Jacksonville Armada FC
|Full name||Jacksonville Armada Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||Boys in Blue|
|League||National Premier Soccer League|
The Jacksonville Armada FC are a professional soccer team based in Jacksonville, Florida. They most recently played in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the fourth tier of the American soccer pyramid, during the 2018 season while also retaining their membership in the North American Soccer League (NASL), a league that was in the second tier but postponed its 2018 season. The Armada play their home games at Hodges Stadium on the campus of the University of North Florida.
In May 2013, Jacksonville businessman Mark Frisch and former Major League Soccer player Darío Sala formed Sunshine Soccer Group with the intention of bringing professional soccer to Jacksonville. The effort was bolstered by several successful soccer matches held at TIAA Bank Field, including two national team games that set records for international friendlies. The North American Soccer League invited the group to present a bid for a 2015 expansion team at their July 25, 2013 board meeting. The bid was accepted, and the NASL announced that Jacksonville and Oklahoma City FC would receive franchises for the 2015 season.
The organization has announced that Sala would serve as general manager, and former NFL Europe and Jacksonville Jaguars executive Steve Livingstone will serve as President. On February 18, 2014, the team announced its name would be Jacksonville Armada FC, and that its colors would be navy blue, royal blue, gold, and white. On June 11, 2014, the team announced it had hired former Argentine player José Luis Villarreal as its first head coach.
The team began playing in the 2015 NASL Spring season. After a few pre-season games in February and March, the club played its first league game, at home, on April 4, 2015, defeating FC Edmonton, 3–1. On September 21, 2015, the club announced the dismissal of head coach Guillermo Hoyos, general manager Dario Sala and assistant coaches Edison Ibarra, Sebastian Fabres and Rafael Perez Nino. The Armada stood 11th and last in the North American Soccer League. The decision came just three months after the team had extended Hoyos' contract through the end of 2019. "Following an in-depth analysis of the team and operations, I am confident that a new direction is needed to turn around our team", Armada owner Mark Frisch said in a statement. Director of player development Eric Dade took over through the end of the 2015 NASL season.
On November 24, 2015, the Armada announced U.S. Soccer player Tony Meola as the team's new head coach. After nine months in the job, Meola was fired on August 7, 2016, with Mark Lowry taking over as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2016 Fall Season.
After the 2016 season ended, the NASL lost two teams to the then Div. III United Soccer League. At the time the USL had submitted to be promoted to Div. II with the NASL. Several NASL teams were then rumored to be shutting down or switching leagues as well as the possibility of the league losing its Div. II status. In December 2016, there were several reports stating the Armada were about to fold and had released all their players due to mounting financial losses. The reports turned out to be false but the team did release five of their highest price players. In January 2017, the NASL was approved to keep its Div. II status but Armada owner Frisch confirmed that he was looking to sell the team and that the league would likely be taking over the club.
In July 2017, local entrepreneur Robert Palmer of RP Funding purchased the Armada.
After recording its best season to date in professional soccer during the 2017 season, finishing fifth overall in the NASL while just falling short of a playoff berth, the league lost its Division II sanctioning for the upcoming 2018 season. While the league entered into legal proceeding against the United States Soccer Federation, Armada announced it would field a team in the National Premier Soccer League, an amateur league commonly referred to as part of fourth tier of American soccer, while still retaining membership in the NASL. This team retains the Armada name and replaced the organization's Under-23 team in the NPSL, while merging both sides' rosters.
The Armada clinched its first ever playoff appearance by finishing second overall in the Sunshine Conference, and won its first playoff game against Miami United FC, 4–1, on July 11, 2018. The team later fell to fellow NASL side Miami FC 2 in the conference final, 3–1.
On October 31, 2018, club president Nathan Walter announced that Jacksonville Armada would play in the NPSL in 2019. However on December 10, Walter announced that the team's U-23 side would compete in the 2019 NPSL season as the organization's focus shifted to player development. In the meantime the first team would continue to explore options for a return to competition in 2020.
