It was a "welcome home" cut short for U.S. men's team
in Franklin Square as his stamping grounds. The midfielder, who also plays
yesterday afternoon to scrimmage his old team, the Rough Riders.
Lightning and rain allowed for only 15 minutes of game action. Still, it
was exciting for fans to have the team in town. Matthew Coplan, a member of
Sam's Army - a group that supports the U.S. men's team - was reduced to
watching the game on Renken Boulevard, behind one of the goalposts, because the
event was at full capacity.
"To see the national team play anywhere is an honor," Coplan said, "and
they're in our own backyard."
It was also an honor for the Rough Riders, who are currently 1-5-1 and in
third place in the Atlantic Division of the USL Pro Select League.
Armas made his pro debut with the Rough Riders during the team's inception
year of 1994. He also converted the team's first goal ever, a penalty kick in a
4-2 loss to the now defunct North Jersey Imperials.
That year, he led the team in scoring with eight goals and four assists for
20 points. The Brentwood native also made a name for himself at Adelphi
University, where he was named athlete of the year three years in a row. He
finished his college career with 17 goals and 15 assists for 49 points.
"It's an amazing trip coming back home with this team," Armas said. "It
just doesn't seem real, having the national team here in HOTA, where I grew up
Coach Bruce Arena also enjoyed his time back; he lived on Long Island and
also played for HOTA in the 1970s.
"This has been the longest period of time it's been since I have been in
Long Island, but it's nice," said Arena.
A lot of Armas' family and friends were on hand to watch him play yesterday
afternoon, but not for too long. Heavy rains washed out the game and entire
crowd dispersed in a matter of minutes.
Team members huddled in the HOTA offices, some veterans playing foosball
with the younger players.
The Long Island layover was a pit stop en route to St. George, where the
team will play a FIFA World Cup qualifying game. They will head there tomorrow
morning and play on Sunday.
The game will be the second against Grenada. The first was last Sunday in
aggregate series versus Grenada to open qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World