Despite the pandemic that held out more than half of the teams in the MASL this season, the Kansas City Comets managed to compete alongside six others.
In the end, the league settled for each team to play a minimum of 10 games with all seven teams qualifying for the playoffs, with seeding being decided by winning percentage.
Since Kansas City was able to host games, the Comets didn’t have to travel as much. After opening the season on the road for four straight, the Comets hosted their remaining eight regular season games. In the playoffs, the Cable Dahmer Arena hosted four of their five games.
Before we see how the season went, let’s review what the Comets looked like on the field.
Kiel Williams- Signed with Florida Tropics as a free agent; no points in one game with Florida
Robert Palmer- Signed with Ontario Fury; five goals and six assists with Ontario; 2021 MASL Defensive Player of the Year and selected to All-MASL First Team
Lucas Rodriguez- Retired and joined KC NWSL as video analyst/assistant coach
Gui Gomes- Did not play
Ray Saari- Did not play, recovering from injury
Odaine Sinclair- Did not play
Stefan Stokic- Tore ACL in preseason, retired and joined Comets as assistant coach
Who was new?
Lucas Sousa- Sat out last year due to visa issues
Rian Marques- Signed from PASL’s Springfield Demize
Kyle McLagan- Left midway through season to return to Iceland
Alvaro Beltran- Returned to KC after playing here in 2017/18
Henry Ramirez- Signed from NPSL’s AFC Ann Arbor
Felipe Abreu- Signed from semi-pro team Santa Fe Wanderers of the UPSL.
Jose Ramos- Played collegiately at University of Albany and MidAmerica Nazarene
James Togbah- Returned to KC on loan from Utica City FC
Dominic Francis- Came to KC on loan from Harrisburg Heat
Mike DaSilva- Came to KC on loan from Baltimore Blast
The MASL restarted for the first time since the pandemic with their first-ever All-Star Game, which was hosted at Cable Dahmer Arena in December.
The Comets got their season underway shortly after, claiming the inaugural edition of the Central Cup with wins over the Dallas Sidekicks, St. Louis Ambush, and Wichita Wings.
The regular season got under way in January, and the Comets started strong with another win over Dallas. Then things got shaky as the Comets lost four straight and gave up a three-goal lead in three of those four matches.
They got back on track with a win over the San Diego Sockers before going on a four-game winning streak before the Tacoma Stars beat them for the second time this season. The Comets bounced back and won their final two games of the season over the Ontario Fury and Dallas Sidekicks.
Their strong end to the regular season gave them a third seed in the playoffs with a record of 7-5 and a .583 winning percentage. The Comets also finished the regular season with a league-leading 92 goals and 5.6 goals per game.
That set up the first Comets vs Ambush playoff matchup in the modern era. KC took that series 2-0, setting up for a meeting in the Ron Newman Cup Semi-Finals against the Ontario Fury. With each side grabbing an overtime win, the Fury outlasted the Comets with a 2-1 final in the series-deciding mini game.
Offensive Player of the Year
ND - For the first time since 2016/17, Leo Gibson didn’t lead the Comets in goals. Rian Marques took the scoring crown with 12 goals and was a handful for defenders. For that, he earns this award.
Thad Bell - This is a difficult choice for me. Gibson still was the top in overall points for the regular season and second behind Dominic Francis in the playoffs so Leo gets my vote again. But the competition for that spot from Marques, Sousa, Adam James, John Sosa and even Ray Lee helped the Comets lead the league in goals per game this year.
Defensive Player of the Year
ND - For me, the best defensive player was goalkeeper Nicolau Neto. In his first full season, he kept the Comets in games and was excellent for the entire season.
TB - Another tough one, several defenders played well and got better throughout the season but I will side with Nathan for this one. Neto is quickly becoming one of the best keepers in the league and he has a high ceiling.
Most Impactful Loan
ND - This one is between the three loans the Comets received from other teams who sat out this season: Mike DaSilva (Baltimore Blast), Dominic Francis (Harrisburg Heat), and James Togbah (Utica City FC). Both DaSilva and Francis were excellent, but my pick is going to be Francis with his explosive postseason display.
TB - Agreed. Togbah helped solidify the defense and was always a threat going forward, DaSilva was strong and had some very good games but Francis was stellar in post season.
Newcomer of the Year
ND - This one is between Lucas Sousa and Rian Marques. Both had fantastic rookie campaigns, and Sousa took home the MASL Rookie of the Year award. For me, Marques had the edge ahead of Sousa.
TB - It really does come down to those two, both candidates for rookie of the year. Sousa won it but I would have probably voted for Marques as the rookie of the year. In the case I am going to cheat and award them Co-Newcomer of the year.
Most Improved Player of the Year
ND - I picked Matt Lewis as the most improved player. He wasn’t bad last year, but he was much improved in 2021. He was a great weapon on both sides of the ball and finished the season among the league leaders with 16 blocks. His absence in the Ontario series was a big miss.
TB - I will second this. Lewis was good last year but did step up a bit this season.
ND - The biggest disappointment for me were the injury struggles of Kevin Ellis and Ignacio Flores. Ellis was my pick for MVP before the season started and Flores returned from injury prematurely due to COVID-19 issues. Injury struggles kept both of them from reaching their potential this season.
TB - My biggest disappointment is not a player struggling but that the Comets came up just short of making it to a final. The effort and fight the Comets put forth in the playoffs should make them proud and watching some of them crying as they walked off the field after saluting the fans just underscored how much they wanted to win it all.
Most Valuable Player
ND - This one is difficult to pick. None of the players seemed irreplaceable. Because of that, I think the most valuable player was goalkeeper Nicolau Neto, who continuously came up with some huge saves.
TB - This is difficult. Nathan’s pick of Neto is good and I can understand why he chose him. I am going to with John Sosa instead. Sosa’s presence, veteran leadership, defense, scoring ability makes him the MVP. With contributions by so many players I could have made the case for several others but Sosa gets my award vote.
Regular Season Leaders
- Leo Gibson- 20
- Lucas Sousa- 17
- Adam James- 16
- Rian Marques- 15
- John Sosa- 14
- Rian Marques- 12
- Adam James- 11
- Lucas Sousa- 9
- Ray Lee- 9
- Leo Gibson- 8
- Leo Gibson- 12
- John Sosa- 11
- Lucas Sousa- 8
- Ramone Palmer- 7
- Adam James- 5
Points Per Game
- Leo Gibson- 2.0
- Mike DaSilva- 1.6
- Lucas Sousa- 1.5
- Ray Lee- 1.4
- Adam James- 1.3
- Rian Marques- 1.3
- Kevin Ellis- 1.3