Special to the Recorder
First half goals by Junior Sandoval and Pascal Millien propelled Jacksonville (1-0-1, 3) to a 2-1 North American Soccer Club (NASL) win over Miami in the Armada’s home opener at Community First Park at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
“(Our fans) are great here,” said first year Armada head coach Tony Meola. “They were loud tonight as always. I think that will continue to grow as we get through to the summer. Hopefully we get some more wins and we build something here. They really helped us tonight.”
The visitors couldn’t capitalize on early opportunities. Their first came just nine minutes into the match. Dario Cvitanich found a streaking Jamie Chavez, but Armada goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo made one of his acrobatic saves, a scene he would repeat several times in the match.
In the 17th minute, Cvitanich then headed home the ball for what looked like a score, but an offside call nullified the strike. Three minutes later Sandoval found the top right corner of the box that Miami FC keeper Daniel Vega couldn’t handle.
“I saw the opening, took the shot and I was lucky enough for it to go in,” Sandoval said. “It feels good to get this first win. Now we’re going on the road again and hopefully get three points down (in Fort Lauderdale).”
Cvitanich tied the match on a header in the 26th minute after getting a feed from defender Adailton.
“I was proud of them in the first half because the reality was it wasn’t going well in the first half but they rolled up their sleeves for 10 minutes when they had to,” Meola said. “That’s also important in soccer to do, so I’m really proud of the effort.”
Jacksonville won the ball in the air nearly 61 percent of the time and also held a 54-46 percent possession advantage.