SAN FRANCISCO – Before Mark Lowry took over as the Armada head coach on an interim basis last season, Jacksonville had never won an NASL match away. In Lowry's first game as head coach, they did just that.
This year, with the interim tag taken off of Lowry's title, the Englishman has led the Armada to it's best start in the franchise's three year history. On Friday night, Lowry's club did something they had never done before: win 3-0 in a road match.
Zach Steinberger scored on two headers and Derek Gebhard netted his first professional goal as the Armada exacted a bit of revenge after a physical draw with the San Francisco Deltas two weeks ago. The Armada controlled the game from the outset, creating seven shots from inside the box in the match and dominating possession much of the first half.
In addition to facing the Deltas, the Armada had to fight off road fatigue. Wednesday night, they beat Miami United in the U.S. Open Cup in Hialeah, Fla., then boarded a bus, returned to the Jacksonville airport and flew to San Francisco to prepare for the rare Friday night match.
Jacksonville was particularly dangerous on Friday night, with more than half of their 13 crosses finding their marks. Steinberger's first goal was set up on a perfect cross from Drew Beckie in the 28th minute. It was the first goal via header for Steinberger in an Armada kit, but in the dying moments of the first half, he did it again. This time, nodding in a cross from Jemal Johnson. Steinberger wasn't done. In the 73rd minute, with the Deltas starting to build some opportunities and the field getting stretched, Gebhard played a one-two with Steinberger, cut the ball back to his right foot and from inside the left edge of the penalty area, fired one into the corner past a lunging San Francisco goalkeeper Romuald Peiser.
It was the first win for the Armada since they topped FC Edmonton twice to start the season. Jacksonville traveled 6,280 miles in the week and return home to Jacksonville with two victories. They will have some time to rest before facing North Carolina FC on Sunday, May 28.