Jacksonville never seemed to find much of a rhythm until it was too late, and a 43rd-minute goal from Puerto Rico’s Conor Doyle was enough to hand the Armada its first loss in franchise history to PRFC, 1-0. In the first 24 minutes Puerto Rico held 56 percent of possession. The Armada finally mustered its first shot of the match almost into first-half stoppage time when Jack Blake was in the box for a near equalizer. PRFC notched its second win of the season with the first coming versus FC Edmonton (3-0) on June 10 at Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel.
For whatever reason, the Armada have played a dull brand of soccer when facing Puerto Rico. The first real threat for the visiting squad was Kevan George trying to find JC Banks in the opponent’s box in the 27th. Going in, even on the road, a draw would have been desirable at the least. The growing pains with Tony Taylor, Brian Shriver and Peabo Doue in the starting lineup showed. However, some kind of future Zach Steinberger-Taylor connection has potential to propel this side to a few surprising wins.
Both sides came out of halftime with much more spark especially for the Armada FC. Head coach Mark Lowry inserted Charles Eloundou in for Jack Blake for the last 30 minutes. Nearly ten minutes later, Derek Gebhard came in for Taylor. Eloundou was the clear spark plug, who sent a dipping beauty for the net that was one-handed and sent high by PRFC keeper Trevor Spangenberg. Another Eloundou push two attacks later had a ball wide and low. Jacksonville had its best run of attacks following the two subs of Eloundou and Gebhard, but Puerto Rico was too physical and methodical with its 1-0 lead for the entire second half.
- Man of the Match again is goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell who kept an opponent at bay during an early 15-minute stretch. Color commentator Eddie Rodriguez called Patterson-Sewell the team’s Superman for the back 30 yards. Jacksonville trailed 10 shots to two after the end of the first half. If CPS isn’t back there, it is 2-nil pretty quickly. With the Armada playing a man down, Mechack hit a rocket that got crossbar and post with a few minutes left to play. Jerome had the opportunity on a set piece following a foul just outside the box when Derek Gebhard was pulled down.
- Armada is now riding a five-match winless streak. Three new starters, yes, but a lackluster brand of soccer has been the pattern for Jax in its three matches with the Caribbean side. Moments into the second half, PRFC’s Hector Ramos was dealt a yellow card for moving the ball up a few feet on a free kick. Sadly, it was one of the more entertaining moments of the first 50 minutes.
- Newly-acquired players Tony Taylor and Brian Shriver both received their first starts for the Armada. Shriver, who celebrated his 30th birthday Saturday, was a sub last week for Jacksonville. Taylor, who helped lead the Jacksonville University Dolphins to a conference title in 2008, saw his first playing time in Armada blue. The 28-year-old Taylor took the first half of the opening 45 minutes to find his rhythm. It may take him another two to three matches to find his scoring groove. Defender Peabo Doue also got his first NASL start. He deflected a Puerto Rico shot in the 31st minute that would have most likely made it 1-0 PRFC. In a series that embodied Jacksonville’s night, Doue was sent off with a straight red card for an extended arm that had his hand go into the face of Giuseppe Gentile. He will miss the Armada’s next match at North Carolina. Doue was below average in his team debut.
- Eddie Rodriguez provided color commentary for the Armada on Saturday. The former Jacksonville Cyclones player had previously called high school soccer for the Bright House Sports Network. Rodriguez deserves to be in the CW/WJXT rotation with Cole Pepper. To give some excitement to such uninspired Armada play takes determination.
- Kevan George went down holding his left leg after a collision close to the 40th minute. He was on the sideline momentarily before returning for Jacksonville. Jack Blake provided the most entertainment in the first 10 minutes of the second half as he shouted at a fallen Jordi Quintilla, who Blake had thought took a dive (looked like he indeed did). PRFC compiled more than a few acting jobs on the night.