Tony Meola last played soccer for the short-lived New Jersey Ironmen of the Major Indoor Soccer League, in 2008. He was the starting goalkeeper for the United States National Team and played for the old MetroStars before Red Bull bought out the New Jersey based club.
Meola is now the coach of the Jacksonville Armada FC, a second-year team in the NASL. The Florida based club ranked last in the overall 2015 league standings, winning 8 games and in 30. The finished the spring season in 6th (3 wins in 10) and the fall season in last (5 wins in 20).
The former goalkeeper is looking to impose a more attacking type of offense, diverging from the conservative, defensive mindset of most goalkeeper-turned coaches.
"I'd say I'm an attacking kind of coach," The Jacksonville coach said in a question & answer session with the NASL website. "I want my players to be aggressive in certain areas of the field."
Besides being the head coach, Tony Meola is also the Armada's technical director. He understands what attributes make a solid player for his club.
One thing about last year that stuck out is that the Armada FC didn't win on the road [0W-3D-12L]. Not once. For me that's about character. I think that on the road sometimes you have to win ugly. Maybe the game doesn't go your way early on and you have to find a different way to get a result. But you need leaders.
Jacksonville had fired their first head coach, Jose Luis Villarreal in June of last year. Since then, they have had 3 coaches prior to Meola.
Meola's playing career in the United States started with the MetroStars from 1996-1998, before being traded to the Kansas City Wizards. In 2000 with the Wizards, Meola was named League MVP, Goalkeeper of the Year, and lead Kansas City to claim its first MLS Cup.
The former MetroStar already faced off against his former team in a pre-season scrimmage, which the New York Red Bulls won 5-2. He'll have another chance at the Red Bulls on February 27 during the Armada's pre-season tournament in Jacksonville.