Retro Night: Vandegriffe motivated in historic rivalry vs hometown

by Nathan Dunn

The Kansas City Comets will celebrate Retro Night on Saturday when they host historical rival St. Louis Ambush at Cable Dahmer Arena. It will be the 164th all-time I-70 Series matchup in the regular season.

If there is anyone who knows something about the I-70 Series, it is Comets defender Chad Vandegriffe. The 6-1 St. Louis native has competed in the rivalry at various levels, from youth and high school to college and professional ranks. He now sees the rivalry from Kansas City’s perspective and relishes the opportunities against the Ambush.

“It’s intense and always has been,” Vandegriffe commented on the rivalry. “I see it as Missouri bragging rights! Fans traveling from city to city. I love it! It’s great for our league.”

Vandegriffe is the latest to make the switch as the two soccer cities of Kansas City and St. Louis have had plenty of crossover over the years. In the first Comets era in the MISL, they had 10 players from St. Louis including Gary Amlong, Mark Frederickson and Kevin Handlan. The Comets eventually turned to STL native Pat McBride for a midseason coaching switch.

I-70 switches have been common throughout the various iterations of the Kansas City Comets and Attack as well as the St. Louis Steamers, Storm and Ambush. In 2024, the rivalry is still rich in I-70 crossovers. The Ambush have five former Comets players while Vandegriffe is among the three ex-Ambush players representing the Comets.

Before his career playing professional indoor soccer, Vandegriffe grew up in Florissant, MO, a northern suburb of St. Louis. He won a high school state championship as a junior at Chaminade in 2006, knocking off Kansas City power Rockhurst in the semifinals and won three club state titles with St. Louis Scott Gallagher in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

He played two years for the historic St. Louis University soccer program and was named to the Conference All-Tournament Team in 2010 and All-Conference in 2011. Vandegriffe’s first taste of playing in the I-70 Series at the professional level came in 2013 as a rookie playing with the Ambush. He was on the receiving end of some lopsided scorelines in his three seasons with the Ambush and also played in the USL for St. Louis FC, where he played all 90 minutes against Sporting KC in a 1-0 U.S. Open Cup loss.

Vandegriffe had the opportunity to learn from many St. Louis indoor professionals, including Daryl Doran, Tony Glavin, Jamie Swanner, Mark Santel and Pete Collico.

During his time with the Ambush playing for Doran, Vandegriffe brought a poster to practice to show him. It was a signed poster of Doran from his playing days. “It was one of those full-circle moments,” Vandegriffe said.

He eventually fled the Show-Me-State and played four seasons with the Milwaukee Wave, winning the 2019 Ron Newman Cup. He was a Florida Tropic for the previous three seasons, earning MASL Defender of the Year in 2022.

After a seven-year absence, Vandegriffe has finally returned to the rivalry he had become most familiar with, but on the opposite side of where he had become accustomed.

“It was a great opportunity to play in my hometown in front of some great crowds. Now 11 seasons later, here I am,” Vandegriffe said on his time with the Ambush and now playing on the other side of the state.

Despite the switch, Vandegriffe is still treated well by his hometown but is now motivated to beat them every chance he gets.

“I haven’t got as much negativity as I thought I would playing for Kansas City and being from St. Louis. I’m proud to be on the Kansas City Comets and represent the Comets. Yeah, I’m from St. Louis, but it kind of makes me want to beat them even more.”

Vandegriffe will be hoping to celebrate Kansas City’s 93rd all-time I-70 Series victory in regular season play with his team and the rest of the Kansas City indoor soccer alums that will be in attendance.

Fans will be able to bid on Vandegriffe’s jersey during the Retro Night Jersey Auction. Visit to purchase Retro Night tickets.