The Major Arena Soccer League opened for the Missouri Comets tonight in front of over 4,000 fans at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The Comets faced a determined Cedar Rapids Rampage as the two teams battled into overtime.
The last two seasons have been exciting for the Missouri Comets and their fans. They followed up a MISL Championship in 2013-14 with a 20-0 regular season in 2014-15. Despite a controversial and disappointing loss to the Baltimore Blast in the MASL semi-finals last year, the expectations for 2015-16 were once again high. Especially facing the expansion Cedar Rapids Rampage for their home opener.
The Rampage, however, had different plans. Led by Jeff Kraft, coaching his fourth expansion team in five years, they built a roster of local talent mixed with strong veterans. On top of that, they played a five-game exhibition schedule that allowed their team to gel and learn to play with each other.
The Comets were clearly the better side as they opened the game, but Cedar Rapids weathered the storm and stood tall on defense, at times putting three defenders on the goal line to stop the Comets shots. Their patience was rewarded with the only goal of the opening quarter.
Max Touloute opened the secondquarter with two highlight worthy goals in a span of just over two minutes. Cedar Rapids’ Hewerton equalized the game momentarily, but Lucas Rodriguez put the team up 3-2 just before half in his first game back with the Comets since leaving for the NASL last year.
The Comets outshot the Rampage 21-7 in the 3rd and 4th quarters of the game, but Kraft's defense clogged seemingly every shooting lane, then took advantage of the Comets' shorthanded defense to tally six second half goals.
With just under 7 minutes left in regulation, the expansion Cedar Rapids Rampage held an 8-5 lead over the Comets. Missing defenders John Sosa, Brian Harris and Alain Matingou, the Comets dug deep and poured on the offensive pressure. The Comets' Ramone Palmer, Leo Gibson and Rodriguez tallied three scores in 2:37 seconds to force overtime.
It took eleven minutes and nine shots, but Missouri never let the Rampage cross the half-line. Robert Palmer tallied his first goal of the season in dramatic fashion...a game winner.
The Comets travel to Dallas to take on the Dallas Sidekicks next Friday, November 13th, then travel to Harrisburg the next night. They return home on November 20th against the St. Louis Ambush