JOEVIN JONES scored in the 54th minute for TT but Puerto Rico’s substitute Ricardo Rivera replied in the 72nd as both teams battled to a 1-1 draw in their 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone Group F contest on Sunday, at the Mayaguez Athletics Stadium, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
The result meant that TT slipped to second in the five-team group with four points from two matches, while Puerto Rico are third with one point from two games.
St Kitts/Nevis, who whipped Bahamas 4-0 at Nassau on Saturday, top the table with a maximum six points from their two fixtures. Guyana and Bahamas, who both are without a point thus far, will face off on Tuesday at the Felix Sanchez Olympic Stadium, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Jones was on hand to pounce on a headed clearance from Puerto Rico’s centre-back Daniel Rosario, following a cross from Ryan Telfer on the left. The midfielder, who recently joined American MLS outfit Inter Miami, was unmarked in the penalty box and slipped his left-footed shot to the right of goalkeeper Cody Laurendi.
But Puerto Rico, who had the better of the exchanges in the first half, got a deserved equaliser when Rivera got between central defenders Sheldon Bateau and Robert Primus and headed home a left-sided cross past TT goalie Nicklas Frenderup.
TT kept the same starting XI from the one that played in the 3-0 win against Guyana on Thursday. The visitors maintained ball-possession in the early stages but lacked penetration, which allowed the hosts to grow in confidence.
Striker Sidney Rivera forced Frenderup to produce a fine save in the 18th minute, while the TT goalie was on hand to push away a 27th minute freekick from Isaac Angking, one of six United States-born players in the Puerto Rico first team.
Devin Vega pounced on a poor pass from Primus but could only hit straight to Frenderup.
Daniel Phillips, who had TT’s lone effort on target in the first half, was replaced by Duane Muckette during the interval, and TT seemed rejuvenated by that move, as they broke the deadlock nine minutes into the second half.
Levi Garcia struck the post with an in-swinging corner in the 55th while Jones could only look on in agony as he skied a shot overbar, following good work down the right by Garcia.
Those misses came back to haunt TT as Ricardo Rivera knotted up the scores, midway into the second half.
TT will return to action on June 5 with an away fixture against Bahamas, three days after the Bahamians travel to Puerto Rico.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Nicklas Frenderup; Sheldon Bateau, Robert Primus, Neveal Hackshaw, Aubrey David; Michel Poon Angeron, Daniel Phillips (Duane Muckette 46th), Joevin Jones (Jabari Mitchell 64th), Levi Garcia, Khaleem Hyland (capt) (Andre Boucaud 86th); Ryan Telfer (Willis Plaza 69th).
PUERTO RICO: Cody Laurendi; Daniel Rosario, Nicolas Cardona, Raul Gonzalez III (Giovanni Padron 88th), Darren Rios; Juan O’Neill, Isaac Angking (Alec Diaz 70th), Devin Vega (Eli Carr 88th); Wilfredo Rivera, Gerald Diaz (Jaden Servania 62nd), Sidney Rivera (capt) (Ricardo Rivera 62nd).