by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (Feb. 7, 2020) – The Kansas City Comets are back in action Saturday at the Milwaukee Wave, just two days after an exhausting overtime win against the Harrisburg Heat. On the back half of the season with a logjam in the Eastern Conference table, Saturday’s game has major postseason implications.

The first-place Florida Tropics sit with 12 wins, while the next six teams are all within two wins of each other. Milwaukee (8-3) sits in second place, while the Comets (7-6) are well within striking distance in sixth.

Kansas City will make the trip to Milwaukee and finish their race for a playoff bid without defender Robert Kelly, who suffered a fractured left fibula with mild displacement thanks to a malignant challenge by Patrick Thompson. In overtime, Kelly had a clear path to the ball, and Thompson’s only route was through the back of Kelly’s ankle. He is expected to miss a minimum of 6-8 weeks.

Saturday marks the fourth meeting between the Comets and Wave. Thus far, Milwaukee holds a 2-1 advantage. The last two games have been one-goal affairs, the Comets winning 9-8 Jan. 18 and the Wave winning 7-6 Jan. 20.  

The Comets are also going to be missing a trio of outdoor veterans. Ray Saari has signed with the Oklahoma Energy of the USL Championship and isn’t expected back this season. Matt Lewis is on trial with Detroit City of the National Premier Soccer League, and Ray Lee is expected to sign and report soon in the USL Championship, as well.

Kansas City will still be fielding two MASL players of the week in head coach and Leo Gibson, and a new candidate emerged Thursday when Lucas Rodriguez capped off a hat-trick with the buzzer-beating game winner in overtime.

The top performers of the series this season are Milwaukee’s Ian Bennett and Alex Bradley and Kansas City’s Gibson. Bennett has scored eight goals against the Comets and Bradley seven. Gibson has found the net six times through Milwaukee’s Rafa Dias.