Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Comeback Earns Armada FC 3-3 Draw With Cosmos

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – As the Jacksonville Armada FC wrapped up their inaugural North American Soccer League Spring Season on Saturday evening at James M. Shuart Stadium, they gave Spring Season champions New York Cosmos all they could handle in a 3-3 draw.

Even after falling behind 2-0 in the first half and again 3-2 in the 86th minute, the Armada FC (3W-3D-4L, 12 points) showed they were not intimidated by the flash of a storied Cosmos club stocked with legendary names. 

Haitian forward Pascal Millien, who is expected to get the call up to play for his country for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, played a part in all three Armada FC goals, scoring the first two and assisting on the third. He became the first player in club history to score multiple goals in one game.

Although New York ended up clinching the spring title with the draw, Jacksonville did what it came to do: show the league they could go toe-to-toe with its top team. The Armada FC scored the most goals of any team against the Cosmos this season, and it was the most allowed by New York since a 5-4 loss to Carolina on Sept. 20, 2014.

Jemal Johnson also returned to a place he called home for nearly two seasons and shined, posing a threat for most of the match and getting the assist on Jacksonville’s first goal of the night.

Although New York (5W-5D-0L, 20 points) came into the match with a seemingly insurmountable goal differential advantage over the second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies, that did not stop the Cosmos from conducting business as usual with their high-pressure attack.

Raul hit a picture-perfect long volley in the 6th minute that caught Armada FC goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo off guard, first going over his head, then hitting the crossbar and deflecting straight off Gallardo’s foot and into the goal.

The Cosmos did not let up with the pressure and upped their lead to 2-0 when Hagop Chirishian banged it home in the 26th minute with an assist from Daniel Szetela.

With a two-goal deficit on the road against a talented Cosmos squad, Millien lifted his team to a furious comeback.  He ended the Armada FC’s 335-minute scoreless streak when he found the upper left back of the net in the 59th minute on a feed from Johnson and cut New York’s lead to 2-1.

Millien scored again in the 73rd minute when he fired a laser past Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer from 13-yards out to knot the match at two apiece.

New York struck again in the 86th minute when Lucky Mkosana was sent a through-ball from 79th minute sub David Diosa and slid the ball past a diving Gallardo.

Then 69th minute sub Joseph Toby, who seemed like the unlikeliest of scorers because of his sparing use this season and defensive mentality, sent the Armada FC bench into a frenzy when he blasted the ball past an outstretched Maurer in the 89th minute off an assist from Millien.

Jacksonville ended the Spring Season in sixth place on the table and will start the fall on a two-game undefeated streak.

The Armada FC will return to action after a week off at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 at EverBank Field when they host world-renowned Argentinian side Boca Juniors. Tickets, starting at $14, are on sale now by calling 1.844.2.Armada or visiting armadafc.com.

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