The newly crowned Central Division champion Kansas City Comets will have two weeks for a victory lap, beginning with a doubleheader this weekend. But the victory lap will still come with pressure as the Comets look to enter the postseason in good form.
Failing to clinch the division after losing to the Dallas Sidekicks last week, the Milwaukee Wave eventually lent a helping hand by beating Dallas on Thursday. Now with the division and the No. 3 seed locked up, the Comets begin the quickfire doubleheader with a lower-pressure matchup against the St. Louis Ambush at home on Saturday.
MASL Regular Season- Matchday 21
Kansas City Comets vs St. Louis Ambush
When: Saturday, March 26, 6:00 p.m. CST
Where: Cable Dahmer Arena, Independence, Missouri
How To Watch: Twitch
The Comets will be celebrating the 40-year anniversary of coming to Kansas City. With retro jerseys and 80’s music all night, many alumni from the original Comets and recent Comets will be on hand and honored at halftime.
Approximately 17 hours after the conclusion of the game against St. Louis, the Comets will kickoff 566 miles away against the Milwaukee Wave.
MASL Regular Season- Matchday 22
Kansas City Comets @ Milwaukee Wave
When: Sunday, March 27, 1:05 p.m. CST
Where: UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
How To Watch: Twitch
After starting the season on a 6-0 run, the warning signs have been flashing over the last couple of months for the Comets. Winning just 3 of the last 9, the Comets are desperate to end the season playing well.
The Comets are coming from a rare loss at home. Last week’s 7-3 defeat to the Dallas Sidekicks kept the Sidekicks’ division title hopes alive until they lost on Thursday.
The Comets (12-6-1; 38 points) are the only team in the division with a positive goal differential (+28). They are 7-1-2 at home this season. KC leads the division in offense (134 goals scored) and defense (106 goals against).
Kansas City will look to improve on special teams after missing four power plays in last week’s loss, including a 5 on 3 power play.
The team also announced the signing of 26-year-old defender Milos Vucic. Invited to tryout by KC assistant coach Stefan Stokic, Vucic begins his indoor career after playing the majority of his professional soccer career in his homeland for FK Sutjeska Niksic. Winning four Montenegro First League titles and a Montenegrin Cup, Vucic also made nine appearances on the European stage, seven coming in Europa League Qualifiers and two coming in Champions League Qualifiers.
“Milos is a very talented defender who likes to get forward. He’s a very smart player that has adjusted to the indoor game fairly quickly due to his futsal background. We expect Milos to contribute right away,” said Brian Budzinski, Comets managing.
KC also signed former NAIA All-American midfielders Mako Makoanyane from Columbia College and Adrian Gutierrez Llorente, who won the NAIA national title with Central Methodist University and was named to the all-tournament team in 2018.
Players to Watch:
John Sosa - Having a sensational year with a career-high 14 goals. Sitting with 22 assists (career-high 25 in 2016/17), totaling 36 points (career-high 37 in 2014/15). Held without a point last week, ending his 11-game streak of recording a point.
Leo Gibson - KC’s all-time scoring leader is once again leading the Comets attack with 2.4 points per game and 39 points from 23 goals and 16 assists.
Richard Schmermund - The St. Louis native will have an opportunity to play against his former team. Joining KC in a trade with STL earlier this month, Schmermund adds experience to the Comets defense.
KC Injury Report
OUT: Lou Misner (rib fracture); Christian Duke (right ankle sprain); Henry Ramirez (right knee sprain)
QUESTIONABLE: James Togbah (left wrist fracture); Nacho Flores (right ankle sprain)
PROBABLE: Mike Da-Silva (right quad strain); Nicolau Neto (right knee sprain)
After the doubleheader this weekend, KC has another doubleheader next weekend against St. Louis. With Milwaukee and St. Louis fighting for the last wild card spot, KC will play a massive part in deciding who gets in.
St. Louis Ambush
The St. Louis Ambush are right in the center of MASL’s March Madness, sitting on the playoff bubble. They are currently in, based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Under head coach and co-owner Jeff Locker, the Ambush (8-11-2; 25 points) sit third in the Central and eighth overall. STL is 3-6-1 on the road and 0-1 in KC this season.
Simply put, the Ambush score a ton and concede a ton. They have some lethal scorers, but it has been a revolving door at the goalkeeper position with six keepers on the roster and four getting a start with three keepers recording multiple wins.
Players to Watch:
Mo Ndiaye - Among the league leaders with 42 points from 19 goals and 23 assists. Averaging 2.2 points per game, the third-year forward is having a career year with career-highs in PPG, goals and assists.
JT Thomas - Has been solid for STL this season, scoring seven goals from the last seven games. Has a season total of 18 goals and nine assists.
Sam Guernsey - In his second season with STL, Guernsey has been a big veteran presence this season through the ups and downs. They will need his veteran presence if they expect to make a run in the playoffs.
STL Availability Report
OUT: Paulo Nascimento (acl); Stefan Mijatovic (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: Tony Walls (calf); Jeff Michaud (quad); Robert Kristo (groin)
PROBABLE: Christian Briggs (hip flexor); JT Thomas (foot)
SUSPENDED: Chris ‘Tito’ Favela (contract violation)
Even though they haven’t put together a great regular season, the Milwaukee Wave enter this weekend with the opportunity to make the playoffs. They will need help from the Comets, however, as they are currently on the outside looking in.
The Wave (8-12-1; 25 points) is led by head coach Giuliano Oliviero, who has guided Milwaukee to a 5-4-1 record at home. MKE is 1-1 against KC this season in Milwaukee.
The hosts will be coming from a 9-6 road win over Dallas on Thursday after splitting games the previous week with St. Louis.
While the Wave have surrendered their first season series against the Comets since 2015/16, the pressure will be on the Wave Sunday against a Comets team coming from little rest.
Players to Watch:
Ian Bennett - A stunning goal-scoring record against the Comets, Bennett leads the league with 2.6 points per game, 54 points and 43 goals. He is edging closer to eclipsing a career-high 64 points and 53 goals.
Luan Oliveira - Another dangerous threat, LSO has 16 goals out of MKE’s midfield. Has a total of 28 points with 12 assists.
Marcio Leite - Finally back from injury after nearly a month off, Leite is nearing a career-high in assists. The well-decorated defender has recorded 25 points from 18 assists and seven goals.
The Comets will be able to play this weekend more relaxed now that they have no worries about locking down the division and seeding. Now it will be about staying healthy and playing up to their potential.
I think the Comets will split the weekend. I predict a 9-6 win over the Ambush and a 7-3 loss in Milwaukee.