Differing fortunes for frontrunners
The title favourites in the top leagues outside Europe experienced contrasting fortunes at the weekend. While Argentinian leaders San Lorenzo and Japan's Kashima Antlers failed to put further distance between themselves and their pursuers, Brazilian pacesetters Gremio and Mexican counterparts San Luis strengthened their hold as the finish line approaches.
Over in the USA, the identities of all those involved in the play-offs are now known. FIFA.com brings you up to date with the pick of this weekend's incident from across the globe.
Argentinian Apertura: Tighter at the top
Almagro outfit San Lorenzo's run of six consecutive wins came to an unexpected end with a 2-1 reverse at Racing Avellaneda. Tigre, 3-0 winners away to Huracan, and Boca Juniors, 2-1 victors over Rosario Central, took advantage of the leaders' slip-up to reduce the gap at the summit.
Big game: River Plate, Clausura 2008 champions, sank to the bottom of the table with a 1-0 defeat by Gimnasia Jujuy. Los Millonarios have now gone eight games without a win.
Headline-grabber: One of the main factors behind high-flying Lanus's success is the form of Jose Sand. The Granate goal-getter took his tally for the campaign to 12 with a brace in the 4-3 win over Godoy Cruz.
Brasileirao: Cruzeiro and Palmeiras lose ground
Atletico Paranaense took an important step forward in their bid to avoid relegation with a 1-0 win over Cruzeiro, denting the Belo Horizonte side's title bid in the process. Sao Paulo took advantage to move ahead of Cruzeiro into second spot, while Gremio of Porto Alegre now enjoy a three-point lead at the top following their 1-0 win over Sport.
Big game: Fluminense beat Palmeiras 3-0, courtesy of a Carlinhos opener, Mauricio's own-goal and a Junior Cesar strike, to move further away from the relegation zone and hamper Palmeiras's title hopes.
Headline-grabber: Atletico Paranaense forward Rafael Moura's solitary strike against Cruzeiro provided sweet relief for fans and team-mates alike. The former Corinthians and Fluminense man failed to establish himself in France with Lorient, but is doing his bit to help O Furaçao stay in Serie A.
American Major League Soccer: Real Salt Lake make history
Real Salt Lake reached the MLS play-offs for the first time in their short history thanks to Armenian Yura Movsisyan's late leveller against Colorado Rapids. Kansas City Wizards, with former Valencia star Claudio Lopez leading their charge, beat New England Revolution 3-1 away to seal their own involvement.
The draw for the first stage is as follows: Columbus Crew-Kansas City Wizards; Chicago Fire-New England Revolution; Chivas USA-Real Salt Lake and New York Red Bulls-Houston Dynamo.
Big game: New York Red Bulls somewhat fortuitously got their hands on the last remaining play-off berth, despite a 5-2 defeat by Chicago Fire. The Red Bulls were saved by Columbus Crew's 1-0 win over DC United.
Headline-grabber: Los Angeles Galaxy may have missed out on a shot at the title, but USA star Landon Donovan did everything in his power to fire his team through. Scorer of 20 regular-season goals, the gifted forward takes the Golden Boot award for 2008.
Mexican Apertura: San Luis back on track, Chivas edge clásico
Fans of overall leaders San Luis can smile again after Los Gladiadores ended a run of four winless games with a 2-0 success over Monterrey. The victory means they now need just one point from their final three regular-season games to ensure a place in the play-offs. The match between Group 1 leaders Atlante and Group 2's Tecos was suspended due to heavy rain.
Big game: Guadalajara took the honours in the Mexican clásico with a hard-fought 2-1 away win over America, Omar Arellano's second goal of the night sealing the points for Chivas after Sebastian Dominguez's leveller. Las Águilas can count themselves unlucky not to have grabbed a second equaliser, Paraguayan sharpshooter Salvador Cabanas hitting the bar late on.
Headline-grabber: On the back of a superb performance against River Plate in the Copa Sudamericana, Mexico international Arellano continued his run of good form and boosted Guadalajara's play-off hopes with two goals against America.
There were surprises aplenty in the Japanese J.League, where none of the title contenders were able to win. First to slip-up were the members of the chasing pack, Nagoya Grampus Eight being held to a goalless draw by Jubilo Iwata, Oita Trinita losing 1-0 to Vissel Kobe, and AFC Champions League fatigue contributing to Gamba Osaka's 3-1 loss to Shimuzu S-Pulse. However, first-placed Kashima Antlers were unable to take advantage and stumbled to a 3-2 defeat by FC Tokyo. As a result, Nagoya are now just one point behind the leaders.