When the Kansas City Comets announced Goran Karadzov as their new head coach last week, they continued the tradition of former players becoming assistants and then taking charge. Karadzov was an assistant for three years prior to stepping up to the lead role and takes over from his friend Vlatko Andonovski. Karadzov was also an assistant to Andonovski with two time NWSL champion FC Kansas City.
“It is a dream that is coming true for me,” Karadzov said. “Ever since I stopped playing I have been a coach and it was my dream to coach professionally and to do it with the Comets is special, they are family.”
Karadzov does continue the tradition of stepping up to take the job when the boss leaves. When the Comets were re-established they were coached by Kim Roentved and was assisted by Andonovski. When Roentved stepped away Vlatko assumed the head coaching duties with Goran always at his side. Goran also would take charge when Andonovski was away including coaching a few games. Now that Andonovski is stepping aside to focus on FC Kansas City and have more time with his family, it is only natural that Goran take over.
Comets captain Vahid Assadpour was an assistant last year and will return in that role again. Former Comet Goran Hunjak has been added as an assistant for the upcoming season.
New boss same as the old?
When asked if and how he would change the Comets, Goran expected the team would play much the same. Vlatko and I worked together, really tight, it was team work,” Karadzov explained. “I don’t’ see any difference, we were really similar when we coached FC Kansas City and when we coached the Comets we were really similar.”
“Since we don’t have the same players it may force us to play a little differently,” Goran continued. “It looks like we are going to lose Boris and that may force us to change the style a bit. Losing some players could force us to change the style a little but in general we will be similar. As a coach I don’t play a style because I want it. I will see what players I have and adjust from there.”
Assistants: Goran Hunjak and Vahid Assadpour
Captain Vahid Assadpour returns as an assistant coach and they have added legendary Goran Hunjak as an assistant. "Scorin" Goran Hunjak as he was known in his playing days had a career that lasted more than two decades (1983-2005), including playing for the Kansas City Attack (1994-99), Kansas City Wizards (1998) and Comets (2001-05).
“I could not be happier to have Goran. We are going to work like team,” Karadzov stated. “The younger guys may not know who he is but a lot of the fans know him. Amazing his experience, first and foremost a great guy, so humble, when you talk to him you do not realize just how good he was.”
Player news: Changes and challenges
The Comets have announced a core under contract from last year: Vahid Assadpour, Leo Gibson, Stefan Stokic, Ramone Palmer, Robert Palmer, Bryan Perez, Lucas Rodriguez, Alain Matingou, Cody Hoffman, Milan Ivanovic and Boris Pardo.
Sources state that John Sosa has signed and not been announced yet along with the addition of Odain Sinclair from the Ambush. The Comets have signed a couple more players that are younger or with less indoor experience. Expect official announcements as league and visa approvals come through. One of those players is expected to be Carlos Filho that played for Wichita and the KC Cyclones Futsal team.
Kansas City’s keeper Boris Pardo signed earlier this year but it is becoming more unlikely that he we will play for the Comets. A personal issue came up and Pardo will probably leave to take care of it. “We are still talking with Boris and we will see where we are at with that,” Karadzov stated. “We are looking for other keepers, we would love to keep Boris but are looking at other keepers for now.”
Robert Palmer was delayed getting back to training from visiting family in Jamaica due to hurricanes but should be back now. Lucas Rodriguez was out of training for a while recovering from an undisclosed injury but was expected to resume training at any time.
Brian Harris is not under contract. Sources say talks are still taking place but were not looking good at that time.
Leo Gibson suffered a severe concussion at the end of last season and it took him a long time to recover. He has been cleared to practice and is working back to where he wants to be. “It will take some time, take it slow, be careful with him,” Karadzov commented on Gibson. “He is a huge part of this team and we depend a lot on him. Not just a great player but an amazing person, it’s an honor to work with people like that.”
“We pretty much have four or five new players signed. This is a year where we will have to build again,” Karadzov admitted. “With those players it will take a year, year and a half maybe to get to what we want. We have experienced players that will help them make the transition. They were ready to maybe play for other teams but not for Comets, it will take them time to be ready for Comets. We want to give them time, that is how we started with Harris, with Robert, all of those guys.”
With all the changes, Goran knows it will not be easy. “Looking forward to it (the season), is everything perfect? No. But I always believe in hard work that players can be better. Our expectations are always high but I also want to be realistic and not blow smoke. Maybe we lose more games than last year so we have to accept that. The players need time. It’s going to be tough on players, on me, on everybody.”