After watching his team his team struggle to score goals once again, Kansas City Comets coach Kim Roentved had a lengthy and stern post-game talk with his team.
For the second consecutive game, the Comets scored just five goals in a 6-5 loss to the St. Louis Ambush Saturday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The Comets lost to the Ambush by that same score in an overtime loss on Dec. 16.
For the season, the Comets have averaged just 7.2 goals per game. They are now 1-4 with the loss and fell to last place in the South Central Division.
Kansas City missed several opportunities to score on quality looks close to the goal. There also were a couple of breakaway attempts that went wide.
“I have never coached a team that missed so many chances as we did today,” Roentved said. “There were 15 to 20 goals that we could have scored. But you have to give their goalkeeper (Paulo Nascimento) a lot of credit. But there were a lot of shots where we didn’t even hit the target.”
“Then we gave up way too many chances to the other team. Our goalkeeper (Brett Petricek) was probably the best player for the Comets today. I mean, that’s embarrassing to say.”
Roentved said most of his players had a lackluster performance, and added that his Comets need to regroup before they face the Ambush again at 7:05 p.m. next Saturday at The Family Arena in St. Charles.
“There were way too many of my players that had mediocre or minus-mediocre performances out there, and that’s just not good enough,” he said. “We are in the middle of a crisis right now. We need to turn this around.”
Kansas City defender John Sosa said there are multiple reasons for the team’s offensive struggles through five games.
“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Sosa said. “We are a little bit of a new team. We are trying to blend together and it’s taking a little longer than normal. Sometimes in soccer, you go through these kind of moments. Now it’s time to start panicking a little bit. And hopefully we can bounce out of this. We are making mistakes that we shouldn’t be making at this point.”
Nascimento was part of the reason for the Comets struggles Saturday as he stopped 19 of 24 shots in goal for the Ambush.
Kansas City got off to a fast start against him, however, when Sosa sent a cross from the right side of the goal on a free kick and midfielder Lucas Rodriguez punched in a short-range shot at the 5:12 mark in the first period to make it 1-0.
The Comets took that lead into the second, but Ambush forward Justin Stinson drilled a shot inside the left post from the yellow line to tie it 30 seconds in. A little over three minutes later, St. Louis midfielder Lucas Almeida had his initial shot stopped by a diving Petricek, but he put in the rebound for a 2-1 lead. Just two minutes later, Sosa connected with Rodriguez again, as the latter received a cross and drilled a power-play shot inside the left post for the equalizer. The Comets took a 3-2 lead into halftime after defender James Togbah put in a rebound with 4:51 left in the first half.
After that, it was a struggle for Kansas City offensively. JT Thomas and Zach Reget each scored third-quarter goals for the Ambush to retake the lead at 4-3. Sosa tied the game at 4-all when he punched a direct free kick inside the top left corner of the goal from about six feet out.
However, just 13 seconds later, Reget gave the Ambush the lead for good when he put in a rebound after Petricek made a save on a shot by Stinton to make it 5-4. Almeida added a goal with 1:37 left in the third to give St. Louis a 6-4 lead going into the final period.
Kansas City managed to keep St. Louis from scoring on a shootout attempt and a two-minute power play, but still struggled to get a score of their own. For the final five minutes, the Comets pulled Petricek and used a sixth attacker. Assistant coach and forward Leo Gibson put in a rebound with 2:14 left to cut the lead to one, but it wasn’t enough for the struggling Comets.
“There’s definitely some frustration, we know we need to step up,” Rodriguez said. “The worst thing about it is we know we didn’t play our best game, but we still had chances we should have put away. Unfortunately, today, it didn’t happen for us, but it’s a good learning step that we can’t take any game for granted.”
Petricek stopped 16 of 22 shots for the Comets.