Smith, Ruidíaz lift Sounders past Galaxy

SEATTLE (AP) — Brad Smith scored one goal and assisted on another, Raúl Ruidíaz scored twice, and the Seattle Sounders stymied Javier Hernández and the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 3-0 win on Sunday night.

Seattle remained unbeaten on the young season, getting a pair of goals three minutes apart in the first half and keeping Chicharito from continuing his early-season scoring barrage for the Galaxy.

It was Seattle’s goal-scoring sniper who gave the Sounders the early advantage in the 20th minute, when Ruidíaz volleyed a cross from Smith past Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.

Three minutes later, Smith completed a terrific build up by the Sounders following up his initial shot that was saved by Bond for his second straight game with a goal. Smith had Seattle’s only goal in its 1-1 draw with Los Angeles FC last week.

Ruidíaz added a second goal late in second-half stoppage time, giving him four goals on the young season.

“We all know what we kind of need to do in every position. … For me personally it’s good that I can go forward and join the attack,” Smith said. “I can definitely get forward more and help the team.”

While Seattle gave itself numerous scoring chances at the Galaxy goal, its defense also managed to make Chicharito mostly invisible after his blistering start to the season.

“They’re a very good team who has been together for a while and exposed a lot of things for us, and for me that that we need to continue to improve upon. That’s what today was,” first-year Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said.

Hernández had five goals in the first two games for the Galaxy, scoring a pair in their opening 3-2 victory over Inter Miami and following up with a hat trick in last week’s 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls. Hernández was just the second player in league history to have five goals in the first two games of the season, joining former Houston star Brian Chang.

Seattle was determined not to let Chicharito have the same influence. Hernández had just one shot and never found himself open in a scoring position. The Galaxy had just two shots on goal in the match.

“I thought we just did a really nice job of cutting off his service and not allowing him to dictate game inside the penalty box,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.

There was also a brief injury scare early in the second half when Hernández landed awkwardly leaping for a header and immediately grabbed at his left foot. Hernández was checked by athletic trainers and after a couple minutes of limping appeared to be fine.

Seattle’s domination in possession and limiting touches for Hernández led to numerous scoring chances for the Sounders in the second half. Kelyn Rowe had a pair of terrific chances, the best a header that bounced of the crossbar and post but didn’t cross the goal line.

Seattle finished with nine shots on goal, but it was the defensive effort that drew most of the praise. Seattle and Orlando City are the only two teams in the league to have played three games and allowed just one goal.

“It’s difficult to break us down and that’s what we wanted to do. … You saw a little bit of frustration form Chicharito and I thought defensively we did a very good job,” Rowe said.

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USMNT scores late, beats Dominican in Olympic qualifying

U.S. coach Jason Kreis was dismayed by his team’s scoreless first half against the Dominican Republic in qualifying for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament.

“I felt that we were just way too cautious about the game,” Kreis said. “We just weren’t getting the job done. So for me it was mostly about positioning but also about intent and attitude.”

Jackson Yueill redirected Sebastian Salcedo’s cross for the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute to get the offense untracked, and second-half substitute Hassani Dotson added a pair of goals in a 4-0 victory on Sunday night at Guadalajara, Mexico, that advanced the U.S. to a qualification match on March 28.

Djordje Mihailovic, another second-half sub, had a goal and two assists for the U.S., trying to reach the Olympics for the first time since 2012.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Mexico beat Costa Rica 3-0 on goals by Uriel Antuna, Alexis Vega and Sebastián Córdova.

Mexico leads Group A on goal difference over the U.S. and meets the Americans on Wednesday to determine matchups in the semifinals against teams from Group B, most likely Honduras and Canada. Semifinal winners qualify for the Olympics.

“We will want to beat Mexico. We will want to win this group,” Kreis said.

American players did not generate sufficient attempts in the first half.

“The picture that they were presenting to us was extremely defensive — five players in the back, nobody releasing in wide spaces and both of our fullbacks were extremely hesitant about going forward,” Kreis said. “So it just didn’t add up or make any sense, We needed to get those players really high. We needed to be looking for wide combinations.”

