Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'New Beginning' as Armada Welcomes Coach; Meola Takes over; It's His First Professional Coaching Position

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'New Beginning' as Armada Welcomes Coach; Meola Takes over; It's His First Professional Coaching Position

Article excerpt

Byline: Clayton Freeman

Sixteen years ago, Tony Meola arrived to man the net for a Jacksonville soccer milestone, the U.S. national team's 3-0 victory over Germany at EverBank Field on Feb. 6, 1999.

On Tuesday, Meola opened a new chapter in Northeast Florida soccer history when the Jacksonville Armada named the former United States international goalkeeper as the club's head coach and technical director.

"I look forward to the challenges and I look forward to what lies ahead for this organization," Meola said.

Armada owner Mark Frisch called the hiring a "new beginning" after a debut season in which the Armada used three coaches - Argentines Jose Luis Villarreal and Guillermo Hoyos and American interim coach Eric Dade - on its way to a last-place finish in the North American Soccer League.

Meola said that the Armada's overall vision, strong fan support and atmosphere at the Baseball Grounds were among the key factors leading him to Jacksonville.

"The word on the street, so to speak, about this club is that they do things right," Meola said.

As technical director, Meola will also have control over player decisions, essentially filling the role that former general manager Dario Sala occupied prior to Sala's Sept. 21 dismissal.

Frisch said that Dade, the interim coach for the last seven games, will remain with the Armada in his previous position of director of player development.

Meola, a 46-year-old native of Kearny, N.J., represented the United States in the 1990, 1994 and 2002 World Cups and played in 100 matches for the national team between 1988 and 2006.

He also played 11 seasons in Major League Soccer and won league MVP honors in 2000 in the Kansas City Wizards' championship season, earning election to the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012.

"I think he's going to bring a great culture of winning to the locker room," Frisch said. …

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