Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Armada Come From Behind to Defeat Miami FC

The Jacksonville Armada may be eliminated from the North American Soccer League (NASL) Playoff race, but they don’t seem to care.

Despite short rest from their shoot-out with the first-place New York Cosmos, they notched a come-back 3-2 win against rival Miami FC on Wednesday at Community First Park.

Charles Eloundou got the hosts started with a goal less than a minute in, and after the visitors scored twice to take the lead, the Boys in Blue battled back with second-half goals by Alex Dixon and Lucas Scaglia.

Coming in, Jacksonville had been 0-1-20 all-time when trailing after 60 minutes. Against Miami, which is battling for the final playoff spot, they trailed from the 65th to 69th before launching their comeback.

It was also the first time this season they won despite an opponent scoring twice (1-1-3).

The win further illustrated the kind of resolve the team is playing with since Mark Lowry took over as head coach. During that span — albeit a short one — they are now 3-6-3, a run of form that, if extrapolated across 30 games, would put them roughly in playoff contention.

Coming out of Saturday, the challenge was to wash away the sting of allowing three late goals in a 4-2 loss to New York.

While that had been a rough ending, they couldn’t have asked for a better start to this one.

Just 36 seconds in, they were ahead.

Eloundou played a one-two with Zach Steinberger, went around two defenders and made easy work of a shot from close range to put the Armada up 1-0. It was the second fastest goal in club history after Jemal Johnson’s 12-second screamer during their NASL debut back in 2015.

The next 25 minutes held opportunities for both sides, with Eloundou and Steinberger combining often for the home side, but the rest of the half belonged to Miami FC.

Ariel Martinez equalized in the 27th minute when he used a sharp cutback to dance between four defenders in the box, then finished sharply with his left foot.

Miami striker Jaime Chavez had three chances to snatch the lead before the break, but keeper Miguel Gallardo dove to break up a long pass to him in front of goal, Tyler Ruthven slid in to deny a shooting opportunity from close range, and Chavez had a header clang off the post after beating Gallardo to a cross from Hunter Freeman.

Two more huge defensive plays after the break preserved the score line.

Ruthven broke up a Chavez run through on goal, and Gallardo stuffed Martinez from a few yards out after a perfect through ball from Ryan.

After Jemal Johnson threatened for the Boys in Blue, Miami FC struck back to take the lead.

Captain Jonathan Borrajo sent in a cross to the back post, and Gabriel Farfan met it with a sharp header past Gallardo.

Four minutes later, they were level again, as Steinberger ran onto a ball from Mechack Jérôme, beat his man to the end line, turned the corner and slid in a pass to Alex Dixon, who buried the equalizer.

The eventual winner came in the 74th, when Scaglia poked in Bryan Burke’s header to the back post, and both teams had nervous moments as the clock ticked down.

Kwadwo Poku missed a point-blank chance wide for Miami, Dixon saw a clear breakaway stuffed by keeper Daniel Vega, and Gallardo had to make a tough catch in traffic to quell a sustained Miami threat.

The Armada will look to continue their run of form on Sunday, when they travel to FC Edmonton for a 4 p.m. kickoff.

 

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