It took nearly an extra week but USA Soccer Hall of Famer Tony Meola has his first win as the head coach of the Jacksonville Armada. In their home opener, the Armada defeated the expansion Miami FC 2-1 at the Baseball Grounds on Friday night.
Earlier in the week, Meola said the Armada needed a fast start. They got that in the 20th minute with Junior Sandoval beating the Miami keeper in the upper 90 to take a 1-nil lead. Six minutes later, Miami tied it on a header from close range and it was 1-1..
Just 10 minutes later a low shot by Pascal Millien from distance didn’t have much on it but keeper Daniel Vega couldn’t control it for a 2-1 Armada lead. The two teams played a scoreless second half.
“We were at home and that was the idea. Nothing short of 3 points. It wasn’t the prettiest but they’re not all pretty,” Meola said on the field after the victory. “We did what we needed to to get the win tonight,”
Taking 17 shots, the Armada didn’t have a problem firing from outside the box, taking 12 long shots in the process. Miami FC took 13 shots but only 5 were on target.
Scoring the first goal of the game, Sandoval said afterwards he called it all week. “We got the win we were looking for, especially at home,” the Armada midfielder said. In his first start he told his teammates all week they were going to win the game and he was going to score a goal. “My teammates knew it, I told them all week.”
With the win the Armada pull to 1-1 and gain three points in the standings. Next Saturday the team faces the Strikers in Ft. Lauderdale. On Wednesday May 4th they’ll be home vs. FC Edmonton at 6:30.