Armada tie Indy Eleven 1-1
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – What once seemed a ho-hum home victory for the Jacksonville Armada FC turned into a squeamish finish and 1-1 draw with Indy Eleven on Saturday night.
After taking the lead via a Jaime Castrillón header around the half-hour mark and settling into a controlled tempo to start the second half, the home side wound up on the back foot thanks to a red card for defender Mechack Jérôme in the 63rd.
After 20 minutes of valiant defending, the Armada finally cracked when Indy substitute striker Brian Brown volleyed home in the 83rd, knotting up the score in front of 6,734 at Community First Park.
Interim head coach Eric Dade stuck with the same lineup that delivered a win in his debut, a more defensive-minded squad by virtue of two holding midfielders in Lucas Scaglia and Nicolas Perea.
The Armada dominated possession early through calm play at the back, and they sprung a few opportunities through Shawn Nicklaw down the right side. Indy attacked down their right side as well, using the speedy Dane Richards to open up opportunities, including a cross that Marvin Ceballos volleyed wide left.
But eventually, Pascal Millien found a way through for the home side. Minutes after his pass to Alhassane Keita nearly led to a goal, Millien found himself one on one with Indy defender Cory Miller along the left edge of the 18-yard box. From a standstill, Millien feinted left to buy space, then lifted in a perfectly placed right-footed cross that Jaime Castrillón ran onto and nodded into the back of the net at the half-hour mark.
It was Castrillón's third goal of the year, and the first time all season that an Armada player (Millien) notched an assist in back-to-back matches.
Miguel Gallardo preserved the lead with two saves of short-range shots from Indy striker Wojciech Wojcik, and besides Akeil Barrett subbing on for Alhassane Keita (hamstring strain) at forward, the second half got off to a quiet first 10 minutes.
But just as it seemed the Armada could calmly close out another home victory, the pace turned frantic.
Dragan Stojkov blasted a shot over the top, signaling a renewed attacking intent from the visitors, who then won a corner, had a header blocked and won another corner in quick succession.
That launched a series of end-to-end action.
After Akeil Barrett nearly capitalized on a sloppy goal kick, the Eleven came storming back down and Wojcik forced a diving save from Gallardo on a header. Down the other end, Millien tested Cardona at his near post, and Richards responded with a shot from distance for the visitors.
Then, in the 63rd, a moment of frustration from Jérôme completely changed the game.
The club's newest signing had put in another nearly flawless performance in his second appearance, but after fouling Wojcik to the ground, he kicked the Indy striker and earned a straight red.
While the Armada defended well with 10, a series of sharp passing combinations eventually led Brown through on goal, and he coolly buried a volley to equalize.
Barrett answered right back with a goal at the other end, but it was waived off due to an apparent handball. Jemal Johnson and Lucas Scaglia nearly netted game winners in stoppage time for Jacksonville, but they were denied by a block and diving save, respectively.
The draw did preserve the Armada's unbeaten home record in the Fall Season (4W-3D-0L), and they will go hunting for their first road win next Saturday, when they travel to take on the Carolina RailHawks.
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