The introduction of Chicago Fire midfielder Andy Williams turned the tide for Jamaica, as they came back to claim a 1-1 draw with Panama on Saturday night to keep the countries tied for second place in Group A in the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Williams came on as a 62nd-minute substitute, putting four Major League Soccer players on the field at one time, and 12 minutes later Theodore Whitmore's goal cancelled out a first-half strike from Roberto Brown to leave the teams sharing the points at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Jamaica and Panama are now tied with five points after four matches. Both trail the USA, on eight points after their 2-0 victory in El Salvador, who are now rooted in last place in the group with three points.
Tyrone Marshall of the Los Angeles Galaxy and MetroStars fullback Craig Ziadie both started in the back four for Jamaica, while Damani Ralph (Chicago Fire) was part of a three-pronged attack for Sebastiao Lazaroni's side. But when Williams came on, Lazaroni changed tactics and even after grabbing the equalizer, the Reggae Boyz were unlucky not to come away with the full three points.
"We made a few chances in the second half and the team showed what we can do. We brought Marshall out wide in midfield (to stop Panama playmaker Julio Medina), and we took (Ian) Goodison into centre half. Then we brought on Andy Williams, and he turned the game around for Jamaica. He took the whole momentum our way," Lazaroni said.
Brown headed home a Medina cross when completely unmarked after 22 minutes to give Panama the lead, but a second-chance effort from Whitmore brought the equalizer, stabbing home from close range after Panama 'keeper Donaldo Gonzalez had first parried his sharp header.
In other CONCACAF qualifiers at the weekend, MetroStars striker Cornell Glen scored a goal and set up another as Stern John hit for two on the day in Trinidad & Tobago's 5-1 defeat of St. Kitts & Nevis in Marabella, Trinidad, while Mexico labored in knocking off St. Vincent & Grenadines in Kingstown three days after claiming a 7-0 victory in Mexico.
In Group B, Costa Rica hammered Guatemala 5-0 in San Jose, while Canada battled Honduras to a 1-1 draw in San Pedro Sula.
At the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Glen received his first international start alongside former Columbus Crew striker John, and was involved in a number of quality chances for the Soca Warriors. He got Trinidad & Tobago off to a quick start, sending a low cross into the area which St. Kitts defender Alexander Riley turned into his own goal after just nine minutes.
John doubled the T&T lead in the 25th minute before Keith Gumbs pulled a goal back from the penalty spot for the visitors two minutes before the halftime break.
Glen finally converted when he swept home a low shot after wide midfielder Kenwyne Jones provided the industry in the 71st minute, then John and substitute Jerren Nixon combined for two goals in the final 10 minutes for the closing scoreline.
In Kingstown, Jared Borguetti scored the game's only goal in the 26th minute as Mexico struggled at the Arnos Vale Playing Ground. D.C. United defender Ezra Hendrickson marshalled the Vincentian defense, who were left a man down late in the first half after Marlon James was sent off for two bookings in a five-minute span.
Mexico sealed their advancement to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying with a perfect record through their first three matches, tied with Trinidad & Tobago, who have played one more contest. St. Vincent & Grenadines have three points, while St. Kitts & Nevis have lost all three of their games.
At the Estadio Saprissa, Paulo Wanchope hit for a hat trick as Guatemala saw their 11-match unbeaten run. Carlos Hernandez set Costa Rica on their way in the 19th minute, before Wanchope opened his account in the 36th minute from a corner.
Wanchope then scored twice after the break in a five-minute spell, playing a neat one-two with Harold Wallace before firing past Ricardo Trigueno, then coolly finishing a set up from Walter Centeno. Substitute Rolando Fonseca then capped the scoring with five minutes left.
Columbus Crew striker Erick Scott was an unused substitute for Costa Rica, while Guatemala and Los Angeles Galaxy striker Carlos Ruiz was suspended.
"We didn't stick to our game plan today; we simply couldn't keep hold of the ball," said Guatemala coach Ramon Maradiaga.
At the Estadio Olimpico, Canada remained winless only through some late heroics from Honduras.
Atiba Hutchinson opened the scoring in the 72nd minute for Canada, but after San Jose Earthquakes striker Dwayne De Rosario had his late strike called back for offside, Danilo Turcios stoppage-time equalizer salvaged a point, leaving the Maple Leafs still rooted to last place in the group.
De Rosario and club teammate Pat Onstad played the entire match for Canada, Onstad first preserving Canada's lead just before the late equalizer with an outstanding save on a powerful shot from former Miami Fusion striker Saul Martinez.
Canada head coach Frank Yallop was thrilled with his side's performance. "At the end of the game, the Honduran crowd had come to our side," he said. "They respected how well we played, and I can't remember a Canadian team ever looking better on the road."
Guatemala leads the group with seven points from four matches, one ahead of Honduras and Costa Rica, with Canada fourth on two points.
In Africa, Chicago Fire striker Dipsy Selolwane scored for Botswana as they overcame a early deficit to stun Kenya 2-1 in Gaborone.
Selolwane's 55th-minute goal was the match-winner for the Zebras, five minutes after Tshesipo Molwantwa cancelled out Dennis Oliech's strike for the Harambee Stars on 6 minutes. The result left Botswana tied with Morocco for second place in Group 5, two points behind Guinea.
In Monrovia, Chris Gbandi made his international debut for Liberia in their 3-0 loss to Senegal, playing the entire match at right back. The Lone Star are fifth place in Group 1 with four points from five matches, now six adrift of the three-way tie at the top between Senegal, Togo and Zambia.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.