It's a fluke of scheduling more than anything else, but Rangers FC, with Fontana's Maurice Edu making big contributions, is back atop the Scottish Premier League standings.
The Blues toppled Aberdeen and St. Mirren last week to go to 25-5-2 for 77 points, one more than their hated Old Firm rival Celtic FC (24-3-4).
Celtic won its league game last week, beating St. Johnstone in a midweek clash, then routing Aberdeen on Sunday in a Scottish F.A. Cup semifinal. So the Bhoys have a game in hand, so if they win out, they claim their 43rd Scottish crown and first in three years.
Same holds for Rangers, which is seeking its 54th league title. The crown probably will be determined when the clubs face off Sunday, their seventh meeting this season, at Ibrox, the Blues' home ground. A draw favors Celtic.
Edu, who has had a fine season with the Glasgow power, capped a 1-0 midweek victory over Aberdeen with a blast that was just tipped over the crossbar. He set up Nikica Jelavic and Steven Davis for superb chances that weren't finished in Saturday's 2-1 win over St. Mirren.
BACK ON TOP: Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan returned to RSC Anderlecht's lineup and set up a goal in a 2-0 Belgian victory over Racing Genk in a showdown for the Jupiler League lead.
Manager Ariel Jacobs had omitted Kljestan, who left Chivas USA last summer to join the 30-time Belgian champion, from Les Mauves' first two games in the six-team, 10-game playoff round to determine the champion.
Anderlecht (20-5-8), on top after the 30-game regular-season, lost to Standard Liege and Club Brugge to start the playoffs, and Gent had leapfrogged to first place.
Kljestan, influential in midfield, fed Romelu Lukaku in the 78th minute to double the Brussels-based club's lead, ensuring its return to the lead by one point, with Standard Liege just two back.
ETC.: Irvine's Benny Feilhaber went the full 90 in AGF Aarhus' 2-0 victory over FC Roskilde, his final game for the Danish second-division club. Feilhaber transferred Friday to Major League Soccer, and Chivas USA has until Tuesday at 2 p.m. PT to claim his rights or pass. … Aston Villa is seven points clear of the relegation zone with five games to go in the English Premier League after a 2-1 decision over West Ham United, the Birmingham club's second straight win. Former UCLA goalkeeper Brad Friedel made two big saves to secure the result. … Santa Monica's Jay Denny won the Southern League Cup title with Hednesford Town, which has climbed to second in the English minor league, four points behind Truro City -- and promotion to Conference North/South -- with two games to go. The Pitmen have qualified for a berth in the four-team playoffs for a second promotion spot. ... Pasadena's Yura Movsisyan (Krasnodar/Russia) is in Germany receiving treatment on an undefined injury. Irvine's Bobby Wood (1860/Germany) is out with an ankle injury.
AREA PLAYERS IN EUROPE
D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)
Club: Saint-Etienne (France, Ligue 1)
Last week: 90 minutes at left back as Les Verts (11-9-11) jumped to sixth place with a 2-1 win Saturday at Nancy
Season: 27 league games (27 starts) with 2 goals, 29 games (29 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Sunday at 10th-place Girondins Bordeaux (9-8-14)
M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)
Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier League)
Last week: Was not on the game-day roster for Saturday's 2-1 victory at West Ham United
Season: 2 games (1 start) in all competitions for Aston Villa; 22 games (20 starts) with 4 goals for Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
Next: Saturday vs. 13th-place Stoke City (11-16-5)
M/D JAY DENNY (Santa Monica)
Club: Hednesford Town (England, Southern League Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes in a 3-0 victory vs. Hemel Hempstead Town in Tuesday's second leg of the Southern League Cup final, won on aggregate, 3-0; 90 minutes for the second-place Pitmen (24-9-5) in a 4-2 win Saturday at Weymouth
Season: 38 league games (38 starts) with 1 goal, 12 domestic cup games (11 starts) with 1 goal, 50 games (49 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Saturday vs. ninth-place Brackley Town (15-12-10), Monday at 21st-place Halesowen Town (5-25-8)
M MAURICE EDU (Fontana)
Club: Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier League)
Last week: 90 minutes, with a yellow card, as the Blues (25-5-2) won, 1-0, Wednesday at St. Johnstone; 90 minutes in Sunday's 2-1 win over St. Mirren to surge atop the SPL standings.
