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Melia and Opara Named to Best XI

Sporting KC goalkeeper and defender named to league’s Best XI.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Sporting KC Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Two Sporting Kansas City players have been named to this year’s MLS Best XI team that was announced last night on ESPN. Goalkeeper Tim Melia and defender Ike Opara were both named to the team after both won their individual position awards earlier in November. Melia and Opara helped lead a Sporting defense that allowed a league low 29 goals, eight fewer than the next closest team.

Melia lead all goalkeepers in the league with a goals against average of .78 and recorded 10 shutouts a career high. He also set a career high for appearances (31) and wins (12). Melia won the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year in a land slide, earning 46% of the player vote, 49% of the club vote, and 55% of the media vote for the award. Not bad for a former MLS pool goalkeeper.

Opara’s selection is also richly deserved, especially given his injury history over the course of his career. Considered a future national team center back out of college, injuries have derailed his career, but in 2017 he set career highs for appearances (30), minutes played (2,700), and tied a career high with three goals. Like Melia, Opara won his position’s player of the year, beating out Vancouver’s Kendall Waston and Toronto’s Justin Morrow. While the vote was closer than Melia’s, Opara still averaged 29% of the vote across all three of the voting groups.