Comets open critical weekend with Tropics matchup
Kansas City Comets vs Florida Tropics
Saturday, March 18 — 6:05 p.m. CDT
Where | Cable Dahmer Arena - Independence, Missouri
Local TV | 38 The Spot
Stream | twitch.tv/masl_soccer
The Kansas City Comets (9-7-4) will welcome the Florida Tropics (9-7-3) to open what is shaping up to be the Comets’ biggest weekend of the season. After Saturday’s game, the Comets travel to Baltimore for another meeting with the Blast.
The 2022-23 season has not played out like the Comets thought it would. With plans to take the Eastern Conference crown, the Comets have struggled to find consistency and enter Week 16 in fourth place.
The Comets still have an opportunity to get into the playoffs with a high seeding. This weekend the Comets could jump as high as the No. 1 seed if results go their way, though the top-seeded Milwaukee Wave face the winless Dallas Sidekicks twice this weekend. Two wins this weekend could take the Comets into second place.
“Every game is important week in and week out, but this weekend is our biggest weekend so far this season,” said Comets assistant coach Stefan Stokic.
The Comets could still miss the playoffs, though there is a nine-point cushion between them and sixth-place St. Louis, who have played one less game.
“Looking at how big this weekend is, it’s a big motivator for the boys,” Stokic said. “With the up-and-down and inconsistent season that we’ve had, we still have a chance to finish second after this weekend. That right there is a big enough motivator for them.”
The Comets are 7-2-1 on home turf but lost last Saturday’s home match against the Baltimore Blast 5-4. The Comets bounced back less than 24 hours later to defeat the conference-leading Wave in Milwaukee.
The Comets will be up against the third-place Tropics for the third and final time this season. The first meeting of the season came at Cable Dahmer Arena when the Comets came away with a 12-6 win and Zach Reget scored five goals in his Comets debut against his former team. Florida responded the following week by defeating the Comets 5-3 in Florida and keeping Reget off the scoresheet.
Since those two meetings, Reget has scored four goals in four games. John Sosa also makes things tick for the Comets offense, contributing 30 points from 12 goals and 18 assists.
Leo Gibson is also among the Comets leaders with 13 goals and 14 assists, currently sitting at 298 regular season goals in his Comets career. Nicolau Neto leads the MASL with 239 saves, which is a career-high alongside his 75% save percentage.
The Comets will be without James Togbah (concussion protocol), Akins Banton (left hip flexor strain) and Steven Tekesky (left thumb fracture). Ali Sodal (left groin strain) is questionable while Chris Anderaos (illness) and Milos Vucic (right hamstring strain) are probable.
The Tropics are in the middle of a four-game road trip, losing their first two games last weekend in Milwaukee and Utica. Florida’s overall road record currently sits at 3-5-2.
Florida is led by head coach Clay Roberts and brings a talented roster to Kansas City with reigning MASL Defender of the Year Chad Vandergriffe, who leads the league with 43 blocks this season. Rafa Alves is another great shot-blocker for the Tropics as he is second in the league with 39 blocks.
“They have really good quality and experienced players,” Stokic said. “They have quality both offensively and defensively, so it’s going to be a tough game.”
Offensively, the Tropics have scored 118 times and are tied with Baltimore for most goals this season in the East. Ricardo Carvalho is Florida’s leading scorer with 28 points from 17 goals and 11 assists, followed by Vini Dantas with 24 points and Drew Ruggles with 22 points. Florida will be without Anthony Arico (MCL).
Tickets for Saturday’s game and the home finale next Sunday against Harrisburg can be purchased at www.kccomets.com/tickets.