RECAP | Armada 2, Rowdies 0

Scaglia, Millien on target in home win over the Rowdies
NASL Staff | Sep 26, 2015

Jacksonville Armada FC snapped a long scoring drought and a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the in-state rival Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night, putting on a show for the 7,163 fans at Community First Park in the first match for interim head coach Eric Dade.

Despite coming off a tumultuous week that saw dismissals of general manager Dario Sala, head coach Guillermo Hoyos and his assistants, the Armada (4-2-8) showed no signs of being a team in disarray, as goals from Lucas Scaglia and Pascal Millien provided the firepower in front of a strong defensive performance.

Dade deployed a new-look 4-2-3-1 formation to match the team’s fresh jerseys — red and tangerine kits honoring the NASL Golden Era Jacksonville Tea Men.

The largest effect of the lineup change was to give Scaglia a defensive midfield partner in Nicolas Perea, delivering stability in front of freshly-signed centerback Mechack Jérôme, a Haitian national teamer who provided instant poise on the back line.

The lineup also granted more attacking responsibility to Jaime Castrillon, who played centrally between Jemal Johnson and Pascal Millien to support front man Alhassane Keita.

The match got off to a cagey start but picked up when Johnson’s deflected shot forced a quick reaction save from Matt Pickens, and Tampa Bay midfielder Darnell King answered right back by testing Miguel Gallardo and forcing a corner.

Jérôme had multiple headed clearances and blocks through the ensuing Rowdies attacks, and he frequently launched Armada possessions with calm, accurate passes from the back.

The match finally broke open in the 34th, when right back Shawn Nicklaw heroically held off two Rowdies in the corner to spring Millien, who slid a pass that Scaglia one-timed into the left side of the goal with a low, curling effort that beat Pickens for his first NASL goal.

More importantly, it was the club’s first score in 531 minutes, and they had to fight to preserve the lead into halftime.

Minutes later, Gallardo had to muster a double save to deny Brian Shriver and King, and he stuffed Corey Hertzog after a sequence where the Rowdies seemingly passed with impunity throughout the box.

The second half settled into a steady rhythm, punctured only when Jérôme ripped a free kick that Pickens had to dive to deny in the 54th.

But Millien jolted the crowd back awake in the 74th when he cut a right-footed shot back across Pickens and tucked it just inside the left post for his fifth of the year.

As he trotted away and launched a signature backflip amidst the cannon-fire, it signaled a release from a week of off-the-field drama. And while the final minutes did hold some drama — scoring chances for Keita and Akeil Barrett, and big name substitutions (Freddy Adu for Tampa Bay and Marcos Flores for Jacksonville) — the hosts were able to see off their rivals to stretch their home unbeaten run to seven matches.

They’ll go for eight next Saturday when they host the Indy Eleven at 7:30 p.m.

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