Mexican eight known, MLS down to two
Mexico’s regular season came to a surprising end on Sunday, with the defending champions narrowly missing out on the eight-team championship play-offs. Up in the USA it was Major League Soccer's Conference finals weekend, the plaudits being taken by Los Angeles Galaxy in the West and Houston Dynamo in the East. In Brazil, meanwhile, an increasingly exciting title race took another unpredictable turn, and in Argentina leaders Boca Juniors collected a valuable point. FIFA.com fills in the blanks on those stories and more on the final weekend of domestic action in the Americas before the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying competition resumes.
Argentina: Boca hold the holders
Julio Falcioni’s well-drilled Boca Juniors side took a small but significant step towards the 2011 Apertura title when they drew 0-0 at defending champions Velez Sarsfield, a result that could have been even better had Xeneize captain Rolando Schiavi not missed a penalty. In keeping their 11th clean sheet of the season, Boca stayed well clear at the top, though they did have their lead cut to eight points by Racing Club, who saw off Argentinos Juniors thanks to a solitary Giovani Moreno goal. Lanus stayed a point behind Racing in third courtesy of a 2-1 defeat of Clásico del Sur rivals Banfield.
Brazil: Fla and Flu close in
Joint leaders Corinthians and Vasco da Gama both tripped up on Matchday 33, stumbling to respective defeats to the virtually relegated America and a Santos side inspired once again by Neymar. Taking full advantage were the Rio de Janeiro twosome of Flamengo and Fluminense, whose latest triumphs seem set to ensure the most exciting championship finale in years, with three points covering the top five places.
Third-placed Flu moved to within two points of the leading duo following an excellent 2-1 victory at Internacional, a result that took their points tally for the second half of the season to an impressive 31. The star of the show was Rafael Sobis, who started the move that ended in Flu’s opening goal and then hit the winner, a goal he chose not to celebrate out of respect for his former club, with whom he won two Copa Libertadores. City rivals Fla were also in the groove, coming from behind to crush relegation-threatened Cruzeiro 5-1. “We’re dreaming of the title again,” said Flamengo playmaker Ronaldinho afterwards. “Corinthians and Vasco opened the door for us and we’re going right after them.”
MLS: Dynamo and Galaxy reign supreme
Sporting Kansas City’s fairytale season came to an abrupt end on Sunday when they went down 2-0 to Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference championship game, played at a packed Livestrong Sporting Park. Though hampered by a first-half injury to the influential Brad Davis, Dynamo won the day through goals from Andre Hainault and Carlos Costly, teeing up an MLS final meeting with Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on 20 November.
The Galaxy booked their place after gaining revenge over Real Salt Lake for defeat in the 2009 decider. Landon Donovan opened the scoring from the spot only for Alvaro Saborio to level things up two minutes later. David Beckham then set up Mike Magee to put the Californians back in front, with Robbie Keane setting the seal on a 3-1 victory for LA midway through the second half.
Mexico: Holders Pumas miss play-off slot
There was a surprise or two in Mexico as the regular season came to an end. Defending champions Pumas UNAM fell one point short of a place in the eight-team title play-offs when they were held to a costly 1-1 draw by Tijuana, who will next season fight it out with fellow relegation candidates Atlas and Estudiantes Tecos for the right to stay in the top flight. Big guns America ended an underwhelming campaign with a 3-1 reverse at Cruz Azul and finished one place off the bottom, with only Atlas below them.
Having finished top of the regular-season standings, Guadalajara will face eighth-placed Queretaro in the last eight of the championship play-offs, with the ties between Cruz Azul and Monarcas Morelia, Tigres and Pachuca, and Santos and Jaguares completing the quarter-final line-up.
Two goals in a minute from Victor Pena gave Leon de Huanuco a 2-0 home win over leaders Alianza Lima and blew the title race in Peru wide open. Juan Aurich closed the gap on Alianza to three points with three games remaining after thrashing Cienciano 5-0 in Chiclayo, a victory secured by five different goalscorers.
Universidad de Chile maintained their unbeaten run after 15 games of the Clausura season in Chile, sweeping to a 5-3 win over Huachipato to pull nine points clear of the pack. Celebrating his call-up to Claudio Borghi’s national team squad for the upcoming Brazil 2014 qualifiers, Eduardo Vargas struck early to set La U on the way to victory number 11 of the season, while Colo Colo dropped from second to fourth after losing 2-0 away to O’Higgins.