Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Armada’s Lead Dwindles in Last Minute Draw with Rayo OKC

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s a lesson Armada FC has learned too often this season: it’s hard to hold a lead.
With Charles Eloundou’s first-half goal and resolute defending against Rayo OKC, the Boys in Blue were primed to snag their first win in six matches and turn a lousy September around.

But a stoppage-time penalty opened the door for the visitors, and Michel buried it to ruin what should have been a happy homecoming for the Armada, playing at Community First Park for the first time in more than a month.

With the draw, the Armada are now 2-5-0 on the season when scoring first, a total of 10 points left on the table — numbers that hurt when you’re at the bottom of the standings looking up.

The penalty came when Billy Forbes one-timed a pass to the middle and defender Futty Danso ran onto it. Armada defenders Karl Ouimette and Mechack Jérôme were running with Danso, and when they brought him down, the referee’s whistle blew.

That squandered a great effort from Eloundou in the 19th minute, when he stole the ball, raced toward goal and lashed a shot into the bottom left corner, as well as stand-out performances from center back Tyler Ruthven and midfielder Nicklas Maripuu, who called the penalty “a huge mistake” from the referee.

After goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo denied OKC with a double save in the third minute, Ruthven came up with his first moment of defensive brilliance to keep the visitors off the board. In the ninth,

Forbes got to the end line and pulled back a pass for a wide-open Georgios Samaras in the middle of the box, but Ruthven went down to block his shot.

He did the same throughout the match, sacrificing his body to win crucial headers and to take a dangerous shot from Michel off the chest.

And, in what then appeared to be the last defensive stop his club would need, he got a foot in front of a shot on goal in the 90th minute to preserve the lead.

At the other end, the Armada had close calls of their own, via Keita. His cross to the back post nearly became an assist but just missed Eloundou, he had a first-half shot cleared off the line by Danso, and he nearly guided home a deflected cross with a quick reaction.

But in the end, the Armada were left lamenting another late collapse—even if it did include many positives.

Defender Matt Bahner said he felt the Armada “turned a corner” on Saturday, and they indeed seemed to be the better side for large stretches of the match. They’ll return to action on Wednesday when they host FC Edmonton at 7 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *