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Armada handed tough last minute loss to Miami FC

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MIAMI – The Jacksonville Armada had an inspired showing on Saturday night after playing 80-plus minutes a man down, but a stoppage time goal in the second half by Miami FC’s Jaime Chavez handed the Boys In Blue a tough 1-0 loss at FIU Stadium.

After defender Beto Navarro was shown a red card in the 11th minute for taking down Miami FC forward Dario Cvitanich on a breakaway, the Armada (1W-1D-2L, 4 pts.) played within its limits and was able to keep Miami FC at bay for most of the match. Then in the second minute of second half stoppage time, Chavez had a blocked Ariel Martinez shot roll right to him and was able to finish.

Though Jacksonville quickly got back on the attack with three minutes of stoppage time remaining, it was not able to find the equalizer.

“I could not be prouder of our effort tonight,” said Tony Meola, Armada FC head coach. “It is always tough to play a man down, especially for as long as we did. If we can continue to show that kind of effort, good things will happen.”

Navarro’s booking, which was the earliest red card in club history, forced the Armada to back off, helping Miami FC to a 74-26 percent first half possession advantage. Jacksonville did have five shots in the half but none of them were on target. The Armada was able to breathe a sigh of relief in the 19th minute when a Chavez knock-in was negated due to an offside call.

Miami FC’s Pablo Campos, who subbed on for Cvitanich at the start of the second half, had a chip-in opportunity directly in front of the goal in the 68th off a Gabriel Farfan cross, but Campos’ attempt went over the goal. In the 74th, Chavez had another attempt waived off when he was called offside after his header went in the goal.

Zach Steinberger had perhaps Jacksonville’s best attempt of the night in the 85th minute when his volley from distance forced Miami FC goalkeeper Daniel Vega to make a diving save.

Armada goalkeeper Sean Lewis finished with six saves on seven shots on target faced. Junior Sandoval, who was voted the Farah and Farah Man of the Match by fans, tied his season high with six shots.