Have you been thinking about getting into the Kansas City Comets but don’t know where to start? Are you a fan of Sporting Kansas City and the Kansas City Current (or any other team really), but don’t know how to make the transition to indoor soccer in the offseason? I too am in that boat. I’ve long said, “I want to make it a point to watch Comets games,” but then I just didn’t.
Then something happened. I got invited to a KC Comets game and it was a load of fun (listen to me talk about it on my podcast — For the Glory KC). And that made me want to learn more (the rule book is super long, but I read it for you) and make it easier for others to watch too.
Also, speaking of podcasts, The Blue Testament has its very own dedicated to the Comets — The Blue Turf. Be sure to check that out.
Let’s get into a beginners guide on the MASL, the rules and how to watch the league, written by a beginner.
How to Watch/Stream
If you are just interested in knowing where to view the games, we’ll cover that here with a wider explainer of indoor/arena soccer below.
IN PERSON: Cable Dahmer Arena
LOCAL TV: 38 The Spot (Home Games Only)
The KC Comets can be found on 38 the Spot over the air (for their home games) as well as online through Twitch. There are multiple “channels” for the MASL on Twitch. Check out the full broadcast schedule. Or you can just follow all five channels:
Much like the NWSL when they have games on Twitch, there are multiple channels, and you just have to go to the right one to see it. Full match replays are also available. Additionally, Twitch is available on most Android and Apple devices, through a computer, can be cast to a TV and some TVs/devices have a Twitch app. There is even a ‘secret’ Twitch channel on Roku (instructions here).
The Kansas City Comets play in the MASL, the Major Arena Soccer League. Here is a nice video overview of indoor soccer from a few years ago when Landon Donovan and Jermaine Jones came out of retirement to play in the league.
While this next video is a few years old, it feels like a good jumping-off point (even if it’s from the San Diego Sockers). It gives a basic outline of indoor soccer and its combination of the outdoor game we know mixed with some rules we more closely associate with ice hockey.
As outlined in those videos, the field of play is basically a hockey rink with carpet/turf.
The clock counts down, instead of up, and has four 15-minute quarters (and each team gets two 60-second timeouts). If it’s tied at the end of regulation, a 10-minute overtime period will ensue. It’s golden goal, the first team to score wins. If still tied after OT, then a three-round, five-second shootout will decide the winner (sudden victory if tied after three rounds). In the playoffs, the OT periods continue until there is a winner.
The clock also stops on fouls and when the ball is out of play, so no stoppage time.
Extra Time (Playoffs Only)
If the series is tied after two games, there is a third mini game played immediately following the second game. It has one 15-minute quarter with subsequent 10-minute OT periods as needed if tied.
Rosters and Subs
Rosters are made up of 12-16 dressed players, including two goalkeepers. There are unlimited substitutions throughout the game (they come in and out like in a hockey game). Players can sub on mid-play or at designated stoppages.
No Three-Line Passes (in the air)
There are three lines, two yellow lines delineating the attacking third for each team and a center line. No ball can be passed over those three lines in the air without touching another player. However, the goalkeeper is allowed to throw the ball over all three lines.
Understanding that you can’t make a three-line pass (in the air, on the ground is fine), which I learned at my first game, was a revelation to seeing how the game was being played on the field.
There is no offside rule
Unlike hockey, or outdoor soccer, you cannot be offside.
Fouls and Blue Cards
All the typical fouls from outdoor soccer exist in arena league plus boarding (like in hockey). The major difference is how fouls accumulate and the use of a blue card. There are 12 offences that can earn a blue card (outlined on page 20 of the rules) but these are automatic blue cards: deliberate handball outside the penalty area by the GK, endangering the GK, striking, elbowing, spitting, two-footed tackle, contact above the shoulders, boarding, playing with too many players and unsportsmanlike conduct.
A blue card leads to a two-minute power play where it’s five on six (counting GKs). If a team scores during the power play, the offending player is released from the box. If advantage is played from a blue card offense, a sixth attacker (with the GK headed to the bench) can enter the field of play (just like hockey) and if a goal is scored before the two-minute penalty even starts, the penalty is not served.
Also, a minimum of four players must be on the field at once for each team, so you can have a two-man disadvantage, but if three or more players are penalized at the same time, while they all go to the box, the team can still put four players on the field.
You can also earn a blue card via the four foul rule. If a player accumulates four fouls in one half, they are given a two-minute penalty.
What is a little confusing is MASL also has yellow cards. However, as outlined above, most of those offenses would lead to a yellow card in outdoor soccer but lead to a blue card in MASL. So, what constitutes a yellow card? Essentially, these are ‘misconduct penalties.’ Mostly they are around conduct towards the officials, delaying the game and then more severe fouls.
In the first two outlined areas, a player is given a five-minute penalty, but there is no power play, they just sit in the penalty box. If the foul falls into the ‘severe’ category, but not serious enough to be a red card offense, then a two-minute blue card penalty is served by a player of the coaches choosing (with a power play) and the offending player serves seven minutes in the box (two for the blue card, five for the yellow). They also accrue two fouls towards ejection.
Also, a team will get issued a warning the first time a player engages in simulation or embellishment, but the second offense is a yellow card.
If a player earns six fouls in a game, they will foul out (like in basketball) and be given a red card. The difference is this red card doesn’t lead to a suspension and there is no power play.
However, there are red cards that also come with a power play in addition to a sending off. The league lists: violent conduct, serious foul play, biting or spitting, offensive/insulting/ obscene/abusive language or actions, head butting, first man off the bench joining an altercation, leaving the penalty box to join an altercation or an accumulation of three time penalties.
I’m not going to try to explain all these rules. But basically, you have four seconds to score and need to move towards goal with your first touch. Here are some highlights.
Free Kicks at the Arc
There are several spots a team can take a free kick from, but sometimes they take a kick at the top of the arc, like what happened at a game I went to (video below).
One such instance when this type of kick is awarded is when a defender goes to clear the ball and it goes directly out of play over a perimeter wall. It doesn’t hit anything (player, glass, referee, boards, etc.) on its way out.
- When a field player passes the ball to the GK with his foot and the GK picks up the ball
- If the GK handles the ball outside the penalty area
- If a GK takes a second touch (the first touch not just being a save) in his own half without the opponent touching the ball — presumably to prevent a lot of back passes to the GK
- If a GK doesn’t release the ball within four seconds
- Any free kick awarded in the penalty area
- Taken from the penalty spot, 24 feet from the midpoint of the goal line, just outside of the penalty area
- Awarded for fouls that occur within the penalty area
- Awarded if the ball has been touched and/or prevented by some outside agent from passing over the goal line
- Awarded when a goalkeeper or defender commits a foul during a shootout
MASL also has video review and is similar to MLS in that it’s looking for “clear and obvious errors” or “serious missed incidents.” Each team gets one challenge per game (and one extra each in OT). Examples of reviewable plays are blue cards (given or missed), penalties, embellishment, red card offenses, rule errors and goal/no goal calls. The referee can also initiate video review.
What started out as an idea just to tell you how to watch the Comets, turned into me reading a 35-page rule book. Hopefully you got what you needed. I sure learned a lot. For all you Comets/MASL experts out there, be sure to let me know any nuance you want added as this is a beginner’s guide from a beginner.