Soccer

Comets are set for season opener

Andonovski
Andonovski

The last year has been a bit of blur for Missouri Comets and FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski.

He won a Major Indoor Soccer League title with the Comets in March and then started exhibition play with FC Kansas City just a few days later. By the end of August he had a National Women’s Soccer League championship to add to his resume.

Now, less than two months later he is at it again leading the Comets into their season opener at 7 on Saturday night against the Dallas Sidekicks.

Although he has not had much downtime, Andonovski said the teams’ collective success over the past year has made the transition smoother for him.

“The first thing I had to do was reset and recharge my batteries and then shift the focus,” Andonovski said. “The fact that we won the women’s season makes it easier, because we come in with more enthusiasm and more energy. The success we had with both teams this year made those challenges easier for me to overcome.”

After some off-season restructuring, the Comets are now playing in the Major Arena Soccer League. There are 23 teams from the United States and Mexico which are split among four divisions based on geography. The Comets are in the Central Division with Milwaukee, Chicago, Tulsa, St. Louis and Wichita. Each team will play 10 home games and 10 road games.

“We are very excited about the structure of the new league,” Andonovski said. “It’s going to be nice to have some of the teams we know but to have some of the teams we play be ones we’ve never seen before. That’s what is exciting in this job: getting challenged every day.”

The Comets start with two road games and then will return to the Independence Events Center to face the Milwaukee Wave at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 in their home opener.

“Winning the championship made our players better, but now we have a target on our backs,” Andonovski said. “As a team we understand the extra pressure and I think we are confident in our abilities as a team.”

The Comets went 14-6 in the regular season and then defeated the Baltimore Blast 6-4 in Game Three of the MISL Championship Series to capture the title.

The Comets return their top two leading scorers in forward Leo Gibson and midfielder Vahid Assadpour who tallied 76 and 57 points, respectively, during the regular season. Brian Harris, who led the team with 18 regular-season blocks, will anchor the defense. Harris was the Championship Series MVP.

Gibson was an All-MISL First Team selection. Harris and Assadpour landed on the second team and Max Touloute was named to the All-Rookie Team.

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com.

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