As Byron Alvarez, an original member of the then Missouri Comets, drove to practice Friday morning with his 6-year-old son Byron, he had some good news.
For weeks, Alvarez – who earned the nickname “El Matador,” after winning the league MVP Award in 2010 – has been working out with the Kansas City Comets, who take a 7-6 record into a 7:05 p.m. Saturday game at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena against longtime rival Milwaukee.
But this workout was going to be different, because the Comets had signed Alvarez and Oak Park High School grad Kevin Ellis, a former standout with Sporting Kansas City, to contracts this week, the team announced Friday.
“I told Byron, ‘Your daddy is going to play with the Comets,’” said Alvarez, who scored 33 goals and had 80 points in his MVP season in 2010. “And he said, ‘Daddy, I wish it wasn’t a snow day because I want to tell all my friends my daddy is playing for the Comets.’
“I didn’t think anyone could be more excited than I am, but I think my son might be the most excited of all.”
Well, he might want to count coach Kim Roentved among those who are excited about his return.
“Byron has been practicing with us three or four weeks and he has looked great,” Roentved said. “You of course know, that practice is much different than playing in a game – and we are not going to go out and throw him to lions – but he is a true professional and he can help this team in our playoff run.
“He can still score, and we have a lot of bumps and bruises and we believe he can be a valuable part of our team. We’re very excited to have him back.”
Alvarez, 40, was known for his colorful celebrations after scoring a goal. He would run into the stands, grab a sombrero and dance with a group of fans, which endeared to the original Comets fan base.
“I have talked to some fans and they are so excited that I am coming back, and I can’t wait to play for them and for Kim (Roentved). He took a chance on me 10 years ago and is taking another chance on me. I am not coming in to take a job away from anyone on the team – I am coming in to help anyway I can.
“If I can help at practice, I will do it. If I can help by cheering for the boys, I will do it. And if I can help by stepping out on the playing field, I will do that too. And I think I have a few goals left!”
After his 80-point season, Alvarez had 78 and 74 points in each of the two successive seasons. He was key to the Comets’ postseason runs and hopes to do the same this year.
“Those days were so much fun, I can’t begin to tell you how much I missed them,” said Alvarez, who married Lee’s Summit resident Jennifer Ford back in 2011 after proposing to her between periods of a Comets game. “Independence has been so important in my life. I played for the first Comets team, I became an American citizen in Independence and met my wife Jennifer here, and now we are back and are going to raise our son Byron here.
“I am a different person now than I was back then. I got baptized, and am a Christian and I asked God if it was in his plans for me to play again, I would give it my best. Now, I am with the Comets, we play Saturday, I hope to be on the field and I am the happiest man – I don’t know if I have ever been this happy.”
Ellis, the second home-grown player signed by Sporting Kansas City, signed a three-year commitment to the Comets. He spent seven years with Sporting KC, until 2018 when he played for the Chicago Fire and D.C. United.
Ellis’ best year was 2015 when he scored four goals as one of Sporting KC’s starting center backs.
“Kevin is a tremendous player,” Roentved said. “He will be able to make an immediate impact with the team and I think the fans will love watching him wearing the Comets uniform for years to come.
“We talked and he told me he did not want to see what other teams might offer – he is a Kansas City native and he wants to play for the Kansas City Comets and we are so thankful he feels that way. You can look for him in a uniform Saturday when we play Milwaukee.”
Ellis will be a boost to the Comets defense, which currently has a plus-11 goal differential and .600 penalty-kill percentage, fifth best in the league.
The Comets will be wearing special pink jerseys Saturday to honor The Ali Kemp Educational Foundation. Fans can bid on the jerseys in a special online auction through the Live Source App.
Alvarez will not be wearing his familiar No. 23, which now belongs to Ignacio “Nacho” Flores.
“Nacho is No. 23 and I am fine with that,” Alvarez said. “I will be wearing No. 28 – and I am proud to be wearing a Comets jersey that I told them I would wear any number they gave me!”