The Jacksonville Armada FC announced the signing of goalkeeper Sean Lewis and defender Patrick Otte this week.
The additions bring the Armada’s current roster size to 25, adding necessary depth. Both Lewis and Otte joined the club as trialists in late January.
According to MLS.com, Lewis, 23, was the starting goalkeeper in 2013 at Oakland during his senior year after playing three years at Western Michigan. Lewis started in 17 matches, posting seven wins. He allowed 1.09 goals per game and racked up 63 saves.
During his junior year at Western Michigan, Lewis was an All-Mid-American Conference second team selection. He started in 19 matches he appeared, posted 11 wins including 5 shutouts. He allowed 0.92 goals per game and tallied 69 saves.
Before joining the Armada, Lewis spent time with United Soccer League Premier Development League side Panama City Beach Pirates and Australian side Olympia FC Warriors.
In an interview the Jacksonville Armada team website, head coach Tony Meola spoke very highly of Lewis.
“Sean came to us right after he got back from Australia and looked confident in what he was doing right away,” Meola said. “We only had two goalkeepers on the roster and we wanted to carry three. He just fit the mold of what we were looking for. He’s a great kid who works really hard, and I expect him to improve quite a bit.”
Lewis will add necessary depth to the goalkeeper position. Starting goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo was often rotated with David Sierra last season, but Sierra left for Miami FC. Current backup Sebastian Evers is virtually unproven for the Armada and this will be a perfect opportunity for Lewis to potentially challenge for the No. 2 spot.
Lewis possesses strong hands and great quickness off his line. His 6’1 height is equal to that of Gallardo and Evers, meaning Lewis is at little to no disadvantage with regards to size. I like Lewis as another potential option at the keeper position.
According the Jacksonville Armada team website, Otte was recruited and attended the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he worked under the guidance of current Armada FC assistant coach Jim Rooney. Otte eventually signed his first professional contract with the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2011. He again played under Rooney when he was an assistant coach with the Strikers.
He has recently played on the PDL side Ventura County Fusion in 2013.
“Jimmy (Rooney) has coached Pat before, and so he knows him well,” Meola said. “He has battled through three years of tough injuries and came in from day one as an attacking player. (It turned out) that we needed a left-sided defensive player in one of our scrimmages, and Pat volunteered to play there. We realized that he tackles well and has a good sense of the game.”
Otte provides the Armada with very much needed depth at the back. The Armada previously only had seven defenders on the roster, which is a big issue when the Armada have played with five defenders thus far in preseason.
As mentioned by Meola, Otte has attacking prowess and could become a threat going forward from the left-back position. Matt Bahner seems to have that position locked down, but as we saw last season, if Bahner goes down, we didn’t have much behind him. This Otte signing is an extremely smart signing.
Ultimately, both signings are good signings to make. This Armada squad is a thin one and any depth will greatly benefit this team during the 2016 campaign.
The Armada FC will take on MLS side Orlando City SC in a preseason friendly at 6 p.m. on Feb. 13 at Community First Park at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.