Match Preview: New York Cosmos vs. Jacksonville Armada FC

Jacksonville Armada - New York Cosmos

by JAKE NUTTING

After prevailing in last weekend’s rematch of The Championship final with Ottawa Fury FC, the New York Cosmos will play host to last year’s North American Soccer League cellar-dweller, Jacksonville Armada FC.

Despite finishing dead last in the NASL combined table in their inaugural season, Jacksonville found a way to push the Cosmos and remain competitive in each of their three match ups. They even dealt the Cosmos their first loss of the season last year when they held on to secure a 1-0 result at home in the second week of the Fall Season.

This year, Armada FC has gone through major turnover under first-time head coach Tony Meola who has brought in 13 new signings to the club while maintaining core players who showed promising signs in an otherwise dismal season.

With Meola at the helm, Jacksonville is expected to shift to a more direct style of play after playing a quick passing, possession style that left them exposed and tied for second most goals allowed (49).

New York will be without midfielder Danny Szetela (ankle sprain) and forward Yasmani Duk (visa issues) on Sunday. Armada FC will also be missing Finnish midfielder Pekka Lagerblom, a player the Cosmos scouted back in 2014.

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Match Information

Sunday, April 10 at Shuart Stadium. Kickoff 6 p.m. ET

TV/Streaming: One World Sports

Referee: Robert Sibiga

2015 Series: Draw (3-3), Cosmos L (1-0), Cosmos W (1-0)


Projected Lineups

Cosmos (4-1-4-1): GK Jimmy Maurer – D Hunter Freeman, Jimmy Ockford, Carlos Mendes, Ayoze (C) – M Michael Lahoud; Sebastian Guenzatti, Juan Arango, Ruben Bover, Andres Flores – F Jairo Arrieta

Armada (4-4-2): GK Miguel Gallardo – D Shaun Nicklaw, Mechack Jerome, Matt Bahner, Bryan Burke – M Lucas Scaglia, Junior Sandoval, Richie Ryan, Pascal Millien – Matt Fondy, Alhassane Keita


Jacksonville front line vs. Cosmos defense:

Possibly the most important returning player for Jacksonville is Alhassane Keita. The forward tallied seven goals last year and when he was on a roll, Jacksonville looked threatening against the top defenses in the NASL. He’ll likely be paired up with the USL’s reigning single season goal king, Matt Fondy, who will be eager to prove that his career year in Louisville last year (22 goals) was no fluke. Together, they’ll be probing a Cosmos back line that afforded Ottawa more scoring chances than they’d like to last week. It still might be too early to turn to Kenyan international David Ochieng at centerback, but loanee Jimmy Ockford could be on a short leash if the mistakes continue.

Slight Advantage: Cosmos


Cosmos front line vs. Jacksonville defense:

The Cosmos will be hoping Jairo Arrieta can muster more than the single shot on net he did last week, but they can’t have any qualms about the Costa Rican making his presence known with an assist on Juan Arango’s first goal. Meola has assembled a back line with sturdy talent from the USL, including centerback Matt Bahner and the league’s defender of the year Bryan Burke. The jewel of the backline, though, is Haitian international Mechack Jerome. Besides being an excellent set piece striker, Jerome provides athleticism and poise at the back. The only potential pitfall for the Armada defense is their lack of experience playing together. Sunday will be the first time this unit takes the field for a competitive match.

Advantage: Push


The Midfields

The midfield has been a strength of the modern era Cosmos since their inception and that appears to be the case again this year. Juan Arango got off to a rocking start with two poacher’s goals and the rest of the unit, including newcomer Michael Lahoud, looked calm and collected against Ottawa. Depth is also on the side of the Cosmos, who can pull talented attackers like Niko Kranjčar and Yohandry Orozco off the bench if need be. Jacksonville is likely to have a more composed midfield in their second season, with captain Richie Ryan signing up to help lead the charge after playing an indispensable part in Ottawa’s rise up the standings last year. Returning winger Pascal Millien is also capable of lighting up an opponent when he’s locked in to his game.

