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Pulisic Goals Lift MNT to 2-0 Win in USA-Trinidad & Tobago, Presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (June 8, 2017) – The U.S. Men’s National Team used two second-half goals in the span of 10 minutes from Christian Pulisic to earn a 2-0 World Cup Qualifying victory against Trinidad & Tobago in front of a sellout crowd of 19,188 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. With the victory, the U.S. is now 2-2-1 (seven points) in the Final Round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup ahead of Sunday’s match away to rivals Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, Univision and UDN).

Facing a Trinidad & Tobago side content to absorb pressure and counter, the U.S. attacked early and often, seeing a 15th minute attempt from Clint Dempsey swing just over the cross bar, before John Brooks and Jozy Altidore forced T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams into back-to-back diving saves 10 minute later.

The Soca Warriors would break some of the pressure and get their best chance of the half in the 33rd minute when Khaleem Hyland crossed from the left for Kenwyne Jones. USA goalkeeper Tim Howard couldn’t get to the ball in time and Jones nodded his effort off the cross bar before it was cleared from danger.

The U.S. forced another two-save sequence out of Williams in the 35th minute when Jorge Villafaña’s long-range effort was palmed away before Altidore’s follow-up header was tipped out for a corner kick. Trinidad & Tobago kept the U.S. honest just before the break, when another counter attack resulted in Hyland blasting a low effort that forced a diving stop out of Howard. 

The breakthrough came just seven minutes into the second half when a well-worked build up between Darlington Nagbe and Clint Dempsey eventually saw DeAndre Yedlin pick out Pulisic, who slid through the area to finish his sixth international goal in the 52nd minute.  

Pulisic doubled the U.S. lead 10 minutes later when a simple combination between Yedlin and Altidore allowed the 18-year-old a lane into the box where he finished past Williams and inside the right post.

The U.S. nearly had a third when Alejandro Bedoya connected with fellow substitute Bobby Wood, who powered his effort from the top off the area off the left post in the 84th minute.

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. MNT quickly shifts its focus to the much anticipated road trip to face Mexico on Sunday, June 11. Kickoff from historic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City is schedule for 8:30 p.m. ET and the match can be seen live on FS1, Univision and UDN.
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Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Christian Pulisic (DeAndre Yedlin), 52nd minute:
The U.S. broke through on a great team goal early in the second half. Darlington Nagbe picked up a loose ball and drove toward goal where he played a quick combination with Clint Dempsey to get into the box. When Nagbe was cut off in the area, he laid back for Yedlin, whose low cross found Pulisic sliding through the area to beat Jan-Michael Williams. USA 1, TRI 0 [WATCH]

USA – Christian Pulisic (Jozy Altidore), 62nd minute: Arena’s side doubled the advantage 10 minutes later when a simple combination between Yedlin and Altidore saw the veteran forward slip Pulisic into the box on the right. The 18-year-old attacker entered the area before beating Williams inside the near post for his second of the match. USA 2, TRI 0 [WATCH] FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
TRI – Jan-Michael Williams, 25th minute: After a long spell of possession, center back John Brooks pushed forward into midfield, received a pass and uncorked a surprising effort through traffic that required a diving Williams to punch it away.

TRI – Jan-Michael Williams, 25th minute: Just seconds later, Jorge Villafaña gained space down the left and cut back for Jozy Altidore at the top of the box. The veteran U.S. forward hit a powerful first-time drive that Williams palmed away from danger.

TRI – Jan-Michael Williams, 35th minute: After teaming with Michael Bradley to win possession at midfield, Jorge Villafaña quickly blasted a long-range effort that forced another diving stop from Williams. The T&T goalkeeper was beaten to the rebound by Dempsey, who alertly found Villafaña in space on the flank before the left back crossed for Altidore, only to see his header tipped over the bar by Williams.

USA – Tim Howard, 42nd minute: T&T quickly broke in transition again as Carlos Edwards fed Hyland with a through ball before the Soca Warriors attacker launched a blistering, low effort that Howard sprawled out to his right to save before Geoff Cameron cleared the danger.

TRI – Jan-Michael Williams, 77th minute: Shortly after entering the match, Kellyn Acosta stepped up to take a free kick and looked to tuck his effort inside the left post, only to see Williams get across to make another diving stop.