Playing two days after his 24th birthday, Yueill scored just after Johnny Cardoso hit the crossbar. Substitutes were waiting on the sidelines at the time to come in for both Yueill and Cardoso.

Dotson, who replaced Cordoso, scored on a right-foot shot from just inside the penalty area in the 73rd minute off a short pass from Mihailovic, who came in for Salcedo. Dotson combined with Mihailovic again in the 78th, scoring on a right-foot shot from 8 yards, and Mihailovic scored on a sliding shot from 3 yards in the first minute of stoppage time off a cross from Benji Michel, another second-half sub.

“Hassani is a player that’s coming into his own,” Kreis said. “He showed up to this camp probably fitter than everybody else.”

Olympic men’s soccer qualifying is limited to players born Jan. 1, 1997, or later, and each team reaching the Olympics can add three wild-card players.

The U.S. failed to reach the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, a setback that preceded the senior national team’s failure to reach the 2018 World Cup.

The U.S made six changes from the starting lineup in the opening 1-0 win over Costa Rica, when Jesús Ferreira scored in the 35th minute,

JT Marcinkowski started in goal in place of David Ochoa, Julian Araujo at right back for Aaron Herrera and Henry Kessler at central defender for Mauricio Pineda, joining central defender Justen Glad and left back Sam Vines.

Jackson Yueill was in defensive midfield, and Cardoso, Saucedo and Andrés Perea joined Jonathan Lewis in advanced midfield, replacing Dotson, Mihailovic and Michel. Ferreira again headed the attack, then was replaced by Sebastian Soto at the start of the second half.

The Dominican Republic, coming off an opening 4-1 loss to Mexico, started six teenagers as part of the youngest roster in the tournament.

In contrast to the U.S., the Dominican team did not have player names on their uniforms. FIFA’s regulations say it is not compulsory for the name of the player to appear on his shirt during qualifying.

“Maybe it’s the lack of experience. Maybe we were a little bit out of rhythm. Mentally I think we can do better,” Dominican Republic coach Jonathan Himelfarb said. “But effort the first 60 minutes I was really proud, and definitely the future is bright for the Dominican Republic Football Association.”

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Ferreira, Arriola, Lewis score 2 goals each as U.S. men rout Trinidad, 7-0

