Comets to host first MASL All-Star Game in Independence

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Kansas City Comets player/coach Leo Gibson celebrates with fans after scoring a goal in a game last season at Cable Dahmer Arena. Gibson's team will take part in the Central Cup preseason tournament along with St. Louis, Wichita and Dallas in December.

A good week just got better for Kansas City Comets player/coach Leo Gibson.

On Wednesday, the team announced that former Sporting Kansas City starter Kevin Ellis, who has played two partial seasons with the Comets, had signed for a complete 2020-21 campaign.

On Thursday, the Major Arena Soccer League announced it will hold its MASL All-Star Game Dec. 5 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, with the Comets and Tacoma Stars serving as hosts.

The 7 p.m. game will be played in front of approximately 1,600 socially distanced fans. Tickets are available to the public now by going to ticketmaster.com or calling the Comets ticket office at 888-8COMETS.

“This is going to be the first all-star game in the history of the MASL and we are so proud that it is going to be in our home arena,” Gibson said as he took part in a Zoom interview session with many of the principal parties involved. “We are going to be announcing the players on the East and West teams over the next few weeks, and all the players I have talked to are very excited.”

Gibson will coach the East team and Tacoma’s player/coach Nick Perera will coach the West team.

“All-star games are usually played midway through a season or at the end of a season, but I like it that we are going to kick off the 2020-21 season with this all-star game,” Perera said.

“It’s the perfect place and the perfect time to start an MASL all-star tradition. And with Leo coaching the East team, we better be ready. He has made a career of being the smartest player on the field, and I know he will have his team prepared and ready to go.”

Lane Smith owns both the Stars and Comets and said the idea of an all-star game came during a conversation with the Stars’ player/coach.

“I really respect all the people on the Comets’ staff who are making this happen,” Smith said, “because Nick and I were talking about when the season is going to start.

“And we somehow start talking about an all-star game. And he asks about it and I say, ‘Yeah, we can make this happen.’ And we’re making it happen and Kansas City is the perfect place to play the game.”

Comets vice president of business operations Scott Levinson said he and his staff are working on the logistics of the game.

“We’re talking to people at the arena, we’re talking to people in Jackson County, and right now it looks like we can have 1,600 fans at the game,” Levinson said. “And we’re going to find a way that fans can watch the game from home.”

Perera was quick to add, “And we’re going to have activities in the Kansas City area and auctions to help make the fans feel more like a part of the game.”

Players will wear special all-star jerseys that will be auctioned off the night of the game.

“I am excited and proud to use Tacoma Stars and Kansas City Comets resources to produce this first all-star game,” Lane said. “This has been a rough year on all sports, and our staff, players and fans deserve a great event.”

While the game will take place in the home of the Comets, Brian Budzinski, a Comets spokesperson, said, “It’s an event for the entire league. What an exciting time, not only for the MASL but for all of Kansas City. This is an exceptional opportunity for our top players to be honored and recognized for all their unbelievable accomplishments to this game.”

Gibson said Ellis will make the Comets a better team, and Gibson can’t wait to have Ellis for an entire season.

Kansas City Comets midfielder Kevin Ellis (18) looks for an open teammate in a game last season at Cable Dahmer Arena. The former Sporting KC starter re-signed with the Comets earlier this week and on Thursday, the league announced the first MASL All-Star Game will be played at Cable Dahmer Arena on Dec. 5

The Kansas City native and former Sporting Kansas City star has recorded 24 goals and six assists in 20 games with the Comets over the past two seasons.

“We’ve been working out on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Kevin has been working with the team and looks great,” Gibson said. “I’m expecting Kevin to have an MVP-type year. He will make us a better team.”

Ellis appeared in a total of 90 games over his eight-year MLS career, spending seven seasons with Sporting Kansas City, then splitting time with the Chicago Fire and D.C. United during the 2018 campaign.