League and cup history
|Season||League||Div.||Pos.||Pl.||W||D||L||GS||GA||P||Overall||Playoffs||U.S. Open Cup||Top goalscorer||Avg. attendance|
|2015||NASL||Spring||6th||10||3||3||4||15||18||12||11th||Did not qualify||Third Round||Alhassane Keita||7||7,927 (3rd)|
|2016||Spring||10th||10||1||4||5||5||11||7||11th||Fourth Round|| Charles Eloundou
|2017||Spring||4th||16||6||6||4||17||16||24||5th||Fourth Round||Jack Blake||9||3,035 (7th)|
|2018||NPSL||Sunshine Conference||2nd||12||7||3||2||24||10||24||28th||Conference Finals||Third Round||Ciarán Kilduff||6||N/A|
On July 11, 2014, the Armada announced they would play their home games at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (later re-dubbed Community First Park) in Downtown Jacksonville for at least three seasons. They hope to later construct their own expandable soccer-specific stadium. In 2017, due to the high costs associated with playing at the Baseball Grounds, the Armada signed a lease to play at Hodges Stadium, a soccer and track and field stadium at the University of North Florida.
The team has also played games in EverBank Field, including their first exhibition game vs the Philadelphia Union, which set a modern-era NASL record for preseason attendance (13,934). It was also the site for their first regular season game, which was a 3–1 victory over FC Edmonton. That game set the modern era NASL record for regular season attendance (16,164). The Armada also use Southern Oak Stadium as a venue for US Open Cup matches.
The Coastal Cup was established in 2010 and was originally contested between the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies, but with Jacksonville's entry into the league, the competition became triangular. The league added Miami FC in the 2016 season. This made the Coastal Cup a four team affair. After the 2016 season Tampa Bay left the NASL and joined the United Soccer League, while Fort Lauderdale ceased operations because of financial and legal issues.
The team is cheered on by Section 904, the first supporters' group. Section 904 is known for their singing, drumming, and blue-and-yellow smoke; can be seen behind the goal at every home match. Area code 904 happens to be the telephone area code for all of metropolitan Jacksonville.
Players and staff
As of June 29, 2019[update]
In 2016, the Armada announced that they had formed an under 23 team to play in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) as part of their development system. The team, Jacksonville United U-23, replaced Jacksonville United FC in the NPSL. The Armada retained Jacksonville United coach Pat Cannon.
- As of Match played 14 July 2018
|Name||Years||League||Playoffs||U.S. Open Cup||Total|
|16 (46)||0 (0)||1 (5)||17 (51)|
|2||Ciarán Kilduff||2017–2018||10 (24)||3 (2)||1 (4)||14 (29)|
|3||J. C. Banks||2017–2018||10 (44)||2 (2)||1 (6)||13 (52)|
|4||Zach Steinberger||2016, 2017||12 (52)||0 (0)||0 (1)||12 (53)|
|5||Jack Blake||2017||9 (27)||0 (0)||1 (2)||10 (29)|
|6||Pascal Millien||2015–2016||7 (37)||0 (0)||0 (2)||7 (39)|
|6||Jemal Johnson||2015–2017||7 (73)||0 (0)||0 (3)||7 (76)|
|6||Charles Eloundou||2016–2017||7 (49)||0 (0)||0 (4)||7 (53)|
|9||Derek Gebhard||2015–2018||6 (59)||0 (2)||0 (7)||6 (68)|
|10||Joshua Castellanos||2018||3 (12)||0 (2)||1 (4)||4 (16)|
- As of Match played 14 July 2018
|Name||Years||League||Playoffs||U.S. Open Cup||Total|
|1||Mechack Jérôme||2015–2018||74 (3)||1 (0)||7 (0)||82 (3)|
|2||Jemal Johnson||2015–2017||73 (7)||0 (0)||3 (0)||76 (7)|
|3||Derek Gebhard||2015–2018||59 (6)||2 (0)||7 (0)||68 (6)|
|4||Kevan George||2016–2017||55 (0)||0 (0)||2 (0)||57 (0)|
|5||Charles Eloundou||2016–2017||49 (7)||0 (0)||4 (0)||53 (7)|
|5||Zach Steinberger||2016, 2017||52 (12)||0 (0)||1 (0)||53 (12)|
|7||J. C. Banks||2017–2018||44 (10)||2 (2)||6 (1)||52 (13)|
|46 (16)||0 (0)||5 (1)||51 (17)|
|9||Miguel Gallardo||2015–2016||43 (0)||0 (0)||3 (0)||46 (0)|
|9||Matt Bahner||2015–2016||45 (3)||0 (0)||1 (0)||46 (1)|
- As of Match played 14 July 2018
|José Luis Villarreal||Argentina||June 11, 2014||June 13, 2015||11||3||3||5||15||21||27.27|
|Guillermo Ángel Hoyos||Argentina||June 14, 2015||September 21, 2015||13||3||2||8||10||20||23.08|
|Eric Dade||United States||September 21, 2015||November 24, 2015||7||2||2||3||8||11||28.57|
|Tony Meola||United States||November 24, 2015||August 7, 2016||20||3||6||11||14||29||15.00|
|Mark Lowry||England||August 7, 2016||July 24, 2018||64||25||21||18||94||17||39.06||First playoff appearance and win in club history||2018 season played in NPSL|