  • U.S. midfielder Kellyn Acosta, left, and Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Fortune battle for a header during the first half of their exhibition match on Sunday night in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • Trinidad and Tobago defender Leland Archer (5) and goalkeeper Adrian Foncette (22) block a shot by the United States during the first half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • United States forward Jesus Ferreira (9) and forward Paul Arriola (7) celebrate after Arriola scored a goal during the first half of an international friendly soccer match against Trinidad and Tobago, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Adrian Foncette (22) blocks a header by United States forward Jonathan Lewis (14) during the first half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • The United States forward Jonathan Lewis (14) is congratulated by teammates Kellyn Acosta (10), Aaron Herrera (2), and Paul Arriola (7) after Lewis scored a goal during the first half of an international friendly soccer match against Trinidad and Tobago, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • The United States forward Jesus Ferreira (9) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the first half of an international friendly soccer match against Trinidad and Tobago, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Adrian Foncette #22 of Trinidad and Tobago stops a shot from Jesús Ferreira #9 of the United States during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Adrian Foncette #22 of Trinidad and Tobago stops a shot from Jesús Ferreira #9 of the United States during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Adrian Foncette, left, catches a ball in front of United States forward Jesus Ferreira (9) during the first half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • United States defender Miles Robinson, left, and Trinidad and Tobago forward Ryan Telfer, right, battle for a header during the first half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • United States goalkeeper Matt Turner, center, is congratulated by defenders Aaron Long (3) and Miles Robinson (12) after stopping a penalty kick by Trinidad and Tobago defender Alvin Jones during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Kellyn Acosta #10 of the United States passes during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • United States defender Miles Robinson (12) and Trinidad and Tobago forward Ryan Telfer (7) collide while going for the ball during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • Trinidad and Tobago forward Ryan Telfer (7) is kicked in the face by United States midfielder Andre Perea (8) while going for the ball during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Paul Arriola #7 of the United States passes during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Duane Muckette (10), left, and United States midfielder Kellyn Acosta (10) compete for the ball during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • United States defender Miles Robinson (12) passes a ball in front of Trinidad and Tobago forward Ryan Telfer (7) during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • Trinidad and Tobago defender Jamal Jack, left, wins a header in front of United States defender Aaron Long (3) during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • United States defender George Bello, left, and Trinidad and Tobago defender Alvin Jones (16) battle for control of the ball during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • United States defender Aaron Herrera (2) heads the ball in front of Trinidad and Tobago forward Jabari Mitchell (11) during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • Trinidad and Tobago head coach Terry Fenwick calls out instructions during the second half of an international friendly soccer match against the United States, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • United States forward Jonathan Lewis (14) reacts after scoring a goal past Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Adrian Foncette (22) during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jonathan Lewis #14 of the United States celebrates a goal during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jonathan Lewis #14 of the United States celebrates a goal during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Adrian Foncette #22 of Trinidad and Tobago stops a shot from Jonathan Lewis #14 of the United States during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Adrian Foncette #22 of Trinidad and Tobago stops a shot from Sebastian Lletget #17 of the United States during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Paul Arriola #7 of the United States celebrates a goal during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Paul Arriola #7 of the United States celebrates a goal with Jesús Ferreira #9 during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Adrian Foncette #22 of Trinidad and Tobago stops a shot from Jonathan Lewis #14 of the United States during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Adrian Foncette #22 of Trinidad and Tobago stops a shot from Paul Arriola #7 of the United States during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jackson Yueill #6 of the United States passes during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Andre Fortune #8 of Trinidad and Tobago and Kellyn Acosta #10 of the United States fights for the ball during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Miles Robinson #12 of the United States passes during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Andre Fortune #8 of Trinidad and Tobago and Kellyn Acosta #10 of the United States fights for the ball during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Sebastian Lletget #17 of the United States passes during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jesús Ferreira #9 of the United States celebrates a goal during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jesús Ferreira #9 of the United States and Leland Archer #5 of Trinidad and Tobago fights for the ball during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Paul Arriola #7 of the United States takes a shot on Jamal Jack #12 of Trinidad and Tobago during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Alvin Jones #16 of Trinidad and Tobago takes a header during a game against the the United States at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Sean Bonval #17 of Trinidad and Tobago takes a shot on goal during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Aaron Long #3 of the United States and Jonathon Jimenez #4 of Trinidad and Tobago fights for the ball during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Paul Arriola #7 of the United States reacts to a play during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jonathan Lewis #14 of the United States celebrates a goal during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Kellyn Acosta #10 of the United States and Leland Archer #5 of Trinidad and Tobago fights for the ball during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Kellyn Acosta #10 of the United States and Leland Archer #5 of Trinidad and Tobago fights for the ball during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jesús Ferreira #9 of the United States passes during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Adrian Foncette #22 of Trinidad and Tobago makes a svae during a game against the the United States at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jesús Ferreira #9 of the United States passes around Jonathon Jimenez #4 of Trinidad and Tobago during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jamal Jack #12 of Trinidad and Tobago and Kellyn Acosta #10 of the United States fights for the ball during a game at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 31: Jesús Ferreira #9 of the United States looks on during a game against the Trinidad and Tobago at Exploria Stadium on January 31, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Jesús Ferreira gained U.S. citizenship on Dec. 16, 2019, and made his debut for the American national team last Feb. 1. Then he struggled through his second season with Dallas with one goal in 19 Major League Soccer matches.

“Obviously kind of upset,” he said. “I took it as you have to do better. You have to make sure that 2021 is a way better year than the past two years.”

Ferrieira scored his first two international goals and had three assists, leading the United States over a rusty Trinidad and Tobago, 7-0, in an exhibition match on Sunday night.

Paul Arriola and Jonathan Lewis scored twice each for a U.S. roster missing its Europe-based players.

