The Jacksonville Armada FC of the North American Soccer League (NASL) overcame Kaká’s first-half free kick goal to post a 2-1 preseason win over the Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Orlando City SC on Saturday night at Community First Park.
“All due respect to their organization, but if anybody says it’s a friendly game and they didn’t care to get the win, obviously I would have to disagree with that,” said Armada goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. “You could see the intensity those guys were playing with — especially in the first half. They were getting upset when they weren’t getting calls or when my teammates would steal the ball.”
The Armada second half offense was highlighted by scoring on a free kick from defender Mechack Jérôme. Then a long strike from forward Alhassane Keita that beat goal keeper Earl Edwards Jr. to secure the second preseason win in as many matches.
“The last thing we said coming out of the locker room was find a way to win the game and we did that,” said Armada first year head coach Tony Meola. “The atmosphere probably gave them a little extra boost. I’m proud of the effort. I thought we were really organized against a very good team, especially in the second half when we figured it out a little.”
The Armada, entering their second NASL season, features five field players who are new to the club. Orlando City has just one new field player, as well as the reigning MLS Rookie of the Year in Cyle Larin and a former FIFA World Player of the Year in Kaká.
“I’m really pleased with this game for us. Thought it was a good first half with a lot of positivity. Considering we are two weeks out, I thought there was a lot of good stuff happening in the game,” said Orlando head coach Adrian Heath. “Did we want to win, yes, but that’s not what these games are all about.”
The Armada will be back in action on Feb. 24 at the University of North Florida before hosting the MLS’s New York Red Bulls on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m.