Four left in Mexico, River stumble
The field in the Mexican Clausura play-offs was whittled down to four, while River Plate surprisingly missed the chance to go top in Argentina. In Brazil the state championship finals got under way, and in the USA the spoils were shared when the leaders of the two MLS Conferences met.
FIFA.com brings you up to speed after another intensive weekend of domestic action in the Americas.
Mexican Clausura: Semi-final line-up decided
The quarter-finals of the Mexican Clausura play-offs came to a conclusion at the weekend, with Guadalajara, Cruz Azul, Pumas UNAM and Monarcas Morelia all checking into the last four.
Stealing the headlines were Chivas, who proved too strong for Tigres, the side with the best record in the regular season. Defending a 3-1 lead from the first leg, Guadalajara secured a 1-1 draw in Monterrey to earn a relatively comfortable aggregate win. Habitual play-off contenders Cruz Azul took a similar route to Chivas, winning 2-1 at home in their first leg against Atlante and then earning a goalless draw in the return. Meanwhile, Pumas UNAM did it the hard way, coming back from a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Monterrey to prevail 2-0 and advance on the away-goals rule. And in the last of the four ties Morelia made good the 2-1 advantage they built up at home against America by downing Las Águilas 3-2 in the second leg.
In the semis Pumas will take on Guadalajara and Cruz Azul will meet Morelia, with the first legs taking place on Wednesday and Thursday this week and the return meetings next weekend.
Brazilian state championships: Plenty still to play for
Dominating the weekend in Brazil were the first legs of several of the country’s state finals. Attracting most of the attention was Corinthians’ goalless stalemate with Santos at the Estadio Pacaembu, the first instalment in their Sao Paulo decider. The game was a tale of two halves, with Corinthians in the ascendancy before the break, and a Neymar-inspired Santos having the upper hand thereafter, though Paulo Henrique Ganso’s late thigh injury will be a cause for concern for O Peixe, who have a vital midweek Copa Libertadores tie with Once Caldas prior to next Sunday’s return leg with Corinthians at the Vila Belmiro.
Down in Rio Grande do Sul, Internacional and Gremio both had the task of putting Copa Libertadores exits behind them as they met to decide who would become state champions. It was O Tricolor Gaucho who reacted the better of the two, coming from behind to secure a potentially decisive 3-2 victory in the tie, Junior Vicosa scoring two of their goals. Gremio will now look to complete the job when the Porto Alegre foes meet at the Estadio Olimpico next Sunday.
Finally in Minas Gerais, Cruzeiro, another Brazilian side to make a surprise exit from the Libertadores in the week, went down 2-1 at Atletico Mineiro in the first game of their two-legged decider, Mancini and Patric scoring for O Galo, and Wallyson for Cruzeiro. Having ended the group phase with the best record, A Raposa will lift the title if they can level the tie on aggregate, regardless of the number of away goals their local rivals score in the return.
Argentinian Clausura: As you were
River Plate passed up the opportunity to take to the top when they fell 2-0 at home to newly promoted All Boys. Los Millonarios meet deadly foes Boca Juniors in the superclásico next Sunday, a game Los Xeneizes warmed up for with a 2-0 triumph at Argentinos Juniors, when old hands Martin Palermo and Juan Roman Riquelme were the men on the scoresheet. Ousted from the Copa Libertadores by Cerro Porteno last week, Estudiantes continued their travails with a tame 0-0 draw against Lanus, while relegation-threatened Olimpo secured a vital 2-1 win at Huracan, which takes the men from Bahia Blanca to within two points of the top and leaves El Globo in relegation trouble of their own. Leaders Velez take on Banfield on Monday.
American Major League Soccer: Honours even for Conference leaders
In the big game between the leaders in the Western and Eastern Conference, Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls drew 1-1 at the Home Depot Center in LA. Thierry Henry gave the New Yorkers the lead four minutes in with a superbly worked goal. The Galaxy, who went down to defeat against FC Dallas a week ago, hit back on the stroke of half-time when Landon Donovan nodded in David Beckham’s corner. The result keeps the Californians at the top in the West, one point clear of Real Salt Lake, who beat Chivas USA 1-0. Over in the East, Columbus Crew stayed within two points of the Red Bulls after a 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders, while Philadelphia Union dropped to third after going down 1-0 to Portland Timbers.
In Uruguay Nacional edged out Penarol 1-0 in the Montevideo clásico. That result, coupled with Defensor Sporting’s 2-0 reverse at home to Centro Espanol, means El Bolso are now three points clear in the Clausura.
In Ecuador, Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito downed El Nacional 2-1 to cut the gap on leaders Emelec to two points. The top two meet on Wednesday in a match held over due to LDU’s Copa Libertadores commitments.
Jose Salvatierra struck late as reigning champions Alajuelense won 1-0 at San Carlos in the first leg of the final of Costa Rica’s Torneo de Verano. Los Rojinegros will be confident of completing the job in front of their own fans next Saturday.
Finally in Honduras, Olimpia and Motagua drew 2-2 in the first leg of their Clausura championship final, played in front of a capacity 25,000 crowd at the Estadio Nacional in Tegucigalpa, the setting for next Sunday’s return fixture.