RECAP: Spectacular Night by Red Bulls' Robles Stifles Armada

Feb 27, 2016

Armada FC Public Relations | Feb. 27, 2016

Final Stats

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The New York Red Bulls might be the best team the Jacksonville Armada FC faces all season, and it showed on Saturday night at Community First Park.

Though the Red Bulls were eventually able to snatch momentum from the Armada and pile on pressure en route to a 5-1 decision, Jacksonville proved it could hang with the 2015 Major League Soccer Supporters’ Shield winner. The score could have easily been closer were it not for New York goalkeeper Luis Robles, who finished with eight saves, many of which were very difficult to make.

“Tonight I thought we did the best we have all preseason with the ball,” said Tony Meola, Armada FC head coach. “We attacked, and we had about four to five fluid chances, but Luis Robles was outstanding. We had some tough moments in the game. I think we got rattled for about five or six minutes, and before we knew it, we were down 4-0 in a game where we had opportunities to score.”

For about the first 23 minutes, it looked like it would not be a question of if, but when the Armada would get on the board first. In that span, the Armada outshot the Red Bulls 8-3. In the 21st minute, Jacksonville had four-straight clear shots at the goal. Mechack Jerômé had a blast from about 20 yards out that was knocked away by Robles and straight to Armada forward Matt Fondy, who’s spinning attempt was also batted away by Robles.

Midfielder Junior Sandoval followed it up moments later with his own attempt that was saved by Robles, and forward Alhassane Keita had his shot off the rebound stopped as well. Then the tide rapidly turned when the Red Bulls took it the other way and Gonzalo Veron found the back of the net off a Sacha Kljestan assist in the 23rd minute to give New York a 1-0 lead.

The Red Bulls almost immediately added another tally in the 27th, but Farah & Farah Man of the Match Beto Navarro slid in to clear the ball out on a shot by New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips when Armada goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo aggressively dove out at the ball. Red Bulls defender Gideon Baah then put his team up 2-0 in the 28th when he headed in a Kljestan corner.

In the second half, Veron went on to complete a hat trick after scoring goals in the 60th and 61st. Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis hit on their fifth goal in the 83rd minute.

Jacksonville trialist Charles Elondou negated the clean sheet, however, in the 84th when he fired one from just outside of the penalty area and past Robles.

Despite the final score, the contest was one that Meola expects will prepare his players well for the start of the North American Soccer League regular season in April.

“I said when I put this schedule together that none of it was going to be easy,” Meola said. “The intensity level can’t drop, and no matter who we’re playing, we can’t lose our focus.”

The Armada will return to action at 12:30 p.m. next Thursday when it hosts United Soccer League side Tulsa Roughnecks at Patton Park in Jacksonville. The friendly is free and open to the public.