RECAP: Late Penalty Foils Armada's Lead in Last minute Draw with Rayo OKC

Sep 24, 2016

Mike McCall, | Sept. 24, 2016


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You can’t do much more than Tyler Ruthven did for Armada FC on Saturday night.

For 90 minutes against Rayo OKC, he won headers, cleaned up the box and sacrificed his body to stop at least three shots that were sure to test goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo.

Between his efforts, Charles Eloundou’s first-half goal and a host of other impressive performances, it seemed like the Armada were destined to earn their first win of what had been a rough September.

But, as has been the case too often this season, Ruthven and his teammates were left lamenting a lost lead — this time from a Michel penalty kick in second-half stoppage time that ended the game at 1-1.

“It’s like somebody ripped your heart out and threw it on the floor,” Ruthven said. “I sound like a broken record because I’ve said I’m heartbroken after eight, nine or 10 games, but it’s the only word I can think of. It’s brutal.”

Playing at Community First Park after more than a month away, this could have been a happy homecoming. Eloundou made club history by becoming the first player to score in three straight games, with a steal, dash and score in the 20th minute that looked like it would be the night’s only goal.

Ruthven was a human stop sign on the back line, and Nicklas Maripuu turned in a very steady performance from midfield. Add all that up, and it should have been the club’s first win in six games.

Instead, it’s the fifth time they’ve drawn after scoring first, and those are 10 points you desperately need when you’re at the bottom of the NASL standings looking up (4-7-5 NASL Fall, 3-10-12 NASL Combined).

“They worked so hard on the field,” Armada coach Mark Lowry said. “Sometimes it’s not pretty, but they dug in, and they deserved more than that tonight. [Rayo OKC coach Gerard Nus] just came up to me and said, ‘You guys were the better team tonight.’ That says it all for me.”

Lowry’s post-game mood was a far cry from the first half, when he raced down the touch line to celebrate with Eloundou.

The Boys in Blue had chances to double the lead as well, with Alhassane Keita providing plenty of firepower with seven shots (three on goal). He had one cleared off the line by defender Futty Danso, another force a diving save, and a third get deflected out for a corner. He also missed Eloundou at the back post by mere inches, set up a Pekka Lagerblom run in the box with a back heel, and nearly deflected a loose ball goalward after a cross.

But it wasn’t to be, and those narrow misses came back to haunt the Armada.

When Ruthven stuck out a foot to stop a shot in the 90th minute, it was a warning sign rather than the last defense his side would need.

Deep into stoppage time, Billy Forbes one-timed a pass to the middle of the box, and Danso ran onto it. Armada defenders Karl Ouimette and Mechack Jérôme were a step behind Danso, and when they brought him down, the referee’s whistle blew.

Michel stepped to the spot and beat Gallardo, putting the nail in a draw that felt like a loss.

“When you get paid to play a game, you can’t do that and expect to get results,” Ruthven said. “We have to find a way to see out games. I feel ridiculous because I’ve said this a hundred times since March, but we just can’t do that anymore.”

The Armada will return to action on Wednesday when they host FC Edmonton at 7 p.m.


Starting XI:

JAX (4-2-3-1):  Gallardo; Bahner, Ruthven, Jerome, Burke; George, Maripuu, Eloundou (Dixon 78'), Lagerblom (Barrow 59'), Steinberger; Keita (Ouimette 90+1').

OKC (4-3-3): Fernandes, Kimura, Danso, Ibeagha, Michel, Yuma, van Schaik, Menjivar (McKenzie 86'), Chavez (Gibson 61'), Samaras (70'), Forbes

Scoring Summary:
JAX: Eloudou 20’
OKC: Michel 90+3’


JAX: George (caution) 23’
JAX: Lagerblom (caution) 25’
OKC: McKenzie (caution) 87’

Attendance: 3,472