With each passing practice, and each new signing, the Kansas City Comets are getting closer and closer to becoming the team that new head coach Leo Gibson will take on the road for Friday’s 9:05 p.m. season opener against the Cal Express from Turlock, Calif.
The Comets have added more firepower to their artillery for their 10th anniversary season in the Major Arena Soccer League with the signings of former Major League Soccer defender and Kansas City product Ray Lee and veteran forward Ramone Palmer.
Palmer signed for three years, pending visa approval, while Lee’s deal is for one year.
“I’m very excited about the new season,” Palmer said. “For us, the offseason is always a little bit too long, so we’re just excited to get back out there and do something that we love. We have a really young, good group of guys who are working hard and fitting in well with the system and how we play as a team. I think it’s going to be a fun, exciting season.”
Palmer, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, starred for Park University in his college days and debuted for the Comets in 2016-2017. He played for the Tacoma Stars the next season before being traded back to the Kansas City last year, chipping in a career-high 14 goals for the Comets.
“I just want to do my best out there and get us the wins that we need, show up in the big games just to make a difference out there,” Palmer added. “That’s my goal, always, when I get on the field, to make a difference offensively or defensively and just to get the result that we need to go forward.”
Lee is a Park Hill High School graduate who earned All-American honors for the Trojans while also playing in Sporting Kansas City’s Development Academy. He played collegiately at Saint Louis University, where he was named to the Atlantic-10 All-Conference team as a senior. He was selected by the Philadelphia Union in the 2015 MLS Super Draft and made one appearance in the top North American league as a rookie.
He debuted for the Comets last season, making two appearances before spending the 2019 outdoor season with the Hartford Athletic of the United Soccer League under former Sporting KC goalie Jimmy Nielsen. Now he’ll play under the tutelage of teammate Leo Gibson.
“I’m very excited to play for Leo,” Lee said. “I saw we have a couple of new signings, and I’m looking forward to the season. We’ve got some good players. I love the guys. It’s always a good group of guys and good team camaraderie.”
Lee will patrol the defensive side of the field with fellow Sporting KC Academy alumnus and Atlantic-10 all-conference performer Matt Lewis. Combined with the signing of Ray Saari, the Comets have added three Kansas Citians out of the USL in recent weeks, all three of which have been contracted to MLS franchises at one time or another.
“Ray is another talented player with Kansas City roots,” Comets managing partner Brian Budzinski said. “He’s a strong-bodied defender with a very gifted left foot. We look for Ray to come in and be an integral part of our defense.
“Ramone has been working incredibly hard this offseason. I look for him to take his game to another level this year and be one of the more dynamic playmakers in the MASL.”