Armada control playoff fate with 3 matches remaining
Home matches Wednesday and Sunday key to post-season chances
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With three matches remaining in the 2017 NASL regular season, the Jacksonville Armada are in position to make the post-season for the first time in their three year existence, and they can control their own destiny.
If the Armada win out, they will finish in the top four of the NASL combined standings, clinching a spot in the NASL Championship. Entering this week’s matches, the Armada are level on points with the New York Cosmos, but trail the Cosmos in the first tie-breaker category, goal differential, by one goal. Jacksonville will host the Cosmos on Sunday in what could be a virtual play-in game for the post-season.
"We have to assume that New York is going to get three points as well, we have to operate that way," Armada head coach Mark Lowry said. "Us getting three points is mandatory. That makes Sunday against New York a brilliant game."
Wednesday, the Armada host FC Edmonton. It will be the fifth matchup between the two sides. All four of the previous matches ended with identical 1-0 Jacksonville wins, including the last meeting on October 6 in Edmonton.
"It's the most important match of the season for us," said vice-captain Kevan George. "We're not even looking forward to New York. Once we get three points on Edmonton, then that puts us in a very good position for the playoffs."
If the Armada beat FC Edmonton again, they would enter Sunday’s showdown at UNF’s Hodges Stadium against the Cosmos. A win against the Cosmos would not only vault the Armada past the defending champions into fourth in the table, but would also, at least, level the goal differential statistic that could still come into play, depending on the result of the finals matches of the year, but Armada players said they aren't looking ahead.
"It's the old cliche, win one game at a time," said Armada captain Aaron Pitchkolan. "We can't even look forward to Sunday. We just need to pick up points. We need to do our best to win the game."
While the Armada has dominated the season series against Edmonton, they have not earned the results at home they would like. In the Fall Season, the Armada have drawn three and lost three at Hodges Stadium. Edmonton has been stubborn on the road lately, losing just one of their last five away contests.
Jacksonville’s final match is at San Francisco on October 28 while the Cosmos play Puerto Rico the same evening. Wednesday's match can be seen on WJXT, Channel 4 and the remaining regular season games can be seen on CW17.
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