The Kansas City Comets ran away with their fourth victory of the season with goals from six different players. The first half was anything but a cakewalk in Tom Traxler’s first game back with the SeaWolves organization, as his side ended the first quarter with a 2-1 advantage. Kiel Williams’s opening goal was answered by Orlando goals from Rodolfo Lopes (Park University) and Odaine Sinclair (Baker University). Kansas City slowly gained a grip on the game towards the end of the half, as the hosts ended the opening 30 minutes with a 4-3 advantage thanks to another goal from Williams as well as goals from Kevin Ellis and Ray Lee, with Orlando’s lone goal from Rodrigo Kaufmann.
The Comets added to their lead in the third period, outscoring the SeaWolves 6-1, with goals from Robert Kelly, Lee, Ellis (2), Ignacio Flores, and Leo Gibson, while Daniel Jackson supplied the SeaWolves fourth goal, leaving them on the short end of a 10-4 scoreline at the quarter break. Ellis added two more for Kansas City, ending the night with five goals, and Gibson and Kelly each tallied another for the Comets as Orlando found goals from Luiz Mota and Jeff Michaud. The Comets ended the game with a lopsided 14-6 win.
Here are four finding from the Comets win:
1. Kevin Ellis
The former MLS defender will be crucial for Kansas City if they expect to make a push for the playoffs. After a disappointing first game loss to the Milwaukee Wave, in which he spent 10 minutes in the penalty box, Ellis’s five goals will boost his confidence ahead of another crucial game against the Wave this Friday.
Ellis really should have had at least seven or eight goals against Orlando, but perhaps a bit of rustiness kept him off the scoresheet more often in the first half. Head Coach Leo Gibson will also look to find a consistent position for him once they get more bodies back off the injury report.
With injuries to veterans like John Sosa, Stefan Stokic, and Lucas Rodriguez, some of the team’s inexperienced players have seen a lot of time and are showing sign of great improvement. While having stronger players on the field might have helped them beat one or two teams that they lost to, the gap between players like Hector Solorio, Matt Lewis, and Lou Misner isn’t as wide as it was at the beginning of the season.
Recent games have forced Solorio to take a healthy amount of minutes, which has led to him gaining some valuable experience in several different scenarios. With the little bit of time spent with the Comets last season, Ray Lee has really stepped up this season while Lewis has been another positive and promising signing who, with more experience, can be a reliable defender.
Mark Saxby did return from injury in a comfortable game, but Lucas Rodriguez, Ray Saari, and Stefan Stokic were unavailable through injury with John Sosa and Adam James dressing, but not seeing action. The Comets will need to get healthy and stay healthy to get results in as many games as possible in their final 15 games.
With so many injuries, players have been forced to constantly change positions throughout games, disrupting chemistry. With more bodies available, the chemistry will improve, especially since all of the recently injured players are key contributors. Sosa’s availability will also give the Comets a ball-handler who can control the play as well as allow Leo Gibson to stay up top as a forward.
4. Visa Issues Nearing Resolution?
It appears as if Kansas City’s visa issues could be nearing an end for this season, as Comets color commentator Erik Bergrud announced during the first quarter of Friday’s MASL TV broadcast. Bergrud said that he spoke with Lucas Sousa prior to the match, and Sousa said that he and Nicolau Neto, who have both been kept from their MASL debuts due to visa approval issues, should be cleared to begin play no later than the start of February.
This would be another positive boost for the Comets, but the team can’t afford to dig a hole too deep to get out of. Neto is rumored to be the best of the four keepers under contract. If this visa breakthrough includes Ramone Palmer, who has also been sidelined, his quickness would give the Comets a needed different look at forward.