The Full 90

Comets have eyes on the prize

Professional boxers would have been proud of Missouri Comets coach Kim Roentved’s trash-talking abilities.

A news conference highlighting the championship series of the Major Indoor Soccer League — which begins at 7:35 Thursday night with the Missouri Comets hosting the Baltimore Blast at the Independence Events Center — took on the feel of a staged boxing promotion when Roentved stepped to the dais Wednesday.

Claiming the role of the challenger, Roentved asserted the surging Comets as a contender for their first MISL championship. Top-seeded Baltimore, meanwhile, is seeking its sixth title, and the Blast is playing in the championship series for the third consecutive season.

The two-game series continues Saturday in Baltimore. If the teams split the first two games, a mini-game will be played Saturday in Baltimore.

“Although you may be the favorite,” Roentved told Baltimore coach Danny Kelly. “I swear to you that I would love to kick your (butt).”

The line prompted laughs from the general public, invited to attend Wednesday’s news conference, and it was certainly mentioned in good nature.

But there was also a purpose behind it. After knocking off the two-time defending champion Milwaukee Wave in dramatic fashion, Roentved said he’s looking to instill confidence in a team that finished the regular season 13-13.

Missouri defender Leo Gibson, who was recognized Wednesday as a MISL first-team selection, insisted confidence isn’t a problem after the way the Comets finished off the Wave. Down 1-0 in the series, they used Gibson’s last-minute goal to win the second game of the series and force a mini-game, and they prevailed there when leading scorer Bryon Alvarez netted a goal with just 5 seconds remaining.

“We’re definitely in the same high spirit,” Gibson said. “Nothing has changed. We’re ready to carry on that same momentum into the weekend.”

Baltimore led the league in scoring by a wide margin this season with 379 points, even though it had no players finish among the Top 10 in scoring, a credit to the team’s depth.

“We have to stay patient on defensively because they have a lot of guys capable of scoring, not just one or two,” Roentved said.

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