By: Logan Alexander
With the excitement of an acquisition like Matt Fondy, one may forget the unfortunate events that have occurred today on the opposite end of the spectrum. Striker Tommy Krizanovic, defender Nurdin Hrustic, and defender Jordan Gafa have all been released by Jacksonville Armada Football Club. Though the news is tough to swallow, the outcome was always going to be likely. All three players found much difficulty in cracking into the starting eleven last year and with new faces entering the club like Bryan Burke, Fondy, and Mechak Jérôme (He still counts as being semi new!), the challenge became that much greater. Three words describe these men’s past year. Lack of opportunity.
Tommy Krizanovic joined the Armada from local NPSL club, Jacksonville United FC last January. For the Armada, the Croatian featured fourteen times and scored one goal, which can arguably be one of the most famous goals to date. A leaping header dinked over New York Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, set the Fleet on pace to defeat the big boys of the NASL 1-0 at home in mid July. The sad truth is that the level Tommy K played at was not good enough for the North American Soccer League. When appearing as a starter, there was little impact made on the game and very few chances to pick from. Alhassane Keita was always the starter at the striker position, and when Derek Gebhard joined the side, Krizanovic slowly slipped down the pecking order. Now with Matt Fondy joining from Louisville City FC, Krizanovic has fallen out of favor in the squad.
Nurdin Hrustic rarely started for JAFC but made constant late substitute appearances. Another local signing from Jacksonville United FC, Hrustic contributed to making eleven appearances as an Armada player. Out of the three players, Hrustic showed the most promise, a big and strong center half who wasn’t afraid to make challenges when needed. Though, there were always better players before him in the squad (minus Lucas Trejo, my goodness that was tragic).
Last is Jordan Gafa, who rarely played for the club. The UNC alumni signed for Jacksonville Armada on March 19, 2015, but only made FIVE appearances for the boys in blue and rarely made the bench for games. There never was really a great opportunity to watch Gafa play or assess his skill set, which as a supporter is frustrating. Bryan Burke entering the team pushed Gafa even further down the depth chart, and it was his time to depart.
Every team in any sport has a system of players coming and going but these departures tear us apart. Nurdin and Tommy are the local boys, attending high school in Jacksonville, playing college soccer at Jacksonville University, and even developing from Jacksonville United FC. Home is where the heart is, and these two boys will forever hold a place in our hearts. Gafa isn’t a Jacksonville native, or else this article would have been adorable and sweet. But, the kid has been in Florida for what was the past four years, and will be remembered as an inaugural season, Jacksonville Armada player.
Best of luck to these three guys as they embark on their journeys and on to the next step of their careers.
Keep your eyes and ears open. Good (and definitely exciting) news will come as the club finishes building the roster before the regular season kicks off.
“Here’s to you the famous white and blue, Duval loves you more than you will know”