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Comets repeat as Central Cup champions

KC scores 23 goals in two games to claim the cup.

Ali Sodal and Lesia Thetsane celebrating after the victory over Wichita
Thad Bell

The Kansas City Comets successfully defended their Central Cup crown this weekend, winning the preseason tournament for the second consecutive season.

Winning the preseason tournament in 2020 with a 3-0 record, the Comets delivered once again in the competition’s second edition this year with a 2-0 record. Both wins came against M2 teams, first beating the Wichita Wings 14-2 at home on Friday before a 9-2 win over Omaha Kings FC on Saturday in St. Louis.

With a 2-0 record, KC still needed help from Saturday night’s St. Louis-Wichita matchup. For Kansas City to claim the Central Cup, they needed Wichita to beat St. Louis; or Wichita to score at least three goals to break the goals against tiebreaker. Wichita got out to a quick 2-0 lead, but the Ambush eventually came back to pull a commanding lead before Taylor Henry scored a third for Wichita, clinching the title for the Comets.

Central Cup Results

KC Comets 14-2 Wichita Wings

St. Louis Ambush 9-2 Omaha Kings FC

Kansas City Comets 9-2 Omaha Kings FC

St. Louis Ambush 8-6 Wichita Wings

Central Cup Final Standings

  1. Kansas City Comets (2-0)- 4 goals against; +19 goal differential
  2. St. Louis Ambush (2-0)- 8 goals against; +9 goal differential
  3. Omaha Kings FC (0-2)- 18 goals against; -14 goal differential
  4. Wichita Wings (0-2)- 22 goals against; -14 goal differential

A pair of great displays both attacking and defending started with Friday’s 14-2 win on Friday, which featured 10 goals for KC in the second half. That win over the Wings included eight different goal scorers for the Comets, as Rian Marques scored four and Kyle McLagan and Felipe Abreu each scored two.

“I thought it was really good,” said player-coach Leo Gibson, who coached both games from the bench. “They executed really well what we’ve been working on. We still have a lot of work to do, but it was really good.”

Gibson was also impressed with some of the new and less experienced players. Among the new guys who made their debut since signing contracts were Ali Sodal, Lesia Thetsane and Eduardo “Benji” Monreal, who scored his first Comet goal in the first quarter.

“They all played really well,” Gibson said following the win over the Wings. “I thought they did offensively and defensively.”

Another interesting aspect was the first time seeing the new goalkeeper possession rule in action. From both Comets games, there were no free kicks given for violating the new rule.

“It made the game more interesting,” Gibson said Friday. “It's just another rule. We try to play according to it. I thought we did a good job, it just needs to get better. We’ll see how it goes.”

The Comets got their revenge on Omaha with a 9-2 win on Saturday, outscoring the Kings 6-0 in the first half as goalkeeper Lou Misner carried a shutout into the fourth quarter. Nick McDonald scored a pair in the first quarter, aided by a brace for Lucas Sousa and five other goal scorers.

Some of the veterans stepped aside later in the second half to give more time to trialists, which included JJ Oteze, Absa Solorio, Christian Anderaos and Eduardo “Lalo” Alonso.

The Comets will continue their preparations for the 2021/22 MASL regular season, which begins with a Black Friday visit to the St. Louis Ambush. Both sides will meet again the following night for KC’s regular-season home opener.

Comets injury report: Ramone Palmer (precaution); Adam James (concussion protocol); Mike Da-Silva (illness)

Benji Monreal was signed from Wichita in the off season and is expected to make an impact for the Comets
Thad Bell