Americas Leagues review
In this week's review of the league scenes in Latin America, FIFA.com takes a look at who had the edge when bitter rivals met in the Brazilian state championships semi-finals, the suspense leading up to the Mexican Clausura's final round, and which teams are clearing the pack in USA and Argentina.
Argentinian Clausura: Shake-up at the top
Velez Sarsfield held their position at the top of the Clausura despite a 3-2 upset at home to struggling Quilmes, while Argentinos Juniors and Banfield were both boosted by wins over Racing Club and Newell’s Old Boys respectively. San Lorenzo, on the other hand, not only suffered a defeat at Tigre, but also lost coach Ramon Diaz, who resigned after the match due to the club’s recent poor run of form.
Big game: Velez’s nearest chasers, Godoy Cruz ended on the better side of a 2-1 scoreline with River Plate. River took the lead through Jonathan Maidana, but Zelmar Garcia and Mariano Donda revived the visitors for the win. Godoy not only handed River their first loss in eight matches, but leapfrogged the home side into second place, just a point short of Velez.
Headline-grabber: Boca Juniors' 37-year-old Martin Palermo ended a ten-match goal drought in a 3-0 win at third-bottom Huracan. Palermo, who plans to retire at the end of the season, is Boca’s all-time record goalscorer.
American Major League Soccer: Leaders stamp authority
Los Angeles Galaxy capitalised on Real Salt Lake’s inactivity in the league this week due to their CONCACAF Champions League final tie with Monterrey, and extended their stay atop the USA league’s Western Conference. In a 3-0 win over expansion-side Portland Timbers, Chad Barrett gave Los Angeles an early lead before Landon Donovan cushioned their lead with a double. The New York Red Bulls secured their place at the top of the Eastern Conference with a convincing 4-0 win over DC United, as Columbus Crew missed their chance to move level on points with the leaders after a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC.
Big game: The Seattle Sounders claimed a 1-0 win over a ten-man Colorado Rapids side, to cement their place in the upper-half of the Western Conference and put them even on nine points with their opponents. The Rapids lost Brian Mullen only three minutes into the match for a reckless tackle on Steve Zakuani and although a man up, Seattle narrowly edged Colorado 1-0 with a goal from Fredy Montero.
Headline-grabber: In a five-goal thriller, New England Revolution came back from 2-1 down to defeat Sporting Kansas City 3-2. Despite going up a goal through Marko Perovic, New England soon fell to two Kej Kamara strikes – one coming from the spot – but Shalrie Joseph equalised and Rajko Lekic scored a late-winner in what was his first goal for the Revolution. The loss further stamped Sporting Kansas City's place at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with just four points.
Mexican Clausura: Five left on the verge
After delaying their potential Liguilla berths with losses last weekend, Cruz Azul and Guadalajara were made to wait again as they shared the spoils in a draw. Others also waiting on their play-off future are Monterrey, America and Atlante, who all walked away from the weekend with draws. Pumas UNAM, on the other hand, remained in top form, as they extended their lead at the top of Group 3 with a 1-0 win over an already-relegated Necaxa side.
Big game: Atlas’ campaign was boosted by a 2-0 win over Jaguares, who are floundering three points adrift at the bottom of the table. The victory moved Atlas level on points with America, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Atlante.
Headline-grabber: Wilmer Aguierre scored a hat-trick to lift San Luis to a 3-1 win at Santos Laguna and move the club onto 20 points. Aguierre’s treble had put the game beyond a doubt before Christian Sanchez was shown red and Juan Rodriguez netted a consolation penalty.
Brazilian state championships: Quartet advance
In the Paulista championship, Santos, Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Palmeiras all booked their places in the semi-finals. Santos narrowly edged Ponte Preta 1-0 thanks to a first-half strike from 19-year-old Neymar. Corinthians progressed after a back-and-forth 2-1 win over Oeste, while Palmeiras advanced in similar fashion over Mirassol and Sao Paulo comfortably beat Portuguesa. Gremio beat Cruzeiro 3-2 and Internacional grabbed a 2-1 victory over Juventude in the second stage of the Gaucho championship semi-finals.
Big game: A Ronaldinho-less Flamengo defeated rivals Fluminense in the semi-finals of the Taca Rio, the second phase of the Carioca state championship. The match came down to penalties, and Fla goalkeeper Felipe did well to save two spot-kicks and move his side closer to the Rio de Janeiro title. Marquinho had given Fluminense a first-half lead, but Thiago Neves headed in a 67th-minute equaliser. Flamengo face Vasco da Gama next week, who defeated Olaria 1-0 in Saturday’s other Taca Rio semi-final.
Headline-grabber: Coritiba clinched first place in the Paranaense championship, with one round still remaining, after securing a 3-0 victory over Atletico-PR. Rosimar Amancio scored a first-half double, before Leonardo added a third to round out the win for O Coxa.
In Costa Rica’s Torneo de Verano Herediano defeated Alajuelense 4-2 in the first leg of their last-four tie, while San Carlos lost 2-1 to Deportivo Saprissa in the weekend’s other semi-final.
In Paraguay, Olimpia and Nacional are joined at the top with 33 points each after El Decano earned a 2-0 win over Sol de America and Nacional edged Tacuary 1-0. And, though finishing the weekend with a 1-1 draw with Cerro Porteno, Libertad were able to capitalise on Tacuary’s loss to move into the top four.
Goals from Guillermo Suarez and Boris Sagredo ensured a 2-0 win for O’Higgins over Union La Calera in Chile’s top flight, which allowed the club to surpass regular leader-chasers Universidad de Chile into second place. However, Universidad Catolica are six points clear after cruising to a 5-2 victory over Cobresal to maintain their stronghold on first place.