Bermuda were held to a draw last night at the National Stadium in their final warm-up match ahead of the first leg of their second-round World Cup qualifier against Guatemala.
Just how much Andrew Bascome got out of the match, after using six substitutes, was probably the most important question on a night when the team looked bright and inventive in spurts, while lacking the finishing touch in front of goal as injured captain Nahki Wells watched from the stands.
Bascome had some new faces in his squad with Roger Lee coming into the back four to partner Jaylon Bather in the heart of defence, while Kilian Elkinson, a former Toronto FC Academy player, was given an opportunity at left back.
Damon Ming, operating in a wide midfield role, was in the thick of the action from the outset as Bermuda started brightly with Ming’s low, hard cross from the left tipped away for a corner by Matthew Sánchez, the Puerto Rico goalkeeper, as early as the second minute.
Then Zeiko Lewis put Ming clear with a perfect pass, but he failed to get his effort past the advancing Sánchez.
The early threats had the crowd expecting something from the home team and it came in the tenth minute, when Bather’s pass out split the Puerto Rico defence and Angelo Simmons raced through, rounded the goalkeeper, and rolled the ball into an empty net.
Ming continued to pose a threat, and Sánchez denied him again when he parried away the Dandy Town Hornets players’ shot.
Puerto Rico began to threaten more midway through the half and grabbed an equaliser after some slack Bermuda marking from a free kick. First, Bather miscued his clearance from a cross from the left as Héctor Ramos Lebrón, the Puerto Rico captain, put his effort from 20 yards well over the bar.
The Bermuda lead was wiped out moments later when full back Tyrell Burgess conceded a free kick when he fouled Deniz Bozkurt.
Defender Emmanuel D’Andrea Yepez met Alexis Curet’s cross and planted his free header past goalkeeper Freddy Hall, before jarring his knee in his celebrations and going off on a stretcher moments later.
Bermuda had another good chance shortly before half-time when a neat flick by Ming put Reggie Lambe through on the right side, but he wasted the chance, as did striker Simmons moments later.
Puerto Rico had a good chance to take the lead soon after when Andres Pérez Cruz fed Eloy Vélex just inside the box, but he could not get the ball out from under his feet as the defence cleared the danger.
The second half was one of experimentation for both teams as the substitutions were made regularly, with Quintonia Lema coming on for Burgess at right back, and Drewonde Bascome for Keishen Bean in midfield in a double substitution in the 51st minute.
Seven minutes later Bascome made a triple substitution, with Dale Eve replacing Hall in goal, Lejuan Simmons coming on for Angelo Simmons and youngster Justin Donawa replacing Ming.
Lambe pushed into the striker’s slot, but after wasting a couple of chances became the fifth change when Jason Lee replaced him after 72 minutes.
Despite having the majority of the possession in the second half, Bermuda could not turn that advantage into goals as few clear-cut chances were created as the match fizzled out to a tame draw.
Tre Ming and Zeiko Lewis had good games in different midfield roles, with Ming playing a holding role just ahead of the defence, and Lewis more inventive in the middle of the park.
Neither Bermuda goalkeeper was really tested by the Puerto Rico front line.