Tim Melia. A true inspiration story.
During this past Saturday’s dramatic draw against the Portland Timbers, a controversial call came in the 74th minute, when Melia allegedly tripped Timber’s forward Fanendo Adi inside the box resulting in the Timbers being rewarded a penalty kick. Though none of that mattered, as Melia deflected Diego Valeri’s PK to keep the tied score at a standstill. This was his third penalty kick save of the season. As for the allegations, Melia remained diplomatic stating:
“I got to see it again. I can’t put the team in that situation if there was contact or if there was not. I can’t even give the ref the opportunity to make a call in a game that is that close.“
Despite the call, with the help of Melia’s fast reactions, Sporting KC is currently in first place in the Western Conference and extended their home unbeaten streak to 18 in last night’s victory.
Melia’s consistency in the box has also earned him national recognition across the league, tempting fans to call for Bruce Arena’s attention for a potential call up to the USMNT.
“I appreciate our fan support. It’s something that is so important to me as a player and to the rest of our team. Our organization supports us from top to bottom. Our environment at the stadium is electric and those are all things are important during our games and to be involved with a club like this. Right now its not a reality and the only thing I’m focused on is the season and [Sporting KC].”
Following Sporting KC’s venture to San Jose on June 17th, Melia earned a new career high of nine clean sheets. Tim is close to breaking Tony Meola’s record of 16 clean sheets.
Although, he is currently sitting in fourth for saves behind Bill Hamid, Melia is ranked first in shutouts (nine), goals against average (0.68) and save percentage (81.9). In addition, to leading the league with three penalty kick saves this season.
When asked about his current statistics, Melia was modest in telling the press:
“I think PKs are a little bit of a rhythm thing. The team you’re going against, the consistency of the guys who take the penalties, if you’re facing a guy who takes a ton of penalties, maybe it leans a little bit more to the goalie side. I don’t want to hold that statistic. That’s for sure.“
Manager Peter Vermes also chimed in on Melia’s athleticism:
“The great thing about Tim is he’s very concentrated. He’s not easy to get past. Whether it’s through the run of play or a penalty kick, he did a tremendous job and I love the fact he stood up and read the whole thing from the very beginning.”
Kicking off a successful career, it is hard to believe that the Great River native was once a league pool goalkeeper. Melia first arrived in Kansas City in 2013 to back up then injured Eric Kronberg and Jon Kempin and he played the role very well, earning him a contract in December of that year. Since his signing, Melia has become a staple on the back line.
Even though the journey was rough, he is “grateful“ as he discussed in an interview by ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle. That interview reflects on his life as a pool goalkeeper to earning a starting position.
Sporting KC will go on to play against the Philadelphia Union on Thursday (July 6th) and the FC Dallas in the USOC Quarterfinals five days later. They have home field advantage for both matches. The same home field where they have gone unbeaten in 18.