The Armada FC, Jacksonville’s professional soccer team, said today that José Luis Villarreal will become the club’s first head coach.
Villarreal (pronounced Vee-jah-ree-ahl) will be charged with building the team’s roster and technical staff before coaching the Armada FC in its inaugural season in 2015.
“I am grateful to have this opportunity with the Armada FC and to help build a team from the ground up. I look forward to working with the leadership of the team to build a winning club, grow local talent, become a leader in the community and make our fans proud,” said Villarreal.
He called Jacksonville “one of the best-kept secrets in Florida.”
Villarreal, a former professional soccer player, brings nearly 30 years of experience between playing and coaching at the professional level across South America and Europe including Boca Juniors (Argentina), River Plate (Argentina), C.F. Pachuca (Mexico), Atlético Madrid (Spain) and Montpellier Hérault SC (France).
Most recently, he served as deputy manager for Chilean club Colo-Colo, which plays in the Primera División. Colo-Colo has the most wins in Chilean first league history, with 30 titles, and has been in the top league since it was founded in 1925. In 2014, the club was crowned the champions of the Primera División spring season.
“José Luis has everything we are looking for in a head coach - passion, determination, playing experience, strong international connections and leadership. But most importantly, he has a desire to be in Jacksonville, grow our local talent and be a part of our community,” said General Manager Dario Sala. “On the field, he will help set the Armada FC apart with his style of coaching and play. His aggressive, attack-style approach is not seen in the U.S. right now and will be a new dynamic for the NASL.”
Owner Mark Frisch said in addition to possessing the skills necessary for the position, Villarreal also demonstrated the leadership quality needed to build a team from the ground up.
“From day one, our team has shared a goal of putting a winning team on the worldwide map,” said Frisch. “As a former player, coach and recruiter, José Luis’ approach to the game, worldwide experience, connections and passion for the sport will help us achieve that goal. His unmatched experience and leadership abilities make him the perfect person to help build the Armada FC.”
Villarreal, along with his wife, Elisabeth, and two children, Sofia, 15, and Lucas, 14, have relocated to Jacksonville.