The Kansas City Comets went back to the past for their future after a long offseason that indicated the team’s future was in doubt.
Returning team owner and managing partner Brian Budzinski, who left the Comets prior to last season, and new head coach Kim Roentved, who was the Comets’ first head coach back in 2010, were introduced to a large gathering of fans at a news conference Wednesday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena’s President’s Club.
“Since we brought the team back in 2010, the Comets have been one of the model franchises in indoor soccer,” Budzinski said. “Kim established that, beginning with our first season. His work ethic and vision for the game have been a part of everything we’ve done for the past seven years. I am beyond excited to have him back here with us.”
Roentved previously coached the Comets from 2010 through the 2013-14 season when they were part of the now defunct Major Indoor Soccer League. He led the team to 36 wins and 34 losses, three straight playoff berths and an appearance in the 2013 MISL championship game.
When Roentved appeared on stage, flanked by Budzinski and assistant coaches and former Comets stars Jeff Davis and Alan Mayer, he was greeted with a rousing ovation.
It seemed to catch him a bit off guard.
“I guess they remember the old coach,” Roentved quipped. “I’m going to like my seat on the bench much more than the one I had in the seats the past few years. I really missed being with the boys, going to practices, being around the team. I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Roentved takes over as coach for Goran Karadzov, the former assistant coach who led the Comets to a 15-5 record and a Major Arena Soccer League Central Division title last season after taking over for Vlatko Andonovski.
The offseason was mired in rumors of the team’s demise.
“The ‘Hot Winter Nights’ are back, thank goodness,” said veteran midfielder Lucas Rodriguez, the former MISL Rookie of the Year who attended the news conference. “We didn’t know what would happen, but we did a lot of praying that somehow, the team would return. And our prayers were answered.”
Budzinski hopes the offseason rumors do not break the trust the team had earned from its fans the previous seven years.
“I am so disappointed that all the rumors were out there and all the talk of the team not returning this season happened,” said Budzinski, who left the team following a dispute with the former co-owners Greg and Brad Likens (who are no longer affiliated with the team). “We had a plan from day one to make the Comets special to our fans and our community.
“Back in 2010, our plan was to make the Comets something special, something our fans could believe in. We want to create that type of atmosphere again in 2017. We brought back Kim and a great coaching staff and, although we cannot comment on players now, we are going to be bringing back many of the players fans have enjoyed watching over the past few years.”
Four players have announced they are leaving the team, most for personal reasons dealing with visa issues. They are fan favorite John Sosa, who will play in San Diego, and Ramone and Robert Palmer and Alan Matingou, who will all play for Tacoma.
“We hated to lose those guys but understand why they decided to leave,” Roentved said. “I hope we kick their butts when we play them, but they will always have my respect. All I can concern myself with is the players we have on our roster, and we are going to have some great ones.”
Roentved was a legend when he played in the earlier days of the MISL. He was named Defender of the Year three times and is an inaugural member of the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame.
Davis will serve as Roentved’s assistant coach, while Mayer will remain as goalkeeper coach.
Davis, who is now the director of Scott Gallagher Kansas City Youth Club, played for the St. Louis Ambush from 1993-1996, then for the Kansas City Attack/Comets from 1996-2004. He played in 153 games for Kansas City, scoring 241. In 2010, Davis joined the current version of the Comets, playing in six games and helping them reach the playoffs in the team’s inaugural season.
Mayer is a goalkeeping legend in both the indoor and outdoor game. In a career that spawned 15 years, 422 professional appearances and six U.S. national team appearances, Mayer earned a reputation for fearless play and flawless technique. Mayer has been the Comets goalkeeper coach since 2010 and has coached current indoor goalkeeping stars Danny Waltman, Boris Pardo and last season’s Rookie of the Year, Stephen Paterson.