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(Former) Bulls Abroad: Jeremy Hall and Manolo Sanchez help Puerto Rico to third round of Caribbean Cup qualifying

Puerto Rico is through to the business end of 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying, and has had a little help from some former RBNY players along the way,

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Two former New York Red Bulls popped up in Puerto Rico's recent friendly with USMNT:

Jeremy Hall currently plays for Tampa Bay Rowdies in NASL, but he was drafted 11th overall by RBNY in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft; ahead of AJ DeLaGarza (19th), Graham Zusi (23rd) and Mike Grella (34th). Hall made 46 appearances in all competitions for RBNY in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He was traded to Portland Timbers in the 2010 off-season for a third round draft pick (the Red Bulls used it on Billy Cortes, who never played for the club) ostensibly, but mostly for Portland's agreement to leave the Red Bulls' roster alone during the 2010 Expansion Draft.

Puerto Rico's first-ever game against USMNT was also Hall's first-ever game for Puerto Rico. And just as that game was part of the USA's preparation for an important summer tournament, so too was El Huracan Azul gearing up for meaningful matches: the second round of qualifying games for the 2017 Caribbean Cup.

On June 1, Puerto Rico played Grenada to a 3-3 tie - an epic fight back from three goals down after 38 minutes - and won the ensuing penalty shootout in Grenada.

On June 4, in Puerto Rico, the team got past Antigua and Barbuda in extra time. Hector Ramos scored the winner in the 115th minute.

The back-to-back wins mean Puerto Rico has won Group 1 of this round of Caribbean Cup qualifying. The team has to wait a few days until the rest of the qualifying tournament is over before finding out exactly what happens next, but it is guaranteed a place in the next round - and the group winners in the next round will not only compete for the 2017 Caribbean Cup but also should be awarded qualification to the 2017 Gold Cup.

Puerto Rico is still very much a long shot to make next year's Gold Cup, but the team has been steadily broadening its player pool recently (NYCFC's Jason Hernandez made his debut in the last round of Caribbean Cup qualifying), persuading experienced pros with Puerto Rican roots to join the cause. That project can presumably only benefit the longer Puerto Rico can keep itself involved in the hunt for qualification for major international tournaments.

Another pro scooped up in the most recent wave of additions to the squad is San Antonio FC's Manolo Sanchez, who was selected 79th overall by RBNY in the 2015 SuperDraft. Sanchez made his most significant contributions to the Red Bulls as part of NYRB II - he scored the reserve team's first-ever USL playoff goal in its first-ever USL playoff victory (4-2 over Pittsburgh Riverhounds).

Sanchez had a go at winning a contract with RBNY for 2016, but was released from preseason training camp and landed with USL's San Antonio FC. He made four appearances in all competitions for RBNY, logging 62 minutes.

Hall, Sanchez and the rest of the Puerto Rico national team now wait to find out who they will be playing this October in the third round of 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying.