The Jacksonville Armada FC fell 2-4 against the New York Cosmos at Community First Park Saturday night. A highly entertaining game with lots of goals, fouls, and momentum swings left the Armada coming just short. The loss ended Jacksonville’s five-game unbeaten streak and also saw its 293-minute shutout streak come to an end with Orozco’s 23rd minute goal for New York.
In a game where the Armada trailed by a goal in the second half, to come back and grab the lead against one of the league’s best teams shows a lot of heart. Although Armada head coach Mark Lowry was extremely distraught after the game, he recognized how proud he was of his team.
“I just thought the boys got what they deserved,” Lowry said. “To pull it back to a tie and then go 2-1 up was, from what I was seeing and what the staff was seeing, we fully deserved that. Then with ten minutes to go, a couple decisions, a couple of calls from the referee dictates the outcome of the game and it’s unfortunate.”
Those calls were very critical and the Armada staff was unbelievably disappointed after the game, arguing and yelling at the officials all the way back to the locker rooms. One call in particular, or non-call as it was, occurred when Zach Steinberger was free on goal for the Armada when Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer came out of his goal. Steinberger touched the ball past Maurer and Maurer impeded Steinberger from scoring on the play. Steinberger was still very upset about the decision after the game.
“I don’t think the referee knows all the rules of soccer because if you read in the FIFA handbook it says, there doesn’t need to be contact for there to be a foul,” Steinberger said. “He came out, I touched the ball by him, I had to jump over him to get to the ball and that jump caused me to lose out in a footrace. It was an obvious red card. Everyone in the stands saw it, everyone on their team saw it, he just doesn’t understand the rules I guess.”
Coach Lowry was very angry about the non-call as well, adding his perspective on the play.
“Zach Steinberger was through on goal, keeper comes out, effects the play, Zack goes down and nothing is given,” Lowry said. “How you can let that play on is beyond me, the keeper has got to have a red card and he’s off the field.”
The team was very obviously more emotional after this game than usual. The players, along with the coaching staff, thought they played well enough to win. It is rare in any sport for a team to openly put so much blame on officiating after a game, but that was the quite evidently the opinion for the Armada on Saturday night.
“Heartbreak, man,” Steinberger said. “That’s like getting broken up with in middle school by the girl you’ve loved since kindergarten. We move on. There’s nothing left to say, that’s a kick in the mouth.
“This game is full of highs and lows and this one was the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”
Coach Lowry took some time to let everything sink in and was ultimately very positive with the play and mood of his team. Although their record may not be where they want it to be, Saturday night showed just how much passion this team has.
“I’m very happy with the guys,” Lowry said. “I thought we played fantastic, particularly in the second half. With all due respect to the Cosmos, they are in my opinion the best team in the league, but I thought we were the better team tonight.
“For me, every game is like a cup final. That’s how I try to treat them and tonight was our championship game. Indy for me was a championship game and I think in these two games against arguably the two best teams in the league, because they are. Indy are spring champions and Cosmos are defending champions, we’ve been the better team in both games.”
The Armada will look to keep their spirits up, as they have a quick turnaround before their next match on Wednesday against Miami FC. The game will be at Community First Park at 7:00pm.
Photos by SE Sports Media