Missouri Comets fans, it’s time to take a deep, relaxing breath.
Veteran goalkeeper Danny Waltman, who is 12-0 this season for the undefeated MASL team, will not be lost for the season.
Waltman, the lone goalie on the Comets roster, went down with an injury with 10:54 left in Saturday night’s 18-2 rout of the visiting Tulsa Revolution at the Independence Events Center and the Comets leading 17-2.
“I went for the stop and felt something pop in my ankle,” Waltman said late Monday afternoon. “At the time, I just knew it was a bone or ligaments. I thought the season – and possibly my career – were over.
“Today, I visited the doctor and found out I have a high ankle sprain and that I can maybe play in a week or two. I don’t think I’ll be in there this weekend when St. Louis comes to town (Friday night at the Events Center), but I want to make that trip (for two games) to Mexico in two weeks.
“The Comets staff has been doing massage and ice treatments, and I feel so much better today. I just knew I was done Saturday night and I feel so much better today. I’m going to be at practice supporting the boys this week, getting treatment and staying off the ankle so it heals as quickly as it possibly can.”
All-star defenseman Brian Harris entered the game as a sixth attacker and did not allow a goal over the final 10 minutes.
“We will address the goalie situation,” Comets coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Brian Harris did an outstanding job, and in an emergency, we would feel comfortable with him in the net. But we have someone in mind to sign when we find out about Danny.”
Now that his teammates know the inspirational Waltman will likely return this season, they can celebrate the most impressive offensive victory in team history.
While the Comets have scored more than 18 points in the past, they did it with two-point and three-point goals. But they had never scored 18 goals in a game.
One of the biggest contributors on the night was first-time MASL player Josh Gardner, who has played Major League Soccer with the L.A. Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City. He was so new to the team that he entered the Events Center wearing a jersey with the No. 31 with no name on the back.
By the time his three-goal, two-assist, five-point night was over, every one of the 4,476 fans who saw the game knew his name.
“I don’t think you could have a much better debut,” said Gardner, who had his wife Michelle, daughter Addison, 5, and sons Caleb, 4, and Cade, 1, in the audience. “This was my first game ever indoors and with the Comets.
“A few days ago I was learning the game, tonight I was playing. And I know we are going to be playing much more difficult opponents, but this was a good way to start my indoor career. I was out of soccer and when the Comets approached me, I said, ‘Yes,’ and here I am. I couldn’t be any happier right now.
“They have such an explosive team offensively and a great defensive team, too.”
The score was just 2-1 in favor of the Comets after one period, but Missouri exploded for seven goals in the second period to take a commanding 9-2 lead into halftime.
“What impressed me about tonight’s game was Josh’s debut – we are very, very happy we signed Josh,” Andonovski said, “and the way the boys kept playing hard and never letting up. In the past, we have had some big leads and have let them slip away. But not tonight, this was a complete game.”
Gardner, team captain Vahid Assadpour, Bryan Perez and MASL scoring leader Leo Gibson all had hat tricks in the game, and Gibson finished with six points to take a 49-48 lead over Gordy Gurson (traded Monday from Seattle to St. Louis) in the scoring race.
“Those things take care of themselves,” Gibson said when asked about the possibility of winning a second consecutive scoring crown (was the scoring leader in the now defunct MISL last season). “All that matters tonight is that we won and that we are playing very good soccer right now.”
Perez added that the team did not need a win like Saturday night’s to boost its confidence.
“What a win like this does,” Perez said, “is help maintain our confidence level. We’re playing as well right now as we ever have, and it’s exciting for us and our fans.”