Pontius vs. Armada

Union open preseason with heavy rotation, but lose 1-0 to Jacksonville Armada

On a cold, rainy night in Jacksonville, the Union were able to rotate 31 players in their preseason opener, but ultimately fell to Jacksonville Armada FC, 1-0. Charles Eloundou scored the winner in the 80th minute.

The Union used three different lineups, each getting 30 minutes. A presumed starting lineup (outside of Maurice Edu who missed the game while continuing his rehab) controlled much of the first half hour. Of that group, Fabinho looked the most active, playing a few combinations with new left-wing partner, Chris Pontius, with one leading to a good scoring chance for C.J. Sapong, which just narrowly drifted over his head.

Subs for the Union at 33rd minute were Ibrahima Diaby (Fabinho), Mitch Lurie (Anderson), Michael Daly (Richie Marquez), Ryan Richter (Ray Gaddis), Derrick Jones (Roland Alberg), Cole Missimo (Pontius), Ilsinho (Tranquillo Barnetta), Yosef Samuel (Sebastien Le Toux) and Maazou Moussa (C.J. Sapong). Jacksonville took control for the final 15 minutes, with Andre Blake forced to make a low save before Armada’s Pekka Lagerblom drilled an ensuing shot wide.

The Union won possession in the first half, 54-46. Stats were pretty much even besides that, with both clubs getting two on target.

Brian Carroll (Vincent Nogueira) and John McCarthy (Blake) subbed in at halftime. With the second unit still in, the Union had a few opportunities thanks to some work from academy products past and present, Jones and Samuel, but couldn’t find a breakthrough. Moussa had one of the better opportunities early in the half, gaining possession inside the 18, before turning and shooting just wide.

The Union then made mass subs again in the 62nd minute, bringing in Taylor Washington (Diaby), Ken Tribbett (Lurie), Josh Yaro (Daly), Keegan Rosenberry (Richter), Warren Creavalle (Jones), Walter Restrepo (Missimo), Leo Fernandes (Ilsinho), Eric Ayuk (Samuel) and Fabian Herbers (Moussa).

But it was Eloundou who scored the eventual game-winner in the 80th minute, deftly chipping in a ball over the outstretched arm of John McCarthy.

The Union won possession 56-44, and forced more shots on target, 4-3, but were unable to beat Jacksonville goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo.

The Union return to action on Thursday, Feb. 11 against Chicago Fire at 4 p.m. That will be at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex in Clearwater, Fla., where the club will head for the rest of the preseason tomorrow.

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