Kansas City Comets coach Kim Roentved knows his new-look team is a work in progress.
Gone from last year’s squad that reached postseason play for the seventh time in the seven-year history of the revival of the Comets franchise are fan favorites like captain Vahid Assadpour, defender Brian Harris and goalie Stephen Paterson – all premier players in the Major Arena Soccer League.
That’s why Roentved is asking for a little patience from Comets fans as he fine-tunes and works on creating a team that will once again be among the most dominant in the league.
The 2-5 Comets face the undefeated and Central Division-leading Milwaukee Wave at 7:35 tonight at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
This is the third meeting between the two longtime rivals, with 8-0 Milwaukee claiming wins in previous matches Nov. 12 (11-7) and Dec. 1 (7-4).
“Milwaukee is one of the premier teams in the league,” Roentved said. “When you play a team like Milwaukee, you better be ready to play 60 minutes of soccer – and that’s what I expect from our boys every night.”
The Comets are returning home for the first time since Dec. 8, when they defeated the Tacoma Stars 7-5 at the SEC Arena. Since that win over former Comets goalie Danny Waltman, the team has suffered two straight losses to the Cedar Rapids Rampage.
Not only has the team lost many stars from last year’s squad who moved to other teams or retired, Roentved has lost defenders Stefan Stokic and Alvi Beltran and midfielder Tanner Hunjak to injuries suffered this season.
“Injuries are a part of the game, unfortunately,” said Roentved, the first coach in Comets history, who returned to coach the team this season. “We have to concentrate on the players we have. We are getting better, becoming more of a team with all our new players. I like what I see, how the team is improving on a daily basis – at practice – and now, we must take that from the practice field to the playing field.”
Kansas City has added a trio of players since their last meeting with the Wave. Goalkeeper Steven Hamersky and defenders Cody Hoffman and James Togbah joined the team over the last few weeks. Hoffman is a Lee’s Summit North High School graduate.
“We added some players, and they are very good,” Roentved said. “They just have to get accustomed to their new surroundings, their new teammates. That is why practice is so important.”
The Milwaukee Wave are one of two MASL teams that remain undefeated in this season (along with Monterrey), and are 4-0 away from Milwaukee. Midfielder Ian Bennett leads the way for the Wave. His 20 goals and 26 points are not only the best on his team, but they lead the league as well.
Longtime fan favorite Leo Gibson, who is an assistant coach this season, leads the Comets with six goals and 13 assists for a total of 19 points, ninth best in the MASL. His 13 assists are second in the league.