Ron Newman Cup Playoffs- Semi-Final Round
Kansas City Comets vs Ontario Fury
Game 1: Thursday, April 1, 7:05 p.m. CST
Game 2: Saturday, April 3, 7:05 p.m. CST
Where: Cable Dahmer Arena, Independence, Missouri
How to Watch: MASL Playoff Pass or Single Game Pass
Cable Dahmer Arena will host both days of semi-final action for the 2021 Ron Newman Cup Playoffs, which will feature two primetime matchups between Kansas City Comets and Ontario Fury.
Game one of the series will be Thursday evening before game two and game three (if needed) will be on Saturday.
The Comets got to the semi-finals after finishing the regular season with a 7-5 record, earning a third-place finish in the final standings with a .583 winning percentage. In the opening round of the playoffs, the Comets swept the St. Louis Ambush with a 7-4 win at home before a 6-2 road win.
Rookie forward Rian Marques scored a team-leading 12 goals in the regular season while Leo Gibson led the team in points for the fifth consecutive season. In the playoffs, Gibson is level with Dominic Francis for a team-leading four points with Ray Lee trailing with three points.
The Comets enter the showdown with the home-field advantage for both meetings, however, they will be without defender Matt Lewis, who has rejoined Detroit City FC.
These two sides haven’t seen each other much, however, they have met once in each of the past two regular seasons at Cable Dahmer Arena. The Fury cruised to a win in 2019, but in February, the Comets pulled off an impressive comeback to overturn a four-goal deficit at halftime to win 7-6. The only other previous meeting was when the Comets beat the Fury 5-2 on the road in 2017.
Fury head coach Jimmy Nordberg guided his side to a second-place finish in the regular season with a 7-3 record and .700 winning percentage. The Fury swept the Dallas Sidekicks in two games, but Dallas did manage to come back to make things close at the end of both games.
Highlighting the Fury is four-time MASL MVP Franck Tayou, who featured in nine regular-season games and scored 14 goals. Midfielder Juan Carlos Gonzalez finished the regular season with a league-best 2.5 points per game, resulting in 25 points. Justin Stinson was pivotal in Ontario’s series against Dallas, scoring four goals and adding an assist.
This matchup will be a homecoming for two former Comets. The first player making his return is Jeff Hughes, who played one season for the Missouri Comets in 2012/13. Hughes featured in 14 games total. The other player making his return is Robert Palmer, who is in his first season with the Fury. With the Comets, Palmer made 147 total appearances in seven seasons and won the 2014 MISL title.
Florida Tropics vs San Diego Sockers
The other semi-final matchup will be between the top-seeded Florida Tropics and the fifth-seeded San Diego Sockers. Game one and game two of the Tropics-Sockers series will have a 2:05 p.m. CDT kickoff at Cable Dahmer Arena.
After getting a bye in the first round, this will be Florida’s first-ever playoff series. Ian Bennett finished the regular season with a league-leading 19 goals and 27 points while goalkeeper Hugo Silva led the league with 10 wins and was the only keeper to record a shutout.
The Sockers swept the Tacoma Stars in two games to reach the semi-finals, but they will be without veteran forward Kraig Chiles for game one as he serves his one-game suspension. Brandon Escoto and Hiram Ruiz combined for eight points in the opening round. San Diego will also have former Comet Guerrero Pino, who is now in his third season in San Diego.
As the top two seeds, the Tropics and the Fury enter as the favorites to advance to the championship series. The high-pressing Fury are going to be a difficult challenge, but the high-scoring Comets have been difficult to stop since the end of January.
For my final prediction, I’m going to predict a sweep for the Tropics while the Comets will win their series in the mini-game. This would set up for the Ron Newman Cup championship series to be played between the Comets and Tropics on April 9 and 11 in St. Louis.