Welcome to your open thread for tonight's preseason friendly match-up between Orlando City and the NASL's Jacksonville Armada. It's the first match-up between these two in-state professional clubs, but that doesn't mean there won't be some familiar faces on hand when the two teams meet up.
Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo and defenders Bryan Burke and Mechack Jérôme are former Lions now playing with Jacksonville, and forward Akeil Barrett was a second-round pick (No. 25 overall) of Orlando City in 2015 -- although he never played for the team in a competitive match.
Gallardo is well known to City fans and to Head Coach Adrian Heath. "Miggy" played six seasons under Heath, including all four USL years for Orlando City and two with the Austin Aztex. He made 81 appearances with the Lions from 2011-2014. The 2011 USL Goalkeeper of the Year, Gallardo compiled 51 wins, 30 shutouts and a 0.733 goals-against average as a Lion. He was instrumental in leading Orlando City to the 2011 and 2013 USL Championships and three regular season titles. He posted the USL's best goals-against average in 2011 and 2012, finishing second to Andrew Dykstra in 2013 and fourth in the league in 2014.
He finished 2015 with a record of five wins, 11 losses and six draws in 22 NASL matches, with four shutouts and a 1.68 goals-against average.
Burke was last year's USL Defender of the Year while playing with Louisville City FC -- Orlando's affiliate at the time -- leading the league in assists, with 10. "Burkey" made 26 appearances with Orlando City, scoring three goals in two seasons. He helped the club win the USL Championship in 2013 and a Commissioner's Cup in 2014.
Jérôme appeared in 14 matches for Orlando City during the 2011 USL championship run. He scored a goal and added three assists in 20 games during the club's 2012 regular season title run.
Barrett quickly found a home with the Armada after he was let go by Orlando City. The Tulsa product made 23 NASL appearances -- 10 of them starts -- and one U.S. Open Cup start, scoring three goals, with one assist and four yellow cards on the season. He also set up the winning goal in Jacksonville's 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union last week.
Orlando City fans who paid attention to affiliate club Louisville City last year will also recognize the 2015 USL MVP, Matt Fondy. The prolific scoring forward broke Kevin Molino's USL goal-scoring record last season with LCFC. Fondy scored 22 goals in 28 games with Louisville and was recently acquired by Jacksonville, where he joins last year's teammate, Burke.
This should be a fun match-up, with each team's fans throwing shade at one another over social media in the lead-up. There should be a good atmosphere for the match, with Orlando sending up multiple busloads of fans across I-4 and up I-95. Our Brent Petkus recently provided a solid scouting report of the Armada.
Jacksonville Head Coach Tony Meola recently talked up the Armada-OCSC "rivalry" on the club's website.
"I think it is important to talk about winning," said Tony Meola, Armada FC head coach and technical director. "Whether it is winning the NASL or winning the US Open Cup, for me, you have to win your state first. We have a lot of teams in Florida, so it's a fun rivalry. This game doesn't have any bearing on our NASL season and our championship run, but don't get me wrong, this match means a lot to our boys. This is preparation for April 15."
I'm not sure you can have a rivalry with a team you've never faced, but, OK. Sure.
Orlando City will want the W, because you always want the W. But it will be more important to gain match fitness, find some chemistry and escape the game without any injuries. Carlos Rivas took a knock a week ago in a friendly and that may hurt his bid for a starting spot on the left on opening day.
There are important battles for positions going on, including No. 1 goalkeeper, the starting partner next to Aurelien Collin, and multiple midfield battles. The Lions are gearing up toward the March 6 opener against Real Salt Lake and must learn some things from this match.
As mentioned above, Jacksonville is 1-0 this preseason after beating the Union a week ago. Orlando City is also 1-0 with a 4-0 win over Eastern Florida State College on the road last Sunday. Hadji Barry scored a brace for Orlando, with Tyler Turner and Tony Rocha each chipping in a goal.
How to "Watch:"
Match time: 6 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Community First Park -- Jacksonville, FL
Radio: Online radio at project1069.iheart.com.
Streaming: Unfortunately, no. Buy a ticket and hit the road!
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City's official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
Match Thread Rules:
This is your live thread for posting comments on the match. So use our comments section below to talk about the game in real time with other supporters. If you're new, welcome to our happy home! While you're here, please observe a few basic rules:
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