With the win over SIMA Aguilas, Jacksonville Armada earned back-to-back US Open Cup wins for the first time in club history. Photo: Austin David
In tonight’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup First Round matchup between the Jacksonville Armada FC and SIMA Aguilas at Montverde Academy, it was the experience of the Jacksonville Armada that prevailed as they came away with a 2-0 win to advance to the next round. SIMA Aguilas (PDL) had just begun training together a few days ago, before playing their first competitive match tonight, while the Armada, which feature a roster full of professional players, is coming off a 2-1 victory in last Sunday’s Preliminary Round against The Villages SC (PDL).
Through the first half Jacksonville controlled much of the possession, as SIMA spent most of the beginning of the match trying to settle in and build cohesiveness.
“I thought in the 1st half we did a very good job in keeping Jacksonville in their end like we wanted to, not building out,” SIMA general manager Mike Potempa said after the match. “Of course, as legs begin to tire, we had to make some subs when guys haven’t been with us for too long it gets a little bit raveled. The goals we gave them, they didn’t really earn them, but overall I know congratulations to them they move on and and we have PDL season starting Saturday, so for me I’m very happy with with the match.”
Throughout the rest of the first half, Jacksonville put on pressure early but SIMA’s squad hung in and absorbed the pressure, creating a few chances on the counter. The first half of the match was very physical between the two teams as Jacksonville committed 10 fouls in the first half alone, while SIMA Aguilas had 11 fouls of their own. Jacksonville managed two shots on goal, while SIMA had three.
“Disappointed with the first half,” head coach Mark Lowry said following the game. “I thought we were poor in the first half. It wasn’t like we were in trouble, I just expect better from us. Second half, I made a change, brought on Camillo who’s a young 19-year-old Colombian to give us more of an attacking threat and I thought he changed the game. We came out in the second half a lot more potent going forward, a lot more dangerous and it resulted in two goals for us.”
The second half saw the more experienced Armada take control of the game with a goal in the 54th minute from Joshua Castellanos. After a poor touch from SIMA’s Alexander Happi, Castellanos found himself alone on goal with only the keeper to beat. He finished the chance easily and Jacksonville took the 1-0 lead early in the second half.
Just a minute later, SIMA almost equalized in the 57th minute. From a goal kick, midfielder AJ Seals had a cutting through ball that found Mikael Martins in on goal. In a one-on-one situation with the keeper, Martins’ shot struck the near post and went out for a goal kick. This turned out to be the best chance of the night for the Aguilas.
Jacksonville continued to control the pace of the game, though the SIMA team was able to create chances on the counter. It wasn’t until the 77th minute when the door on the match was shut as Jacksonville’s Connor Doyle took a Aguilas turnover and blasted an uncontested shot from just outside the box, rifling the back of the net and giving the Armada a commanding 2-0 lead. SIMA Aguilas tried to fight back into the game, but it was too late to make up the deficit.
With the win, the Armada have won multiple games in a single tournament for the first time in club history. Jacksonville now advances to the Second Round of the US Open Cup and will host USL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies next Wednesday, May 16.