NOTES:

  • With the brace, Christian Pulisic now has seven international goals in 15 total appearances and five goals in eight World Cup Qualifying caps.
  • The double was also the second multi-goal game of Pulisic’s MNT career, with his first coming in a 6-0 World Cup Qualifying win against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, 2016.
  • Pulisic has now scored four goals in his last four games for the U.S. MNT.
  • DeAndre Yedlin tallied his seventh career assist on Pulisic’s first strike; it was his second in World Cup Qualifying.
  • Jozy Altidore recorded his 12th career assist in the 62nd minute. With five, Altidore now sits tied with Pulisic for the most assists in CONCACAF during 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
  • Goalkeeper Tim Howard made two saves to earn his 14th clean sheet in 36 World Cup Qualifying appearances and 39th in 115 total games for the USA. 
  • Clint Dempsey made his 134th appearance, tying him with Jeff Agoos for third on the MNT all-time caps list. Dempsey (39) also now sits just one World Cup Qualifying appearance behind Landon Donovan for the USA’s all-time lead in that category.
  • Geoff Cameron and John Brooks paired in central defense together for the 10th time. Since first partnering together in a 4-3 win at Bosnia-Herzegovina on Aug. 14, 2013, the USA has gone 7-2-1 when the two have started in central defense.
  • The U.S. MNT improved its record to 3-0-0 all-time at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • The MNT is 18-2-4 all-time against Trinidad & Tobago. The USA has gone 13-1-3 in World Cup Qualifiers against the Soca Warriors and 9-0-1 all-time at home.
  • Head coach Bruce Arena improves his record to 4-0-1 all-time against Trinidad & Tobago
  • The U.S. MNT is unbeaten in six matches since Arena returned to his position last November, going 3-0-3, while scoring 11 goals and conceding just two. 
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MNT Jun 8, 2017

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: June 8, 2017
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Commerce City, Colo.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. MT
Attendance: 19,188 (sellout)
Weather: 82 degrees; partly cloudy

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F                                                         
USA                             0          2          2        
TRI                              0          0          0 

USA – Christian Pulisic (DeAndre Yedlin)     52nd minute
USA – Christian Pulisic (Jozy Altidore)          62 

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 21-Jorge Villafaña; 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 23-Fabian Johnson (11-Alejandro Bedoya, 74), 10-Christian Pulisic, 15-Darlington Nagbe, 8-Clint Dempsey (16-Kellyn Acosta, 61), 17-Jozy Altidore (9-Bobby Wood, 83)
Subs not used: 12-Brad Guzan, 22-Nick Rimando, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Tim Ream, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Paul Arriola, 18-Jordan Morris, 19-Graham Zusi
Head coach: Bruce Arena

TRI: 21-Jan-Michael Williams; 11-Akhenaton Edwards, 4-Sheldon Bateau, 17-Mekeil Williams, 5-Daneil Cyrus; 10-Kevin Molino, 19-Kevan George, 8-Khaleem Hyland (23-Leston Paul, 76), 3-Joevin Jones (12-Shahdon Winchester, 68); 7-Nathan Lewis, 9-Kenwyne Jones (capt.) (20-Jamille Boatswain, 82)
Subs not used: 1-Marvin Phillip, 2-Aubrey David, 6-Radanfah Abu Bakr, 13-Hughtun Hector, 14-Andre Boucaud, 15-Curtis Gonzales, 16-Alvin Jones, 18-Hashim Arcia, 22-Adrian Foncette
Head coach: Dennis Lawrence 

Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 15 / 11
Shots on Goal: 9 / 2
Saves: 2 / 7
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 3 / 4
Offside: 0 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
TRI – Leston Paul (caution)                      76th minute
USA – Alejandro Bedoya (caution)          85 

Officials:
Referee: Oscar Moncada (HON)
Assistant Referee 1: Christian Ramirez (HON)
Assistant Referee 2: Melvyn Cruz (HON)
Fourth Official: Raul Castro (HON)                                        

Budweiser Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic

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Vexed by the Hex? A Simple Guide to the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying

The U.S. Men’s National Team has played in the last seven World Cups – one of only six nations in the world to accomplish that feat – and some people naturally assume that every four years the U.S. is just penciled into the bracket. Not so!

In fact, qualifying for the FIFA World Cup out of CONCACAF  is a marathon. Since the current qualifying format was adopted for the 1998 tournament, the U.S. has had to play 16-18 matches spanning two years in order to book its place in the FIFA World Cup.

In the case of the current cycle, the MNT began its quest to qualify for Russia 2018 when it started play in CONCACAF’s Semifinal Round in November 2015. Having finished on top of a group that also featured Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the U.S. now finds itself in the CONCACAF's Final Round of World Cup Qualifying.

