The Missouri Comets have now done their part to make Kansas City’s claim as America’s soccer capital more than a civic marketing slogan.
Brian Harris scored the eventual Major Indoor Soccer League championship-winning goal with 54 seconds left, lifting visiting Missouri past top seed and defending champion Baltimore 6-4 in the series-deciding minigame Sunday.
Leo Gibson received the ball with his back to the goal atop the penalty area, then sent an expertly placed heel pass to Harris for a first-touch, right-footed shot high over goalkeeper William Vanzela’s near post shoulder.
“The ball was perfectly laid there,” said Harris, who was named the MISL championship series MVP. “If anyone was making that run they would have finished it. But my eyes couldn’t have been bigger just to have the opportunity.”
Missouri’s first lead after more than 74 minutes of play Sunday came just 40 seconds after the Comets tied the minigame, when Stefan St. Louis used his right shin to redirect Lucas Rodriguez’s pass of into the goal.
And all that offense just a half-hour after Missouri scored just two goals and fell behind 15-0 shortly after halftime in a 19-4 game two loss that necessitated the dramatic 15-minute minigame.
“When it comes to those 15 minutes, there is nothing more you can say (between games) other than ‘go out and do it,’ ” Comets coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “The boys knew it and believed in themselves.
“These boys prepared for six months with heart and belief, and that’s how they finished it. It showed up at end.”
A year after being swept by the Blast in the championship series, the Comets bring home their first MISL title and a third professional indoor title for a Kansas City franchise (the defunct Kansas City Attack won National Professional Soccer League titles in 1993 and 1997).
With Sporting Kansas City’s MLS Cup win in December, two of Kansas City’s three pro soccer teams are reigning champions in their respective leagues. And the third, FC Kansas City of the National Women’s Soccer League — also coached by Andonovski — advanced to the championship game in the league’s inaugural season.
And in the postgame ceremony, Comets players and coaches danced to what has become the go-to motto for each of those KC teams.
“I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win …” they chanted while they held aloft the championship cup.