The original Major Indoor Soccer League, which began play in 1978-79 with six teams (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Houston, Cincinnati, and New York), has seen plenty of ups and downs in Kansas City. Still, when the Kansas City Comets are mentioned, folks often recall the “glory days” at Kemper Arena. However, the Comets didn’t always play in Kansas City and were not originally named the “Comets.”
The Early Years
The franchise we all know as the Kansas City Comets team began its existence in 1979 as the Detroit Lightning in the MISL. The Lightning would play just one season in Detroit at the Cobo Hall and finished with a 15-17 record.
Flemming Lund, the only player in MISL history to play every single minute in one game, was an essential part of the Lightning.
On May 28, 1980, Dr. David Schoenstadt purchased the fledgling Detroit Lightning and moved the franchise to San Francisco. The team would then change nicknames to the “Fog.”
Unfortunately, the Bay Area was unresponsive to the sport of indoor, and the Fog would suffer the same fate as the Lightning. The Fog would play just one season in San Francisco at the Cow Palace and finished 11-29.
In the spring of 1981, Dr. Schoendstadt stopped off in Kansas City while traveling to Cincinnati. By the time his visit ended, he fell in love with the area and decided to move the franchise to Kansas City before the start of the next season.
The move became official on May 5, 1981, with approval from the MISL. Tim Leiweke would become the team’s General Manager.
So the “KC Comets” kicked off in the MISL in the fall of 1981 and played their games at R. Crosby Kemper Memorial Arena (aka Kemper Arena). On October 27, 1981, the Comets made their debut with a 5-2 exhibition win at Kemper Arena in front of 14,080 fans as the sport of professional indoor soccer was introduced to Kansas City for the first time.
The Kansas City Comets played their first regular season game on November 13, 1981, and were defeated on the road by the Denver Avalanche 5-2. The Comets would make their regular season home debut on November 28, 1981, in front of a sellout crowd of 15,925 as they defeated the Wichita Wings 5-4 in overtime on a goal by Marco Antonio Abascal.
The team finished 14-30, good for 6th in the MISL Western Division, and averaged 11,058 fans per game in its first season in Kansas City.
The KC Comets enjoyed much more success in 1982-83, both on and off the field. The team finished 26-22, 4th in the MISL Western Division. The winning helped at the gates, as the team averaged 14,692 fans per game. The Comets also hosted the 1983 MISL All-Star Game at Kemper Arena on February 22. Average attendance would reach an all-time high for the Kansas City Comets in 1983-84, with 15,786 fans per game.
Local Investors Bought Kansas City Comets
On September 2, 1987, the Comets were purchased by a group of 26 local investors, which became known as Kansas City Comets Soccer Inc. The group purchased 100 percent of the club from the previous ownership group, headed by Dr. Schoenstadt.
The Comets would see their best season during 1989-90 when the team finished 2nd in the MISL Eastern Division with a 30-22 record. Following the 1989-90 campaign, the MISL dropped “I” for Indoor and became known as the Major Soccer League (MSL).
The 1990-91 season would be the team’s final season. The Kansas City Comets finished 26-26, and average attendance bottomed out at 7,103 per game.
Fans in Kansas City didn’t have to wait too long to see professional indoor soccer again. Shortly after the Comets folded following the 1990-91 season, the Atlanta Attack of the National Professional Soccer League moved to Kansas City.
The team, owned by a local group of investors headed by Don Kinkaid, officially became known as the Kansas City Attack and played its first season (1991-92) at Municipal Auditorium.
In the summer of 1992, the entire MSL/MISL folded, leaving the NPSL as the only pro indoor league in the United States. Several teams from the MSL/MISL joined the NPSL before the 1992-93 season, including long-time regional rivals St. Louis and Wichita.
Kansas City would finally capture its’ first professional indoor soccer championship when the Attack defeated the Cleveland Crunch three games to two in the best-of-five NPSL Finals.
Game Five was won at Kemper Arena in front of more than 12,000 fans. After falling in the 1996 NPSL Finals to Cleveland four games to two, the Attack would win their 2nd NPSL Championship during the 1996-97 season.
