Today’s the day, Armada fans. The very first match in team history kicks off at Everbank Field at 5:30 pm tonight. The Armada have been building for this moment for more than two years, and it’s hard to believe that it’s actually here.
The Armada will be facing off against the Philadelphia Union who are in the third year of a three year deal to play pre-season friendlies in the city. If you can’t make it down to the stadium, the match will be broadcasted live on the CW.
So here we go. Three questions that I think will cover the important things about tonight’s match.
Who are the Philadelphia Union?
The Union are an MLS team that play in … Philadelphia. They are the definition of a mid-table club. This will be their sixth year in MLS, and they’ve only made the playoffs once, in 2011. They haven’t had a bad team in recent years, it’s just been horribly mis-managed. This is also their first pre-season match for the year, so it will be interesting to see what changes their new manager has made and how the team runs out tonight.
How will the Armada line up?
The Armada have played several scrimmages against MLS teams, losing 2-1 to NYCFC and winning 4-1 over NYRB, but nothing has come out of the matches about formations or lineups yet. I imagine the Armada will play in a 4-3-3, just based on how the formation is kind of en vogue right now and a short conversation I had with club President Steve Livingstone on the day Jose Luis Villarreal was announced as manager.
We will no doubt see as much of the first team as possible today. Not only because it’s the first actual match, but also because the team has only been playing together for about a month. The only big name player we won’t see playing today is Marcos Flores. He was tweeting from Dallas late last night about getting on a plane to Jacksonville, so I imagine he won’t be on the field any. The club has been teasing a special appearance at half time, so maybe he is the one they’re talking about.
Does the result matter?
Not at all. It is still a pre-season match, and the main objective for these things is always building fitness and chemistry. The result is always secondary. Aside from all of that, today is all about the launch of the team. The city has been waiting for kick off since the team was announced in 2013, and regardless of what happens on the field itself, the fans will be happy and optimistic.
Tonight’s match is huge. The first in team history. The team may not play well tonight (although I think they absolutely will), but that’s not a big deal. At the end of the day, we will all be able to say that we finally have a professional soccer team in Jacksonville again, and that’s all that matters right now.