MASL Regular Season- Matchday 11
Kansas City Comets vs Chihuahua Savage
When: Saturday, February 12, 6 p.m. CST
Where: Cable Dahmer Arena, Independence, Missouri
How To Watch: MASLtv
Week 11 of the MASL pits the Kansas City Comets against the Chihuahua Savage for the first time ever.
Saturday’s Central vs West matchup at Cable Dahmer Arena will feature one of the league’s top teams, the Comets, against the only team in the league yet to win multiple games, the Savage. For the Comets to beat the Savage on Saturday, it won’t be as easy as it sounds.
KC is coming off a Jan. 29 win over the Dallas Sidekicks, hitting Dallas with six goals unanswered in the second half in KC’s 9-4 win.
In the driver’s seat of the Central Division, the Comets (9-1; 27 points) sit nine points clear of the second-place Dallas Sidekicks and 11 points clear of the third-place St. Louis Ambush.
Still unbeaten with a 4-0 record at home, the Comets have outscored their opponents 39-16 in KC.
Players to Watch:
Kevin Ellis - Nearly eight years ago a 22-year-old Kevin Ellis scored his first professional goal for Sporting KC against Mexican opposition in a 1-0 win over Cruz Azul in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. Now into his fourth season with the Comets, Ellis is on track to break his career-high in goals, assists and points in his first full season in the MASL.
Leo Gibson - Still among the top scorers in the game and leads the league with 3.1 points per game. Among those who have taken a minimum of six shots, Gibson leads the team with a .346 scoring percentage.
Rian Marques - Scored a goal in seven straight games. In a three-way tie with Lucas Sousa and Ray Lee for the team's third-most points with 13.
OUT: Henry Ramirez (torn ACL); Mike Da-Silva (right hip flexor strain)
DOUBTFUL: Nicolau Neto (left knee)
Lou Misner could get his second straight start in goal if Neto can’t go. The other dilemma is the backup keeper. Last time out, the Comets got away without dressing a second keeper. Now, the Comets have to dress a second keeper to comply with the league’s latest update of game protocols. Misner and Neto are the only keepers available after Mark Saxby’s move to Idaho.
Both Neto and Misner have found recent success with the Comets. Neto has won eight of his nine starts this season while Misner has won six straight in games he started over the past three seasons.
These game protocols go into effect on Feb. 11, which also includes a couple of other notable changes. Only players who are on the field at the time of a goal being scored are allowed to celebrate on the field. Not complying with this results in a warning before a fine to the team. Teams must also keep the arena lit following goals.
While the current Comets have never played the Savage or hosted a Mexican team, they do have history playing in Mexico. From three games, the Comets are 2-1 south of the border.
KC’s last matchup with a Mexican side was a 14-7 loss away to Soles de Sonora in 2018. Their last win over a Mexican side came in 2015 when Robert Palmer’s shorthanded goal in overtime gave the Comets an 8-7 win away to the Monterrey Flash, keeping their undefeated season alive. A couple of days before beating the Flash, the Comets defeated Saltillo Rancho Seco 14-8.
Adding in KC’s two wins over Canada’s Mississauga Metrostars in 2018/19, the Comets are 4-1 against non-American opposition, 1-0 at home.
Coming from northern Mexico, this is Chihuahua’s first season in the MASL top flight. Founded ahead of the 2019/20 season, the Savage spent their inaugural season going undefeated (12-0; +84 goal difference) in the M2 before COVID-19 shut the season early. Comets midfielder Eduardo “Benji” Monreal (sidelined with visa issues this season) contributed nine points from three goals and six assists in seven games that season for Chihuahua.
Replacing Soles de Sonora, the Savage (1-5-2; 5 points) are the only team in the league with just a single win and are joined by the Ontario Fury as the only team with two overtime losses. Chihuahua sits at the bottom of the West, trailing the San Diego Sockers by 22 points. They also sit seven points behind the last wild card spot.
Starting the season with four road losses, the Savage then hosted a four-game homestand. Chihuahua’s single win came on the final leg of the homestand on Jan. 29, a 12-10 win over the Milwaukee Wave. Entering this week with an 0-4 away record, the Savage and the Harrisburg Heat are the only teams yet to win on the road this season.
Chihuahua’s record isn’t a fair reflection of the threat can pose the Comets. Losing six of seven games to start the season and sitting at the bottom of the league, Chihuahua’s last three losses were by a single goal. Suffering no more than a three-goal loss, they still have yet to face a bad loss. The Savage’s -12 goal differential is better than five other teams.
If Chihuahua does face a heavy defeat this season, it may come Saturday against the Comets, who are unbeaten at home and average 9.75 goals per game at home compared to Chihuahua’s 4.0 goals per game on the road. The Savage will also be coming off a match Friday evening in St. Louis.
Players to Watch:
Jorge Ríos - Second in the league with 2.8 points per game. His 14 goals and three assists have come in just six games. The former El Paso Coyote and Monterrey Flash midfielder has scored at least two goals in five consecutive games.
Hugo Puentes - The Savage forward leads the team with nine assists, adding six goals for 15 total points. Another former member of Monterrey and El Paso, Puentes previously had three consecutive seasons of scoring a minimum of 32 points.
Enrique Cañez - In his sixth MASL season, Cañez is one of five players that have played in all eight of Chihuahua’s games. He is second on the team with eight goals, tallying a total of 12 points.
The first-ever meeting between these two sides should be close. KC is the clear favorite, but the Savage could cause some problems.
I predict a 9-7 win for the Comets. Chihuahua’s offense struggled to start, but they have picked it up as the season went on, although their home games are played on a smaller field. The Comets should have enough to hold off a Savage team playing their second game in two days.