Jamaica, the 2015 Gold Cup runner-up, was a minute away from being eliminated from World Cup 2018 qualifying at the first hurdle when former MLS player Simon
Dawkins scored on a volley to give the Reggae Boyz a 2-0 win at Nicaragua and overcome a 3-0 deficit at home after only 48 minutes to advance, 4-3. Other teams to advance in the third round:
Canada, El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
Third Round, Second Leg: TUESDAY,
SEPTEMBER 8 Belize 1 Canada 1 (Canada wins 4-1.) Aruba 2 St. Vincent & the Grenadines 1 (St. Vincent & the Grenadines wins 3-2.) Haiti 3 Grenada 0 (Haiti wins 6-1.) El Salvador 1 Curacao
0 (El Salvador wins 2-0.) Nicaragua 0 Jamaica 2 (Jamaica wins 4-3.) Guatemala 2 Antigua & Barbuda 0
(Guatemala wins 2-1.)
Vancouver Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks scored in the 24th minute but Jamaica had to wait for Dawkins' close-range goal
to end upstart Nicaragua's dream of advancing to the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying.
Jamaica's German coach, Winfried Schaefer, used the
2-1 win over the USA in the Gold Cup semifinals as evidence of his confidence in them.
The other five teams who advanced were also favorites in their series though Guatemala and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, which will face the USA and Trinidad
& Tobago in the semifinal round, got scares.
Guatemala needed second-half goals from former MLS star Carlos Ruiz and Dennis Lopez to overcome a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Antigua & Barbuda, coached by former U.S. Olympic team coach Peter Nowak.
Aruba made up a 2-0 deficit against St. Vincent & the Grenadines and evened the score at 2-2 on a pair of Erixon Danso goals before Tevin Slater sent the Vincie Heat into the semifinal round, where they will face the USA for the first time.
El Salvador and Haiti swept their series,
while Canada's 3-0 win over Belize in Toronto was enough so that away leg was largely a formality. Will Johnson scored Canada's lone goal in the 1-1 tie.