The Kansas City Comets capped off a busy week with a 9-2 win against the Tacoma Stars at the T-Mobile Center on Saturday, Jan. 22.
It was a special night for multiple reasons, one of which was Comets legend Leo Gibson recording his 200th goal and 400th point in the MASL, both coming in the first half. This came one night after Ontario Fury’s Franck Tayou became the first to reach 400 points in the MASL on Friday night.
“It’s an honor, a privilege,” Comets player-coach Leo Gibson said on achieving the 400-point milestone. “I feel blessed. Doing it on this stage with the group of guys I’m doing it with and the position I’m in. It’s all a blessing. I really cherished it, I value it, I worked hard for it.”
It took just 33 seconds for Rian Marques to open the scoring, followed by Gibson’s 200th regular-season MASL goal to give KC a 2-0 lead after the first quarter. Gibson assisted Kevin Ellis from a shootout before the player-coach added a couple more goals, hitting the 400-point milestone and his 36th career hat trick for KC with 57 seconds left in the half to give the Comets the 5-0 advantage.
Gibson added his fourth goal of the evening in the third before Tacoma got a couple of goals from Chase Hanson and Adam West, making it 6-2 after three quarters. KC resumed their scoring activities when Lesia Thetsane scored his first two MASL goals, followed by a 10th goal of the season for Lucas Sousa, beating Tacoma’s sixth attacker from inside KC defensive half to secure the 9-2 victory.
The Comets improved to 8-1 on the season, pushing the Comets nine points clear of the Central Division. Gibson’s five-point performance pushed him back into first place in points with 25. Veteran John Sosa followed with three assists while Lesia Thetsane had a brace.
Gibson's hattrick tonight was his 36th, he now has as many as the next 5(!) combined (Ellis is 6th). https://t.co/LyJprFcvFF— Mike (@downthebyline) January 23, 2022
Danny Waltman was 3-0 in his last three visits to Kansas City over the past 13 months with an All-Star game win and two regular-season wins over the Comets. While the former Comet made some big saves on Saturday, finishing with 10 saves total,it wasn’t enough to keep his team in the game.
“I’ve had some rough nights in my 17 years,” Danny Waltman said on his return to Kansas City. “That was right up there with one of the roughest. To come back in this big awesome arena against my old club feels like home. And then I remembered how bad the Comets used to beat people. Being on the other side of it is not nearly as fun.”
KC held Tacoma, who entered this weekend leading the league with 8.0 goals per game, to a season-low two goals on Saturday.
The Comets were outshot in each of the first three quarters and outshot overall 33-26. Nicolau Neto made 10 saves for KC, recording a season-high .857 save percentage. KC held two of Tacoma’s most deadly attackers, Vini Dantas and Nick Perera, to just one point combined.
The Comets aren’t just relying on Gibson. Waltman noted other players, such as Rian Marques and Lucas Sousa as well as Christian Andreraos bringing his endless energy.
“There was just no room to breathe in these last two games,” Waltman said. “You get the ball, and there’s 2-3 red shirts. Even if you beat one of them, you’ve got the next wave coming.”
This caps off a big week for the MASL and their first time participating in the United Soccer Coaches Convention. The league office is very pleased with what they saw all week.
“I think everything about tonight was fantastic,” said MASL Commissioner Keith Tozer, mentioning his delight at the way the Comets played on the field as well as the great crowd, announcers and national anthem. “You’ve got to give so much credit to the ownership group for the Comets who brought this downtown out of their own building. They put on a fantastic show.”
“From Wednesday until Sunday, it was not only a great win for the Comets, but it was a great win for the game of indoor soccer and the Major Arena Soccer League,” Tozer said.
Waltman mentioned that the Comets are setting the standard for everything in the league, and he isn’t the only one thinking along those lines.
“We would like to bottle this game and show it to other groups,” said JP Dellacamera, MASL President of Communications/Media and broadcasting legend. “Prospective owners, new owners, sponsors because everything from start to finish, from the anthem to kicking out ceremonial balls to music, PA, streaming, crowd, everything was fantastic.”
The Comets will move back into Cable Dahmer Arena next Saturday, Jan. 29, when they host the Dallas Sidekicks.