Marathon (green jersey) will face Olimpia in the 2014 Honduran Clausura final. (Photo: Diario La Prensa)
Semifinal play in Costa Rica opened with a pair of draws, while the finalists in Honduras has been decided. CONCACAF.com recaps all of the action across the Central American region.
After completion of both semifinal series on Sunday, the Clausura final will pit resurgent Marathon and against top-seeded Olimpia.
Marathon posted a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad to take the two-legged series by the same score and will aim for its first title since capturing the 2009-10 Apertura. Diego Reyes’ goal in the 47th minute clinched progression for the Monstruo Verde, which opened the season with only two wins in 12 games.
Olimpia advanced by eliminating Victoria, 2-0 on aggregate. Honduras international Roger Rojas (52’) scored the second leg’s only goal early in the second half, helping the Lions continue their bid for a 28th domestic title.
The final will open at Marathon on Thursday, while Olimpia will host Sunday’s curtain closer.
The Verano semifinals kicked off with a pair of hard-fought draws.
After grabbing a 2-1 lead over Saprissa thanks to second-half goals by Maurico Montero (53’) and Jorge Barbosa (66’), UCR appeared on the verge of winning in its first-ever semifinal game. Then, in the 90th minute, Diego Estrada leveled for the top-seeded Monstruo Morado. Kendall Waston gave the 29-time Costa Rican champion a 1-0 advantage just before the break. Barbosa’s goal was the 82nd of his first-division career in Costa Rica.
In a rematch of the 2013 Invierno final, host Herediano and Alajuelense played to a 1-1 stalemate. Junior Alvarado gave the Florenses a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute, but Ariel Rodriguez equalized for the visitors with three minutes left in regulation time.
The return legs will be played Wednesday. Three players are suspended for those encouonters after receiving their fifth yellow cards: Jason Scott (UCR), Elias Palma (Alajuelense) and Jerry Palacios (Alajuelense).
The regular season closed on Sunday with Halcones (29 points) securing the last playoff ticket thanks to a 2-1 victory over visiting Malacateco (25 points) and Mictlan’s 4-2 loss at Marquense (26 points). Andy Tohonson’s 57th minute goal broke a 1-1 tie to lift Halcones into eighth place, one point ahead of Mictlan.
The top-six teams in the regular-season standings finished within three points of each other, but Heredia (36 points) grabbed the top spot on the strength of a 5-3 triumph at Iztapa (15 points). Oscar Isaula (12’, 61’, 79’) scored three goals in the win, giving him a league-high 20 for the season.
The quarterfinal pairings are: (1)Heredia v (8)Halcones; (2)Suchitepequez v (7)Municipal; (3)Xelaju v (6)Universidad de San Carlos; (4)Comunicaciones v (5)Coatepeque
Other results: Suchitepequez 2-1 Xelaju, Municipal 0-0 Comunicaciones, Universidad de San Carlos 2-3 Coatepeque
In a top-of-the-table clash, second-place Isidro Metapan (31 points) won 3-0 at first-place FAS (33 points). The Jaguares’ outstanding strike force of Hector Ramos (31’) and Nicolas Muñoz (37’) netted one goal each, while Romeo Parkes (89’) added the other.
Santa Tecla (25 points) took sole possession of fourth place, rallying for a 2-1 victory over visiting UES. Roberto Gonzalez (56’) scored the game-winning goal after William Maldonado equalized in the 35th minute.
Fifth-place Dragon (24 points), a 2-0 winner at Alianza, is only a point behind in the race for the last semifinal place.
Other results: Luis Angel Firpo 3-4 Juventud Independiente; Aguila 0-2 Atletico Marte
Arabe Unido (34 points) completed the regular season in first place, three points ahead of runner-up Chorrillo. The two sides played to a 0-0 draw on Saturday.
A scoreless deadlock with Sporting San Miguelito (24 points) ensured that Plaza Amador (30 points) finished in third, while Rio Abajo grabbed the last remaining semifinal place with a 1-0 win at defending champions Tauro.
Other results: San Francisco 2-0 Alianza; Chepo 3-1 Independiente
Semifinal, first leg matches were delayed again due to the recent earthquake in the country.