COMETS HOST UCFC FRIDAY NIGHT
The Kansas City Comets (7-1) will host Utica City FC (6-2) for a critical Eastern Conference clash at Cable Dahmer Arena on Friday evening. This matchup will be the last home game until the Comets return from a six-game road trip on February 9.
Friday's matchup will feature a Utica City team recently displaced from the top of the East by the Comets. The Comets will be motivated for several reasons, one of which is to avenge last season's overtime loss away to Utica in the Ron Newman Cup Play-In game.
The Comets offense is guided by a three-headed monster of Zach Reget, Nacho Flores and John Sosa. Reget leads the East with 22 points and 16 goals. Flores leads the East with 10 assists while Sosa has contributed seven goals and nine assists.
On the injury front, midfielder Lalo Alonso is probable (right thigh strain). Defender Robert Palmer (right knee contusion) and forward Rian Marques (right thigh strain) have both been cleared to play after picking up injuries last month.
Friday will be the first of three matches between these two sides this season. Utica hosts the Comets on January 28 before returning to Cable Dahmer Arena on March 10.
The Comets are 2-0 against Utica in regular season meetings. They won 9-6 against Utica in January 2019 in Kansas City and had a come-from-behind victory in Utica in March 2020.
Utica is managed by head coach Hewerton Moreira, who also serves as head coach of the U.S. Men's Futsal National Team. After guiding Utica back to the playoffs last season in his first year leading the Empire State franchise, Moreira is looking to challenge for the conference title this season.
Utica enters Friday on the third leg of a four-game road trip. Following Friday's contest, Utica will travel over to St. Louis for a Saturday evening matchup with the Ambush.
As they return to Kansas City for the first time in five years, Utica is eager to return to winning ways after suffering their first two losses of the season last week. They lost 9-7 away to the Milwaukee Wave last Thursday before losing another road match 10-7 against the Tacoma Stars on Sunday.
Friday's visitors have an MASL-leading 72 goals scored through eight games. Utica has numerous offensive threats but is currently led by breakout forward Ronaldinho Diniz, who has 16 points from 11 goals and five assists.
Utica had the highest-profile offseason signing as MASL's all-time leading scorer Franck Tayou moved cross-country from the Empire Strykers. The four-time MASL MVP has 14 points from seven goals and seven assists.
They also concede plenty goals, allowing the second-most goals in the conference with 53. Goalkeeper Andrew Coughlin is off to a 6-0 start, but his absence last week allowed Brian Wilkin to step in and take credit for both losses.
Utica will be without Issak Somow (lower), Nate Bourdeau (lower), Rafa Godoi (lower) and Tim Goldman (illness).