Legendary U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame Goalkeeper Tony Meola Hired as Armada FC Head Coach and Technical Director

Nov 24, 2015

Armada FC Public Relations | Nov. 24, 2015

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Armada FC owner and CEO Mark Frisch announced on Tuesday the hiring of legendary former U.S. Men’s National Team and MLS goalkeeper Tony Meola as the club’s new head coach and technical director.

Meola, who was inducted in the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012, takes over an Armada FC club that finished 8-7-15 (W-D-L) overall in its inaugural season in the North American Soccer League, good for an 11th-place combined finish.

“In speaking with Tony, it became clear he knows what it will take for our team to become an elite competitor in the NASL and U.S. Open Cup,” Frisch said. “His vision and approach to style of play align perfectly with mine. Tony is a great student of the game and has played at a very high level. He has played for great managers and will know how to get the best out of players. I am looking forward to seeing the types of athletes he can bring in here to fill out the roster and how he develops our current players’ skills. This will a key part of his role as technical director, and I have no doubt in his ability to find and develop the very best roster year in and year out.”

“Mark’s vision is what really attracted me to the Armada FC,” Meola said. “Our philosophies align perfectly, and it was apparent this was a place I wanted to be part of. It came at a time where I was ready to make this move, and I’m super excited to eventually get on the field with the team to see how we can take this to the next level. All the research I did about Jacksonville pointed to this being the right move. It’s a first-class organization that does things the right way, and our plan is to continue to grow the club on several different levels.”

Meola has been a prominent figure in U.S. Soccer since he stormed onto the scene in 1987 when he helped lead the U-20 National Team at the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in goal. Following a two-year college career at the University of Virginia, where he was a two-time All-American under the guidance of U.S. Soccer icon Bruce Arena, Meola embarked on an illustrious international career in 1988 with the U.S. Men’s National Team. The Kearny, N.J., native earned 100 caps for the USMNT, which is tied for 14th all-time overall and third among goalkeepers, and was on the squad for the 1990, 1994 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. His 37 wins and 32 clean sheets rank third all-time in U.S. Soccer history.

Meola also had a successful 18-year club career, most of which was spent in MLS with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, Kansas City Wizards and New York Red Bulls. In 2000, he was named league MVP, MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and led the Wizards to an MLS Cup victory, where he was also named MLS Cup MVP. He still holds the MLS record for most shutouts in one season with 16, which he set in 2000 with Kansas City.

After becoming involved with the U.S. National Team the past several years in training sessions with the U-17 and U-20 teams, Meola also showed his ability as a player development expert. He made waves with former USMNT teammate Tab Ramos and the U-20 National Team, taking a hands-on approach with goalkeeper training and helping scout players. Meola has also developed a robust knowledge of the NASL after a successful broadcasting career with Sirius XM, Fox Sports, ONE World Sports and several other outlets.

A multi-sport star in high school, Meola was captain of his Kearny High School basketball team and was an all-state baseball player, which led him to be drafted by the New York Yankees in 1987. Meola also tried his hand at American football in 1994 when was a placekicker for the New York Jets in training camp.

Eric Dade, who stepped in as the Armada FC’s interim head coach in September and led the team to a respectable 2-2-3 record under trying circumstances, will continue to work closely with Meola as he continues his role as the club’s director of player development.

“I want to thank Eric for the amazing job he did as our interim head coach,” Frisch said. “He will continue to be a vital part of our club’s long-term youth development strategy and will be a valuable resource for Tony.”

Meola will assume his role immediately and begin preseason training with players in January. The Armada’s first scheduled preseason friendly is in February with MLS’ Philadelphia Union at Community First Park.