Kim Roentved knows a thing or two about Major Indoor Soccer League legends.

Kim Roentved knows a thing or two about Major Indoor Soccer League legends.

After all, the first-year Missouri Comets head coach reached legendary status when he played for Wichita back in the early 1980s.

That’s why his pulse quickened and adrenaline rushed throughout his body when he heard his new team had the chance to sign Byron Alvarez.

“Let’s see,” Roentved said following a spirited and intense Wednesday morning practice session at the Soccer Dome in Kansas City, “he is a former league MVP, he has a championship ring in a drawer back in his home, and he is a proven leader.

“When we were able to sign him, you bet I was excited.”

And “Lord Byron” has exceeded all of Roentved’s expectations.

The 32-year-old native of Mexico City is MISL royalty.

He is second in the league in scoring with 38 points and is a big reason the team has won two of its last three games and is slowly closing in on the third and final playoff berth.

“There are a lot of young players on this team, and they would be wise to listen to Byron, to watch him in practice and to pay attention to how he handles himself,” said Roentved, whose Comets play Milwaukee at 7:35 p.m. Friday at the Independence Events Center in a Retro Night game that will feature a halftime game between many of the Comets legends.

“He is a pro’s pro, a proven winner and the type of player a first-year team needs. We needed a leader and a scorer, and we got both of those qualities with Byron.”

During practice, Alvarez is a whirling dervish as he brings the same intensity to a scrimmage that he does to the a real contest.

“I believe that you play in the same manner in which you practice,” Alvarez said. “We have a young team, with a lot of players who are still learning about the indoor game.

“For me, soccer is soccer – but the indoor and outdoor games are different. And all our players are now becoming a team, a very good team. We are close, like a family. And I think that has become more and more apparent with our recent games.

“We are playing better, we are better offensively and defensively, and we are, oh I would say, about 90 percent of the way to becoming a great team.

“The last 10 percent comes from individual creativity – knowing where a teammate likes the ball, things like that.”

Following the scrimmage in which tempers often flared, the players broke off into groups that enjoyed some one-on-one competition, they discussed where they would have lunch that afternoon or asked a front office staff member to arrange to get their hair cut.

“The fire, the intensity, is there during practice,” said Alvarez, an elder statesman who is a leader both on and off the playing field, “but once it is over, we are family. We want to work hard to be a successful team, and we are getting there.”

Alvarez’s presence has had a galvanizing effect on this young team as he scored two late goals last Saturday at the Events Center in a heartbreaking 15-13 loss to Baltimore.

The MISL legend followed that performance with a hat trick at Omaha, as the Comets rebounded for a 21-20 victory in the highest scoring MISL game this season.

“Whatever you need, Byron is going to get it for us,” Roentved said. “If we need someone to take a young player by the hand and show him how to play the game, Byron is there.

“If we need a big goal, well, we all know he can provide that.”

At this point in his career, Alvarez would rather help a young teammate learn the nuts and bolts of the game he has loved since childhood, than get big headlines following another masterful performance.

“When coach called me, I was so excited,” said Alvarez whose Monterrey LaRaZa (now defunct) team won the MISL championship last season, “because I knew it would be a fresh start, and I could teach young players the game I love.

“In Mexico, nine out of 10 kids are going to say they want to grow up to be professional soccer players. And the one who says he doesn’t has to be a foreigner, because all Mexicans want to play soccer.

“I love the game, I love the feel of a soccer ball on my foot – it’s just so comfortable, such a part of my life. And I want to help this team win. Goals aren’t that important to me.

“If they help the team win, they are great. But I want to be a leader, and I want to help everyone on this team learn what it’s like to be a champion, because there isn’t a better feeling in the world.”