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Comets upset in preseason exhibition: here is what we learned

The exhibition did not go as planned

Thad Bell

The Kansas City Comets welcomed the Omaha Kings of MASL2 to Cable Dahmer Arena for a preseason exhibition on Saturday evening. Things did not go as planned as the Comets played from behind for much of the night and eventually fell in overtime by a final score of 5-4.

Kansas City’s roster was captained by Mirko Sandivari and included seven players that didn’t play last season and 11 returners from last season, including player/coach Leo Gibson. Former Comet Stefan Stokic returned to the sideline as the bench coach. There were 13 players that featured last year that did not play in the exhibition, including Kevin Ellis, John Sosa and Nicolau Neto.

Defender Morgan Penn opened the scoring for the visitors with 5:22 left in the first quarter. The Comets equalized 38 seconds later when midfielder Lesia Thetsane, one of the new faces, won the ball and sent it to the top shelf.

Midfielder Pedro Augusto put Omaha back in front before Comets returner Felipe Abreu scored to level things at 2-2 with a high shot inside the first minute of the second quarter. The Kings eventually took a 3-2 lead into halftime after midfielder Sebastian Contreras scored directly from a top of the arc restart with a terrific finish into the top corner midway through the second quarter.

The Comets equalized with 6:42 remaining in the third quarter when the two loanees linked up as Mike DaSilva turned in James Togbah’s shot. Omaha took the lead for a fourth time with 4:44 left in the fourth quarter with a goal from captain Ali Sodal. Once again, the Comets responded with a goal, this time it was returner Rian Marques scoring with the sixth attacker with 2:21 left in regulation to force overtime.

Less than two minutes into overtime, the Kings snatched the golden goal winner with a shorthanded goal from midfielder Bobby Jaffrey. From a free kick inside their defensive third, the ball was sent up to Jaffrey, who was able to get his head to it, collect the rebound off the touchline board and chip the keeper.

The Comets will return to training ahead of the 2021/22 regular season, which is aimed to kickoff in late November.

Here is what we learned from Saturday’s exhibition.

The New Guys

Of the seven new guys, the only one Comets fans will be familiar with is Odaine Sinclair. Sinclair has been around indoor soccer for a while now and previously spent three seasons with the Comets, but did not play last year.

From the other new guys, there were a pair of former Park University players in Jacob Garza and Ronaldo De Godoi as well as Lesia Thetsane from Columbia College and Christian Anderaos from UMKC. Others included Eduardo “Lalo” Alonso and Sammy Pama.

Comets head coach Leo Gibson explained that they are guys that he got calls about and they are still trying to make the team with open tryouts coming up in September. They have been with the team training three times a week.

Lesson Learned

Coming just shy of a spot in the Ron Newman Cup Championship, the Comets entered Saturday as the heavy favorite against a Kings team that failed to make the M2 playoffs.

Gibson said he had planned to play a strong lineup in the first quarter and let the new guys get some more time in the final three quarters. With a close game throughout, the new guys didn’t see as much action as planned.

“We really wanted to take a look at the guys. Our plan was to let them play at least three quarters of the game and then it took a different turn. But we still needed to have a look and see what they can offer.”

Updates on 2021 Loans

The Comets had three guys on loan last season from teams who sat out with Mike DaSilva (Baltimore Blast), James Togbah (Utica City FC) and Dominic Francis (Harrisburg Heat). Both DaSilva and Togbah played in Saturday’s exhibition. While not able to comment much on the topic, Gibson did confirm that players on loan from last year are not expected to return to KC this year since they are still under contract with their previous teams. DaSilva and Togbah were given permission to play in this exhibition by their teams.

More Context on the Loss

This loss doesn’t mean the Comets will be bad. There is much more to the story.

This was KC’s first game since early April while Omaha last played in late June. Many of the Comets players are still transitioning back to the indoor game after playing outdoor over the summer.

With a lot of key pieces missing, most of them should return to give KC a good shot at making the playoffs. Aside from the loan players, it sounds like the Comets will return close to all the roster from last season.

Offensive Powerplay Struggles Continue

The Comets did well to kill three powerplays defensively, however, they failed to convert on any of their five powerplays offensively. Worst of all, they let in the overtime goal with a man advantage. It continues the theme of last season when the Comets scored on nine of 24 powerplay opportunities.