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South America: Top Five matches to watch

By NESTOR F. SEBASTIAN

While MLS kicks off the rest of its 2009 matches this weekend, South America's domestic parties continue with a few derbies lined up in Peru and Colombia, an Uruguayan team looks to get back into elite status and a kid in Brazil that's being dubbed the next Robinho will match up against none other than Ronaldo.

Some players may look to impress national team managers who could look to make several last-minute call ups ahead of next weekend's World Cup qualifiers as it's always been the case in the marathon CONMEBOL games.

Here is a brief look at some matches in South America this weekend:

DEPORTIVO CALI vs. AMERICA DE CALI 

There was probably no one happier to see Fredy Montero's MLS debut than Deportivo Cali's front-office head honchos. Montero, on loan to Seattle from the Colombian outfit, dismantled the New York Red Bulls before a national audience Thursday, confirming what many in South America already knew—that this young product has a long, productive future.

But now Deportivo will turn its attention to Sunday's derby against America de Cali in the Clasico de San Fernando and attempt to solidify its current leadership in the Colombian championship's ninth round of the Copa Mustang.

This past week, Deportivo was awarded three points by administrators after it was determined that La Equidad, which topped Deportivo 3-2 in the fourth round, fielded an ineligible player. The points offset Deportivo's 1-0 loss to Tolima on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, America will now be able to fully focus on its domestic aspirations after their goalless draw against Medellin in Copa Libertadores this week essentially gave them little hope to advance further, with two points after four matches.

America sits at the bottom third of the 18-team Colombian tournament.

ALIANZA LIMA vs. UNIVERSITARIO DE DEPORTES

On Sunday, approximately 10,000 police forces will descend upon Estadio Alejandro Villanueva for South America's forgotten clasico between Alianza and La U in Lima, Peru.

Alianza has been in a rough patch in the last several campaigns but is on the right track in this year's tournament. The Grones are tied for second with la U, Sporting Cristal and Jose Galvez, trailing surprising leaders Juan Aurich.

La U is coming off of a 2-2 tie against San Luis of Mexico in Copa Libertadores play Wednesday and sits in second in Group 8, with a decent chance of advancing. This will be Nolberto Solano's first taste of the Lima derby in an U shirt and he will look to kick start a tired but amped up side.

La U, however, may face more than a hostile crowd and fatigue. They aren't happy with a referee that was designated for the clasico as they feel he's led a campaign against them on the pitch with unfavorable calls.

NACIONAL vs. OLIMPIA

Olimpia will seek their first win and some much-needed points against Nacional Saturday and look to impress its new manager Gregorio Perez, who replaced Ever Almeida, the man who brought former MLS star Carlos Ruiz to the Paraguayan side.

Perez made his debut last weekend but Olimpia were shocked 1-0 by newly-promoted Rubio Nu. The previous week, Olimpia were held to a goalless tie against 12 de Octubre.

Nacional, currently tied for second in the Paraguayan tournament, is enjoying domestic competition more than Libertadores at the moment. They sit at the bottom of Group 3 with no points after three matches and stand little chance of competing against Nacional of Uruguay, Peru's San Martin and Argentina's River Plate.

PENAROL vs. DEFENSOR SPORTING

The co-leaders of the Uruguayan tournament enter Saturday's match with two different storylines as Penarol, considered the most popular team in that country, goes through one of its worst phases in its history while Defensor is tasting modest success in its domestic campaign and Libertadores.

Penarol, which hasn't won a title in about five years, was buoyed by its 19-year-old striker Jonathan Ramis, who notched two goals in last week's 2-0 win over Cerro Largo. Penarol is one of the continent's richest in tradition but has been plagued by dysfunction among directors and many of its top players being snapped up by foreigners. Penarol was eliminated in Liberatores' preliminary rounds this year, the same fate it suffered in 2005.

Meanwhile, Defensor is coming off of a 1-0 loss to Brazil's Sao Paulo in Libertadores but still sits in second along with Medellin of Colombia, trailing Sao Paulo by only three points.

CORINTHIANS vs. SANTOS

As usual, all eyes will be on Ronaldo's continued return to soccer with his Corinthians squad but fans should keep an eye out for Santos' 17-year-old prodigy Neymar, who is being touted as the next Robinho.

The youngster, who grabbed his first-ever league goal last weekend in Santos' shutout of Mogi Mirim in the Paulista championship, is reportedly being eyed by both of Manchester, England's teams, City and United.

Neymar also opened the scoring in Santos' 4-0 win over Rio Branco in Brazilian Cup action this past week.

Corinthians played to scoreless tie last weekend against Santo Andre but Ronaldo was rested for that match in order to be ready for its tilt against Santos on Sunday.

Here is footage of Neymar's first league goal:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dfCGL6R6jU

What do you think of this weekend's lineup? Will we ever see that much police at an MLS match in the future? Should MLS track Neymar as well?

Comments

  1. I didn’t think the ‘a/an’ rule applied when it is the article of countries. Shouldn’t it read, “a Uruguayan team”?

    …Colombia, an Uruguayan team…”

    Reply
  2. Good stuff; I agree Don, we North Americans are missing some great soccer south of the border. Me thinks MLS is starting to pay more attention too…

    Reply
  3. Ives, thank you for your postings on the game in South American. I’m always amazed at how Eurocentric we North American football supporters are despite the great teams and competitions in South America. Think of where so many of the greatest stars came from and still come from today. My people came from Scotland and England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, so I understand the tug of one’s old country, but football is a world game.

    Reply
  4. I saw Orozco’s goal. I’ve always believed he is a better option than Pearce as a LB. With time I guess.

    Previewing South America?

    MLS this weekend for me.

    I go to the church of McGod on Saturdays from now til’ November.

    Reply
  5. Well, we are already talking about South America… I was surprised SBI had no mention of what a certain American did this week…

    Michael Orozco scored for San Luis in that 2-2 draw on Wednesday.

    It was the first goal for an American in the tournament since Luchi Gonzalez, who won the Hermann Trophy in 2001 playing for SMU and spent some time with the Earthquakes and Rapids, scored for Peru’s Sporting Cristal in 2004. Gonzalez retired Tuesday after playing 2008 with the Minnesota Thunder.

    I thought this would have garnered it’s own post but it’s the end of the week so I thought I would comment anyways.

    You can see Michael’s goal here (his goal is the third, the one that sets the score at 2-1): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn5KBQe7-qw&feature=player_embedded

    Reply
  6. Great to hear that Penarol may be on the comeback trail. My first experience of football was Penarol(South American club champion) versus Real Madrid (European club champion) in the Centanario Stadium in Montevideo in 1966. Penarol won. I had never experienced anything like it. I was hooked. I’m still hooked. Go, Timbers!

    Reply

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