Arabe Unido (pictured) opens semifinal play in the Panamanian Clausura on May 2, 2014, against Rio Abajo at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. (Photo: Oscar Sanchez)
A champion will be decided in Honduras, while the regular season comes to a close in El Salvador. CONCACAF.com previews the weekend across the Central American region.
By the time Sunday evening rolls around, Honduras will have a new champion. The Clausura will be decided at the Estadio Tiburcio Carías Andino in Tegucigalpa, when host Olimpia and Marathon close a series that opened with a scoreless draw.
The Lions are 11-5-2 (w-d-l) in their last 18 domestic league matches at home. Marathon, though, has been outstanding on the road, going unbeaten in nine of its last 10 outings.
The winner will join 2013 Apertura champions Real España in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League.
Rivals Saprissa and Alajuelense advanced to the Verano final after emerging victorious from their respective semifinal series by the same 4-2 aggregate score. The sides share the record for the most Costa Rican league titles at 29 apiece.
On Wednesday, top-seeded Saprissa won the second leg of its semifinal against visiting UCR, 2-0. Carlos Saucedo (29’) and Hanzell Arauz (89’) scored for the Monstruo Morado, which has conceded only two goals in its last eight home game.
After a 1-1 draw on the road in the opener against Herediano, defending champion Alajuelense posted a 3-1 win at home in the second leg. It wasn’t easy, however, as Dave Myrie (62’) gave the visitors a second-half lead. The Manudos stormed back, scoring three goals after the 80th minute. Johan Venegas (83’), Alejandro Alpizar (90’) and Jose Guillermo Ortiz (90’+4) settled the encounter with clutch goals. Both teams were reduced to 10 players in the 30th minute following the ejections of Porfirio Lopez (Alajuelense) and Yendrick Ruiz (Herediano).
Alajuelense will host the final, first leg match on Monday and the series will conclude on May 10 at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma. Saprissa is looking to lift the trophy for the first time since the 2010 Verano.
The 18th and final round of the Clausura will be played Sunday and there is plenty at stake. First-place FAS (33 points) will try to enter the playoffs with the top seed. A win at third-place Juventud Independiente (29 points) will guarantee that status.
If FAS stumbles, second-place Isidro Metapan (31 points) will look with a win against visiting Santa Tecla (25 points). Santa Tecla is in fourth and currently occupies the final playoff spot. A loss at Metapan, could see it fall from contention if either Dragon (24 points) or Aguila (22 points) wins.
Other matches: Dragon-Luis Angel Firpo; UES-Aguila; Atletico Marte-Alianza.
After midweek openers, the Clausura quarterfinals conclude this weekend with second-leg play.
Saturday, May 3
Suchitepequez v Municipal (1-4 agg) - Darwin Oliva and Carlos Ruiz scored two goals each on Wednesday to give Municipal a comfortable cushion.
Heredia v Halcones FC (0-1 agg) - Top-seeded Heredia will look to bounce back at home after a Gregory Ruiz goal lifted Halcones to an unexpectd first-leg win.
Sunday, May 4 Xelaju v Universidad de San Carlos (2-2 agg) - An 86th minute goal by Christian Flores gave Xelaju an important away result. Universidad is winless in eight consecutive road games.
Comunicaciones v Coatepeque (1-0 agg) - Wilson Lalin struck three minutes before the break to give Comunicaciones a key victory. After going unbeaten in 19 straight games at home, though, the Cremas lost in their last outing at the Estadio Cementos Progreso, 2-0, to Suchitepequez.
First-leg action in the Clausura semifinals gets underway on Friday, when Rio Abajo faces top-seeded Arabe Unido. After going unbeaten in nine straight games, Rio Abajo has lost two of its last three and has scored only one goal over that stretch.
2014 PANAMANIAN CLAUSURA SEMIFINAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 2
Rio Abajo v Arabe Unido
Tuesday, May 6
Plaza Amador v Chorrillo
Friday, May 9
Arabe Unido v Rio Abajo
Saturday, May 10
Chorrillo v Plaza Amador
Both Real Estelí and Walter Ferreti will look to seal their passages to the final following wins in their respective semifinal, first leg matches. Real Esteli holds a 6-1 advantage over Managua, while Ferreti has a narrow 2-1 lead against Diriangen.
2014 NICARAGUAN CLAUSURA SEMIFINAL, SECOND LEG SCHEDULE
Saturday, May 3
Ral Esteli v Managua
Sunday, May 4
Diriangen v Walter Ferreti