The six-team group, nicknamed “The Hex” (short for Hexagonal), pits the top two teams from each of CONCACAF’s three semifinal groups – in this case, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and USA -- in a home-and-away mini-league which began in November 2016 and concludes in October 2017. At the end of the 10-game schedule, the top three teams in The Hex automatically qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Meanwhile, the fourth-place team from CONCACAF will go into an intercontinental playoff with the fifth-place finisher from the Asian Football Confederation’s own qualifying tournament. The winner over two games will be 32nd and final entrant into the World Cup.

Got all that?

Here’s a breakdown of the 10-game schedule the MNT will have to navigate to qualify for its eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup, with a little history added in.

USA 1, Mexico 2 - Nov. 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio
Having defeated Mexico 2-0 in each of its previous four Final Round matches played in Columbus, Ohio, the MNT went back to MAPFRE Stadium in November, where they fell 2-1 to a talented Mexico side

A deflected effort from Miguel Layun gave Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute, before the U.S. suffered another setback when goalkeeper Tim Howard suffered a fractured right adductor while taking a routine goal kick and had to leave the match in the 40th minute. After halftime, the U.S. bounced back through Bobby Wood's 49th minute strike and had chances to push ahead that came up empty. Just as it looked like both teams would settle for a 1-1 draw, Mexico captain Rafael Marquez headed home an 89th minute corner kick from Layun to give El Trí all three points.

WATCH: U.S. Falls 2-1 to Mexico in November 


Costa Rica 4, USA 0 - Nov. 15, 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica

Four days after falling to Mexico, the U.S. traveled to Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica for a match against Los Ticos. The MNT's success rate in Costa Rica had never been great and while the U.S. nearly went into halftime tied 0-0, but Johan Venegas pushed the home side ahead in the 44th minute. Costa Rica then added strikes from Cristian Bolańos and a brace from Joel Campbell to run out 4-0 winners.

In the days following the match, Jurgen Klinsmann was replaced by former MNT head coach Bruce Arena, who is charged with righting the ship for the U.S. to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. 

USA 6, Honduras 0 - March 24, 2017 in San Jose, Calif.

After dropping its opening Final Round qualifiers to Mexico and Costa Rica, the USA entered the March slate of games with the necessity to #Get3 points at home against Honduras. Under the guidance of Arena, the team showed up to Avaya Stadium in a big way, using goals from Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, Christian Pulisic and a hat trick from Clint Dempsey to lay down a 6-0 drubbing on Los Catrachos.

The resounding result came despite a number of injury setbacks, showed the response of the team to new leadership under Arena and helped symbolize the MNT's turnaround in its goal of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. 

WATCH: USA Turns Things Around With 6-0 Win vs. Honduras

Panama 1, USA 1 - March 28, 2017 in Panama City, Panama

Four days later, the USA traveled to take on a Panama side that it was in direct competition with for one of the top three spots in the Hex. What transpired at Estadio Rommel Fernandez was a cagey and physical match, high on atmosphere, but devoid of many chances. 

A moment of brilliance from Christian Pulisic saw the U.S. jump on board first. The young attacker chased down a ball up the right side before dispossession Felipe Baloy and shaking off a second defender before centering for Clint Dempsey who scraped home the opening goal in the 39th minute. Just as the U.S. looked headed to halftime, Panama equalized when a long throw in led to a break in the defense and allowed Gabriel Gomez to put home the equalizer from close range.

Just after the break, Pulisic saw a great volley turned away by Baloy, while goalkeeper Tim Howard came up with two big stops to preserve the 1-1 draw and an important away point

After starting the March qualifying set in last place, the win and draw handed the USA four crucial points and moved the side up to fourth heading into June. 

WATCH: U.S. Battles Hard for Important Away Point in Panama

USA 2, Trinidad & Tobago 0 - June 8, 2017 in Commerce City, Colo.

With momentum for March, the U.S. took a high-altitude approach to its June set of qualifiers, playing a warmup friendly against Venezuela in Sandy, Utah, before taking on Trinidad & Tobago at the 5,280 feet provided by Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. Though favored against the Soca Warriors, the USA was left frustrated in the first half due to the stellar play of Jan-Michael Williams and entered the locker room knotted at 0-0.

The deadlock was broken in the 52nd minute when a clever pass from Jorge Villafaña found Christian Pulisic who poked home the opening goal. Ten minutes later, Jozy Altidore cleverly picked out Pulisic's run before the attacker slotted the icing goal past Williams, giving the USA a 2-0 victory and another crucial three points at home

WATCH: Pulisic Brace Hands U.S. 2-0 Win vs. Soca Warriors

Mexico 1, USA 1 - June 11, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico
With nearly two weeks of altitude adjustment under its belt, the U.S. Men's National Team headed to the vaunted Estadio Azteca to take on rivals Mexico on Matchday 6. A young U.S. midfield featuring Christian Pulisic, Paul Arriola and Kellyn Acosta was joined by captain Michael Bradley, who opened the scoring with a stunning goal just six minutes in. The veteran midfielder anticipated a pass in midfield, quickly countered and sent a 40-yard chip over Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. 