- "Jacksonville Armada FC has new home at Hodges Stadium". www.NASL.com. NASL. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
- Freeman, Clayton (July 25, 2013). "Jacksonville awarded NASL team to begin play in 2015". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
- "NASL Board of Governors Unanimously Approves Expansion To Jacksonville And Oklahoma City". North American Soccer League. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
- "Pro soccer coming to Jacksonville". Action News Jax. July 25, 2013. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Matt Soergel (September 9, 2013). "Jacksonville's new pro soccer team has big plans, much work to do". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- Pepper, Cole (October 8, 2013). "Jaguars Steve Livingstone To Head New Jax Pro Soccer Team". news.wjct.org. WJCT. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- Soergel, Matt (February 18, 2014). "Jacksonville soccer team to be called the Jacksonville Armada FC". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
- "Villarreal named first head coach of Armada FC". Financial News & Daily Record. June 11, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
- "LEGENDARY U.S. SOCCER HALL OF FAME GOALKEEPER TONY MEOLA HIRED AS ARMADA FC HEAD COACH AND TECHNICAL DIRECTOR".
- "ARMADA FC PARTS WAYS WITH HEAD COACH/TECHNICAL DIRECTOR TONY MEOLA, ASSISTANT COACH JIM ROONEY". armadafc.com. Jacksonville Armada FC. August 7, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- "Decision on future of Jacksonville Armada's league on hold". First Coast News. December 23, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "Armada soccer team lays of staffers, future uncertain". First Coast News. December 15, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "CEO Mark Frisch Issues Statement About Armada's Future". OurSports Central. January 7, 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "Florida-Based Entrepreneur Robert Palmer Unveiled as New Owner of Jacksonville Armada FC". Jacksonville Armada FC. July 18, 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "U.S. Soccer denies NASL Division 2 status". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- "Statement from Armada FC Owner Robert Palmer". Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- "In team's first ever playoff match, Jacksonville Armada FC defeats Miami United FC 4–1". WTLV. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- "PLAYOFF RECAP – Miami FC 2 vs. Armada FC". Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- "Club President Nathan Walter Issues Statement". www.jacksonvillearmada.com. October 31, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
- "Armada FC to Field U-23 Team in 2019 NPSL Season". www.jacksonvillearmada.com. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
- "ARMADA FC 2015 SEASON TICKETS GO ON SALE STARTING AT JUST $10 PER MATCH". Jacksonville Armada FC. July 11, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- "Soccer fans! Jacksonville Armada FC to play Baseball Grounds". The Florida Times-Union. July 11, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Freeman, Clayton (February 6, 2017). "Armada to play 2017 season at UNF". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
- "Armada FC sets preseason attendance record in 3–1 win over Union". Jacksonville Armada FC. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- "FT | Armada FC 3, Eddies 1". North American Soccer League. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- "Rowdies NASL: NASL Releases 2015 Fall Season Schedule". rowdiessoccer.com. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "MIAMI FC BECOMES 12TH NASL CLUB". NASL.com. May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
- "Section 904 Home".
- "Section 904 Backs 'Boys in Blue' to Milestone Victory".
- "Armada FC announce launch of U-23 team". www.news4jax.com. WJXT. February 10, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
- "Villarreal named first head coach of Armada FC | Jax Daily Record". Financial News & Daily Record - Jacksonville, Florida. June 11, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "Club Statement Regarding Mark Lowry's Departure". www.jacksonvillearmada.com. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "In team's first ever playoff match, Jacksonville Armada FC defeats Miami United FC 4-1". WTLV. Retrieved March 4, 2019.