CAMP DARBY, Italy — The chase to be the best Army soccer team in Europe turned into a war of attrition last week. And that was before the season-ending tournament even began.

Only three teams made the trip from Germany and one of them — Wiesbaden — couldn’t bring a full 11-player squad. That might have made the difference Sunday, when the short-handed Eagles fell to Stuttgart 2-1 in the championship game of the Installation Management Command-Europe tournament.

Not that Kwesi Adinkrah was complaining. It was the Stuttgart player/coach’s fifth straight tournament. And the first time his team had come out on top.

“We knew we couldn’t keep getting close and come all this way and not win it,” he said.

Wiesbaden, however, apparently wasn’t clear on that.

The Eagles appeared to be headed to a 1-0 defeat going into the final minutes. But Osmond Mbaeri outran three Stuttgart defenders to reach the ball in front of the Stuttgart net and booted it past goalkeeper Eric Hodeen’s reach into the right corner to tie the contest.

Wiesbaden’s joy was short-lived, though. Stuttgart’s Richmond Opoku found himself alone past the Eagles’ defense about a minute later and caught goalkeeper Richard Abele flat-footed with a shot into the lower left corner of the goal.

Wiesbaden player/coach Hiram Johnson said his team was disappointed with the loss, but not with its effort.

“To even come within a goal after the playing the whole tournament with 10 men was exceptional,” he said. “I’m very proud of this team.”

Both teams had several good chances to score in the first half, but neither could break through. Wiesbaden’s Abele had four of his six saves in the half and Stuttgart’s Hodeen had four of his five.

Stuttgart’s Shannon Reid got his team on the scoreboard about seven minutes into the second half. He took an innocent-looking free kick about 30 yards in front of the goal, turned around and fired the ball beyond Abele’s reach into the top left corner of the goal.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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