by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (Feb. 14, 2020) – The Kansas City Comets host the rival St. Louis Ambush Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena for the annual Pink Game, benefiting The Ally Kemp Foundation. The bespoke jerseys worn by the Comets will be auctioned silently during the game, with a portion of the proceeds supporting self-defense training for women.

Both Kansas City and St. Louis are in the middle of a playoff race with identical win percentages, the Ambush having played one more game. And they both have some catching up to do. The top four teams from each conference make the postseason, and St. Louis and Kansas City are currently in sixth- and seventh-place, respectively.

Sunday marks the fourth meeting between these franchises this season, but their first in 2020. The Ambush won the 2019 leg of the I-70 Series, defeating the Comets twice in St. Louis. Kansas City won its lone home game thus far.

These are not the same teams they were when they last met. Both have been depleted by midseason departures for the outdoor game, losing exactly 10 points each from the Series to date. For the Ambush, that loss came in one man, Tony Walls, who scored seven goals and assisted on three more against KC. For the Comets, those points are spread between Ray Saari, Ray Lee and Matt Lewis.

The last time Kansas City and St. Louis tangled, Lou Misner was starting in the net for the Comets. The rookie who came to the team via open tryout was filling in valiantly for the injured Mark Saxby while the front office was eagerly awaiting the visa approval of the decorated Columbia College product, Nicolau Neto.

Neto has settled in and delivered on expectations, starting five-straight contests since a thrilling debut performance in Kansas City’s 9-8 comeback win over Milwaukee. The Comets have also added Kevin Ellis since their last bout with the Ambush, and the former MLS standout has scored 10 goals in seven games.

The Comets have also added veterans Odaine Sinclair and Nick McDonald this week. Rookie of the Year in the Major Arena Soccer League in 2013, Sinclair last played for the Comets during the 2017/2018 season, appearing in 20 games.

He last played at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena for the Orlando Seawolves this season, picking up two assists and a blue card in their 14-6 loss to the Comets. Sinclair scored three goals and five assists in nine appearances for Orlando this year.

McDonald is making his MASL debut for the Comets, but he did play a season with the Tulsa Revolution right out of Rockhurst College, where he helped the Hawks to three NCAA appearances and one final four. McDonald now serves as an assistant coach for Rockhurst.  

The Comets and Ambush will meet twice more after Sunday, and the loser of the I-70 series will likely have an insurmountable hill standing between them and the postseason.