Coming off a 6-2 victory over Panama in November with top American players and a 6-0 rout of El Salvador last month with a group mostly from MLS, the U.S. outshot the Soca Warriors 19-2 and scored five goals for a third consecutive game for the first time. The last time three Americans scored two goals in a game was an 8-1 rout of the Cayman Islands in a 1993 friendly led by Joe-Max Moore, Dominic Kinnear and Mark Chung.

“It wasn’t a World Cup qualifying-caliber team based on who they had available,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said of Trinidad and Tobago, “but nonetheless, it was good to see the focus.”

Ferreira was born in Santa Marta, Colombia, and grew up in Barranquilla the son of David Ferreira, a midfielder who scored three goals in 39 international appearances for Colombia. He moved to Texas when his dad played for Dallas in MLS from 2009-13, and the family remained there even when his father switched clubs starting in 2014. He played in the Dallas academy, made a brief pro debut in 2017 and spent 2018 on loan with the Tulsa Roughnecks of the second-tier United Soccer League.

Berhalter used the 20-year-old Ferreira as a center forward who can drop back into the midfield.

“When you have wingers who can threaten the back line, you can afford to drop a striker in, because you still get that verticality,” Berhalter said. “What we talked to him about today was arriving in the penalty box, and he certainly did that. So to me, it was a complete performance.”

Lewis scored his first and second international goals, and Miles Robinson got his first.

Arriola, who last month made his first start since tearing his right ACL on Feb. 15, scored twice as the U.S. took a 4-0 halftime lead to give him three goals in his last two international matches. Arriola and Sebastian Lletget were the players on the field most likely to see significant time with the full group.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner and right back Aaron Herrera started in their debuts as the U.S. went again without Europe-based players, and 20-year-old midfielder Andrés Perea entered at the start of the second half in his debut then conceded a penalty kick with a high boot to Ryan Telfer in the 65th minute.

Perea, who plays for Orlando, started for Colombia at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and 2019 Under-20 World Cup.

Turner, 26, leaped to his right to stop Alvin Jones’ penalty kick.

“A late bloomer,” Berhalter said. “Really performs well in the league, gets his opportunity with the national team, debuts, saves a penalty to maintain the shutout? It’s a storybook, a storybook type of saga.”

George Bello debuted in the 64th, Daryl Dike in the 65th and Tanner Tessmann in the 78th. There have been 63 debuts since the October 2017 loss at Trinidad that prevented the Americans from reaching the 2018 World Cup, including 40 in 23 matches since Berhalter became the coach.

The 22nd-ranked Americans played just four matches in 2020, their fewest since 1987, but figure to have a far busier 2021. Two exhibitions in Europe are likely in March, the U.S. meets Honduras in June in a semifinal of the first CONCACAF Nations League, and the Americans travel to Trinidad in early September for the start of World Cup qualifying delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Among starters, Ferreira, Lewis, Robinson, Vines, Herrera and Yueill are eligible for Olympic qualifiers in March, limited to players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997.

“The earlier we can get our hands on them, the earlier we can work with them and I think the better off this whole program will be in the future,” Berhalter said.

Lewis put the U.S. ahead 1:40 in off a pass from Ferreira, and Ferreira doubled the lead in the ninth minute with a left-footed volley from 6 yards. Arriola scored in the 22nd with a 12-yard right-footed shot and in the 41st with his left foot from just outside the penalty area.

Robinson made it 5-0 in the 52nd with a short-range diving header, Lewis got his second goal from 18 yards in the 55th, and Ferreira scored again in the 62nd with a right-footed shot from near the penalty spot.

No. 103 Trinidad played for the first time under Coach Terry Fenwick, a defender from England’s 1986 World Cup squad, and for the first time since November 2019. T&T opens World Cup qualifying March 24 against Guyana and is favored to advance from a first-round group that also includes the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and St. Kitts and Nevis.

Seven goals AND a penalty save. 🙌

Quick highlights from tonight’s win vs. 🇹🇹. pic.twitter.com/8LXJ6dSidr

— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) February 1, 2021

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Galaxy knocks off Real Salt Lake to remain in chase for playoff spot

CARSON >> The Galaxy’s playoff chances are still alive thanks to Sunday’s complete effort against Real Salt Lake.