Season: 27 league games (21 starts) with 2 goals, 41 games (34 starts) with 5 goals in all competitions
Next: Tuesday at fourth-place Dundee United (14-8-10), Sunday vs. second-place Celtic (24-3-4)
M BENNY FEILHABER (Irvine/UCLA)
Club: AGF Aarhus (Denmark, 1.Division)
Last week: 90 minutes as the first-place Dettvie (15-1-4) won, 2-0, Wednesday vs. FC Roskilde; transferred Friday to Major League for undisclosed fee
Season: 17 league games (16 starts) with 4 goals, 20 games (18 starts) overall with 7 goals
Next: Chivas USA has until 2 p.m. PT to claim or pass on Feilhaber's services; Philadelphia Union will have next call on his rights if Chivas passes
G BRAD FRIEDEL (Bay Village, Ohio/UCLA)
Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes with 4 saves as the Villans (10-13-10) climbed from 14th to ninth with a 2-1 victory Saturday at West Ham United
Season: 33 league games (33 starts), 55 goals allowed, 100 saves, 6 shutouts; 38 games (38 starts), 67 goals allowed, 119 saves, 6 shutouts in all competitions
Next: Saturday vs. 13th-place Stoke City (11-16-5)
M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)
Club: RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)
Last week: 90 minutes with an assist as Les Mauves (20-5-8) surged back atop the Jupiler League with a 2-0 win Friday vs. Racing Genk, their first win in three playoff-round matches
Season: 19 league games (14 starts) with 2 goals, 27 games (22 starts) with 3 goals in all competitions
Next: Wednesday at fifth-place KAA Gent (17-8-8), Sunday at sixth-place Lokeren (13-7-9)
D DALLAS MOORE (Santa Monica)
Club: St. Neots Town FC (England, UCL Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes for the first-place Saints (31-1-5) in a 4-2 win Saturday at second-place Kings Lynn Town
Season: 13 league games (13 starts) with 2 goals, 15 games (15 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions for St. Neots Town; 13 games (13 starts) with 1 goal for Halesowen Town (England)
Next: Wednesday vs. Biggleswade Town in the Hinchingbrooke Cup semifinals, Saturday vs. 11th-place Daventry United (18-17-1), Monday vs. 12th-place St. Ives Town (16-13-7)
F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena/Pasadena City College)
Club: FC Krasnodar (Russia, Russian Premier League)
Last week: Did not play because of injury as fourth-place FCK (2-0-3) drew, 0-0, Saturday at Kryliya Sove
Season: 2 league games (0 starts) with 1 goal, 3 games (0 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions for Krasnodar; 25 games (20 starts) with 14 goals for Randers (Denmark)
Next: Wednesday at Spartak Moscow in a Russian Cup quarterfinal, Saturday vs. eighth-place Lokomotiv Moscow (2-2-1)
F MATT TAYLOR (Irvine/UCLA)
Club: Rot Weiss Ahlen (Germany, 3. Bundesliga)
Last week: 90 minutes for 17th-place Rot Weiss (9-15-9) in a 3-0 loss Saturday at SV Wehen Wiesbaden
Season: 25 league games (25 starts) with 13 goals, 26 games (26 starts) with 13 goals in all competitions
Next: Wednesday vs. ninth-place SSV Jahn Regensberg (11-11-12), Sunday at 11th-place VfB Stuttgart II (10-10-13)
F BOBBY WOOD (Irvine)
Club: TSV 1860 Munich (Germany, 2. Bundesliga)
Last week: Did not dress, because of an ankle injury, as the eighth-place Lions (12-9-9) lost, 2-1, Friday at FSV Frankfurt
Season: 5 league games (0 starts), 23 games (14 starts) with 7 goals in all competitions
Next: Saturday at fourth-place SpVgg Greuther Fuerth (15-6-9)