Archive for Sporting KC

Melia named MLS Goalkeeper of Year

Tim Melia


Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia has been voted the 2017 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Major League Soccer announced on Thursday.

“Winning an award like this is one of the best compliments you can get as a goalkeeper,” Melia said. “It’s a huge individual accolade, and it’s one that is only possible because of the efforts of my teammates and my coaches. To gain this recognition is an incredible honor.”

“Over the course of the season, Tim was extremely consistent and came up with some really big saves,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “There is no doubt that his excellent play was one of the reasons we won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for a seventh straight year.

“Tim had a major role in our success as a team, and we are happy he got rewarded. I also give a lot of credit to our goalkeeper coach Alec Dufty, who has done a great job helping our goalkeepers improve.”

In a phenomenal third season with Sporting KC, Melia posted MLS career-highs in wins (12), shutouts (10), saves (91), starts (31) and minutes (2,759). Among goalkeepers with at least 15 regular-season appearances in 2017, he led MLS with a 0.78 goals against average, 78.4 save percentage and 69.2-percent passing accuracy. The eighth-year professional also ranked second in shutouts.

Melia helped lead the best defense in Major League Soccer, as Sporting KC’s 29 goals allowed during the regular season were eight fewer than any other team.

The 31-year-old saved three penalty kicks, one shy of the single-season league record, and his stunning finger-tip stop to deny Darlington Nagbe in a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on April 15 was nominated for MLS Save of the Year.

Melia was equally superb in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, where he started all five matches and posted three shutouts en route to his second career Open Cup title.

He made two saves in a penalty shootout victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the tournament semifinals on Aug. 9, paving the way for Sporting KC’s championship win against the New York Red Bulls on Sept. 20. Melia finished the year with a 16-7-12 record as a starter in all competitions, recording a 0.72 goals against average and 13 clean sheets.

A native of Great River, New York, Melia becomes Sporting KC’s third MLS Goalkeeper of the Year recipient.

He joins the ranks of Sporting Legend Tony Meola (2002) and former captain Jimmy Nielsen (2012), making Sporting KC the first club to have three different MLS Goalkeeper of the Year winners.

Melia garnered more than half of the votes for Goalkeeper of the Year, which consisted of ballots from active players, club technical staffs and media members who covered the league in 2017.

– Story from Sporting KC

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MLS expansion draft expected to make changes throughout soccer

The MLS Expansion Draft is coming up next month, and is expected to be a significant event with the addition of the Los Angeles Football Club.

According to information from Sporting Kansas City, the MLS Expansion Draft is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12.

It will be the first significant league-wide event for the new Los Angeles team to add players around Mexican star forward Carlos Vela.

Current MLS clubs may protect 11 players prior to the Expansion Draft, according to officials. Los Angeles may select five players from the eligible player pool. Only a single player can be drafted from any one club. The Generation Adidas and Homegrown Players are exempt from selection.

After all 22 current MLS clubs submit a protected player list, the complete list of players eligible for selection in the expansion draft will be released on Dec. 10.

Besides the expansion draft, there are many other opportunities for trading during the off season. One is the re-entry draft, starting Dec. 15.

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Melia, Opara named finalists for MLS End of Year Awards

Tim Melia


Ike Opara

Two Sporting Kansas City players were named finalists for 2017 MLS awards on Tuesday.

Tim Melia is a finalist for Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, while center back Ike Opara is a finalist for Defender of the Year.

Major League Soccer has announced the three finalists for each of the 2017 End of Year Awards, honoring the league’s top performers during the 2017 regular season. The finalists earned the most votes in polling of three voting groups: current MLS players, MLS club staff and media members who consistently covered the league in 2017.

The MLS Defender of the Year will be announced on Thursday, Nov. 9, while the Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year will be named on Thursday, Nov. 16.

Melia, 31, enjoyed his strongest season as a professional in 2017, leading MLS with a 0.78 goals against average and 78.4 save percentage among goalkeepers with at least 15 appearances.

The eight-year MLS veteran ranked second with 10 shutouts while also saving three penalty kicks, one shy of the single-season league record. Among goalkeepers with at least 30 games played in a single season, Melia’s 0.78 goals against average is the lowest in league history.

In his third year with Sporting KC, Melia boasted a 16-7-12 record as a starter in all competitions with a 0.76 goals against average. He finished the year with 13 clean sheets, including three in Sporting KC’s run to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title.
Melia also made two saves in a penalty shootout victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the Open Cup semifinals on Aug. 9.

Melia is in contention to become the third Kansas City player to be named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, following Tony Meola in 2000 and Jimmy Nielsen in 2012.

Like Melia, Opara pieced together a career year throughout 2017 while anchoring a stingy Sporting KC defense. He set or equaled regular-season career-highs in starts (30), minutes (2,700) and goals (three) while posting a 12-6-12 record as a starter and contributing to 11 shutouts.

As a team, Sporting KC finished the 2017 regular season with 29 goals conceded and a 0.85 goals against average, the fifth-lowest mark in league history.

In all competitions, Opara tallied five goals – including two en route to Sporting KC’s Open Cup championship – and helped the club keep 14 clean sheets. Sporting KC allowed just 0.71 goals per game in the 36 matches Opara played.

An eight-year MLS veteran and a member of Sporting KC since 2013, Opara is in contention to become the fourth Kansas City player to receive MLS Defender of the Year honors, following Peter Vermes (2000), Jimmy Conrad (2005) and Matt Besler (2012).

Melia and Opara are also nominees for MLS Save of the Year and Goal of the Year.

Melia’s fingertip stop to deny Darlington Nagbe in a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on April 15 is one of 16 Save of the Year finalists, while Opara’s stunning bicycle kick in a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on June 24 is one of 16 Goal of the Year finalists. Voting for Save of the Year and Goal of the Year is open at MLSsoccer.com until Nov. 14.

– Story from Sporting KC

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