Kansas City Comets learn lessons from shocking exhibition loss

Bill Althaus
The Examiner/USA Today Network
Kansas City Comets midfielder James Togbah (33) is tripped up by an Omaha Kings defender during an exhibition match Saturday at Cable Dahmer Arena. The Comets lost 5-4 in overtime to the Kings, who play in the MASL's second tier.

Although there was great disappointment behind his smile, Kansas City Comets player/coach Leo Gibson tried to put a positive spin on his team's stunning loss. 

The Comets were upended 5-4 in overtime by the Omaha Kings of MASL2 Saturday night at Cable Dahmer Arena. 

"We have to use this as a lesson, a lesson in what we must never do during the regular season, and that is take an opponent for granted," Gibson said after midfielder Ali Sodal scored the golden goal game-winner for the Kings just 46 seconds into the overtime period. 

The Comets had the man advantage on the power play when the winning goal was scored by the Kings, who play in the Major Arena Soccer League's second tier. 

"We did some nice things, but not enough good things to win," Gibson added. "I was very impressed with Leisa Thetsane, one of the new faces out there tonight (who had the Comets’ first goal). I did not expect to play as much as I did tonight as I wanted to evaluate all the new players, the players who are trying to make our opening day roster. 

"And as the game remained close, I felt like I was needed on the field to help us get a win." 

Kansas City Comets player/coach Leo Gibson, left, fires a shot on goal during his team's exhibition match against the Omaha Kings Saturday at Cable Dahmer Arena. Gibson's Comets lost 5-4 in overtime to the Kings, who play in the MASL's second tier.

Trailing 4-3 with 4:40 left in regulation, Gibson entered the game as a sixth attacker. 

Two minutes later, Rian Marques, the Comets’ top goal scorer in 2020-21, scored the game-tying goal to send it into overtime. 

"We all felt good, confident, going into overtime," Gibson said, "but the ball did not bounce our way tonight. There are so many things we can take from this game, so many things we can study and work on to make sure it does not happen again." 

Kansas City’s roster included seven players who weren't on the roster last year, and 11 returners from last season, including Gibson. Most of the familiar players, who have been practicing Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the SoccerDome, live in the metro area in the offseason. 

New Kansas City Comets midfielder Leisa Thetsane (4) fires a shot on goal during an exhibition match against the Omaha Kings Saturday at Cable Dahmer Arena. The Comets lost 5-4 in overtime to the Kings, who play in the MASL's second tier.

"I live in Blue Springs, so I make most of the team practices," forward Nick McDonald said, "and I think it's an understatement to say we are disappointed by the outcome. We're not making any excuses, we're just going to get back to work Monday and work hard to be ready for the season." 

James Togbah, who scored a third-quarter goal to tie it 3-3 for the Comets, flew in from his home in Texas to play in the exhibition game. 

"Mentally this game will help all of us," Togbah said. "But it still hurts. We thought we would come into the game and play well and win. It was much closer than any of us anticipated and we did not play well. 

"But like many of the players, I have not been practicing with my teammates because I live in Texas. Once we get back, and everyone starts practicing, we will make sure we will not suffer another loss like this." 

Lou Misner played the entire game in goal for the Comets. Starter Nicolau Neto did not dress and backup Mark Saxby was at the arena but did not play. 

Marques finished with a goal and an assist on Felipe Abreu’s goal that tied it 2-2 in the second quarter. 

Kansas City Comets midfielder Mike De Silva, right, tries to volley a shot over Omaha Kings defender Eduardo Suarez (11) during an exhibition match Saturday at Cable Dahmer Arena. The Comets lost 5-4 in overtime to the Kings, who play in the MASL's second tier.