However, the Attack would get sweet revenge against Cleveland as they swept the Crunch in four games to win the title.
Before the 2001-02 season, the Attack would change their name to the “Comets” and compete for four more seasons. The Comets would cease operations after the 2004-05 season.
Pro indoor soccer in Kansas City, playing under the Attack name, had its most successful run during the 1990s under the ownership of Kincaid, winning two National Professional Soccer League Championships and competing for the title three times.
On July 12, Top Of The Arc, LLC was approved and announced by the MISL as the new ownership group for a franchise in the Kansas City area that would begin play in November 2010.
The group’s three founders include Mickey Scheetz, Edward Scheetz, and Brian Budzinski.
At the time, ownership announced that the team would be reviving the “Comets” name and would play their home games at the Independence Events Center, a 6,000-seat state-of-the-art arena that opened in the fall of 2009.
The team would play under the name “Missouri Comets” after establishing a partnership with the City of Independence, MO.
On July 28, the Missouri Comets held their first press conference when they announced plans to bring back the original Comets logo from the 1980s.
A few weeks later, former Comet and Wichita Wing’s all-star Kim Roentved was named head coach of the Kansas City Comets. Roentved would later name former Comets players Doug McLagan and Vlatko Andonowski as his Assistant Coaches.
Since the 1981-82 season, many players have come and gone from the Comets/Attack, and the teams have produced several great players wearing indoor soccer shoes.
Listed below are some of the GREATEST names in Kansas City’s pro indoor soccer history.
Greatest Kansas City Comets Players
- Laurie Abrahams 1985-86
- Dave Boncek 1986-90
- Tim Clark 1982-87
- Jeff Davis 1996-04
- Angelo Dibernardo 1985-86
- Dino Delivski 2001-05
- Enzo DiPede 1981-86
- Mike Dowler 1989-90
- David Doyle 1987-91
- Charlie Fajkus 1984-87
- Iain Fraser 1987-95
- Mark Frederickson 1983-85
- Ed Gettemeier 1986-89
- Tony Glavin 1988-91
- Jan Goosens 1986-91
- Jim Gorsek 1989-90
- Kevin Handlan 1981-85
- Damir Haramina 1985-87
- Brian Haynes 1991-96
- Gordon Hill 1983-84
- Nate Houser 1994-04
- Goran Hunjak 1994-97/98-99/01-05
- Kevin Koetters 1991-99/01-02
- Ty Keough 1985-86
- Kia 1987-91
- Tasso Koutsoukos 1983-84
- Brian Loftin 1994-98
- Greg Makowski 1985-86
- Pato Margetic 1986-87
- Alan Mayer 1986-91
- Dale Mitchell 1985-90
- Yilmaz Orhan 1981-83/1986-87
- Jon Parry 1992-1995
- Victor Petroni 1981-83
- Steve Pecher 1984-85
- Brett Phillips 1995-97
- Ben Popoola 1981-82
- Kim Roentved 1987-91
- Carlos Salguero 1981-92/84-86
- Len Salvemini 1981-82
- Zoran Savic 1982-84
- Gino Schilraldi 1982-91
- Jim Schwab 1985-91
- Manny Schwartz 1983-86
- Elson Seale 1982-85
- John Stremlau 1983-84
- Scoop Stanisic 1992-94/97-99
- Lee Tschantret 1994-97
- Tim Twellman 1983-86
- Carl Valentine 1990-91
- Greg Villa 1982-84
- Wes Wade 1993-05
- Warren Westcoat 1992-2000
Kansas City Comets Head Coaches
- Luis Dabo 1981
- Pat McBride 1981-84
- Rick Benben 1984-87
- Dave Clements 1987-91
- Keith Tozer 1991-92
- Zoran Savic 1992-1996/2000-05
- Jim Schwab 1996-2000
- Kim Roentved 2010-2013
- Vlatko Andonovski 2013–2016
- Goran Karaotzov 2016—2017
- Kim Røntved 2017—2019
- Leo Gibson 2019—Present
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!