It had been a difficult week with the firing of coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto and staff, Thursday. Assistant coach Dominic Kinnear was installed as interim coach for the second time in the last three years.

Whatever Kinnear told them, it worked as the Galaxy looked balanced and compact from the outset of the game.

Giancarlo Gonzalez (18th minute) and Cristian Pavon (65th) provided the goals and the team dug in their heels on defense and recorded a hard-fought 2-1 win over RSL.

“I’m really happy for the win, really happy for the guys,” Kinnear said. It keeps the playoff hopes alive. I thought the first 45 minutes we were very good, created some very good chances, kept our shape really well, limited their looks.

“Obviously in the 2nd half we were a little bit sloppy with the ball in some bad areas, getting caught forward at times when we should be a little bit more alert to when the ball is turning, over especially on the goal for them. Then you have to give Salt Lake credit, they were throwing a lot of numbers forward. We looked a little tired, I’ll be honest with you on that, they were kind of hanging on a little on there at the end ….So first 45 (minutes), I give a complete thumbs up to everything we spoke about and the second 45, I just give them a thumbs up for absolute heart and courage, so congratulations to them.”

With MLS using points per game to decide the playoff positioning due to some teams, including the Galaxy, not being able to reach the complete 23-game regular season, the win moves the Galaxy points per game average to 1.05, leaving the club in fourth place in a four-team race for the final two remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference.

The Galaxy had the perfect first half to erase its porous performance from last Wednesday’s game against the Portland Timbers. In that game, the Galaxy allowed three goals in the first 30 minutes on its way to a 5-2 loss.

Gonzalez opened the scoring rising for a header off a free kick in the 18th minute. For the remainder of the first half, the Galaxy, from man-to-man, went about their job doing the extra work, something that has been missing for long stretches this season.

In the 51st minute, Gonzalez, again came up with a big moment, racing back to clear a shot by Corey Baird off of the line.

With the game sitting at 1-0, Pavon worked some of his magic, beating three RSL defenders and sliding a perfectly placed ball by a goalkeeper Andrew Putna for a 2-0 lead.

“Well, I think everyone is mentally disappointed at what happened with the coaching change,” Kinnear said. “I think any time that happens, you have to have a feel for the situation and your involvement in it. So like I’ve said before, Guillermo (Barros Schelotto) is I think a very good coach and I think a very good person, so any time that happens to anybody you spend a lot of time with there is a touch of sadness, especially when you have a little bit of responsibility, we all do, with what’s happened in the situation for the Galaxy this year.

“I thought the first little bit of the game, I thought we looked good for a goal we were getting to the byline a couple of times and looking menacing. So I think when that (Giancarlo Gonzalez) goal went in, it gave the guys a complete lift, you know even at halftime it gives them something to hold onto and to protect.”

The Galaxy will return to action Wednesday at home against the Seattle Sounders and then conclude the regular season Sunday in Portland against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“What we want the next three games is what we saw tonight, give our all, try to win them all because we know we have a good team with good players,” Gonzalez said. “We have to give it our best shot to prove to ourselves that we can compete with honor and pride.”

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LAFC defeats Houston to clinch MLS playoff berth

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Football Club is spending the final games of the regular season focused on fine-tuning its game for the upcoming MLS playoffs, but the club is not yet playing like the contender Coach Bob Bradley expects his team to be.

Thanks to a pair of first-half goals, LAFC (9-7-4, 31 points) held off the visiting Houston Dynamo for a 2-1 win on Wednesday night at Banc of California Stadium and clinched a postseason berth.

With the win, Bradley moves into third place in MLS history with 170 career wins, trailing Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid.

The win was the second in a row for LAFC and the fourth in its past six games, but Bradley felt it wasn’t the best performance.

“It’s always good to take three points, but I didn’t believe we played well,” he said. “The second half, not just the second half, I don’t think we played well. We scored goals early. We were very careless, casual.