The U.S. continued attacking and came close again through Bobby Wood in the 23rd minute. The saved attempt was quickly collected by Ochoa who sent an outlet pass through midfield to start a Mexico counter and led to the equalizer through Carlos Vela. Both teams would trade chances the rest of the way and Bradley's second effort from distance rang off the post, but in the end, the sides would share the spoils, giving the USA its third all-time draw in World Cup Qualifying at Estadio Azteca

WATCH: Bradley Chip Spurs USA to Road Point at Azteca

USA 0, Costa Rica 2 - Sept. 1, 2017
Riding high off strong performances during June's World Cup Qualifiers and July's Gold Cup championship, the MNT welcomed fellow CONCACAF power Costa Rica to Red Bull Arena. While the U.S. had a number of dangerous opportunities, they were thwarted by the stellar play of goalkeeper Keylor Navas and an unlikely brace from Ticos and San Jose Earthquakes forward Marco Ureña in a 2-0 loss

WATCH: MNT Falls 2-0 to Costa Rica on Matchday 7

Honduras 1,  USA 1 - Sept. 5, 2017
Thanks to the home defeat vs. Costa Rica and other results on Matchday 7, the U.S. found itself with little room for error when it visited Honduras on Sept. 5. A mid-afternoon kickoff meant the players on the field were dealing with heat and humidity that made the temperature feel like it was over 100 degrees. Despite that factor, the MNT looked steady and comfortable through the early going, only to be undone when Rommel Quioto put the home side up 1-0 in the 27th  minute. Nail biting moments ensued, but the USA stayed composed and earned a late free kick when Christian Pulisic was upended about 10 yards from the penalty area. Kellyn Acosta's ensuing take was well saved by Honduras 'keeper Luis Lopez, but a scramble to the right of goal involving Matt Besler and Jordan Morris keeping the ball alive before Bobby Wood buried the dramatic 85th minute equalizer. The goal stood up through the remaining minutes as the U.S. earned an important 1-1 draw

With Honduras sitting level with the U.S. going into the match, the late goal was crucial in making sure the U.S stayed in control of its own destiny going into October's final set of matches. 

WATCH: How They Scored - Bobby Wood's Important Equalizer in Honduras

October 6, 2017 - USA vs. Panama
Historically speaking, the MNT will still be in need of points to qualify when they host Los Canaleros on Matchday 9. The U.S. has won all three of its previous home World Cup Qualifying matches against Panama, outscoring the Central American side 10-0 in process. Last go around, the USA also played a major role in denying Panama a potential place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup when Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson's stoppage time strikes doomed the nation to just missing out on CONCACAF's fourth-place playoff spot. The result has appeared to motivate an improved Panama side, with Los Canaleros playing the USA to four consecutive 1-1 draws, including March's result in Panama City, ever since.

The stakes for USA-Panama, presented by Volpi Foods, are similar to that 2013 match. A Panama win on U.S. soil would see the side book its first World Cup appearance, while a U.S. victory would push the MNT two points ahead of Los Canaleros, keeping the team in the driver's seat for its Matchday 10 visit to Trinidad & Tobago. 

WATCH: U.S. sees off Panama during 2013 Hex in Seattle 

All-Time WCQ Record vs. Panama: 5-0-2
All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Panama:
3-0-0

October 10, 2017 - Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA
In 1989, the MNT visited Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of World Cup Qualifying knowing that only a win would take the USA to its first World Cup since 1950. On that day, the task of winning away in Port of Spain was no foregone conclusion, and Paul Caligiuri’s “shot heard ‘around the world’ launched the modern era of U.S. Soccer. Flash forward almost 30 years, and anything less than three points there hasn’t met expectations. The MNT learned that lesson last in November 2015 following a 0-0 draw in its semifinal round match at Hasely Crawford Stadium. 

Similar to the match in 1989, this last qualifying game will have huge stakes for the United States, who will no doubt need some kind of result in Trinidad in order to book its ticket to Russia. Not so similar is the fact that the game will be played in tiny Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, approximately 45 minutes away from Hasely Crawford Stadium in the capital, Port of Spain. 

