By Capt. Charles Montgomery, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.April 15, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - For the second time during this deployment, Iraqi and American transportation units competed for bragging rights on the soccer field.
U.S. Soldiers assigned to 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division 'Rough Riders,' challenged the Iraqi Army's 10th Motorized Transport Regiment to a re-match at Camp White Horse near the operating base here recently.
"Today is a very happy day for me because of our friends and brothers from the United States," said Lt. Col. Hamid, a senior officer in the 10th MTR. "This memory will last forever, and we will remember it every day."
The game predictions favored the 10th MTR by a wide margin, considering the 5-1 loss the Rough Riders endured last October. However, the Americans prepared for weeks to give the Iraqis a worthy challenge.
"They were faster and more agile defenders with accurate foot mobility," said Staff Sgt. Freddy Valdez, the Rough Rider Team Captain, from Brownsville, Texas. "This time, we planned to use our strengths to our advantage."
The 27th BSB Soldiers used team work to keep their opponents off balance.
During the first three minutes of the game, the Iraqis scored two goals, and it seemed to be a repeat of the previous game. However, Valdez scored a goal for the American Soldiers during the first 10 minutes of play. The MTR scored before the half ended, and took a 3-1 lead.
The Rough Riders engineered a comeback during the first three minutes of the second half and tied the game at three. But the MTR team came right back to score another goal to take a one-point lead.
As the time was beginning to expire, Sgt. Rogelio Brown broke away from the pack and evened the score for the second time in the game. Time elapsed and the teams were forced into a shoot-out.
The Americans lost the shoot-out by one goal and the Iraqis secured another victory. The soccer players seemed truly amazed at how a sport can connect people from very different parts of the world.
"It was a great day to strengthen our relationship and make it stronger," said 2nd Lt. Ahmed from Al Hilla. "It will also strengthen our cooperation between the United States and Iraq."