Comets ready to host MASL stars

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
With Milwaukee's Ian Bennett, left, trailing, Comets player/coach Leo Gibson takes a shot on goal in an MASL playoff game against the Wave in 2019. Gibson, as the player coach, will be teammates with Bennett on the East squad as the Comets host the MASL All-Star game Saturday at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.

Kansas City Comets coach Leo Gibson can’t wait for Saturday night’s first-ever Major Arena Soccer League All-Star Game, which will be played at Cable Dahmer Arena.

Five members of the Comets will join their player/coach on the East squad, and for the first time, he will be teamed with Ian Bennett, a high-scoring midfielder who will represent the Milwaukee Wave, who will not play this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gibson, who will be the player/coach for the East squad, will be joined by his teammates – forward Nacho Flores, defender John Sosa, goalkeeper Nicolau Neto, defender Robert Palmer and forward Kevin Ellis.

“It will be so special to share our first MASL All-Star Game with five of my teammates from the Comets,” Gibson said following a Thursday morning Comets practice session at the SoccerDome in North Kansas City. “And it will be so exciting to play with Ian, rather than trying to come up with a plan to stop him. He really is one of the most exciting players in all of soccer and we are honored to have him on our team.”

Bennett said he can’t wait to arrive in Kansas City.

“I hear we’re having a practice at the arena Saturday morning and then we are playing that night and I am looking forward to visiting with Leo,” Bennett said by phone from his home in Milwaukee. “I have so much respect for Leo and I know he is going to have a great game plan to help the East win this game.”

But as important as a win is getting the MASL some much needed national exposure.

“We play a great brand of soccer,” Bennett said, “and this all-star game will give us the opportunity to showcase our sport with some of the best indoor players in the country playing for both teams.”

Gibson is also excited about facing former Comets goalkeeper Danny Waltman, who will be in the net for the West all-stars representing his Tacoma Stars.

“It’s always special to see Danny, and we are excited about him being on the West team,” Gibson said of his former teammate. “He is such a great friend and competitor and we always look forward to facing each other.”

Like so many of the players associated with the game, Gibson and Bennett realize that this will be the start of a season of surprises.

“With COVID you just don’t know what to expect,” Gibson said. “That is why I am so excited to go out on the field and play Saturday night.”

Added Bennett, “The Wave have decided to cancel this season, so this will be my first opportunity to play. There are a lot of question marks facing this season, but we are sure of one thing – a great all-star game Saturday night.”

MASL Stars

What: First MASL All-Star Game

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cable Dahmer Arena, Independence

Tickets: Tickets, starting at $38, available for approximately 1,600 socially distanced fans, at ticketmaster.com or call Comets ticket office at 888-8COMETS.

Live streaming: Facebook Live Pay Per View, $14.99

Rosters: 

East

Player/coach Leo Gibson, Kansas City Comets

GK William Vanzela, Baltimore Blast

GK Paulo Nascimento, St. Louis Ambush

GK Nicolau Neto, Kansas City Comets

D John Sosa, Kansas City Comets

D Darren Toby, Utica City FC

D Elton De Oliveira, Harrisburg Heat

D Axel Duarte, St. Louis Ambush

D Robert Palmer, Kansas City Comets

D James Togbah, Utica City FC

MF Nate Bourdeau, Utica City FC

MF Alex Bradley, Milwaukee Wave

MF Ian Bennett, Milwaukee Wave

MF Jeremy Ortiz, Rochester Lancers

MF Nacho Flores, Kansas City Comets

FW Max Ferdinand, St. Louis Ambush (representing Milwaukee Wave)

FW Dominic Francis, Harrisburg Heat

FW Vini Dantas, Tacoma Stars (representing Baltimore Blast)

FW Doug Miller, Rochester Lancers

FW Kevin Ellis, Kansas City Comets

FW Duduca Carvalho, St. Louis Ambush

West

Player/coach Nick Perera, Tacoma Stars

GK Danny Waltman, Tacoma Stars

GK Chris Toth, Tacoma Stars (representing Ontario Fury)

D Israel Sesay, Ontario Fury

D Guerrero Pino, San Diego Sockers

D Cesar Cerda, San Diego Sockers

D Uzi Tayou, Ontario Fury

D Cory Keitz, Tacoma Stars

D Evan McNeley, Tacoma Stars

MF Lipe Andrade, Dallas Sidekicks

MF Micheal Ramos, Tacoma Stars

MF Charlie Gonzalez, Ontario Fury

MF Brian Farber, San Diego Sockers

FW Franck Tayou, Ontario Fury

FW Kraig Chiles, San Diego Sockers

FW Brayan Aguilar, Monterrey Flash

FW Slavisa Ubiparipovic, San Diego Sockers

FW Philip Lund, Tacoma Stars