Meola lead candidate for vacant Jacksonville Armada head coach job

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

NASL newcomers Jacksonville Armada enjoyed a promising season off the field, but their on-field product was erratic at best.

Now, the sophomore side is looking towards one of the most recognizable faces in U.S. soccer to shore up their operations.

EoS has learned that former U.S. Men’s National Team great and Metrostars legend Tony Meola is the lead candidate for the vacant Jacksonville Armada head coaching position.

If awarded the position, Meola would instantly become the most recognizable coach in the NASL. However, it would also be his first foray into the professional coaching ranks. He has spent much of the past several years in and around the U.S. Men’s National Team ranks, offering his assistance to the U-17 and U-20 programs. He was particularly hands-on with U-20 boss and former U.S. teammate Tab Ramos on several of their recent U-20 camps.

While his body of work as a player came under the MLS umbrella, Meola has since been covering both the top flight and the NASL through his work on Sirius XM, Fox Sports, One World Sports and several other outlets, giving him added insight to the league and its talent.

If Meola’s interest in Jacksonville sounds familiar, it should. The former U.S. Men’s National Team keeper was in the running for the position last year, going so far as to interview for the job with then-club GM Dario Sala. Sala instead went with friend and former manager, Guillermo Hoyos, who was fired just three short months after having his original contract extended through 2019. Ultimately, Jacksonville dismissed Sala, Hoyos and his assistant coaches Edison Ibarra, Rafael Perez Niño and Sebastian Fabres in late September. Eric Dade, Jacksonville FC executive director and Armada FC director of player development, was named interim head coach to close out the season.

Jacksonville ended the season dead last in the Fall Season and tied the Scorpions for last in the combined NASL table as well (8W-7D-15L).

While the lead candidate for the job, Meola is still only one of several potential managers considered for the position. Current interim manager Eric Dade and former New York Red Bulls boss, Mike Petke have also been considered for the head coaching job, though they appear long shots for the position.

EoS reached out to Meola about the rumored Armada vacancy. He had no comment on the story.