by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (March 8, 2020) The depleted Kansas City Comets (10-11) erased a 6-2 fourth-quarter deficit to upset the second-place Utica City Football Club (14-5) Sunday in Utica, N.Y. Robert Palmer carried the Comets in victory, scoring four goals, including three-consecutive in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter.

Kansas City managed the impressive road win with just 10 available field players. Head coach Leo Gibson was among those missing, as he was serving a suspension for a red card issued Saturday in Rochester. The Comets have appealed the ruling.

The win sees the Comets end a feverish three games in four days with a 2-1 record. They have back-to-back games again Saturday and Sunday at the Orlando Seawolves and Florida Tropics, respectively, before returning home for the season finale March 22 against the rival St. Louis Ambush.

Utica led for all but 6:54 of regulation. The initial stalemate was broken when Nate Bourdeau scored two passes off a free kick, painting the corner of the net perfectly. Moises Gonzalez added to the lead minutes later. Utica pressed the Comets, and Kiel Williams was turned over, giving Gonzalez a clean shot at goal and a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The hosts carried momentum into the second quarter. Sustained pressure with several shots finally paid off when Momic was left unattended in the box, putting Utica up 3-0.

Like he brought them back in the fourth quarter, Palmer almost single-handedly scored Kansas City’s first goal. He got some help from Hector Solorio turning Utica over deep in the defensive end, but then he passed to himself off the boards and went coast-to-coast, chipping Utica’s keeper for the score.

Utica padded its lead when Palmer lost his feet in defense, giving Cristhian Segura a clear shot at goal. He buried it in the top, right corner, giving Utica a 4-1 halftime lead.

The Comets scored first to open the second half, with John Sosa teeing off from deep. His shot ricocheted off a defender or two before finding the net to cut the deficit to two.

Utica retaliated with a pair of quick goals to create more separation. Segura scored the first, pinpointing a shot upper-90. The second came with Kansas City shorthanded thanks to a Nick McDonald blue card. Gonzalez and Jelovac played a give-and-go to create space for the Gonzalez shot, which made it 6-2 for Utica.

The Comets deployed the sixth attacker in the fourth quarter, Lucas Rodriguez. It resulted in a goal when Kiel Williams bounced it off the boards to Nacho Flores, who banked on off the wall to Adam James. He knocked it across the whitewash.

With three minutes left to go in the fourth quarter, the Comets cut further into the deficit. Utica lost a player to a blue card, and Palmer volleyed in his second goal from the restart. Kansas City trailed 6-4.

Palmer willed the Comets back into the game with two more goals before regulation. Both came off rebounds in tight, the second a header from a Williams attempt with just seconds left on the clock to force overtime.

Utica was penalized in its own end early in extra time. Sosa took the restart, switching field to the left flank, where Gomes hammered a one-touch shot just inside the far post for the walk-off goal.