Armada FC fall 2-0 in fall opener
The Ottawa Fury continued their NASL-record streak of not allowing a goal in 600 plus minutes.
OTTAWA, Canada – Opportunities were abundant for the Jacksonville Armada FC on Sunday afternoon, but neither curling crosses nor driving attacks on the Ottawa Fury FC defense could lift up the Armada in a 2-0 loss at TD Place Stadium.
The Armada (0W-0D-1L Fall, 3-3-5 Combined) held a 55 to 45 percent possession advantage, and Farah & Farah Man of the Match Jemal Johnson was able to fire off five shots. However, Ottawa's signature stingy defense and ability to convert on key counterattacks negated Jacksonville's leg up with holding on to the ball.
"I feel as though it was a complicated game for us because they got us on the counterattack a few times, and we weren't able to recover," Johnson said. "It was the first game of the season, and we would have liked to have started it off with a victory, but we have to take the positives away from the game."
Donning their new away kit to start the North American Soccer League Fall Season, the Armada's Achilles' heel seemed to be converting the numerous chances created by Marcos Flores, Johnson, Keita and Lucas Rodriguez pushing into the Fury FC's final third.
Ottawa (1-0-0 Fall, 3-5-3 Combined) climbed onto the board in front of a season-high crowd of 6,150 in the 13th minute when Mason Trafford converted a corner after Armada defenders Lucas Scaglia and Matt Bahner desperately strained to clear the ball from danger multiple times. The Fury FC managed to stave off the Armada FC attack for the remainder of the match, and the fresh legs of striker Tom Heinemann finished off the match with a chip over diving Armada goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo in the 86th minute to seal the victory.
"We came in at halftime and saw that we were getting a lot of time and space in the wide areas, so that is what we tried to take advantage of," Johnson said. "It was very difficult though, and it was a hot day in Ottawa. We just need to keep working hard, doing what we do well and play to our strengths. We tried to do that in the second half, but we got to finish our chances."
What the Armada FC lost in the counterattack, they made up for by reapplying pressure on the home side. A late, backward-diving header from midfielder Jaime Castrillón in the 64th minute along with the resilient ball handling of midfielder Bochy Hoyos kept the Fury FC defense tested.
"We will keep working hard," Johnson said. "It is difficult for to us to play on the road, but you know we are going to take the positives from today. We take every game as it comes, and the next game is a new opportunity."
The Armada FC are back on the road again when they take on the Atlanta Silverbacks at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 11 at Silverbacks Park.
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