A Year of Firsts

A look at the third year of the Jacksonville Armada FC
Nov 14, 2017

The third time is a charm, they say. Was the third year for the Jacksonville Armada FC a charm?

Despite a bittersweet ending, the year held many achievements for the club – on and off the pitch. The Armada FC experienced many “firsts” that contributed to a record season.


video by Randy Clark


The team opened 2017 as a league-owned club. It was head coach Mark Lowry’s first year entering as the head coach after being promoted in October 2016. Eleven new players joined nine returning players on the roster, giving Lowry an immediate challenge in the new year.



Despite practically building a team from scratch, something clicked.

The team seemed to grow close quickly and it showed on the field. The Armada FC burst onto the pitch with its third-straight home opener win, but this time at a new venue: Hodges Stadium at the University of North Florida. Newcomer J.C. Banks notched the first goal against FC Edmonton on April 2 in the 1-0 victory.



Jacksonville went on to enjoy the first place seat for five straight weeks in the NASL Spring Season. A miraculous volley by Zach Steinberger tied up a crucial match in stoppage time on May 6, a goal that went on to be voted by fans as the 2017 Goal of the Year for the club and the NASL. The goal knotted the score at 1-1 against the New York Cosmos and extended the Armada FC’s undefeated streak to six matches – a record for the team.



Steinberger became more of a threat on the field in May with back-to-back braces that earned him two NASL Player of the Week mentions and the first NASL Player of the Month for a Jacksonville player.

The Armada FC entered the month of July still with a chance at the Spring Season Champion title. Later results left the team tied with the Cosmos for third place, but they would ultimately claim fourth place in the Spring Season due to goal differential.



Mid-July marked a turning point for Jacksonville off the pitch.

The NASL announced that Florida native Robert Palmer, a successful entrepreneur whose company portfolio includes RP Funding and, had purchased the club on July 18.

Palmer went to work immediately to improve business operations and help to improve play on the pitch. Brian Shriver, Tony Taylor, and Ciarán Kilduff joined the club just before the Fall Season began.

Taylor went on to notch three goals and Kilduff scored four of his own, earning a Player of the Week honor for a brace on Aug. 16.



Jack Blake, anther newcomer to the team in 2017, seemed to find his groove in the Fall Season. He added to the list of firsts for the club with a hat-trick on Aug. 26 and was voted the NASL Player of the Month for August. Blake tallied nine goals total in the league, seven alone in the Fall Season. The 23 year old caught the attention of fans and was ultimately named the 2017 NASL Young Player of the Year.



The three league awards earned by Blake, Steinberger, and Jérôme marked the first for Jacksonville.

The team also secured its first victories in franchise history both in New York and Indianapolis.

The defense held tight for a first record of 10 clean sheets, the third-most in the league. Goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell earned the nickname Superman due to his high-flying saves in moments of brilliance to keep the opposing teams off the board.

Mechack Jérôme also led the backline with the most passes and clearances in the league. He had the most minutes on the team and was the only field player in the NASL to start all 32 matches. Fans voted Jérôme the Jacksonville Armada FC Player of the Year for his effort and he was also placed on the NASL Best XI.

Also for the first time, Jacksonville kept hopes alive for its first berth into the NASL postseason tournament, The Championship, right up until the final match.  Unfortunately the Cosmos claimed the final seat after a victory, and the season came to an abrupt halt for the Armada FC.



Despite not clinching a seat in the Championship, the team had a record year and walks away from this season with something to be proud of.

Preparations for 2018 are underway with the chapter of 2017 now closed. The Jacksonville Armada FC has a very exciting future ahead with the new leadership of Palmer. His enthusiasm for the club and the community will definitely yield positive results in the future.