Ten games down, eight to go and the Columbia Gorge Soccer League is right in the middle of a playoff frenzy.
While most of the soccer world has been captivated by the World Cup the past two weeks, 400 of the valley’s best players are battling it out in Odell to earn a coveted spot in the playoffs.
Only eight of the 19 teams qualify for the postseason, and after last weekend’s action, 13 of those teams still had a legitimate shot at making the cut.
“The standings right now are very close,” said José Ponce, team manager of Sahuayo Jr., which sits tied for sixth at 6-3. “Any one of the top eight or nine teams could still win the league title.”
Guerrero and Real Madrid continue to lead the pack with a record of 8-1-1, and also lead the league in the goals scored and goals allowed categories.
Led by Javier Chaires (20 goals) and Uriel Hernandez (19 goals), Guerrero has scored nearly 20 more goals than any other team, setting the pace with 65. They have also given up only 14, giving them a league-leading goal differential of +51.
Real Madrid’s goal differential is equally impressive at +37, and they have given up the fewest goals with just 11 in 10 games. Madrid also boasts one of the league’s top goal scorers in Miguel A. Perez (21 goals).
Real Madrid won last weekend’s contest over San Pablo by a count of 5-2, while Guerrero absorbed its first loss of the season — a 3-1 setback to third-place Azteca, which sits at 8-1-0.
Spartak, led by the league’s top scorer Pablo Vega (24 goals), is in fourth place with a 7-1-3 record, and is followed by the logjam in fifth and sixth places, which includes Tecos (6-3), Morelia (6-2-1) and Sahuayo Jr., a team made up of mostly Hood River Valley High School players.
Sahuayo Jr. destroyed Grecia 14-0 on Saturday, behind three goals from star striker Alexander Ponce. Tecos beat San Juan 3-0, while Morelia dropped Colima 7-0.
Following the three-team race for fifth place are Mt. Adams and San Antonio, which are tied for eighth with 17 points apiece.
Mt. Adams is 5-2-2 and had last week off, while San Antonio posted a big 3-2 win over 11th place Bella Vista on Saturday to raise its record to 5-3-2.
The 2001 league champion, Abasolo, is in 10th place with a 4-4-2 record and is followed closely by Bella Vista (4-5), San Juan (3-6) and Latinos (3-6).
After a slow start to the season, Abasolo returned to past glories on Saturday by dismantling Latinos 10-1. Another of 2001’s top teams, Colima, is still trying to develop a rhythm, winning just two of its first nine games for a 2-6-1 record and a 13th place tie.
Rounding out the standings after 10 weeks are La Piedad (2-6-1), San Pablo (2-6), Grecia (1-7-1), The Dalles (1-8) and Boca Jr. (0-6-2).
This weekend’s marquis games include showdowns between Colima and Azteca, Real Madrid and Bella Vista, and Guerrero versus San Juan.