With two weeks of training camp under their belt, the Kansas City Comets will be put to the test for the first time this season as they look to defend their Central Cup title.
The Comets are joined by the St. Louis Ambush, Wichita Wings and Omaha Kings FC in the second edition of the tournament. Here is the Central Cup schedule as each game will feature a MASL versus M2 matchup:
Day 1: Friday, November 12, 2021
Kansas City Comets vs Wichita Wings - 7:05 p.m. CST (Tickets)
Where: Cable Dahmer Arena, Independence, Missouri
Omaha Kings FC @ St. Louis Ambush - 7:35 p.m. CST
Where: Family Arena, St. Charles, Missouri
Day 2: Saturday, November 13, 2021 (both games at Family Arena)
Kansas City Comets vs Omaha Kings FC - 3:30 p.m. CST
Wichita Wings @ St. Louis Ambush - 7:05 p.m. CST
Where: Family Arena, St. Charles, Missouri
How to Watch: MASLtv
Kansas City’s first matchup will come against the Wichita Wings. Friday will mark the first time the Kansas City-Wichita rivalry returns to KC in at least a semi-competitive fashion since 2015, when Vlatko Andonovski and the Missouri Comets swept Kim Roentved and the Wichita B-52s.
Since Wichita’s return to arena soccer ahead of the 2019/20 season, the M2 side have seen the Comets three times. The first two were exhibitions, as the Comets easily handled the Wings in a preseason exhibition in 2019 at the KC SoccerDome before the Wings battled out a win in Wichita later that season. The most recent meeting was in last year’s Central Cup, when the Comets clinched the tournament title with an 8-1 win in Wichita.
Wichita is coming from their M2 season, which concluded this summer when they lost to the Cleveland Crunch in the championship. The Wings are in preparations for their M2 season, which kicks off on December 18 against the Amarillo Bombers.
Friday’s meeting could also present an opportunity for players to compete against their former teams. KC’s newly signed Eduardo “Benji” Monreal came from Wichita, where he was an M2 MVP finalist and the team’s leading scorer. On the other side, former Comets keeper Steven Hamersky and former Comets defender Kevin Ten Eyck could feature in their return to KC.
Omaha Kings FC
On day two of the tournament, the Comets will make the trip to St. Louis as they play the opening game of a doubleheader. The Comets will be looking for revenge against Omaha Kings FC, who upset KC in an exhibition that went to overtime in August.
The Kings are coming off their first season in M2, where they finished in fifth place with a 6-8 record. Recent Comets signing Ali Sodal will also be against his former team. Sodal served as Kings captain in their win over the Comets in August, scoring one goal.
Omaha Kings FC brought indoor soccer back to Omaha for the first time since 2010/11, when the Omaha Vipers spent their one season in the MISL before folding. That was also the first year of the Missouri Comets’ return, as the Comets went 3-3 against the Vipers.
Following Saturday’s Comets-Kings matchup, the Ambush will battle the Wings to determine the winner of the Central Cup.
Here is the criteria to determine the competition’s winner if two teams end the tournament with two wins:
- Goals against
- Goal differential
What to expect
The Comets will likely play more first team players in these two games. I would expect Nicolau Neto to play a full game and Mark Saxby and Lou Misner to each get a half in the other game.
This tournament will also serve to see some new faces. Lesia Thetsane, Eduardo “Benji” Monreal and Ali Sodal could see their first action since signing with the Comets and being touted as Rookie of the Year candidates. Entering his third season leading the Comets under the player-coach role, Leo Gibson could give some trialists an opportunity.
Another thing to watch for is the implementation of the new futsal-esque goalkeeper possession rule. This rule will drastically alter the way the game is played since goalkeepers will now have a much more limited role in building up the play.
I think the Comets defend their crown as Central Cup champs. They’ve been training for a while and have a lot of returning faces to get the job done.
I predict a 7-3 win over the Wings on Friday and a 7-5 win over the Kings on Saturday.