He may not necessarily receive the headlines that some of the top personalities and goal-scorers such as Lionel Messi and Chicharito get, but week in and week out, Andres Guardado has become one of the most consistent players in the world.
He usually can be found in the middle of things for Deportivo de la Coruna, usually being good for creating a goal every week.
In fact, only a week after the Mexican international midfielder scored for the second time in two months, Guardado was up to his old playmaking tricks for Deportivo on Sunday. He set up Deportivo’s second goal in its 2-0 home win over Corboda CF on Sunday.
After Borja Fernández put Deportivo into the lead in the 20th minute, Guardado worked his magic on a free kick from the left side, sending the ball to the far post. The defense did not too much to defend it and Aythami Artiles had an easy time, scoring from six yards.
Deportivo enjoys a seven-point lead over RC Celta and an 11-point bulge over Real Valladolid with 12 games remaining in the Spanish Second Division season. Barring a major collapse, the club should be promoted to La Liga for next season.
Deportivo plays at Girona CF, which is fighting for its Second Division lives, on Saturday.
There is no stopping Messi. Several days after recording a hat-trick to become Barcelona's all-time leading goal-scorer, the Argentine superstar was at it again by striking for his 55th goal of the season in a 2-0 victory over Mallorca. He became the first player in a top-tier European league to score 55 goals in a season since Mario Jardel accomplished the feat a decade ago. Messi tallied off a lobbed free kick in the 25th minute. Messi has scored 18 goals in eight successive games, giving him 34 goals in La Liga. Earlier in the week, Messi hit for a hat-trick to set a club record with 235 goals (breaking Cesar Rodriguez's mark) in a 5-3 triumph over Granada. Barca (21-2-6, 69 points), which has won seven consecutive games, has moved within six points of Real Madrid (24-2-6, 69) with nine games remaining for each team in the season. That will make Barcelona's home against Real on April 22 so much more vital.
The Uruguayan defender was yellow-carded for making contact with Helder Postiga in the penalty area in the final minute of Zaragoza's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid. Zaragoza was awarded a penalty kick, which Antonio Galdeano converted on the game's final play.
Carlos Tevez, Pablo Zabaleta
Tevez, an Argentine who finally got back into the good graces of manager Roberto Mancini after being embroiled in a controversy that left him on the sidelines for months, was brought on to spark the side in the 74th minute of Manchester City's 1-1 tie at Stoke City in the English Premier League. His presence could not help. City's Zabaleta, an Argentine, cleared Matthew Etherington's corner kick off the line in the 41st minute.
In case you were wondering about Chicharito, the Mexican international striker and Manchester United won't play until Monday, when they meet Fulham and Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz at 2:55 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
Martin Caceres, Arturo Vidal, Diego Milito
Caceres, a Uruguayan sparked Juventus to a 2-0 Serie A win over Inter Milan. Caceres found himself unmarked and headed home Andrea Pirlo's corner kick in the 57th minute. Vidal, a Chilean, sent Alessandro Del Piero the ball for an insurance tally in the 70th minute. Milito, an Argentine, had a great opportunity to score in the 14th minute as Brazilian Maicon set up for a 15-yard shot that Gianluigi Buffon blocked to preserve the shutout.
The Uruguayan scored the second goal to give Napoli a 2-0 advantage, but the Serie A side squandered the lead en route to a 2-2 draw with Catania.
The Peruvian wound up the victim of a hot goalkeeper, 20-year-old Bernd Leno, in Bayer Leverkusen's 2-0 loss to Schalke. He was in good company as former Spanish international Raul also was denied by Leno.
Barrios, a Paraguayan forward who plays for Borussia Dortmund, will join Guangzhou Evergrande (China) at the end of the Bundesliga season, according to the Bild newspaper. Barrios, who lost his starting spot to Dortmund top scorer Robert Lewandowski this season, had wanted to leave the German champions in the winter transfer window but a move to Fulham (England) fell through. He reportedly has signed a four-year deal.
The Mexican international goalkeeper blocked four shots in Ajaccio's 1-1 draw with FC Lorient. Gregory Bourillon solved Ochoa in the fifth minute and the keeper kept the visitors scoreless the rest of the Ligue 1 encounter. Ilan equalized for Ajaccio in the 60th minute.
A tough loss for the Honduran international midfielder and his Celtc teammates. Celtic, finishing with only nine players, dropped a 3-2 decision to archrival Rangers in the Scottish Premier League at Ibrox Stadium, which denied the team an opportunity to clinch the league title. After two Celtic players were red-carded, Izaguirre came on for Anthony Stokes as manager Neil Lennon was forced to reshuffle his lineup as Adam Matthews moved to his right fullback position.
The Costa Rican scored first to give Melbourne Victory the lead over Perth Glory, but his teammates could not hold the advantage and suffered a 4-2 defeat in the A-League in Australia. After Hernandez gave Melbourne the lead, Shane Smeltz equalized in the 23rd minute before he added three goals within 18 minutes in the second half.
Rafa Marquez, Jaime Castrillon
An error by Ramirez, the Mexican international captain and defender, helped the Colorado Rapids score their lone goal in their 4-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls. With the Red Bulls enjoying a 3-0 lead in the 77th minute, Castrillon, a Colombian, striped Marquez of the ball and shuffled off a pass to Omar Cummings. The Jamaican international striker sent a chip shot over goalkeeper Ryan Meara from 22 yards.
Pulido recorded a hat-trick as Mexico clinched a semifinal berth in the CONCACAF men's Olympic qualifying tournament behind a 3-0 Group B win over Honduras in Carson, Calif. on Sunday. It was El Tri's second big win in three days, having crushed Trinidad & Tobago, 7-1, on Friday. Pulido, who performs for Tigres UNAL, scored in the 15th and 40th minutes and 41 seconds into the second half. The Mexicans play Panama in its final first-round match on Tuesday. The semifinals, which will determine which two confederation teams reach the London Olympics, will be held in Kansas City, Kansas on Saturday.
Andres Flores, Lester Blanco, Richard Menjivar
El Salvador can clinch a semifinal spot with at least a Group A tie with host United States in Nashville, Tenn. at 9 p.m. ET on Monday. (CONCACAF.com). On Saturday, the Central Americans defeated Cuba, 4-0, as Flores had a brace. Blanco and Menjivar also scored. Cuba, which plays Canada at 6:30 p.m. ET, has been eliminated, losing to the U.S., 6-0. The Cubans have had one player red-carded in each loss.
Chile has been selected to host Copa America in 2015 after Brazil had backed out. Brazilian officials decided that it had a full plate in the next few years -- the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013, the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016. The Chileans hosted the South American championship in 1991.
Michael Lewis, who has written about soccer for four decades, is the only journalist who has covered every MLS Cup. He can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com or via Twitter at @soccerwriter.
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