Central Cup- Round 2
Kansas City Comets vs St. Louis Ambush
When: Saturday, December 19th, 6:00 PM CT
Where: Cable Dahmer Arena, Independence, Missouri
The Kansas City Comets have a chance to win the inaugural edition of the Central Cup preseason tournament with a doubleheader weekend of arena soccer against two rivals.
KC’s first test will be their home opener against the St. Louis Ambush on Saturday before traveling to Wichita on Sunday for their second road test this season.
Last weekend’s win for the Comets featured a number of inexperienced players. Head coach Leo Gibson managed his side from the bench with keepers Mark Saxby and Lou Misner splitting the halves in goal. Adam James was the star of the show with three goals, but rookies Lucas Sousa and Henry Ramirez each added a brace. Ramone Palmer also returned to action and scored a fabulous goal after visa issues kept him out last season.
Kansas City also have some guys looking to earn a contract. Nick McDonald, an emergency signing last season, joined Filip Villela last weekend in Dallas and they each showed well as McDonald recorded an assist.
Saturday’s home opener could also be Rian Marques’ preseason debut for the Comets while Nicolau Neto, Kevin Ellis, Robert Kelly, and Gui Gomes were held out last weekend as well.
St. Louis Ambush
The Ambush enter with an 0-1 record in the Central Cup after getting rocked by the Wichita Wings last weekend 8-3. Under the coaching tutelage of Hewerton Moreira, the Ambush will look to rebound with a win in the first installment of the I-70 rivalry this season.
Former Comet Brett Petricek received his Ambush debut last week, but Paulo Nascimento looks like the clear first-choice keeper for St. Louis. The Ambush’s offense will be led by Max Ferdinand, who signed from the Milwaukee Wave in the offseason. The Ambush also have the 2019/20 MASL Rookie of the Year at their disposal in Duduca Carvalho.
Matches between the Comets and Ambush are almost always close, but last year’s season series saw the home team win each game. I don’t see that switching with how good the Comets looked last weekend compared to the Ambush, who are still figuring things out.
Central Cup- Round 3
Kansas City Comets @ Wichita Wings
When: Sunday, December 20th, 6:05 PM CT
Where: Hartman Arena, Park City, Kansas
If the Wings win their match on Friday evening and the Comets win on Saturday, that would set Sunday’s game up for the championship match.
The Wings entered this tournament as the big underdog as the only M2 team, but could end this tournament as the champions. Their 8-3 win over the Ambush last weekend came without former Comet Bryan Perez.
The Wings are managed by former indoor pro Roger Downing for the second straight season. Former Comet keeper Steven Hamersky and former Comet defender Kevin Ten Eyck are also integral components of their team. In last week’s win over St. Louis, rookies Taylor Henry and Eduardo “Benji” Monreal each scored three and assisted one.
In two previous exhibition matches since Wichita’s revival last season the Comets won one and lost one, but with the Comets reserves playing in their loss in Wichita last season. I could see this one going either way with both teams having a point to prove, but the mixture of experience with players looking to earn a contract and more playing time will serve the Comets well. I’m going to predict that the Comets will win this win, but it will be a very tight contest.
If the Comets can pull off both wins this weekend, they would be crowned Central Cup champions, which would be their first piece of silverware since winning the Central Division of the MASL in 2016/17 with a record of 15-5. While it would be a preseason tournament championship, it would still be a good accomplishment for a team without several notable veterans.