Jacksonville Armada FC Announces Miguel Gallardo as First Player

Miguel Gallardo was unveiled Tuesday with Jacksonville Armada FC

Miguel Gallardo was unveiled Tuesday with Jacksonville Armada FC

The 2015 NASL expansion team announced on Tuesday, October 21 that goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo is the first-ever Jacksonville Armada FC player. Gallardo will lead Jacksonville after playing four successful seasons with Orlando City SC of USL PRO.

“It is an honor to be the first signing in Armada FC’s history,” Gallardo said on Tuesday.

Gallardo initially joined Orlando City ahead of its inaugural season in 2011 in USL PRO. The 6’1″ goalkeeper played with the Austin Aztex in USL-1 for two seasons before moving with the club to Central Florida. With Orlando, Gallardo amassed 51 wins and 32 clean sheets in 82 appearances over his four seasons. Miguel Gallardo led the City Lions from the back en route to three regular season titles and two playoff championship trophies in USL PRO.

Gallardo apparently did not impress head coach Adrian Heath quite enough to earn an MLS contract alongside Kaká, Salvadoran national team star Darwin Cerén, and 2014 USL PRO MVP Kevin Molino. His four years leading the third division league with Orlando City, however, mean that Gallardo is among the strongest goalkeepers outside of MLS and will lead Jacksonville in the club’s first season.

Armada FC’s General Manager Dario Sala was glowing about Gallardo joining the club. “We are proud to welcome Miguel as our first signing. He encompasses all that we are looking for in our players – a well-developed skill set, strong character, leadership ability, a great résumé and a desire to be a part of our team and our community.”

There are few better players to build a defensive core around than the 29 year old goalkeeper. Gallardo not only put up impressive numbers but formed a powerful connection with Orlando City’s fans. Jacksonville Armada FC are hoping to capitalize on both Gallardo’s career pedigree and his personal characteristics to form the backbone of their squad.

“Today is an incredible moment in the history of the Armada FC and a key building block as we assemble a team that Jacksonville will be proud to call its own,” said Jacksonville Armada owner Mark Frisch.

Armada FC plans to fill out the rest of its 27-man roster by January 2015; look for future announcements about which players will join Gallardo on Jacksonville’s squad in the coming weeks.

Jacksonville Armada FC Names José Luis Villarreal Head Coach

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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.

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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. Continue reading

NASL’s newest team launches as the Jacksonville Armada FC

Local political figures joined league commissioner Bill Peterson and the team’s executives during a press conference on Tuesday morning in Jacksonville, Florida.

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Council President Bill Gulliford told the crowd that he was “proud to welcome Jacksonville Armada FC to our city,” while Mayor Alvin Brown declared, “We want everyone to know that Jacksonville is soccer territory.”

After an extensive contest that allowed fans to suggest possible monikers for the club as well as the colors to be used in a logo and team kits, the results could not have been better. The area’s connection with naval history is not a gimmick but something real that came from the fans, themselves.

With regard to the newly announced name of the team, club owner Mark Frisch said 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.”

Jacksonville Chamber President Daniel Davis stressed that, “Armada FC makes Jacksonville a player in a global game,” which complements well Commissioner Peterson’s comment that, “the Armada is now part of the global soccer community and global soccer economy.”

These quotes and a general buzz around words like “international” and “global” may foreshadow future announcements of marquee exhibition matches. The success of the USA v Scotland friendly match in May of 2012 was a cornerstone of the pitch by the Armada’s ownership team.

Former Argentine goalkeeper and current club general manager Darío Sala discussed his role of bringing “the best talent to the city.” Sala told the crowd that he would use his worldwide network of connections and relationships to draw foreign players while also scouting extensively in the local area and American colleges. As a former player agent, Sala will know the ins and outs of contract negotiations and may have a leg up during negotiations with clubs from Argentina especially.

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson seemed almost giddy at the prospect of announcing Jacksonville Armada FC. “I love the thought and the process that went into [naming the team],” Peterson said during the press conference. He commended the organization for its strong and deliberative growth so far and set the stage for continued success with cross-state rivalries against NASL’s other Florida teams, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Armada FC will get its chance to take on those teams and the rest of NASL, as well as the US Open Cup field, when it begins play in 2015. Fans can put down a refundable $30 season ticket deposit and learn more about the club by visiting www.ArmadaFC.com.