WATCH: Paul Caligiuri sends USA to first World Cup since 1950 

All-Time WCQ Record vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 13-1-3
All-Time Away WCQ Record at Trinidad & Tobago:
4-1-2

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MNT Sep 28, 2017

Q&A: Bruce Arena on the U.S. MNT's Successful June WCQ Camp

With a few days to reflect on the U.S. Men’s National Team’s successful June World Cup Qualifying camp, Bruce Arena spoke to ussoccer.com about his takeaways from the Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico games and outlook for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

ussoccer.com: On the first day of camp, you told the team about your plan for the two matches which centered around preparing two very different lineups to play in the June World Cup Qualifiers. How did you feel about the team’s response to the approach?

Bruce Arena: “I think there’s enough evidence there to indicate that they responded well to a plan that we had in place. When we came into camp, we had an unprecedented challenge ahead of us with playing two games at altitude and having two less days of rest between games than you typically have. We had to have a plan that not only enabled us to have fresh players available to play against Mexico, but also to deal with the altitude for the two games and the two weeks. Overall, I think the players did well.”

ussoccer.com: In playing nearly two different teams, you made the decision to insert younger players in the midfield, with Paul Arriola and Kellyn Acosta joining Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley. How did you feel they responded to being put into a game of that magnitude?

BA: “I think with Christian we saw the effects of the altitude. He played three full games for us when you include the Venezuela game, and he was really physically done near the 60-minute mark in Mexico and hung in there. That was good, but it also validated the fact that we did need to make changes when you see our fittest player struggling so much. I thought Paul Arriola did an excellent job on the right side of the field, and with a little bit more experience he’ll be a little bit better in passing and having more composure. It’s the same thing with Kellyn. His work rate was outstanding. He could be a little better passer of the ball, but I think the experience for him was outstanding as well.”

ussoccer.com: The U.S. MNT now has eight points and sits in third place after six Final Round World Cup Qualifiers. With you taking over a team that was rooted to the bottom at the start of the Hex, does it now feel like there’s a little more breathing room?

BA: “There’s a little bit more, but there’s not a whole lot. It’s a pretty tight race at this point, and I don’t think we have any interest in finishing fourth. Our goal is second or third place, because I think Mexico is far ahead and it’s unlikely we can catch them. We can be second or third and I don’t really care which way we end up, but we certainly don’t want to be in fourth. Stepping away from this camp, we recognize the home game against Costa Rica on Sept. 1 is critically important to making sure we finish in the top three.”

ussoccer.com: Michael Bradley scored a stunning goal early in the game against Mexico. Could you speak to the U.S. MNT captain’s performance and leadership since you returned as head coach?

BA: “I think he’s been pretty solid with his approach to everything. Michael has been consistently good for us, buys into everything we’re doing and leads the team that way. He’s been very good both on and off the field.”

WATCH: Bradley Discusses Highlight Reel Chip at Azteca

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MNT Jun 15, 2017

BY THE NUMBERS: U.S. MNT's June World Cup Qualifying

The U.S. Men’s National Team just completed a successful three-game stretch in June capped off with four massive points from two important World Cup Qualifiers – a 2-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago and another historic 1-1 draw away to Mexico

Here are some of the significant numbers that stick out:

16,995 feet or 3.2 miles – Combined elevation the U.S. MNT played at during its three June matches: Mexico City (7,382 feet), Commerce City, Colo. (5,164 feet) and Sandy, Utah (4,449 feet).

134 and 39 – Number of overall caps and World Cup Qualifying appearances made by Clint Dempsey. The U.S. forward is tied with Jeff Agoos for third all-time on the MNT caps list and just one World Cup Qualifying appearance behind U.S. MNT leader Landon Donovan (40).

Some current teammates are right on his heels in both categories

All-Time Time U.S. MNT Cap Leaders

All-Time U.S. MNT WCQ Cap Leaders

Cobi Jones

164

Landon Donovan

40

Landon Donovan

157

Clint Dempsey

39

Jeff Agoos

134

Jozy Altidore

37

Clint Dempsey

134

Tim Howard

36

Michael Bradley

133

Michael Bradley

35

Marcelo Balboa

127

DaMarcus Beasley

34 

92% - Average passing percentage in the opponent’s half by U.S. MNT outside backs Jorge Villafaña (92.6%) and DeAndre Yedlin (91.4%) in the 2-0 win vs. Trinidad & Tobago. 

51 – Number of all-time home World Cup Qualifying wins following the 2-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago. The USA is 51-5-12 in 68 all-time home World Cup Qualifying matches. 

WATCH: Michael Bradley Discusses His Chip Against Mexico at Estadio Azteca

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MNT Jun 13, 2017
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