WUHAN, China –
The U.S. Armed Forces Men’s Soccer team kicked off the 2019 CISM Military World Games in a match against the heavily favored team from the country of Qatar, a team that came in second place two years ago.
CISM, or the International Military Sports Council, holds the games every four years with more than 100 nations participating in 32 sports.
Under a blanket of gray clouds and intermittent rain showers, surrounded by the cityscape of Wuhan, this year’s host of CISM, the U.S. men’s team took the field saying they felt like the Miracle on Ice 1980 Olympics U.S. men’s ice hockey team. A feeling made all the more believable by the 1980 Team U.S.A. hockey jersey hanging in the team’s locker room for inspiration.
Yet, even with what could seem like insurmountable odds against his team, assistant coach Darrell ‘Rocky’ Fredin seemed to be more concerned with what it means to wear the nation’s colors and represent the country.
“It has been a blessing to be here and it is something every kid dreams of, to play in a world-class stadium against world-class teams.” Rocky also mentioned how the rain can be the great equalizer for a team.
The team spent its entire practice time, leading up to CISM, in Everett, Washington, where it has been similar weather to what it is experiencing today.
This team understands the immense challenge set before them to be able to win this entire event, so todayâ€™s match will act as a barometer for how the latest rendition of the Armed Forces Men's Soccer team stacks up against the competition. A win or close match would let the rest of the teams know they are not to be overlooked.
Throughout most of the first half of play, the U.S. team was in lock step with everything Qatar could kick at them. The U.S. team maintained a 0-0 score until a free kick in the 27th minute allowed Qatar to take a 1-0 lead. And that is when the U.S. team lost its way for the next 10 minutes. Ten minutes is all it took for Qatar to score two more goals to go up 3-0 before the half.
Whatever speech was given to the U.S. players in the locker room during halftime must have struck a chord as they came out strong and put consistent pressure on the Qatar team, but USA was still not able to find the back of the net. Both teams traded haymakers, but neither was able to land a decisive shot until in the 90th minute of regulation play when Cpl. Nicholas Heath of the United States Marine Corps was able to finish off a drive and put one on the board for the U.S. team to make it 3-1.
The U.S. team continued to put as much pressure as they could muster on Qatar, but it was not to be as the final whistle blew, signaling the end of a very hard-fought match for both teams.
Even with a loss such as this to a great team in Qatar, the U.S. team left the stadium with a sense of encouragement knowing they had done more than just play Qatar -- they played them pretty well. This team is fully aware of how simple breakdowns for a few minutes ultimately made the difference in this match.
”We made a couple of unfortunate errors that are simple things, simple things we need to fix in the next 48 hours until our next match,” said Heath.
Attending the match was Mr. Steven Dinote, U.S. chief of delegation, who said ”I could not be prouder. They faced one of the top teams in the world and they seemed to control most of the match. Our guys played a highly professional match and represented us proudly.”
The U.S. Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Team played Qatar in their first preliminary round of CISM and faced Ireland Saturday, losing a hard-fought match 2-0.