The Kansas City Comets announced this week that they have signed free-agent defender Chad Vandegriffe to a three-year contract. Vandergriffe has been one of the best defenders in Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) for the last few years. He was the 2021-2022 MASL Defensive Player of the Year and twice (2021-22 and 2022-23) on the MASL Elite Six first team.
Vandegriffe grew up outside of St. Louis where he started his professional career with the St. Louis Ambush indoor team earning a rookie team recognition. He also played for St. Louis FC in USL before moving to the Milwaukee Wave. He helped the Wave win a championship in his four years with them before joining Florida during the Covid season.
The Florida Tropics were forced to suspend operations for the upcoming season and their players were made free agents. Vandegriffe initially thought there was going to be a dispersal draft and hoped that Kansas City would be in his future. Instead of a draft, the players became free agents.
“Obviously everything was pretty crazy,” Vandegriffe explained to the KC Soccer Journal. “We thought there was going to be a draft and I thought, okay, I don’t really have to think too hard. But in the back of my head, I’m thinking I’d love to go to Kansas City. And then when they made us all free agents, I was like perfect. I was thinking KC, KC, and then Stefan (Stokic) called. I was just hoping we could get something done because deep down, that’s where I wanted to be. So I’m really happy that it worked out on both sides.”
Vandegriffe knew why he wanted to play for the Comets. “I enjoyed playing there (in Kansas City). I just love the atmosphere, the fan base, it’s pretty incredible to play in front of them and that’s something that keeps me going.”
“I think I was looking at the fit and I think it’s a great fit for me,” Vandegriffe added. “I like the direction that the team’s going.”
It helps that he has heard nothing but positives about playing in Kansas City and how well the team is treated. His former teammate in Florida Zach Reget is with the Comets and he was also on a team with Ramone Palmer in The Soccer Tournament. Palmer and Vandegriffe made it to the semifinals before losing to the eventual champion.
“Just since the news broke, a lot of current players have been reaching out to me, congratulating me, just sending messages. It just proves that this is a good spot for me.”
Kansas City’s newest defender is looking forward to meeting the fans and getting to know them. He had this to say to the fans, “Please keep coming out and supporting us. Your dedication is motivating and a big reason I’m heading to KC.”
For Vandegriffe, it is a bonus that he is not far from his home across the state so that his family can come to watch him play. That was important to him but he also acknowledged he may have ruffled some feathers by not returning to St. Louis to play.
What does it mean for the Comets?
While the Comets have had some excellent defenders, bringing one of the best in the league to Kansas City can only help new coach Stefan Stokic. Vandegriffe is second all-time in blocked shots with 240 and 54 just last season. He joins John Sosa (fourth all-time in blocked shots), Ray Lee, and James Togbah on the backline.
The Comets were middle of the pack on offense and defense in the 2022-23 season and just made the playoffs. With the addition last season of Reget and the addition of Vandegriffe this year, the Comets have upped their roster to compete with any team in the league and should deliver more consistent results.