Armada drop preseason match to Rayo OKC


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The tension was high during Friday morning’s preseason meeting at Patton Park between the Jacksonville Armada FC and North American Soccer League newcomer Rayo OKC, which took the game 3-1 over the home side.

“One of our missions was to dictate the pace, but I think Rayo was able to be that more than we did,” said head coach Tony Meola. “All and all we created chances. Maybe the thing that kills us is the restart at the end.”

He added: “Alen (Marcina) has done a very good job of putting that expansion team together. They are a solid team.”

Despite early pressure from Armada forwards Matt Fondy and Alhassane Keita, Rayo broke through in the 19th minute when Richard Menjívar slotted a shot past Miguel Gallardo to earn the first goal of the game.

Possession turned toward Rayo from that point as it took control of the ball, passed it around the backline and eyed a counterattacking opportunity. That opportunity appeared in the 36th minute when a Ryan Johnson pass allowed Menjívar to shoot at the top right side on Gallardo and put Rayo up 2-0.

The Armada came out strong in the second half, subbing in Charles Eloundou and adding pressure on the OKC defense. The pressure paid off in the 56th minute when the Armada got on the board when Eloundou hammered home a shot off a Patrick Otte cross to earn his fourth goal of the preseason.

However, OKC’s 87th minute goal from Ian Svantesson with an assist from Erick Norales proved to seal the game.

The Armada returns to action at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, when it takes on local NCAA Division II team Flagler College at Saints Field in St. Augustine, Fla.