Jacksonville Armada FC win penalty shootout and advance to the second round to face MiamiFC
Mar 24, 2023

On Thursday night, Jacksonville Armada FC made their highly anticipated return to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a competition they had been absent from for five years. The Armada faced off against their in-state rival, Miami United FC, in what was sure to be an intense matchup. Both teams were no strangers to each other, having faced off multiple times in the past. However, this time the stakes were higher, as the winner would move on to the next round of the tournament. Miami United FC made the long journey up I-95 to face off against their familiar opponent. Despite being the away team, Miami United FC was confident in their abilities and ready to take on the challenge. On the other hand, the Armada were determined to prove themselves in their return to the U.S. Open Cup. They were eager to showcase their talent and demonstrate that they deserved to be back in the competition.


The game started with both teams showing their strengths and weaknesses, but it was the Armada who struck first. In the 42nd minute a cross by Charles Eloundou found the feet of Mikah Thomas who would get his first shot saved, but bury the second into the back of the net. Jacksonville would go into the half with a 1-0 lead over Miami. Miami United responded to the Armada’s goal with one of their own shortly after the beginning of the second half. In the 48th minute Bautista Dominguez scored a header for Miami, tying the game, after Shamar Shelton delivered a corner kick into the box.


The match was highly contentious and physical, with several players engaging in rough tackles and heated confrontations. The referee had to show numerous yellow cards to keep control of the game and prevent it from getting out of hand. The intensity of the game made it clear that both teams were playing to win at all costs. In the 82nd minute goal scorer Mikah Thomas was issued a second yellow card and was shown the subsequent red card. The Armada would play the rest of the match a man down. In the 92nd minute of regulation Jacksonville’s Gio Abreu would clear the ball off the goal line to send the game into extra time. Extra time saw both teams continue to press, but fatigue began to set in, and the quality of play began to drop. As the clock wound down, it became apparent that the game was destined for penalties. 


In the penalty shootout, both teams would manage to score their first seven penalties. Jacksonville’s Gavin Penzone was the first player not to convert from the spot, rattling a shot off the crossbar. With the game on the line, Miami United captain, Miguel Bonito, had his game-winning shot saved by Nick Rulle. The next two players slotted their shots into the goal, leaving only the goalkeepers to shoot. Nick Rulle was the first of the keepers to step up to the spot. Rulle would smash a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar into the back of the goal. With Rulle back in the net, Miami’s Peterson Occenat had to convert to continue the shootout. With the game on the line, Nick Rulle would save Occenat’s shot. Securing the victory for the Jacksonville Armada and sending them into the second round of the U.S. Open Cup.


“A solid performance all around from our players. Defending well and organized from the beginning until the end was the difference tonight. Even going down a man didn’t stop us from understanding and executing our responsibilities on the field. I believe we could have been better at times on the ball as a whole to create more chances in the attacking half but considering the amount of time we spent together I can’t be too upset. We went into the game focusing on the things we do well and the things we are in control of. We knew we would make mistakes but rather looked for a reaction and response after that mistake was made. Miami United were a very tough opponent and well organized group. We now look forward to our next match against Miami FC and will be preparing over the next few days accordingly,” said former player and third year Head Coach Tommy Krizanovic.


With the result Jacksonville Armada FC move onto the second round of the tournament, where they will face off against former NASL rival Miami FC. The match is set to take place Tuesday, April 4 at FIU Soccer Stadium. Tickets are available for purchase using the highlighted link.