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The Lakenheath Eagles soccer team showed Europe its stuff over Memorial Day weekend, traveling to Germany to compete in an annual NATO football competition. The team of Americans placed second, playing nine games over the weekend. The Eagles are, front row, from left, Roy Bowden, Rob Lubovich, Janusz Jaworek, Nicholas Guerrero, Nicholas Kalashian, Jesse Zaragoza and Edgar Hernandez. Back row, from left, Sal Alvarez, Bryce Watkins, Kyle East, Vesselin Kantchev, Brian Liston-Clark, Bryson Huie, Vincent Bousa and coach Dennis Leon.

The Lakenheath Eagles soccer team showed Europe its stuff over Memorial Day weekend, traveling to Germany to compete in an annual NATO football competition. The team of Americans placed second, playing nine games over the weekend. The Eagles are, front row, from left, Roy Bowden, Rob Lubovich, Janusz Jaworek, Nicholas Guerrero, Nicholas Kalashian, Jesse Zaragoza and Edgar Hernandez. Back row, from left, Sal Alvarez, Bryce Watkins, Kyle East, Vesselin Kantchev, Brian Liston-Clark, Bryson Huie, Vincent Bousa and coach Dennis Leon. (Courtesy photo / Dennis Leon)

Americans like to dominate, especially in sports. Maybe that’s why football — soccer to most Americans — confounds so many folks from the States.

Try as it may, the United States just can’t compete at the global level against its European counterparts.

But over Memorial Day weekend at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, a football club comprised of U.S. airmen and community members from RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall brought a bit of pride to its country.

The Lakenheath Eagles placed second in the annual NATO football tournament, which brings teams from across the organization together in the name of friendly competition.

They lost 1-0 in the final when the opposition scored in the final minute of regulation, said coach Dennis Leon.

Not bad for a team that played nine games in the space of a weekend.

"It was a very grueling schedule," said Leon, who established the team in 2005. "We played five games in one day alone."

Competing against teams from such countries as Denmark and Britain gave the Americans extra motivation, said Roy Bowden, a team member for nearly three years.

"That’s what Europeans do," he said. "They play soccer, so there was high-class competition. But we put together a very good team ourselves."

While the games were friendly, the opposing squads seemed to turn it up a notch when playing the U.S. team, and the physical intensity increased, Bowden said.

Because the U.S. lags behind other countries in its football skills, he said, the squads at the NATO tourney weren’t too keen on losing to Americans.

"The rest of the teams cheered for the other team," he said, laughing. "It’s embarrassing to lose to an American team. They definitely don’t want to lose to us."

Leon holds out hope for America and football.

"(The U.S. team) hasn’t been as successful internationally," Leon said. "That has changed recently and should change even more as the national team gets better."

Leon, in his final stretch as coach, said he’s enjoyed leading the Eagles, a team that also plays against British clubs in Cambridge.

"We surprise people every weekend," he said. "When we show up at the beginning of the game, everybody figures we’re the American team and it’ll be easy, but we play pretty well."


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