Attack of the Armada: Miami Travels North

Jacksonville (0W-2D-2L, 2 points) is in search of its first win of the fall slate in its second home game this week at Hodges Stadium.  Sunday’s match is against Miami FC, the second-place club in the fall standings.  The Armada FC will look to recover after a questionable non-call on a handball by Puerto Rico FC in the box during stoppage time Wednesday that resulted in a 2-1 home loss.  Miami (2W-0D-2L, 6 points) has renewed energy after a 1-0 road victory at North Carolina FC on Tuesday night.  Riding two wins over the past week, Miami will try for its third consecutive victory over Jacksonville.  The away side leads the all-time series 3-0-2.  Catch all the action Sunday night at 6 p.m. on CW17 and ESPN3, and radio coverage will be on FM 97.3 and FM 106.9.

  1. Armada FC is on a seven-match winless streak.  The lone fall losses are the two to Puerto Rico during a span of 12 days.  Jacksonville needs to put the bad non-call from Wednesday in its rear view.  Other than the last series game, a 4-0 Miami win, every Jax-Miami battle has been decided by one goal.  The Armada has to find an answer in containing the league-best Miami offense.  Miami has a league-best seven goals this fall.  In their last two wins, Jaime Chavez had two assists against Indy Eleven and the game-winning goal over North Carolina.  His super-sub status in the spring has turned into a playmaker’s presence over the team’s last four games.
  2. In Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Puerto Rico, it was the first time the Armada had allowed multiple goals in a home match.  Jacksonville was the last team to do that.  A big reason is defender Mechack Jerome, who leads all NASL players with 99 clearances.  Goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell can only do so much for this squad as he has been their rock.  Three of the four Armada back-line defenders – Mechack Jerome, Aaron Pitchkolan and Drew Beckie – have been reliable.  The other back spot has been occupied by Kalen Ryden, Devon Fisher and Peabo Doue during the fall.  Does head coach Mark Lowry have confidence in one of them?
  3. Can Jacksonville rebound from the least attended Armada home match in franchise history?  Wednesday’s crowd was 780 fans.  Can the Armada avoid back-to-back home losses for the first time since May 2016?  The Blue and Gold landed results in seven of the nine spring matches at Hodges Stadium.  It has been night and day from the Armada of the spring and the team we have seen this fall.  At what point do local fans get their first look at Irish striker Ciaran Kilduff, who was signed on July 30, and has not made it to the states yet due to visa issues.
  4. One of the squad’s newest players Tony Taylor has scored in the last two games and has shown top-tier skills at North Carolina and versus Puerto Rico.  Jax and Miami are the two best teams when it comes to conceding goals, with 22 and 18 respectively.  Will Brian Shriver – who subbed in at the 78th minute Wednesday – show his flair he showcased with his old club North Carolina?
  5. Miami FC is the most dangerous scoring team in the league.  Their attack leads the NASL with 105 shots on target and 40 goals.  With 11 goals, Stefano Pinho is the league leader.  The south Florida squad locked in a playoff berth with a 36-point spring season, 10 points ahead of San Francisco.  After a slow start to the fall – three straight losses, Miami FC has won back-to-back games and found the rhythm they possessed throughout the first half of the season.

Prediction: Miami FC 3, Jacksonville 1