The Armada FC, Jacksonville’s new professional North American Soccer League team, announced goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo (Me-gehl Gah-yar-doh) as its first-ever player signing. Gallardo becomes the first official member of the roster for the team, which begins its inaugural NASL season in April 2015. He will anchor the foundation of the team currently being built from his position in goal.
“Today is an incredible moment in the history of the Armada FC and a key building block as we assemble a team that Jacksonville will be proud to call its own,” said Mark Frisch, owner, Armada FC. “When we are looking for players, of course we are looking at skill. We are also looking at players who will contribute to the team’s great reputation and help grow the game and the NASL. We have found such a player in Miguel.”
Gallardo, 29, joins Armada FC from Major League Soccer’s Orlando City Soccer Club, where he was starting goalkeeper for four years during the club’s play in the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division. In Orlando City’s inaugural year in 2011, Gallardo was chosen as the USL Pro Goalkeeper of the Year and he led the team to its first USL Pro Championship win. During Gallardo’s tenure, Orlando City also won the USL Pro Championship in 2013 and three Commissioner’s Cups in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Gallardo was named USL Pro Fan’s Player of the Year in 2008 and served as team captain for three years, earning more than 51 wins and 33 shutouts.
“It is an honor to be the first signing in Armada FC’s history,” said Gallardo. “Jacksonville is a city with a passion for soccer, and I am thankful for this great opportunity to come here and play for the Armada FC. I appreciate the team’s faith in me, and look forward to being out in the community, supporting the club in any way I can and a great 2015 inaugural season.”
A native of Torreón, Mexico, Gallardo relocated at a young age to Texas, where he played with the local Longhorn Soccer Club and Austin Capitals Soccer Club. After high school, he returned to Mexico to train with the youth academy at Tigres of the Primera Division de Mexico. In 2003, he joined the USL Premier Development League as part of the Austin Lightning before becoming the first player signed to the USL first division expansion franchise the Austin Aztex. He followed the franchise in 2011 when it relocated to Orlando and its name was changed to Orlando City Soccer Club. In his Orlando City career, Gallardo compiled 51 wins and 27 clean-sheets. His goals against average never rose above approximately 1.00 in a single season, resulting in a career average of 0.733.
“Armada FC has received a great deal of interest both from local and international players to become part of our team here,” said Dario Sala, general manager, Armada FC. “We are proud to welcome Miguel as our first signing. He encompasses all that we are looking for in our players – a well-developed skill set, strong character, leadership ability, a great résumé and a desire to be a part of our team and our community.”