Danny Waltman and the Western Conference won the MASL All-Star game by a score of 9-4 on Saturday night at Cable Dahmer Arena.
After more than nine months of vacancy, MASL action returned to Cable Dahmer Arena for the first-ever MASL All-Star Game. It was a close contest for the first half, but the West ran away with it in the second half behind a strong defensive performance.
The West entered the match without Monterrey Flash forward Brayan Aguilar, who was a late scratch due to unexpected travel restrictions. The East was without Comets star Kevin Ellis, Milwaukee’s Alex Bradley, Utica’s Darren Toby, and St. Louis’ Duduca Carvalho due to Covid protocol safety measures.
Despite the absence of Ellis, the Comets still had five participants in the All-Star Game: Leo Gibson, Ignacio Flores, Robert Palmer, John Sosa, and Nicolau Neto.
After a bit of a slow start, Tacoma’s Cory Keitz got the first of the night towards the end of the first quarter before Utica’s Nate Bourdeau and Harrisburg’s Dominic Francis scored to give the East the 2-1 advantage early in the second quarter. Ontario’s Charlie Gonzalez got his first of the evening shortly after for the West to make it 2-2 as both sides entered halftime level.
Some from the @HarrisburgHeat! Dominic Francis uses two pretty sole rolls before smoking a southpaw swat into the net. Preceded by an own goal, the East now has a 2-1 lead! #MASLAllStarGame @MASLarena pic.twitter.com/XxqubkmwZ5— San Diego Sockers (@SanDiegoSockers) December 6, 2020
The West started to run away with it in the third quarter with goals from San Diego defender Cesar Cerda and Kraig Chiles as well as Cory Keitz’s second of the night to make it 5-2 in favor of the West after three quarters of action.
Gotta tip our cap, this link-up by three @TacomaStarsSC is a thing of beauty.— San Diego Sockers (@SanDiegoSockers) December 6, 2020
Perera to Ramos, who sends a over to Corey Keitz for a ! #MASLAllStarGame @MASLarena pic.twitter.com/V5YTBtDMcp
Charlie Gonzalez scored his second of the night for the West before Harrisburg defender Elton de Oliveira got one back for the East to make it 6-3 midway through the final quarter. The West piled on three more goals from San Diego’s Guerrero Pino, Cesar Cerda’s second of the night, and Ontario’s Uzi Tayou. The night wasn’t going to be complete without an Ian Bennett goal, and it finally came as a late consolation assisted by former teammate Max Ferdinand.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME GUERRERO PINO! From midfield, a set piece chip into the net. #SCTop10 @MASLarena #MASLAllStarGame pic.twitter.com/yBO2hLYFg9— San Diego Sockers (@SanDiegoSockers) December 6, 2020
Even at 39 years old, former Comets keeper Danny Waltman proved that he is still among the best in the business with some incredible saves. While Charlie Gonzalez, Cory Keitz, and Cesar Cerda each put two into the back of the net for the West, Waltman’s impressive 15-save second-half performance gave him the first MASL MVP honors.
Your MVP of the #MASLAllStarGame is Danny Waltman of the @TacomaStarsSC with 15 saves, including one that leads out to a @KingTapchom goal for the West! @MASLarena pic.twitter.com/TnyjasrodC— San Diego Sockers (@SanDiegoSockers) December 6, 2020
When speaking after the match, Waltman remained humble, “As far as the MVP goes, I think there’s a few other guys on our team that deserved it.” He later mentioned Charlie Gonzalez, Cory Keitz, and Cesar Cerda as his candidates for MVP, as the trio accounted for six of the West’s nine goals scored.
Waltman still feels at home in Kansas City, “Every time I come in here it’s a special moment.” Later stating, “Even though I’ve left it, it just feels like I never left.”
Tacoma Stars player-coach Nick Perera, who also player-coached the West All-Stars, was full of admiration for the Comets staff, “The Kansas City Comets staff that put this together from the hotel, the food, transportation, everything’s been top-notch, top-professional, amazing.”
With the All-Star game now in the rearview mirror, the all-stars will return to their teams and prepare for the upcoming season, which will start as soon as next week for some and possibly as late as February or April for others. The Comets will get one more week of training before their first match of the season in Dallas against the Dallas Sidekicks in the inaugural game of the Central Cup.