What: MISL championship Game 1
When: Thursday, 8:35 p.m.
Site: Independence (Mo.) Events Center
Outlook: Surprise! Most people expected to see the two-time defending league champion Milwaukee Wave playing against the Blast for the Major Indoor Soccer League title, but the Comets upset Milwaukee in the semifinals.
After dropping the first game in overtime last Thursday, Missouri came back to stun the Wave on Sunday in the second game, 9-8, and then advanced to the championship series with a 5-4 win in the deciding mini game.
The Blast (23-5) won two straight games against the Chicago Soul, advancing to its third straight championship series with a clinching 10-7 win in Baltimore on Saturday.
With the Wave out of the way, the door is opened considerably wider for the top-seeded Blast to bring a seventh indoor soccer title to Baltimore and the first since 2009. The Comets, a .500 team in the regular season that finished eight games behind the Blast, don't have the same experience or swagger as the Wave.
But Missouri does have a talented group the Blast won't overlook.
Forward Byron Alvarez (74 points), midfielder Vahid Assadpour (70) and defender Leo Gibson (67) were fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively, in the league in scoring, and the Comets showed depth when Coady Andrews led the team with eight points in the semifinals.
The Blast counters with its own offensive depth, a much stingier defense than the Comets and significant championship experience. Baltimore took three of four against the Comets in the regular season, coming away with a dominating 27-13 win at Missouri in the teams' last meeting on Feb. 10.
Machel Millwood leads the Blast in scoring with 59 points, but it has been veteran Adauto Neto, rookie Lucas Roque and defender Ptah Myers who have been supplying many of the big goals down the stretch. A concern going into the season was at goalie, but rookie William Vanzela has turned it into a strength with a 16-5 record and 8.72 points against average.
The second game of the championship series is set for 7:35 p.m. Saturday at 1st Mariner Arena. If the teams split the two games, a 15-minute mini game would immediately follow Game 2 to determine this season's champion.
Kelly, Lookingland honored
From Sun staff reports
Blast coach Danny Kelly is the Major Indoor Soccer League Coach of the Year, and Mike Lookingland received Defender of the Year honors, the MISL announced Wednesday.
Kelly takes the Coach of the Year honors for the third time in four seasons as his team prepares for the first game of the title series tonight against the Missouri Comets. He led the Blast to the top of the MISL standings after opening the season 9-0 and finishing with a six-game winning streak, edging the Milwaukee Wave for the regular-season championship.
Lookingland, the Blast's captain, was named Defender of the Year for the second consecutive season after a standout two-way campaign during which he recorded 49 points, 35 blocks, four power-play goals and only 16 fouls.
The MISL Most Valuable Player award went to Doug Miller of the Rochester Lancers. Milwaukee's Luan Oliveira and Nick Vorberg received Rookie of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year honors, respectively.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun