News

Armada FC to Take on Three MLS teams in Preseason Action

Jacksonville will face in-state rival Orlando City SC for first time along with New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union
Jan 8, 2016

Armada FC Public Relations | Jan. 8, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Armada FC announced on Friday that it will battle three Major League Soccer opponents during February preseason action at Community First Park at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

In addition to taking on the previously announced Philadelphia Union at Community First Park on Saturday, Feb. 6, the Armada will also host in-state rival Orlando City SC on Saturday, Feb. 13 and the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Feb. 27. All three preseason matches will kick off at 6 p.m.

“Part of our thinking (with scheduling three MLS teams in the preseason) was to challenge our guys right outside of the gate,” said Tony Meola, Armada FC head coach and technical director. “These games will obviously be good for us. It will allow us to evaluate our players against strong competition.”

Tickets to the preseason matchups are available as part of the Armada’s 2016 season ticket package with seats starting at $10 per match. Fans can include one, two or all three of the preseason matches to create a 17, 18 or 19 match season ticket. All three preseason matches are included as part of the current multi-year season ticket package. The three home preseason matches are also available as part of the Armada’s new MLS Preseason Hat-Trick Pack starting at $36 per seat. Fans can purchase their tickets by calling 1.844.2.ARMADA or visiting armadafc.com/tickets.

“It’s great for our fans because it will give them an opportunity to see some players that they don’t get to see in person during the year,” Meola said. “Whether it’s MLS or whether we try to bring international teams in the summer, these are players that they watch on TV that they never get close to.”

Meola added his players should look forward to the challenge.



“As a player, if you’re not excited about this, it’s going to be hard to get excited about much else,” he said. “I think these will be great challenges for our guys.”

Led by Brazilian international superstar Kaká, Orlando City finished seventh in the MLS Eastern Conference last season, its first in the league. Founded in 2010 following a move from Austin, Texas, Orlando City’s roots sprouted from the USL, where it won league championships in 2011 and 2013 along with the Commissioner’s Cup in 2012 and 2014. The Lions have made Central Florida a soccer hotbed, averaging 32,847 fans at each home match and set a record of its own in the club’s first MLS match, drawing 62,510 against New York City FC, the largest soccer crowd ever at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. This will be the first match between the Armada and Orlando City.

Armada goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo (2010-14) and defenders Bryan Burke (2013-14) and Mechack Jérôme (2011-12) each spent time with the Lions. Gallardo compiled 51 wins and 27 shutouts along with a 0.733 GAA as Orlando City’s starting goalkeeper. Midfielder Nico Zaldana also spent time in the Orlando City SC Academy, and forward Akeil Barrett was drafted by the Lions in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.

“I’m looking forward to playing against some of my former teammates and seeing a lot of familiar faces at Community First Park,” Gallardo said. “It will bring back many great memories. I’m also looking forward to facing a tough opponent. I’m sure it’s going to be a difficult test, but at the same time it will be exciting for me as a goalkeeper and my teammates.”

The Red Bulls, Meola’s old club from 1996-98 (then known as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars) and 2005-06, clinched the MLS Supporters’ Shield last season, awarded to the club with the best regular season record, and drew the top seed in the MLS Playoffs before falling to Columbus Crew SC by a 2-1 aggregate in the Eastern Conference Championship in November. Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips finished fifth in the MLS with 17 goals while midfielder Sacha Kljestan finished fourth in the league with 14 assists. The Armada have previously met the Red Bulls in preseason closed door scrimmages.

“I have nothing from but respect for (Red Bulls head coach) Jesse (Marsch),” Meola said. “Chris Armas, who is an assistant coach, is a former teammate of mine. So I’m thrilled to coach against my former club, but this is about our friends and how we get ready for the regular season. All three of these teams will be a big test.”

The Armada will open up their preseason and the home MLS tripleheader with the previously announced matchup against the Union at Community First Park on Feb. 6. Jacksonville defeated Philadelphia 3-1 in the club’s first-ever competitive match at EverBank Field last year on Feb. 7 in front of 13,934.