Comets host Chihuahua for Game 1 of Championship Series

by Nathan Dunn

Kansas City Comets vs Chihuahua Savage

Game 1 of Ron Newman Cup Finals

Sunday, April 28 — 4:05 p.m. CT

Where | Cable Dahmer Arena - Independence, Missouri

Watch | 38 the Spot (local TV)

StreamCBS Sports Golazo

Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB

The Major Arena Soccer League's championship series will begin inside Cable Dahmer Arena on Sunday when the Kansas City Comets host the Chihuahua Savage.

It will be the first time the Comets have played in the Ron Newman Cup Finals, marking the team's first return to a championship series since winning the MISL championship in 2014. Despite that, the Comets still have leaders that have been on this stage before.

Chad Vandegriffe is the only one to win the coveted trophy, doing so with Milwaukee in 2019. Berto Palmer made it to the Finals in 2021 with the Empire organization while Zach Reget and Chris Frederick made it to the Finals with Florida in 2022. Comets coach Stefan Stokic was teammates with Berto Palmer and Ramone Palmer when the team won the MISL championship a decade ago.

The Comets' path to the Final was far from easy. They started the season strong with a 7-1 record but went on an eight-game losing streak before straightening things out to win seven of the last eight games.

Kansas City swept Utica City FC in the conference semifinals and the Milwaukee Wave in the conference finals to extend their winning streak to 10 straight. Their last loss came to Chihuahua on February 16.

Rian Marques has stepped up in the postseason, leading the Comets with nine points from three goals and six assists. Nacho Flores has six goals while Zach Reget has tallied four goals and three assists. 

Chihuahua has owned the head-to-head series so far. They beat the Comets twice this season with scores of 8-2 at Corner Sport Arena and a 3-2 win in overtime at Cable Dahmer Arena. The only other meeting was a 6-5 comeback victory on the road in overtime for the Savage in 2022.

Regardless of Sunday's outcome, the Comets will have to do something rare: win as an away team at Corner Sport Arena. A Comets win on Sunday would make the trip to Chihuahua more manageable, but a loss at home would require the Comets to win Game 2 and the 15-minute Knockout Game in Chihuahua.

The Savage are 35-4 all-time on home turf in the MASL against American opposition. The reigning champions overturned a 1-0 Finals deficit against Baltimore to win Game 2 and the Knockout Game at home last year.

They are led defensively by goalkeeper All-MASL 2nd Team goalkeeper Diego Reynoso. The MASL veteran allowed just 3.31 goals against average and helped Chihuahua to concede an MASL-best 103 goals.

The Savage have also been aided offensively with the MASL's postseason points leader Hugo Puentes. La Roca has tallied 11 points and seven goals in six games throughout the playoffs.

Chihuahua had an impressive 7-4-1 road record in the regular season but lost both full road games in the playoffs games in Tacoma and San Diego.

Following Sunday's contest, both teams will play the championship-deciding return leg on Tuesday in Chihuahua. If the series is split 1-1, a 15-minute Knockout Game will shortly follow Game 2.