The Jacksonville Armada coming off a very successful first season off the field will name former US Men’s National Team Goalkeeper Tony Meola, who won MLS Cup with Kansas City in 2000 as the club’s new Head Coach on Tuesday in an event at the River Club. Meola has already begun reaching out to potential staff based here in Florida to assist him with the Jacksonville job. Thus Meola and his his team should be able to hit the ground running.
Meola does not have a pro coaching track record but the Kearny, NJ native, that grew up in that town alongside contemporary US superstars John Harkes and Tab Ramos won 100 caps for the United States over an 18 year international career. Meola played every minute for the USMNT in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and was on the 2002 squad. His previous experience playing in the state was a loan from the USMNT (to whom he was contracted with at the time in a rare arrangement for players before the formation of MLS) to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1991.
The MLS MVP in 2000, Meola also won the US Open Cup in 2004 with Kansas City. He finished his MLS career in 2006 with his hometown New York Red Bulls.
For Jacksonville, the choice of Meola who is royalty in US Soccer circles is a big statement of intent. NASL does not normally get coaches with the following of Meola, and while he has no pro head coaching experience, his tactical analysis on Miami-based beIN Sports coverage of Copa America and FOX Sports coverage of MLS has generally been spot on.
Meola inherits a team that finished near the bottom of NASL due largely to the naive signing of many international players with no experience in the lower divisions of American soccer. Meola and his team will no doubt be able to attract better domestic names to the club, and for a team with a robust following, this news will in fact be welcome.
We will have more on the Armada’s new direction in the coming days.
It was trying to get a known American name, to help sell tickets, especially season tickets. In 2015 they were nowhere close to their season ticket sales goal, despite their public statements. And, their 2015 season attendance average of 8250 (for 5 preseason and 15 regular season games) is overstated by 30%…which is a much larger gap than teams normally have.