The 5-0 Missouri Comets, fresh off a 24-10 victory last Saturday against the Harrisburg Heat, face a much tougher opponent tonight at 7:05 when the Chicago Mustangs, last year's PASL champion, visits the Independence Events Center.
The first time the Major Arena Soccer League heavyweights met this season in Chicago, Leo Gibson scored four goals and the Comets came away with a hard-fought 12-6 victory.
And the hometown team is going to follow the same plan tonight.
“When you play a great team like Chicago, you want to get an early lead and get the fans on your side – to build electricity and excitement in the building,” said Danny Waltman, the top goalie in the MASL. "We've had a great start this season and we want to keep the momentum going. We're playing great defense, the offense is clicking and this is as tight a team as I have ever been on.
“We're a band of brothers out there, and when you're playing with your brother, you play a little bit harder.”
Leading the defense is Brian Harris, the MVP of the MISL championship game last season, the last game before the Major Indoor Soccer League merged with the Professional Arena Soccer League to create the MASL.
“Whatever it takes, that's what we're willing to do to win,” said Harris, who enjoyed a four-goal performance earlier this season. “I love the guys on this team; I love playing for the Comets. This has been a great season, especially when you consider that we're playing a lot of new teams in a new league.
“We're all excited and can't wait for the next game.”
Team captain Vahid Assadpour said the team is taking an unselfish approach to this season and paying attention to head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who led the Mavericks to the MISL crown last season.
“Nothing gets past Vlatko – that's why we are off to such a good start,” Assadpour said. “If we get down, he finds a way to get us motivated and back in the game. We have ultimate respect for Vlatko. And no one cares about his personal statistics; all we care about is winning.”
Andonovski believes this team is going to enjoy the same type of success it enjoyed during last year's championship run.
“I am so blessed to be the coach of this team,” Andonovski said. “They are great players and great men. They are a team in the truest sense of the word. And they pay attention to what is going on out on the field and to me at practice.
“This is a special group of players, and this is going to be a special season.”
The Comets lead the MASL's Central Division with its 5-0 mark while Chicago is in third place at 2-2. The Comets will travel to Tulsa Saturday to take on the 1-3 Revolution.
“It could be a big weekend if we can get two victories," Harris said. "That's our goal.”
Gibson goes into tonight's game with a league-high 23 points on 12 goals and 11 assists.
“It's nice to score, because it helps the team win,” Gibson said. “But I don't care about the personal goals; all I want to do is help this team win. We are coming off an MISL championship season and now we want to have an MASL championship season.”