A slow start by the World team and a mistake in the penalty box led to an early USA lead on a penalty kick. Brandon Ruess, USA defender, stepped up to the penalty spot and shot it past World goalkeeper Ondrej Mlynek of Czech Republic.
The two teams settled in after the penalty for a back and forth first half, a great indicator to how well the teams matched up, said Jeff Cornuet, USA coach.
“It was a great game,” he said. “The international team came ready to play, and they played us hard.”
At half-time, both coaches emphasized hustle and smart passing as keys for the rest of the game, and the message was apparent as both teams came out forcing the attack in the second half.
It was hustle out of World player Linas Janauskas that opened scoring for the visiting team, and pulled a little momentum their way. The Lithuanian intercepted a pass in space and was one-on-one with USA goalkeeper, Jose Bustamonte, who missed the ball to his left.
The rest of the second half continued at a faster pace with the USA defense forced to endure pressure from the World players, who managed five more shots on goal.
Even with the extra pressure, the World couldn’t break through for the tying goal. World team captain, Ariel DeJesus Mesa Garavito from Columbia, attributed language barriers between the 13 countries represented on their squad as their biggest hurdle to putting more goals on the scoreboard.
“It was a good game, and we tried our best,” he said. “The USA had a good team.”
Late in the match, Matt Fernandez provided the insurance goal for USA, sealing the final score.
This year, the USA team was represented by Soldiers in various courses on Fort Leonard Wood and post soccer team players, as opposed to past years when the team was made up exclusively of post- team players. The World team was made up of international students.
Cornuet, one of the last participants of all six USA versus the World games, said this match is an important part of building relations with the international students here.
“I think this is a very important game, because it’s an exchange between Fort Leonard Wood and our international visitors,” he said. “We’re using a game that is known and loved internationally to welcome them and make them a part of our community.”
Amanda Koren of the International Military Student Office agreed.
“This game is one of the best ways they can come together in a competition setting that is all for fun,” she said. “I’m just sad we lost again.”
This game and the annual Know Your World event are the two biggest opportunities for Fort Leonard Wood and the surrounding communities to meet and interact with the international students, Koren added.