The time has come for the Armada’s first match against NASL opposition. Kickoff against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers is at 730pm, but you should get there earlier to enjoy the Fanfest or (and?) the Section 904 tailgate. The forecast says it’s going to be a little chilly and wet, so be prepared!
Now with all of the introductory things out of the way, let’s get to the three important things I’ll be watching for tonight.
The Armada are, unfortunately, playing in a baseball stadium that will be converted for matchdays. Of course, this means that part of the field (specifically, the part that lies where the infield would normally be) will be temporary. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this part of the field will be bad, but historically this type of arrangement hasn’t allowed for the best-laid fields. It is, however, pre-season for the grounds crew too, so we won’t be too harsh on them this time. As long as it doesn’t look as bad as the Rowdies field (They also played in a converted baseball stadium) has looked in the past, it should be fine going into the regular season. Thankfully, the Baseball Grounds are a temporary home until the team builds the stadium they’ve been talking about.
The team had a rough go of it against Charleston, unable to convert consistent pressure into goals and eventually losing 1-0. Alhassane Keita was injured, which may explain part of it, but the goals shouldn’t drop off because we lose one man. Marcos Flores will be making his first on-field appearance at home, which is exciting. Like the Philadelphia game, we’ll be seeing a good amount, or more, of the first team.
Hopefully, Keita’s small injury has healed up and he gets a good amount of time on the field with Flores. Now, if Alhassane Keita is back in the team, he should be back up front, so where will Marcos play? I think he’ll slide over to the right wing, pushing either Pascal Millien or Jemal Johnson into a substitute role. Or something totally different; it’s hard to say exactly considering the team has only played two actual games, and have yet to have Keita and Flores on the field together.
The Strikers had a WEIRD off-season. They lost the NASL Championship Game, were bought by a group of Brazilians, cut all of their players, and Brazilian Ronaldo decided to invest then say he kind of wanted to play again. It’s just been a strange couple of months in Fort Lauderdale.
The Strikers obviously aren’t the same team as they were last season, so this is our first chance to see what one of our main rivals looks like on the field. We should come away from the match tonight with a good idea of whether or not the Strikers will be as successful as they were last season. Of course, that does come with the caveat that this is still preseason, so current performance does not indicate future results.