Nine years ago, I met five young men on the historic Independence Square.
We were going to take a photo of the newest sports team in town, the then Missouri Comets.
Colorful forward Byron Alvarez, gritty defender Brian Harris, rock solid midfielder Vahid Assadpour, acrobatic goalie Danny Waltman and the iconic forward and all-time scoring leader Leo Gibson met me in front of the statue of President Harry Truman, located on the east lawn of the Jackson County courthouse.
They each brought a piece of luggage, signifying a new team was moving into Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, and that core crew played such a big role in nearly a decade worth of excitement.
Gibson, who is now an assistant coach and the MASL’s scoring and assist leader this season, is the lone member still playing with the Comets, who have been a work in progress this season.
They got off to a slow start, but rebounded to win three games in a row before losing a heartbreaking 10-8 decision last Saturday to cross-state rival St. Louis in a game that saw the Comets waste a three-goal, four-assist night by Gibson.
The 7-6 Comets are a half game ahead of the Ambush in second place in the South Central Division and play host to Milwaukee at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in the team’s annual Pink Game, that will benefit the TAKE Foundation (The Ali Kemp Educational Defense Foundation). The team’s pink jerseys will be auctioned to raise money for the foundation.
“There was a time this season where I had more confidence in the boys than they had in themselves,” Comets coach Kim Roentved said, “but we are playing with much more confidence and playing as a team.
“We have some new faces on the team this year, and we are not using that as an excuse, but it took a while to learn how to play as a team.”
The Comets did not make the playoffs last season, and that is the only goal they are after this year.
“Our fans deserve to watch a winning team, a playoff team, and we are doing everything we can to bring them one,” Roentved said. “We have had some disappointing performances this season, and had some outstanding games – like our win (against previously undefeated) in Milwaukee.
“I believe the best is yet to come for our team.”
I was around when the Kansas City Comets were embraced by the entire metro area back in the 1980s. Enzo DiPede and Gino Schiraldi were as big as any member of the Royals or Chiefs, and it was a common sight to see a sold-out Kemper Arena each time the Comets played a home game.
I hope Eastern Jackson County and the metro area will embrace this new Comets team. Roentved is a proven winner, Gibson is a legend and has been one of the premier players in the league since Day 1. New owner Colin Weaver cares about the fans, his players and putting a great product on the bright, new blue turf at SEC Arena.