By: Logan Alexander
After what seemed to be quite the rollercoaster of affairs in the offseason regarding the relevance of Jacksonville Armada Football Club and whether or not they would be continuing operations for 2017, the Fleet have made their first signing of the new year under the regime of Mark Lowry.
Jack Blake has signed with Jacksonville Armada from previous side, Minnesota United FC, who have made the jump to Major League Soccer, leaving behind much of a roster available for the taking. Blake began his career at youth level for Notts County, but then made the switch to the Nottingham Forest academy, rivals across the river. The young Englishman earned his first professional contract for Forest in May of 2012 and appeared in the senior team making an appearance on the bench during an early January fixture against Peterborough United in 2013.
In the same year of 2013, Blake was loaned to Mansfield Town where he made his first professional appearance on the 22nd of October against Bury. The loan lasted a month and he returned to parent club Nottingham Forest and was then released after the 2015 season.
Nearly a year later, Jack Blake was signed by surging NASL side, Minnesota United FC, where he made his first appearance for the Loons in the U.S. Open Cup Third Round, a match where he in fact scored his first ever professional goal. United ended up advancing to the next round after winning 3-0 easily. As mentioned earlier, Blake was released by Minnesota United FC after they officially joined Major League Soccer and only took with them so far, three players from their roster in the second tier( four players if you count Miguel Ibarra’s stint with the club).
On the international level, Jack was born in Nottingham but he is eligible to play for the Scotland National Team due to having Scottish family. He has made five appearances for the Scottish U-19 squad back in 2011 and 2012.
Unfortunately for us as fans and supporters, we do not know much about the player. Blake is a central midfielder with plenty of technical ability, 22, and is just starting his career as a professional footballer. He lacks experience but possesses a good dose of work rate, a trait in which the squad has been lacking of the past year. This signing could be under the radar and work well or results could end up on the opposite end of the spectrum, though this signing is huge for the club in a few aspects.
For one, we are actually signing players. Though that may sound desperate (it is), this team and their fans and supporters have gone through hell trying to comprehend what 2017 and beyond has to hold in regards to the future of this club. With just a hint of news regarding the team we can feel at ease and finally say something is going on at JAFC rather than sitting in the shadows, dazed and confused. This is a start. While other teams are making big moves like Miami FC retrieving the signatures of Stefano Pinho and Tyler Ruthven, to New York Cosmos bolstering their team after their drama, were behind the rest but making progress and more news of new players and etc. is due to release very soon.
Secondly, Jack Blake adds a mix into the midfield. With only two other midfielders on the roster, Nicklas Maripuu and Kevan George, Jacksonville are starting to build, and they have began with a position on the field that we have had trouble at the past two years, and that is solidifying the midfield role. A gritty and hard-working midfielder centrally is what the club has been lacking, so let’s see what Jack Blake has to offer with a symbol of an anchor next to his heart.