By Jimmy Carlton Sportswriter Published Feb 17, 2017 at 6:05 PM

With the Major Arena Soccer League regular season nearly over and the red-hot playoff race still undecided, the six-time world-champion Milwaukee Wave are preparing for perhaps their biggest game of the year. The Wave face the division-rival Kansas City Comets, who are just ahead of them in first place in the Central, at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, a must-win contest for the hosts.

"This is a game that will put us in the driver’s seat for not only a playoff spot but possibly taking the MASL Central Division," said head coach Giuliano Oliviero. "You’ve got Kansas City, who has been the top team the last four, five years in the league, but they are coming into our building where we’ve been playing some great soccer lately.

"We know it’s not going to be an easy game, but we’ve had another great, positive week of practice and our eyes are on the prize. We are ready for the Comets."

Milwaukee (12-6), which had a seven-game winning streak snapped in a Feb. 4 loss at Baltimore, got back on track with a home win over the Rampage last Sunday. Kansas City (13-4), which has the second-best record in the league, has won eight consecutive games. Currently, the Wave sit 1.5 games behind the Comets in the Central Division with two games to play.

Milwaukee is led by Ian Bennett, who last week was honored as the MASL Player of the Week for the second time this season and once again named to the league’s Team of the Week. Last weekend, Bennett had his sixth game of the season with at least three goals, scoring three on just five shots in the Wave’s 8-2 victory over Cedar Rapids. The win put them in postseason position, pushing them a half-game ahead of the Rampage in the tight division.

Bennett leads the team and league in points and goals with 60 and 49, both of which rank second in the league.

"I am unbelievably grateful to coach and all the players for putting confidence in me and letting me do what I do," said Bennett. "The success with me is accredited to the team first but it won't be worth it if we don't get into the playoff and win the championship."

Saturday’s game against the Comets is WWE-themed, with opportunities to meet WWE alumni Billy Gunn and Al Snow. In addition, there will be several chances for fans to win tickets to WWE Fastlane at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on March 5. More information can be found here.

Tickets for the Wave’s second-to-last game of the regular season are available here.

Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.

After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.

Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.