The most prolific offensive quarter in the history of the Missouri Comets propelled the unbeaten squad to an impressive 15-6 victory over the Chicago Mustangs Friday night at the Independence Events Center.
Billed as the “Clash of the Champions” – as the Comets won the MISL title last season and the Mustangs claimed the PASL crown – it was all Missouri as league scoring leader Leo Gibson opened the offensive floodgates just 3:07 into the opening quarter.
Before many of the crowd of 3,369 found their seats, captain Vahid Assadpour and Robert Palmer torched Mustangs goalie Jesus Flores and the rout was on.
Chicago's Bryan Moya scored the Mustangs' lone goal of the first quarter, then rookie midfielder Kiel Williams scored his first professional goal to pad the lead to 4-1.
Alain Matingou, Bryan Perez and Brian Harris also scored to make it 7-1 and give Comets goalie Danny Waltman some breathing room against the offensive-minded Mustangs.
“What you saw tonight was a family go out and play for each other, a family that loves and trusts each other,” said Waltman, the top goalie in the MASL, who made 23 saves against the Mustangs. “I've been on some close teams, including the teams here in Missouri, but I have never been on a team this close. To play like that, and to reward all the fans who came out on a really miserable night, makes the win even more special.”
Gibson, Perez and Matingou each scored in the second period to make the score 10-1 at the half.
Gibson finished the night with four goals and Max Toulette, Perez, Matingou, Assadpour and Perez all scored two goals each for the 6-0 Comets.
John Sosa and Harris each blocked what appeared to be easy Mustang goals when Waltman's momentum on a save carried him away from the net.
“I've never been on a team with this type of chemistry,” said Gibson, the 2013-14 MISL scoring champion and the Major Arena Soccer League's leading scorer this season. “The offense feeds off the defense and the defense does the same thing. Danny is the best goaltender in the league and we care about each other – we really care about each other. And that chemistry, that brotherhood, plus a lot of talent and a great coaching staff, make this team special.”
Following his second goal, Harris found a group of friends and threw a celebratory soccer ball to the youngsters who had been cheering his every move.
“We've talked about this a lot, but this team is special and our fans are amazing,” Harris said. “We wanted to give them something special tonight, and I think we did. When it got to 10-1, the Mustangs came back and scored a few goals, and that is something we can clean up.
“But overall, this was a great win against a very good team.”
Following the game, the familiar long lines of fans seeking autographs could be found hovering around Waltman, Gibson, Harris, Assadpour and their teammates.
But Coach Vlatko Andonovski was also the center of attention, as fans are beginning to realize the impact he has on this team.
“Before the game, I asked the boys for three things,” Andonovski said. “I asked them to play hard, because Chicago is a hard-working team. I asked them to be disciplined and to be quick – as in mentally quick, physically quick and to have a quick release with the ball.
“And they did all of those things and look at the end result. I could not be prouder of this team. I love coaching this team and it feels so special. They talk about this being a family and how they are playing for their brothers. To be honest with you, I am a little bit jealous. I love coaching them, but I would love to be playing alongside them because I know how much fun they are having.”