“We spoke about it at halftime. Started the second half and immediately allowed Houston right back into the game. Not enough guys really taking responsibility, being sharp enough. So tonight has got to be a game that we look at as a lesson. We’ve got two regular-season games left, and we’ve got to be harder on each other. We’ve got to raise the bar a little bit.”

Diego Rossi opened the scoring in the ninth minute, assisted by Mohameed El-Munir.

In the 22nd minute, Eddie Segura had the ball roll to his right foot just outside the 6-yard box, and he fired it into the net to give LAFC a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.

The game remained at 2-0 thanks to a penalty kick stop by goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer on Mauro Manotas.

After halftime, Houston broke through in the 46th minute on a goal by former L.A. Galaxy product Ari Lassiter.

Later, in the 59th minute, LAFC caught another break when Houston’s Matias Vera received his second yellow card and was sent off, leaving the Dynamo a man down for the remainder of the match.

LAFC nearly had a 3-1 lead in the 52nd minute, but Rossi was called offside after he finished the play with a simple tap-in.

Things eventually became a little too close for comfort for LAFC in the 86th minute when referee Ramy Touchan called a foul on Latif Blessing and pointed to the penalty spot. However, after taking a look at the video review, Touchan waived off the penalty, allowing LAFC to breathe a sigh of relief.

“We have high standards, and I don’t think a game like tonight is good enough in any way,” Bradley said. “Two regular-season matches left, you’ve really got to try to hit the playoffs with confidence, with sharpness and with a mentality that we’re a team that’s going to fight every game, play our football, compete, and try to move and get ourselves to a final and win an MLS Cup.

“So we were pretty critical after the game inside the locker room tonight because it’s a message that everyone has to understand.”

Despite the win, it wasn’t all good news for LAFC. The club announced at halftime that a player had tested positive for COVID-19. The testing was done Tuesday. All other players and members of the club underwent additional rapid testing before Wednesday’s game and returned negative tests.

Upon receiving the initial positive result, the player self-isolated and will remain in isolation and be monitored by the LAFC medical staff.

“Yes, we had a positive test,” Bradley said. “Our player was retested again today. We’ll wait for more information. Guys have done an excellent job throughout this whole thing, and so the club is doing all the right things, and hopefully we can move forward with that.”

LAFC next plays Sunday on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Lucky number 1⃣3⃣. #LAFCvHOU pic.twitter.com/jQeoYEFUn3

— LAFC (@LAFC) October 29, 2020

ANOTHER ONE!!!

🚫@kennethvermeer 🚫#LAFCvHOU 2-0 pic.twitter.com/UWVqaFJz9R

— LAFC (@LAFC) October 29, 2020

Offense, defense, @eddiesegura02 can do it all.

Replay presented by @Heineken_US. #LAFC pic.twitter.com/idsBJmcK1L

— LAFC (@LAFC) October 29, 2020

“Be sharp, train hard. When the team needs me I try to be there for them” @kennethvermeer after a clutch performance against Houston. #LAFC pic.twitter.com/vBD5qZEUpA

— LAFC (@LAFC) October 29, 2020

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Kai Koreniuk’s late goal snaps Galaxy’s six-game losing streak

CARSON — As frustrating as the six-game losing streak had been, Sunday’s effort almost fell in the same category until the 90th minute.

Just when it looked as though the Galaxy’s best collective effort in a month would go to waste, late sub Kai Koreniuk scored the lone goal of the game to lift the Galaxy (5-9-3, 18 points) to a much-needed 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at Dignity Health Sports Park.

“First of all, the goal was just awesome, it was really cool,” he said. “Really awesome to score, just absolute adrenaline rush to get that opportunity to get that goal.

“I did speak with (Galaxy coach) Guillermo (Barros Schelotto) about a week ago. I hadn’t been in the (gameday) lineup so I just wanted to ask him is there anything I can do or what can I do and he just said just be patient, keep working hard and your chance will come. … And here I am.”

