Missouri Comets coach Vlatko Andonovski has a message for his undefeated team before it leaves the locker room to take on an MASL opponent this season.
“Vlatko always says, ‘You have nothing to gain,’” Comets defender Brian Harris said, “and everything to lose.’ When you think about it, he’s right.
“We’ve clinched first place and we’re undefeated, but the most important thing about the final four games of the season is that we want to win them all to go into the playoffs with a lot of confidence.”
The Comets hope to build on that confidence and set a unique record at 7 p.m. Saturday when they put their 18-0 record on the line against the 2-14 Tulsa Revolution at the Independence Events Center.
If the Comets win, they will hold the distinction of the longest winning streak of any professional Kansas City team.
The Kansas City Royals won 16 games in a row in 1977 and the Kansas City Wizards soccer team (now Sporting Kansas City) won 18 in a row during the 1995-96 season. The Wizards won their first 18 games before losing to the Cleveland Crunch in game No. 19.
“You look at the Royals, who made baseball history in the playoffs by becoming the first major league team to win eight straight postseason games. And they won 16 in a row back in the ’70s. Then you have the Wizards, who won 18 in a row, and you’d like to be mentioned along with them,” Harris added.
“We didn’t know anything about the record until this week, and it’s kind of got us pumped up. We’re never going to sit back and not give it 100 percent, but when you know you’re going for a record, it adds a little excitement to the game.”
It will be the third meeting this season between the two teams, with Missouri winning the first two contests by scores of 15-5 and 18-2.
The Comets return to the Events Center following road wins last week at St. Louis and Wichita.
Red-hot Leo Gibson was named Borden Man of the Match with seven points in the win against St. Louis and followed with a five-point performance in Wichita.
“Leo is so good – you just know he’s going to give us four to six points a night,” Harris said, “and as important as Leo is, every guy on the team is equally important. We’re undefeated and having this type of season because everyone has bought in and is doing what it takes to win a championship.
“We have (two) regular games left and then the playoffs begin, and believe me, we’re going to do everything we can to win these four games and go into the playoffs with as much confidence as we did last year (when we won the last MISL league championship).”
• The Valentine’s Day match will also be the annual T.A.K.E. Foundation night at the Events Center. The players’ pink jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Ali Kemp Foundation, which provided defense classes for women and girls.
• Lee’s Summit North High School grad Cody Hoffman, a former member of The Examiner’s All-Area Team and former all-state player, is expected to dress for his first pro game. He holds the Broncos’ career goal-scoring record.
• The Revolution are led by midfielder Lucas Bunster Almeida who has 29 points. Coach Alex Miranda’s team also features three players from the Kansas City area: Justin Hershey (Overland Park, Kan.), Nick McDonald (Leawood, Kan.) and Andrew Griffin (Olathe, Kan.).
PLAYOFF FORMAT ANNOUNCED: MASL announced the format for the 2015 Division Playoff Series.
The top three teams in each division will earn playoff berths. The top seeds – like the Comets have already clinched in the Central Division – will earn a first-round bye in the divisional round, while the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds play for the right to meet the top seed in a Divisional Final.
The teams in the Eastern Conference (Central and Eastern divisions), which the Comets play in, will play a home-and-away series. If there is a tie after the two games, a 15-minute mini-Game 3 will be played immediately after the second game.
The Western Conference (Pacific and Southern divisions), however, will play one, single-elimination game.
If the season ended today, the Milwaukee Wave (12-6) would meet the Chicago Mustangs (10-6) in the first round of the Central Division series. Wichita (8-10) is still alive.
The Division Final winners will meet in the Conference Final no later than March 18. The winners of those will meet in the MASL Championship Series between March 20 and March 26.
Baltimore (13-2) has clinched the Eastern Division title ahead of Syracuse (8-7) and Rochester (7-8). Detroit is still alive at 4-12.
The Western Conference is already set. Monterrey (16-2) has clinched the Southern, and Dallas (13-5) and Texas (10-7) have clinched the other two playoff berths. San Diego (15-3) has won the Pacific, and Ontario (13-6) and Las Vegas (11-7) have clinched playoff berths.