The future of the NASL looks bright if all expansion clubs can follow Jacksonville’s lead. On Wednesday afternoon the club, which will begin play in the second division league, announced the hiring of Argentinian coach José Luis Villarreal. Villarreal boasts an impressive CV as a player on multiple continents and valuable experience coaching a storied South American team.
Jacksonville had already laid down a strong foundation before Wednesday’s announcement. Back on February 18 of this year, the club unveiled its name and logo after an extensive period of fan input. Club owner Mark Frisch and general manager Darío Sala proudly displayed the crest and explained the that the organization was “honored and proud to reflect the suggestions of our fans in our team name and logo while aligning with the history and tradition of this region.”
On Wednesday afternoon the club built a solid framework on top of the existing foundation.
“José Luis has everything we are looking for in a head coach – passion, determination, playing experience, strong international connections and leadership. But most importantly, he has a desire to be in Jacksonville, grow our local talent and be a part of our community,” said Darío Sala “On the field, he will help set the Armada FC apart with his style of coaching and play. His aggressive, attack-style approach is not seen in the U.S. right now and will be a new dynamic for the NASL.”
José Luis Villarreal has played not only for both Boca Juniors and River Plate in his native Argentina, but also for Atlético Madrid in Spain, Montpellier in France, and Pachuca in Mexico. In 2012, Villarreal joined the coaching staff of fellow Argentine Omar Labruna at Chilean club Colo-Colo as assistant manager. Through his role with Colo-Colo, Villarreal was responsible for reviewing tapes of his team and the next opposition in addition to dabbling in all aspects of coaching.
During Wednesday’s event, club owner Mark Frisch said of Villarreal, “As a former player, coach and recruiter, José Luis’ approach to the game, worldwide experience, connections and passion for the sport will help us achieve that goal. His unmatched experience and leadership abilities make him the perfect person to help build the Armada FC.”
José Luis, his wife Elisabeth, daughter Sofia (15), and son Lucas (14) have all recently moved to the Jacksonville area and are settling in ahead of next season’s debut. In the meantime Villarreal will be working closely with Sala to find and sign the talent capable to producing exciting and attacking play for the Armada FC.