If Kansas City Comets coach Kim Roentved is frustrated with his young team’s 3-8 start this season, the indoor soccer legend is doing a great job of masking his angst.
“I love this team,” Roentved said recently, “I really do. We’re a work in progress, a team that is going to be playing its best games as the season goes on. I know our fans are accustomed to great success and championship teams, and that is what we are trying to build with this group.
“You know, we have new players, some players who did not return, some key injuries – things you have to deal with, and I think we’re becoming a close-knit team and we’re eager to get back home and win a game for our great fans.”
The Comets play host to the Harrisburg Heat at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena and hope to begin a winning streak that began with a breathtaking 11-9 win last week at St. Louis, where the team overcame an early 6-1 deficit and roared back on the strength of five Kiel Williams goals and five Leo Gibson assists.
“That was a big win,” said Roentved, the first coach in Comets history (2010-11) who returned to the bench this season with a new-look team that broke a five-game losing streak with that come-from-behind win against the Ambush. “It was just one game, but the way the boys came back, the way they never gave up, that is a game you can look back at when we’re down and said, ‘Come on boys, you did it once, you can do it again.’”
Gibson, the premier indoor forward over the past eight years, is now a player/assistant coach, and like Roentved, he sees great improvement on a daily basis with a team that no longer features fan favorites like Brian Harris, Vahid Assadpour, Danny Waltman, Stephen Paterson, John Sosa and Robert and Ramone Palmer.
“It would be easy to get frustrated if you didn’t see improvement in so many of the new players,” said Gibson, who leads the Comets with 10 goals and 19 assists and is tied for fourth in the Major Arena Soccer League with 29 points. “It would be great to play with Danny and Vahid and Brian and the other guys for your entire career, but this is professional sports and things change.
“I miss those guys, they are good friends. But I also am enjoying my new teammates and I’m having a good time coaching with Kim. He is so passionate and he cares a lot about our players, just like (former coaches) Vlatko (Andonsoki) and Goran (Karadzov).
“I am so pleased that despite all the changes, our fans are still hanging in there with us and coming to our games. They mean so much to us and we want them to know what their support means.
“I see improvement on a daily basis at practice and in games. Even in some of the games we have lost, it has been close and a bounce here or there and who knows.”
Williams was named to the MASL Team of the Week for his five-goal outburst against St. Louis and is up for MASL Player of the Week.
The Comets are in third place in the the Central Division, only three wins behind the second-place Cedar Rapids Rampage (6-7), who have played two more games. The Milwaukee Wave are in first at 12-0. The top two teams in each division make the playoffs.