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Reloaded Comets head to California

Comets face to rough road games

Nathan Dunn

The Kansas City Comets head west for their first visit to California since November of 2019. A late kickoff on Friday night will pit the Comets against the league-leading San Diego Sockers.

MASL Regular Season- Matchday 15

Kansas City Comets @ San Diego Sockers

When: Friday, February 25, 9:35 p.m. CST

Where: Pechanga Arena, San Diego, California

How To Watch: MASLtv

Following Friday’s matchup, the Comets will head a couple of hours north on Sunday for a meeting with the Ontario Fury, located about 40 miles east of Los Angeles.

MASL Regular Season- Matchday 16

Kansas City Comets @ Ontario Fury

When: Sunday, February 27, 5:05 p.m. CST

Where: Toyota Arena, Ontario, California

How To Watch: MASLtv

It was a busy week of news for the Comets. It began with the departure of Kevin Ellis on Monday, concluding his fourth season with the Comets as his least productive with eight points and 1.1 points per game. On Wednesday, the Comets announced the signing of Christian Duke, a former Sporting KC midfielder and veteran of the USL Championship.

Additionally, forward Felipe Abreu has been cleared from visa issues and could get his first minutes of the season this weekend in California. The league also announced Wednesday that KC’s postponed game with the Baltimore Blast from December will not be made up and both teams will receive a point.

With a reloaded squad headed to the Golden State, the Comets (10-2-1; 32 points) sit second in the MASL and first in the Central Division with a nine-point cushion.

KC is coming from a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Wave, splitting the series 1-1.

Players to Watch:

John Sosa - Has had multi-point games in eight straight matches, including seven points from two games last week. With 29 points and 2.2 points per game, Sosa has the sixth most points in the MASL. Also spent one season with San Diego in 2017/18.

Leo Gibson - Just one goal from the last three games. Still leads the Comets with 31 points from 19 goals and 12 assists. Two goals from tying Wes Wade’s record for most goals in KC indoor soccer history.

Adam James - Three goals in his last three games. Offensive production is finally getting results. Now looking for his first goal away from home in over a year.

KC Injury Report

OUT: Absalom Solorio (right knee sprain); Mike Da-Silva (right hip strain)

DOUBTFUL: James Togbah (left oblique strain)

QUESTIONABLE: Nicolau Neto (left knee sprain)

While supplying some nervy moments, Lou Misner has come up with some big saves in Nicolau Neto’s absence in goal. With a 2-1-1 record, Misner has posted 37 saves with a 5.57 GAA.

In KC’s last visit to California in 2019, they suffered a 6-5 overtime loss to open the 2019/20 season against the Turlock Cal Express.

The Comets are 3-0 against the Sockers. Their most recent meeting came last year when the Comets defeated the Sockers 5-3 at Cable Dahmer Arena. The only meeting between the two sides in San Diego came in 2017, where the Comets came away with a 7-6 win.

San Diego Sockers

With 15 league titles, the San Diego Sockers are the most successful indoor soccer organization. Their recent success stuttered until last year’s championship, ending an eight-year drought without making it to a championship.

Friday’s visit to San Diego is going to be KC’s toughest test of the season. The Sockers (13-0-1; 36 points) have won 10 straight and sit at the top of the MASL standings.

San Diego’s only loss came in overtime against Ontario on Jan. 9. The Sockers managed to rebound from that loss well and have a record of 4-0-1 against the Fury this season outscoring them 36-22.

San Diego’s high-scoring offense leads the league with 105 goals this season. They have a variety of options with five different players having 20+ points this season combining for 120 points. Florida Tropics are the next closest with four combining for a total of 99 points.

The Sockers also lead the league on special teams, going a league-high 77 percent on the penalty kill with a league-low four powerplay goals against and a league-high 68 percent on the powerplay with 17 powerplay goals.

The Sockers also have a pair of former Comets in goalkeeper Boris Pardo and defender Guerrero Pino. The pair were members of last year’s team that won the MASL championship.

Players to Watch:

Boris Pardo - Former Comets goalkeeper leads the league with 10 wins. The 2018/19 MASL Goalkeeper of the Year is third in the league with a 4.63 GAA.

Kraig Chiles - Former Chivas USA midfielder has been the face of the Sockers franchise for more than a decade. The 37-year-old has over 600 career points as a Socker. Leads San Diego with 2.1 points per game from 15 goals and 10 assists.

Brandon Escoto - Leads the Sockers with 28 points from 11 goals and 17 assists. The 5’4” Tijuana, Mexico native is a dynamic midfielder that will be a real danger.

SD Injury Report

OUT: Gerardo Jurado (ankle); Brian Farber (leg)

PROBABLE: Luis Ortega (leg); Felipe Gonzalez (leg); Tavoy Morgan (leg)

Ontario Fury

The Ontario Fury has only been around since 2013. The past three seasons have seen them really start rolling with a 26-18 regular-season record, falling just short of the MASL championship last year as they lost to the Sockers in the championship series.

The Fury (7-4-2; 22 points) sit second in the West trailing the Sockers by 14 points while maintaining a six-point lead over the Chihuahua Savage (5-5-2; 16 points).

Ontario isn’t great on the powerplay, converting just 35 percent of powerplays. The Fury are the second-best penalty kill team in the league, killing 67 percent of powerplays.

Among Ontario’s roster is a trio of ex-Comets, including short-lived Comet careers of Jeff Hughes and Travis Pittman as well as seven-year Comet Robert Palmer.

Players to Watch:

Robert Palmer - The former Comet and reigning MASL Defender of the Year is having another stellar season in his second year with Ontario. Berto is averaging a career-high 1.2 points per game. The Park University graduate already has 15 points (third-most on Ontario) from seven goals and eight assists and is on track to shatter his career-high of 20 points.

Franck Tayou - A legend of the indoor game, Tayou is a four-time league MVP winner. Leads Ontario with 32 points from 22 goals and 10 assists. Also a candidate to get into foul trouble as he leads the league with 36 fouls.

Chris Toth - Toth returned to Ontario this season and beat reigning MASL Goalkeeper of the Year Claysson De Lima to get the starting job. Third in the league with a .727 save percentage. Has a 5-4-1 record this season with 120 saves and 4.86 GAA.

The Comets are 3-3 all-time against the Fury. Their only visit to Ontario was the first-ever meeting between the two sides, a 5-2 KC win in 2017. Since 2020, the Comets are 2-3, including a mini-game loss in last year’s playoff semifinal.

Final Predictions

This weekend is going to be a challenge for the Comets. Friday’s test in San Diego will be especially tough.

I think the Sockers will win 8-6 on Friday, but the Comets rebound for a 7-5 win on Sunday.