Sporting San Miguelito and Carlos Small (pictured) will look to clinch a spot in the 2014 Panamanian Clausura playoffs this weekend. (Photo: Liga Panameña de Fútbol)
The playoffs kick-off in Costa Rica’s Verano, while the final playoff spot is up for grabs in Guatemala. CONCACAF.com previews the weekend across the Central American region.
The Verano playoffs open Sunday at the semifinal stage with UCR (35 points) hosting Saprissa (46 points) and, in a rematch of the 2013 Invierno final, Herediano (41 points) will welcome Alajuelense (42 points) to the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero.
UCR v Saprissa
- UCR, which has reached the semifinals for a first-ever time, has won four of its last five games.
- Saprissa’s 20-match unbeaten streak came to an end on Wednesday in a 1-0 loss at Cartagines. The Monstruo Morado has only one win in its last four away encounters.
Herediano v Alajuelense
- After going winless in its four previous games, Herediano closed out the regular season with two straight wins. In Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Carmelita, Oscar Esteban Granados made his 300th first-division appearance.
- Alajuelense’s three-match winning streak ended in a 1-1 draw against visiting Perez Zeledon on Wednesday. The Manudos have scored one goal in each of their last six Verano games.
The regular season closes on Sunday with three teams battling for the final Clausura playoff spot.
Mictlan (28 points) currently sits in eighth and can nail down a berth with a win at eleventh-place Marquense (23 points). Halcones (28 points) and Malacateco (25 points), which occupy ninth- and tenth-place, respectively, face each other in another potentially key encounter.
The teams with playoff spots already booked are: Xelaju (34 points), Heredia (33 points), Universidad de San Carlos (33 points), Comunicaciones (33 points), Suchitepéquez (33 points), Coatepeque (31 points) and Municipal (30 points).
Other matches: Iztapa-Heredia, Suchitepequez-Xelaju, Municipal-Comunicaciones, Universidad de San Carlos-Coatepeque
With two matchdays left in the Clausura six teams are within six points of each other for the fourth and final playoff spot. Santa Tecla and Aguila (22 points) are currently tied for fourth, but Dragon is only a point behind in an incredibly tight race.
On Sunday, first-place FAS (33 points) hosts second-place Isidro Metapan, which has tied its last three matches.
Other matches: Santa Tecla-UES; Aguila-Atletico Marte; Alianza-Dragon; Luis Angel Firpo-Juventud Independiente
The semifinals opened on Thursday with Rommel Quioto scoring 48 seconds into Olimpia’s 1-0 win at Victoria, while Marathon and visiting Real Sociedad played to a 0-0 draw.
The return matches will be played on Sunday.
The regular season closes this weekend with five teams vying for the last playoff berth. Rio Abajo (23 points), which currently occupies the fourth and final spot on goal difference over Sporting San Miguelito, will face defending champion Tauro (21 points) on Sunday in a key encounter.
That same day, Sporting will face third-place Plaza Amador (29 points) in a potentially tricky match, while San Francisco (22 points) and Alianza (22 points) will square off.
In a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, first-place Arabe Unido (33 points) will take on second-place Chorrillo (30 points)
Other matches: Chepo-Independiente
Following a two-week delay due to the recent earthquake, the Clausura playoffs begin on Friday with Managua hosting defending champion Real Esteli. On Saturday, Diriangen will visit Walter Ferreti.