PANAMA CITY, Panama - For the second straight road game,
the United States got a late goal from a second-half substitute to
gain a tie in World Cup qualifying.
Cobi Jones scored two minutes into second-half injury time
Wednesday night, and the United States escaped with a 1-1 tie
''I give the U.S. credit for passing character test,'' American
coach Bruce Arena said. ''At the end of the day, it is not
certainly a perfect performance, but we are on the road and we take
two points away from the home team.''
Roberto Brown's goal in the 69th minute had put 106th-ranked
Panama on track for a huge upset against the 10th-ranked Americans.
After three minutes of injury time had been signaled, Eddie
Lewis lofted the ball and it bounced off a Panamanian player who
had challenged Brian McBride. On the soggy turf, Landon Donovan
turned and mishit the ball, which sliced to Jones.
Jones, who may have been in an offside position, then beat
goalkeeper Donaldo Gonzalez from 8 yards for his 15th goal in 163
''My main thing was trying to open up the attacking lane and
stay onside,'' Jones said. ''When it came to me, I knew the keeper
was trying to cheat for Landon's shot, so my thought was just to
try and slide it in on the far post.''
Donovan said the ball didn't come up.
''Right as I went to shoot, it hit a little puddle, stopped and
it kind of came off the end of my foot,'' he said.
In the semifinal opener on Aug. 18, Brian Ching scored in the
89th minute for a 1-1 tie at Jamaica.
The United States extended its unbeaten streak to 10 since a
February loss to the Netherlands in an exhibition game. In the only
previous meeting between the nations, the Americans won 2-1 in July
1993 at Dallas at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the regional championship.
''Once again, it was horrible conditions,'' U.S. goalkeeper
Kasey Keller said. ''Bad lightning, the pitch (field) was halfway
under water. It's a shame, but we're not going to blame anything on
the field. We didn't play particularly well, particularly in the
second half, so you have to give everybody credit for not
The Americans (1-0-2) lead Group A with five points, one ahead
of Jamaica and Panama (both 1-1-1) and two in front of El Salvador
(1-2), which lost 3-0 at home to Jamaica.
The top two nations in each of three groups advance to next
year's regional finals, and the United States has three games
remaining _ Oct. 9 at El Salvador followed by home games against
Panama (Oct. 13 at Washington) and Jamaica (Nov. 17 at Columbus,
The United States, coming off a 2-0 win at home over El Salvador
last weekend, squandered several early chances. While the Americans
had a 4-3 advantage in shots in the first half, they were outshot
13-5 in the second.
''I still think the big part of the game was our inability to
take advantage of our control in the first half where we created
chances and had a lot of the play,'' Arena said. ''Their forwards
won the battle and made a difference in the second half.''
Brown scored after Ricardo Phillips' initial shot was saved by
Keller, who came out to make the stop. Phillips took the rebound
and his second shot went off a post and rebounded to Brown, who
tapped it in from in front of the goal. Fans responded by setting
off flares among the crowd of about 14,500 at Estadio Rommel
''We played to win,'' Brown said. ''We were careless in the last
minute. I'm disappointed and saddened by the result.''