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Cristian Pavon (10) jumps in the air to attempt a goal shot against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann (33) makes a save against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Kai Koreniuk (28) reacts after scoring the wining goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Javier Hernandez (14) vies for the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy defender Emiliano Insua (3) goes after a lose ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy defender Perry Kitchen (2) headers the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Yony Gonzalez (11) vies for the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Kai Koreniuk (28) dribbles the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget (17) tries to recover the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Yony Gonzalez (11) vies for the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget (17) kicks the ball against against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Cristian Pavon (10) moves the ball against Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jake Nerwinski (28) during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Yony Gonzalez (11) dribbles the ball against Vancouver Whitecaps defender Ranko Veselinovic (4) during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto looks on during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez (26) fights for the ball Vancouver Whitecaps defender Ali Adnan (53) during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Javier Hernandez (14) takes a goal shot against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez (26) looks for an open teammate against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy defender Julian Araujo (22) brings the ball down the pitch against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Javier Hernandez (14) brings the ball down the pitch against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Sunday October 18, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

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After several near-misses in the second half, Cristian Pavon’s cross found a streaking Koreniuk, who was making a near-post run. All he had to do was get it by Evan Bush and that’s what he did.

“Sometimes when a team need to win, sometimes they change and get nervous and then get disorganized,” Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. “The team played well, we managed the ball and the game. We never could get the goal, but it appeared in the last minute and we deserved to win.”

It was Koreniuk’s first goal of his MLS career and just his second appearance. He’s played a total of four minutes. He entered the game in the 87th minute, replacing Sebastian Lletget.

Koreniuk, 22, was signed from LA Galaxy II in June. Last year, he was the LA Galaxy II Player of the Year.

“I’m just trying to be patient, just waiting for my chance,” he said of his season so far. “Working hard in training and then whenever I do get an opportunity like this, try to pounce on it. There’s not really much I can do just be patient and try to be a like a spark plug for the team when I come on.”

As the losses mounted in recent weeks, the seat upon which coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto sat got warmer and warmer. He’s in the second year of a three-year contract. Last year’s team, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic made the playoffs. This year, things haven’t gone smoothly at all.

During the losing streak, the Galaxy often appeared overmatched, but things looked different in the first half Sunday as it came out compact on defense, kept its shape and one with a plan going forward, two areas the team looked incapable of doing in previous games.

The first substitution was made by the Galaxy with Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez coming on in the 50th minute to replace Yony Gonzalez.

Gonzalez showed signs of being a dangerous threat in the first half, working his way into good positions, but was taken down by the Vancouver defense several times and it took a physical toll that left him limping off the field.

In the second half, the Galaxy had its moments, but couldn’t capitalize and seemed almost certain to walk off the field with a scoreless draw.

Chicharito had at least three point-blank chances to add to his one-goal total on the season, but he had one shot blocked by a Vancouver defender, another he sent into the empty stands and the third he wasn’t able to steer it on goal.

“He (Chicharito) started on the bench because I decided to play with only one striker and I decided on Yony Gonzalez,” Schelotto said. “It was important for the team to win, and maybe he will feel a little less pressure because everyone was talking about him and I think this will be very good for him to get confidence and to be calm.”

The Galaxy hadn’t won since Sept. 6, the final victory in a four-game winning streak. The club followed that with a scoreless draw against San Jose and it had been all losses since then.

This was the second meeting between the teams. Vancouver defeated the Galaxy 1-0 all the way back on March 7, the Galaxy’s home opener.

The Galaxy will return to action Sunday, Oct. 25 at LAFC.

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Galaxy continues downward spiral with a sixth consecutive loss

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Cristian Pavon (10) tries to recover the ball against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Wednesday October 14, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy defender Emiliano Insua (3) vies for a header against San Jose Earthquakes forward Cristian Espinoza (10) during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Wednesday October 14, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Sacha Kljestan (16) headers the ball against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Wednesday October 14, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Yony Gonzalez (11) vies for a header against San Jose Earthquakes defender Tanner Beason (15) during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Wednesday October 14, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Yony Gonzalez (11) looks for an open teammate against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Wednesday October 14, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Cristian Pavon (10) brings the ball up the pitch against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Wednesday October 14, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Javier Hernandez (14) maneuvers the ball around San Jose Earthquakes defender Tanner Beason (15) during the first half of a Major League Soccer match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Wednesday October 14, 2020. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

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CARSON — If last week’s loss to Portland was considered a low point by coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, then the Galaxy slipped even further Wednesday.

