Crucial duels in the battle for play-off places in the USA and a glamour game in Australia decorate this weekend's menu outside Europe. With the leaders having come under pressure in China PR and Japan, and some decisive matches in Iran, previews the action.

American Major League Soccer: Season finale looms large
Eastern Conference frontrunners Columbus Crew entertain Los Angeles Galaxy in a crucial meeting in the run-in to the play-offs. Both teams currently hold one of the top two spots in their respective conferences, with the Galaxy two points behind Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference. Chicago Fire will be hoping to join the Crew at the top of the ladder with a home win over Toronto FC.

Big game: New England Revolution meet Seattle Sounders, and while the former have a match in hand, a loss for either of these teams will make the run-in extremely tough.
Player to watch: A penalty in the midweek match against San Jose Earthquakes moved Colorado Rapids striker Conor Casey on to 15 goals, the most scored by any player in a single season. The USA international will be looking to extend that tally against Kansas City Wizards this weekend.

Australian A-League: Champions meet challengers
Round 8 will be highlighted by the league's glamour side, Gold Coast United, meeting two-time and reigning champions Melbourne Victory. Gold Coast are looking to recover from a 3-0 defeat last week, the heaviest in the club's short history, and will have to do without in-form New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz. The Victory are also without key attacking weapons, with Nick Ward and Tom Pondeljak also unavailable.

Big game: Brisbane Roar host Sydney FC with the pair having developed a strong rivalry. The Roar need a win to reinvigorate a stuttering campaign, while the Sydneysiders are looking to maintain the first position they share with Gold Coast.
Player to watch: Newcastle Jets captain Matt Thompson is set to become the first player to reach a century of A-League appearances.

Chinese Super League: Old champions chasing hard
Despite a 1-0 away loss to Shaanxi Zhongxin, Henan Jianye remain at the top of table and a home win over Shanghai Shenhua will strengthen their grip on top spot with three rounds remaining. Trailing by just one point though are the powerful trio of Changchun Yatai, Beijing Guoan and Shandong Luneng.

Big game: All eyes will be one match this weekend, with defending champions Shandong Luneng facing eight-time winners Dalian Shide in a game dubbed the 'national derby'. The two sides have bagged 11 of the 16 league titles since 1994, but Shandong are on a poor run of form which has seen them register just a single in the past six games.
Player to watch: With six goals in as many games, former Korea Republic golden boy Ahn Jung-Hwan has firmly cemented his place as Dalian's top scorer this season. His prolificacy will be key if Dalian if they are to overpower Shandong.

In the Japanese J.League, a stuttering Kashima Antlers will face another test of their nerve with the visit of Nagoya Grampus Eight. A considerable lead is now down to four points with second-placed Shimizu S-Pulse looking to overcome Vissel Kobe on home turf.

In the Iran Pro League, surprise package Peykan will have their championship credentials tested when they visits Tehran giants Persepolis. They are currently two points off leaders Esteghlal, who face Shahin at home.