Comets visit Utica City FC for pivotal matchup
Kansas City Comets vs Utica City FC
MASL Regular Season
Sunday, January 28 — 2:05 p.m. CT
Where | Adirondack Bank Center - Utica, New York
Stream | twitch.tv/masl_soccer2
The Kansas City Comets (7-4-1) are headed to Upstate New York for a pivotal conference matchup with Utica City FC (8-2-1) on Sunday afternoon as they kickoff the second half of the regular season.
The Comets could have the opportunity to jump back into second place of the East with a win if Utica loses Friday evening in Harrisburg and Milwaukee loses Sunday against Monterrey.
The Comets are looking to end a four-game losing streak, which began on January 12 when they suffered an overtime loss against Utica City. The Comets then lost the following three in Mexico, losing twice against the Monterrey Flash and their most recent 8-2 defeat against the Chihuahua Savage on January 19. After a 3-0 road record to start the season, the trip to Mexico puts their road record at 3-3.
The Comets will be without Lalo Alonso (right hamstring) while Jacob Garza (illness) is questionable and Nicolau Neto (right ankle contusion) is probable.
Rookie goalkeeper Phillip Ejimadu started the last two games for the Comets, including a 23-save performance in a losing effort against Monterrey. He is still looking for his first win in the MASL while Nicolau Neto has posted a record of 7-1-1.
Midway through the season, Zach Reget leads the East with 28 points and 21 goals. He is looking to restart a goalscoring streak after having his 13-game streak snapped last week in Chihuahua. John Sosa has contributed 12 assists this season, third most in the East.
On the defensive end, Sosa enters Sunday with a 10-game block streak while Robert Palmer's 32 blocks trails only Texas Outlaws defender Uzi Tayou's 35 blocks for the MASL lead. Palmer returns to Utica as a Comet for the first time since spearheading a dramatic comeback in March 2020 in which the defender scored a hat trick in the fourth quarter to level the score after facing a four-goal deficit before the Comets' overtime winner.
Sunday's meeting will be the Comets' fifth all-time matchup with UCFC and their first time back at Adirondack Bank Center since their overtime loss last year ended their run toward the Ron Newman Cup. Sunday will be the Comets' second-ever regular season meeting in Utica.
Utica City FC enters Sunday's matchup sitting third in the East. Head coach Hewerton Moreira is in his second season leading UCFC and acquired four-time MASL MVP Franck Tayou, who leads them with 20 points from 10 goals and 10 assists.
Other Utica leaders include Nelton De Andrade and Ronaldinho Diniz, who each have tallied 19 points from 12 goals and seven assists. Andrew Coughlin has been their go-to goalkeeper this season with eight wins before suffering a rare slip at home as they lost in overtime 7-6 last week against Texas. Tayou and Andrade have scored in each of their last six games.
UCFC will be coming from a road game Friday evening against the last-place Harrisburg Heat. UCFC will be without Nate Bourdeau following a season-ending injury. Gordy Gurson (lower) is also doubtful.
Both teams will be looking to improve on special teams since both are under .500 on the power play and penalty kill, although Utica can be an offensive threat down a man as they lead the MASL with three short handed goals.
The Comets will conclude their six-game road trip next week with visits to the Baltimore Blast on Friday and St. Louis Ambush on Sunday. Tickets for the Comets’ next home game on February 9 are available at www.kccomets.com/tickets.