The Armed Forces USA Soccer team has been holding trials since June 6 to choose their 18-man squad that will travel to Baku, Azerbaijan to compete in the Military World Cup.
The trials began with 40 players from all branches of service from duty stations all over the world. The team is now down to 20 competitors and will cut the final two players Thursday.
Team USA faced Bethesda University in a friendly match on the 11-area turf field here, June 24, to prepare them for the tournament.
Team USA won first kick-off and began the game with a lob to the back field putting immediate pressure on Bethesda, but the young and fast Bethesda players made every foot gained a hard-fought battle.
The first goal was scored via penalty kick by number seven, Marine Sgt. Felipe Magallon within the first ten minutes. He kicked the ball into the lower right corner as the Bethesda goalie dove left.
With first blood drawn, Bethesda was looking to even the score, but the gap was widened when Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Schinelli launched the ball towards team mate 1st Lt. Kevin Rosser, an airmen who connected with a header for the score in the 16th minute.
With a 2-0 lead, Team USA strategized practicing good ball management and defense.
After nearly 30 minutes of battles over possession, Magallon received the ball around the 30-yard line with a head start on the defender. The break-away paired with a great shot from Magallon seconds before the half time whistle blew. It was his second goal of the night.
“It’s one of the best feelings, especially now that we’re representing the United States, not only the Marine Corps, but the entire Armed Forces,” said Magallon about hissuccessful attempts on goal.
Leading 3-0 at the games half, both teams made substitutions. Team USA was trying to keep the lead with substituting fresh players in as Bethesda attempted to route their opponents in the second half but putting more forward pressure on the ball.
The field lights flickered on and the second half began. This time the game was a little different, because of the fresh players and teams having new strategies.
Team USA maintained their momentum and scored yet another goal, even with Bethesda putting fresh legs on the field right at the start of the second half. This time the goal was delivered by Air Force 1st Lt. Richard Nova.
Nova explained that it was great to finally score, “I’ve had a scoring drought the last few weeks, finally getting one in the goal feels great.”
Minutes later freshman Daniel Carrillo of Bethesda saw his chance and took it by sending the ball streaking through the air toward the goalie's weak side, scoring Bethesda’s only goal in the 52nd minute of the game.
After several fouls from players on both teams and a 30 minute stalemate, Ensign Andrew McKenzie snuck in the final goal of the night in the 87th minute.
The final minutes ticked and the game was over, making Team USA’s pre-season record
8-1-1.The team has scored 36 goals and only allowed six to be scored against them.
As the players slowed down, both teams shook hands, hugged and high-fived, then gathered in the middle of the field for pictures. Bethesda University showed their support by ending the night with a team “One...Two... Three... TEAM USA!”