In a game that featured plenty of ups and downs the Kansas City Comets soared past the .500 mark for the first time this season with a 10-8 come-from-behind victory over the Mississauga MetroStars Sunday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
The Comets used a 4-1 fourth quarter advantage – including the game-winning goal by Leo Gibson and a late insurance strike by Kiel Williams – to improve to 6-5 on the season against the tougher-than-expected 2-9 MetroStars.
“They are so much better – so, so much better than the first time we faced them this season,” Comets coach Kim Roentved said, whose team topped the MetroStars 12-6 the first time they met.
“They gave us all we could handle and then some, but the boys pulled out a big win to get over .500. And it’s about time! It’s overdue. As I have told you before, there were times this season I had more confidence in the team than our players did and now, they are playing with confidence. And our record reflects that confidence.”
The Comets opened the scoring when midfielders Lucas Rodriguez and Bryan Perez worked the give-and-go pass to perfection with the man advantage early in the game to score the opening goal of the night.
“It was big to get on top early, to get our fans into the game,” said Rodriguez, who had two goals and two assists. “But the biggest thing was winning and getting over .500.
“It just feels so good to get the win, to get over .500 and feel good after a game. We got off to a rough start, but we are playing our best soccer of the season right now.”
Through much of the night, any Comets score was usually answered quickly by the visiting MetroStars. A minute after Rodriguez’s goal, Mississauga’s Darren Chambers answered.
When Gibson put the Comets up 2-1 later in the period, Mississauga’s Joshua Parades answered a minute after that.
The two teams traded goals throughout the first half with Rodriguez and Anthony Grant each tallying a score in the second quarter, followed by MetroStars goals from Damion Graham and Jarred Philips.
Mississauga broke the cycle with just over a minute left in the first half. With the Comets coming off a penalty kill, Marco Rodriguez got past the transitioning Kansas City defense and put the MetroStars up 6-5 at the end of the opening half.
Ramone Palmer, celebrating his 30th birthday, evened it up shortly after the second half started, but once again Mississauga answered to regain the lead.
Controversy erupted late in the third period when the Comets bench thought Philips tripped defender John Sosa on the wall. The play resulted in Philips having an open path to the goal where he was able to bury the ball past an onrushing Mark Saxby and open up a two-goal lead.
But the never-say-die Comets stormed back.
Captain Bryan Perez scored to end the third quarter, and then to open the fourth. MetroStars forward Mo Babouli then outmuscled everyone and went coast-to-coast to briefly put his team back in the lead 8-7 with 8:31 left to play.
The Comets then put on the full-press and wore down the Mississauga defense. Adam James pressured Mississauga goalkeeper Adrian Becic into a mistake, giving Rodriguez the ball wide open at midfield. Rodriguez passed it back to James who was able to tie it up 8-8.
With 4:34 left to play Gibson, who holds every modern Comets offensive record, put his team ahead for good with a one-touch volley out of the air from the right side.
“It felt good to get the lead, and we had to work very hard to get the lead because for much of the night, every time we scored, they had an answer,” said Gibson, who finished with two goals and two assists.
“We put everything we had in this game and found a way to win and get above .500. It was not a pretty win, but we will take any kind of win we can get.”
Williams added an insurance goal with 11 seconds left in the game against the Mississauga sixth attacker and the Comets secured the victory.
“It is very important to play our best soccer of the season right now,” Williams said. “They were so much better than the first time we played them. They worked hard and made us work hard for this win.”
It was Kansas City’s fifth victory in its last six outings.