Hot winter nights return to Silverstein Eye Centers Arena at 7:05 p.m. Saturday as the Kansas City Comets welcome longtime rival Milwaukee for their home opener.
The Comets opened the 2018-19 campaign with a 10-6 loss at Milwaukee, but followed with an offensive-minded 12-6 win in Mississauga, Ontario, on Thursday as forwards Leo Gibson and Nacho Flores paved the way with impressive performances.
Gibson, the leading scorer in team history and an assistant coach, had three goals and three assists and Flores added four goals.
“There are so many things I like about this year’s team,” Roentved said as he prepared his team for Saturday’s home debut. “We have combination of many good things – goal scorers, we have a goalkeeper this year who is extremely talented and very capable, we have tough defense and one of the best group of midfielders in the league.
“You can’t go completely wrong when you are working with that.”
Goalkeeper Brett Petricek joined the team in the offseason and is excited about playing in the home opener in front of enthusiastic fans who will be cheering for him, instead of against him, as he was 6-1 against the Comets when he played with the Cedar Rapids Rampage.
“It’s going to be exciting to play my first game at home as a member of the Comets,” Petricek said. “I played a lot of games there and it’s going to be a lot of fun to have the fans cheering for me.
“We have a nice blend of new players and veterans with a lot of experience and we are really developing a chemistry, even though it is still early in the season.”
Roentved says Petricek can be a difference maker this season.
“That was a position of need for us and Brett was the first player we targeted,” Roentved said. “His presence in the goal, along with his skills on the ball will vastly improve our outlook for the season.”
The goalkeeper position was a revolving door of players last season.
“It was a tough position for us to fill last year,” Roentved said. “You need a strong goalkeeper to do the things we want to do.”
While Gibson and Flores are familiar faces from last year’s team, some more familiar faces are returning who did not play with the Comets last season.
Alain Matingou, Ramone Palmer, Robert Palmer and John Sosa returned to the Comets and their presence is noticeable, Roentved said.
“It’s so good to have the four of them back, we missed them, missed them so much,” Roentved said as he watched a scrimmage that had the fire of a regular-season game earlier this week.
The Comets signed Sosa to a three-year deal Oct. 11 and the other three players returned Sept. 7 as part of a three-way trade with San Diego and Tacoma.
“This is home, and it’s great to be back,” said Sosa, who conducts many area youth soccer camps in the offseason. “I’m playing with my friends again and playing for the best fans in the league.”
Their return makes Gibson feel confident about this campaign.
“We missed them,” Gibson said. “Last year was a different season. It was an interesting season, but different. We did not have the success we had hoped for, and we are looking to have a much better season this year and those four players will help us reach that goal.”