The Galaxy again turned in a listless performance at Dignity Health Sports Park and was played off the field by its Northern California rival as the San Jose Earthquakes won 4-0.

The loss was the sixth consecutive for the Galaxy (4-9-3), a team that is mired in last place, stuck on 15 points, in the Western Conference. The six-game losing streak is the longest for the Galaxy since 2007.

San Jose was in the Galaxy’s shoes just last month, but with the win, its fourth in the last five games, the Earthquakes (6-7-5, 23 points) have moved above the playoff line and into sixth place.

The questions facing the Galaxy front office after this performance is whether this group, with Schelotto in charge, can mount a late-season charge to save the season or is it time to make an in-season coaching change?

The Galaxy has six games remaining in the regular season, with a potential seventh, a makeup game with Colorado that has yet to be rescheduled.

The Galaxy’s troubles began early Wednesday as the Earthquakes took control of the game by creating chances and threatening the backline. In the 44th minute, their work paid off as Nick Lima opened the scoring as he found himself open after taking a pass from Andres Rios.

The Galaxy was lucky to be trailing only 1-0 at halftime. In the second half, things went from bad to worse.

San Jose went up 2-0 on a goal by Rios in the 52nd minute, and that was followed by Tommy Thompson with a top class strike from a tight angle from the right side of the goal.

Lima capped the night’s scoring with a shot from distance in the third minute of extra time.

The Galaxy managed just three shots on goal, and to complicate matters Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was subbed off in the 54th minute.

Jonathan Klinsmann got the start in goal for the Galaxy, replacing David Bingham. Since he joined the Galaxy in 2018, Bingham has started all but two games.

 

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San Jose wins 2nd straight, beats LA Galaxy

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Andy Ríos scored on a penalty kick in the 82nd minute and the San Jose Earthquakes beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 on Saturday night.

The Earthquakes (4-6-5) have won two straight, both against Los Angeles teams. The Galaxy (4-7-3) have lost their last four.

Sebastian Lletget scored his sixth goal of the season to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead four minutes in when he punched in a short rebound that was ricocheted off the post on a shot by Javier “Chicahrito” Hernández.

Twenty-year-old Marcos Lopez tied it at the 42nd minute mark with his first MLS goal, scoring on an uncontested shot from about 12 yards out.

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Yuelli, San Jose shock LAFC in late match victory

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jackson Yueill’s tap-in goal in extra time lifted San Jose to a 2-1 comeback win over LAFC on Sunday night. Christian Espinoza set up Yueill’s goal, weaving through defenders to the left of the goal for a perfect center to Yueill in the 93rd minute. San Jose (3-6-5) knotted it in the 80th minute when Shea Salinas stopped his run driving to the left, crossed over to the right and sent a blast past the keeper. Mark-Anthony Kaye scored his third goal of the season at the 45th minute to put LAFC (5-6-3) on top. The loss prevented LAFC from rising to third place in the Western Conference.

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LA Galaxy unbeaten in 6 games, tie Earthquakes 0-0

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — David Bingham made two saves to help the LA Galaxy to a scoreless draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday night.

The Galaxy (4-3-3) stretched their unbeaten streak to six but had their four-match win streak snapped. Los Angeles has outscored opponents 11-4 during the stretch.

San Jose (2-4-4) hasn’t won since returning from the MLS is Back tournament, losing three of five matches, including a 7-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders on Thursday night.

Andy Rios’ goal in the 89th minute for San Jose was called back due to offsides. Jackson Yueill had a clear shot in the 34th from inside the 18-yard box, but Bingham deflected the ball away. Guram Kashia had the Earthquakes’ only other shot on target.

Daniel Vega made two saves for the Earthquakes. Vega stopped Sebastian Lletget’s near-post header from the center of the 6-yard box. Lletget scored twice in the Galaxy’s 3-0 over Los Angeles FC on Sept. 6.

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