MASL Semifinals- Game 2
Kansas City Comets vs Florida Tropics
When: Saturday, April 23, 5:00 p.m. CT
Where: RP Funding Center, Lakeland, Florida
How To Watch: Twitch
One win away from the team’s first-ever Ron Newman Cup Finals appearance, the Kansas City Comets still have their work cut out for them against the Florida Tropics.
Winning just one of their last seven road games, getting a win in Florida against the No. 2 seeded Tropics will not be easy.
The Comets got to the playoffs as the No. 3 overall seed after winning the Central Division and beating the Dallas Sidekicks 2-1 in the best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Kansas City started off looking like the early Ron Newman Cup frontrunner, but then the Comets fell into a rough spell. That rough spell included losing nine of their final 13 games. The postseason has seen an improvement, however, as they are 3-1 since the conclusion of the regular season.
Kansas City took game one of the series last week, holding on for the 8-7 win in the back-and-forth battle. If Florida prevails in game two, a 15-minute mini game will be played shortly after to decide the first finalist for the Ron Newman Cup championship series.
Whenever the Comets and Tropics meet, it is often a good matchup. Kansas City is 7-5 against Florida, with six games decided by one goal. KC is 3-4 at RP Funding Center, most recently losing both games in Florida last season.
In goal for the Comets is Nicolau Neto, KC’s all-time MASL playoff wins leader. Neto has just 30 saves through four games, a much different position than he was in last season when he made 78 saves in five games with 33 saves in game one of the semifinals last year against Ontario.
Players to Watch:
Ray Lee - Leads the Comets with seven points in the playoffs, five coming in last week’s game one semifinal win. The defender has scored in three straight games.
James Togbah - Scored twice in the first half of the game one win over Florida. The defender now has five points from four goals and an assist this postseason.
John Sosa - Has an assist in all four games this postseason, tying the Comets record for most assists for a Comets player in MASL postseason play.
KC Availability Report
OUT: Christian Duke (right ankle); Adam James (left hamstring); Henry Ramirez (right knee); Benji Monreal (concussion protocol)
The winner of the series will play the winner of the other semifinal between the Chihuahua Savage and San Diego Sockers. Chihuahua currently leads 1-0 as the series concludes in San Diego on Sunday.
If Kansas City and San Diego advance to the finals, the Comets will host game one on April 29. If Kansas City and Chihuahua advance, the Comets would host game two on May 7.
Entering the series as the favorite, the Tropics will have pressure on them to take game two to keep their season alive.
Under head coach Clay Roberts, the Eastern Division champions are chasing the state of Florida’s first-ever indoor soccer championship.
Florida opened the playoffs with a two-game sweep over the St. Louis Ambush.
The Tropics, 0-3 all-time at the semifinal stage, are still looking for their first-ever semifinal win. Florida made its semifinal debut last year as they were swept by San Diego before dropping game one in KC last weekend.
In goal for the Tropics will likely be either Jorge Navarette, who took his first-ever loss in game one, or Rainer Hauss, who was 3-1 in the regular season and 1-0 in the postseason.
Players to Watch:
Zach Reget - Leads the MASL with 11 points in the playoffs from six goals and five assists. Nearly half of his points came last week when he cashed in for five points against KC, struggling through an apparent rib injury in the second half.
Kiel Williams - A former Comet, Williams was clinical in front of goal in the second quarter last week in his return from injury. With two hat tricks from his last three games, KC will need to keep an eye on him.
Ricardo De Queiroz Diegues - Coming off a four-point performance last week with a goal and four assists. In his second career postseason trip, the 31-year-old forward now has eight points this postseason, raising his points per game from 1.7 in the regular season to 2.7 in the playoffs.
An additional player for the Comets to watch for is Victor Parreiras. Ending the regular season with 52 points, second in the MASL, Parreiras tallied six points in the series with St. Louis before getting shutout last week in KC despite taking a game-high 10 shots.
If the Comets can mirror their second-half performance from game one, they will be headed to the finals. That will take 60 minutes of concentration and limit Florida’s ability to counter.
I predict a 7-6 game two win for the Comets. Two very closely matched teams, but the Comets have an extra edge and hunger that will carry them over the line.