.