After leading 1-0 and then settling for ties on late penalty kicks in its first two games, Miami FC is hoping for a happier ending Friday night against the Armada in Jacksonville.
The first-year Miami NASL team led until the 93rd minute in the opener against Fort Lauderdale and until the 85th minute last Saturday in the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Argentine forward Dario Cvitanich scored Miami’s lone goal in both matches.
“That’s lack of experience,” Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios said of Miami’s two ties. “Those last 10 minutes are costing us, but that will come with experience. It’s a new team, new players, but we know we’re playing very well. We’re hoping for a different story at Jacksonville.”
Miami coach Alessandro Nesta was very upset after the loss to the Rowdies and said his team needs to learn to put opponents away when they take the lead. “We let them back in the game, and we can’t do that,” Nesta said. “We gave away four points [in the standings] in those last few minutes.”
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The Armada, a second-year club, is coached by former U.S. national team goalkeeper Tony Meola. His assistant coach is former Miami Fusion player Jim Rooney.
Meola, who is in his first year as coach, said he is impressed with what he has seen of Miami.
“They’re very organized, willing to fight and work for each other, and I expected that with [Italian legendary defender] Nesta as coach,” Meola said by phone. “They have some talent with very good experience, guys who can break you down with one play. That’s always concerning, something we have to look out for.”
Meola said he expects a spirited crowd at Community First Park, and thinks that will be an advantage. The Armada lost its season-opening game 2-0 on the road against the New York Cosmos.
Among Jacksonville’s standout players are defender Jerome Mechack of Haiti, and Richie Ryan of Ireland. Locals on their roster include midfielder Nicolas Perea of Hollywood and goalkeeper Sebastian Evers of Miami.
Miami FC returns home to FIU Stadium Friday April 22 to face Oklahoma.
Miami FC at Jacksonville Armada
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Community First Park, Jacksonville.
Records: Miami FC (0-0-2), Jacksonville (0-1-0).
TV/Radio: BeINSport USA, 106.9 FM Project.