The last we saw the Missouri Comets, they were partying in the Independence Events Center, celebrating their first ever Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) championship. Relaunching in 2010, the team had qualified for the playoffs every season, finally winning it all in their fourth season.
In the 223 days since their first title, a lot has changed in the indoor soccer world. Shortly after the championship series ended, six of the former MISL teams joined forces with teams from the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) to form the 23 team Major Arena Soccer League (MASL).
The Comets have been placed in the MASL's Central Division. Joining them will be former MISL rivals, Milwaukee Wave and St. Louis Ambush. Despite their new name, the Wichita B-52s will figure to be a strong rival again. Rounding out the division will be the Tulsa Revolution and 2014 PASL champion Chicago Mustangs.
As the Comets get set to start the season, they will have a chance to renew another old rivalry. In tonight's inaugural match of the new MASL, the Comets have traveled to Allen, Texas to face off against the Dallas Sidekicks. The Comets vs Sidekicks rivalry dates back to 1984, although this is the first time the two franchises will face off since 2004.
Dallas stormed into the PASL in 2013 and has amassed a 27-5 record since (including a 16-0 regular season home record). Indoor soccer legend Tatu, head coach of the Sidekicks, has assembled a strong squad. Former Baltimore Blast goalkeeper Sagu backstops the team which also features former MISL players Freddie Moojen and Fabinho.
Dallas' high powered offense was led last season by Nestor Hernandez, who is currently recovering from recent knee surgery and will be out until December. Moojen will be expected to pick up the scoring slack along with returning forwards, Jamie Lovegrove and Shaun David.
The Comets return much of the team that celebrated with the trophy back in March. Captain and assistant coach, Vahid Assadpour will lead an experienced and extremely talented team onto the pitch tonight.
Led offensively by Leo Gibson, he is joined on the front line by the ever exciting Ramone Palmer and the Haitian Sensation, Max Toulette. The strength of the midfield will come from Assadpour, Bryan Perez and Milan Ivanovic. Defensively, Brian Harris, Stefan Stokic and Coady Andrews will once again set up a brick wall along with John Sosa, Alain Matingou and Robert Palmer.
The new league brings some new rules, most notably a return to single point scoring. Regardless of where the shot originates from on the field, all goals will now count as one point. Also, any penalty will result in a shootout opportunity. If it is not converted, the shooting team wil have a two-minute man advantage.
The new MASL kicks off tonight at 7:00p.m. CT from Allen, Texas. Locally, fans will be able to watch with the Comets Nation fan club at Coach's Bar & Grill on 103rd & Wornall. The game will also be live-streamed at ESPN3.