The Major Arena Soccer League produced a late-summer three-team blockbuster that saw six players change hands Friday.
The trade, one of the biggest in MASL history, will see Robert Palmer, Ramone Palmer, and Alain Matingou go back to the Kansas City Comets; Milan Ivanovic and Matt Clare will go to the Tacoma Stars; and the San Diego Sockers will receive Guerrero Pino.
Last August the Stars acquired Palmer, Palmer, and Matingou from the Comets for financial considerations after the league voided all of the Comets player contracts when the team nearly folded before the 2017/18 season.
“We are so excited to bring Ramone, Robert, and Alain back home to KC,” said Comets coach Kim Roentved. “We will miss Pino this season, he was one of our top players and is on pace to be one of the best defenders in the league. Sometimes to receive value you have to give up some value and that is the tough decision I had to make here.”
With new ownership led by Colin Weaver, the Comets are in position to rebuild their depleted roster. “We said from the very beginning we want to do what we can to bring success to the Comets,” said Weaver. “Bringing Robert, Ramone and Alain back to KC was a possibility that, once it was presented to us, we knew we had to explore. We think this is a win for the Comets, but more importantly it will be a win for the Kansas City community as a whole to have these great ambassadors of the game back in the area.”
At the same time, last year’s move to Tacoma didn’t benefit the three players, who each put up career-low or near-career low numbers, so a reunion with the Comets could be a win-win for the trio and both teams.
The Comets give up promising two-way defender Pino, who will be 28 next month, but has only played two years indoors. “We are excited to bring a player of Pino’s caliber to San Diego,” said Sockers General Manager Sean Bowers. “His ceiling is very high and we think that he can be a great addition to what we feel is the best backline in the MASL.”
Ivanovic, a 33-year old role player who spent the last six years with the Comets, goes to Tacoma. He is already living in the Seattle area as an assistant coach with the NWSL’s Seattle Reign. Ivanovic retired from playing two games into the 2016/17 season, but returned last year to stabilize the Comets roster.
In Clare, the Sockers are dealing away one of their most prominent players. San Diego signed him to a five-year contract before last year and he scored 16 goals, his fewest since the 2012-13 season. In his three seasons with the Sockers Clare scored 58 goals and 35 assists in 59 games.
“When the opportunity knocks to bring in a perennial goal scorer in the MASL, you look to bring that player in,” said Stars coach Darren Sawatzky. “Matt and I have talked in the past and we are excited to have him bring his scoring exploits to the Tacoma Stars. We are looking for players that want to be part of a group that buys into team-first soccer and Matt is looking forward to the new chapter in his career here in Tacoma.”
The Sockers signed the high-scoring Christian Gutierrez and Taylor Bond in the offseason, and Bond and Clare clashed on the US National Team in Tunisia last October, making Clare expendable.