Advantage: Cosmos


The Coaches:

With over a dozen new players coming into the fold for Jacksonville, progress may very well be slow-going for Meola in his first year. Meola himself has kept expectations low for the Spring Season, making a point to highlight the Fall Season as when he hopes to figure out his team’s true level. In comparison, Meola’s former New York/New Jersey Metrostars teammate Gio Savarese has a firmer grasp on how to maximize his squad’s talent after three years in charge. The Cosmos have lost a few pieces from their championship season, but have held over enough regulars to give Savarese the edge.

Advantage: Cosmos


X-Factor:

One of the more embarrassing notes for Jacksonville in their inaugural season is the fact they went winless in 15 road matches. Meola has stressed this as a vital area of improvement in his first year as head coach. He’s added depth at the back, inserted one of the NASL’s top central midfielders in Richie Ryan to help toughen up the squad in environments away from home. Last year’s abysmal road record will undoubtedly be on the mind the returning players and Meola will likely be stressing the importance of getting that monkey off the club’s back in their first match of the season. The new grit and attitude across the board for Jacksonville could spell a tougher night for the Cosmos.


Prediction: 2-2

  • Anthony

    Arrieta a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win.

    • William

      I like it !!! Niko to start ? how come now raising of the championship flag last week ? shouldn’t some sort of ceremony happen ?

    • Anthony

      I was pretty close…

  • slowleftarm

    6pm on a Sunday? Over/under on attendance maybe 3k? What do people think?

    • Slowfrontallobe

      People think you’re a troll.

    • Greg

      Cosmos + Red Bulls attendance < NYC FC attendance

      • Anthony

        Cosmos + Red Bulls trophies > Man City USA trophies

        • Greg

          Because NYC FC is going to win everything in year one. You had a 20 year head start. Congratulations! I would be bragging too

          • Anthony

            How about we just compare last year then? By my count you still lose that 3 – 0. You were also 0-5 in derby games.

      • Smurf040

        Greg, everyone knows the only reason to go to see that crappy team is to go drink!! Just ask Fat Lampard! Lol!! Greg, please don’t tell me you go to see that unbearable team?? Please!!

        • The Iron Lung (Pirlo)

          Easy on Greg, he’s new. Although he’s been a boy city fan for like 13 months he’s a soccer aficionado.

    • Dr. Freud

      People think you’re obsessed with the Cosmos and need help.

    • Larry\’s A Simpleton

      3000? your far to generous. they have about 200 stoonods at the lacrosse stadium tonight. what a joke. hey stover, pull the plug on this **** organization. its embarrassing.

      moooooooo baaaaaaaaaaa baaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • Larry is a whack job

    There is a team on TV right now. Their uniforms are just like NYCFCLMNOP’s, but the field is far too big to be theirs. Oh wait it’s the real team not team B. Lol!!!!!

    • Larry\’s A Simpleton

      whack me goof. lol you fanboys dont have an original thought in your cement heads. roflmao. baaaaaaa baaaaaaaa moooooooooooo

  • Terry

    I love the cosmos…Don’t hate NYCFC or NYRB ….Can’t wait to see Cosmos pay these teams in cup this year…They’re built to go much further than last 2 yrs plus remember before last yrs match with NYCFC slow said NYCFC would win by at least 20 to 0..he’s obviously a idiot so treat him as such…but I do hope NYCFC does well

    • Larry\’s A Simpleton

      dont get to attached to the f.cosmos. they’re gonna fold real soon.

  • Larry\’s A Simpleton

    ROFLMAO! Looks like they have about 200 people in the stands! Come on fanboys and put your best spin on this one! Sunday? 600 start? playing on a day that ends in a y?

    What a fucking embarassment. looks like nobody wants to support their local independent soccer club.

    #STOVERPULLTHEPLUGONTHISSTEAMINGPILEOFSHIT!

    Dont worry fanboys. Martinez will keep on giving the f.cosmos a reach around and publish all sorts of article on how great the f.cosmos are.

    what a joke1

    baaaaaaaaaaaaa baaaaaaaaa mooooooooooooooooooo