Tim Melia did it again.
Sporting KC grinded out an ugly 0-0 draw on Saturday afternoon in Saint Paul, Minnesota after playing the majority of the match a man down. The legend of Melia continues to grow as he saved the day with another Man of the Match performance.
The early stages of the match were wide open and a scoreless draw would have seemed impossible. SKC saw a flurry of chances as Minnesota United tried to whether the storm. In the ninth minute, Gadi Kinda nearly gave the visitors the lead. Graham Zusi cut the ball back across the box for a trailing Kinda, who sent a curler to the far post. But keeper Tyler Miller was able to send it out for a corner kick.
With lingering memories of last year’s Western Conference Semifinal, it was a tense match right from the start. Alan Pulido was pulled down with a horse collar tackle that kept him on the ground for an extended stoppage of play. Bakaye Dibassy was given a yellow card in the sixth minute, suspending him for the next match.
The match’s defining moment came in the 21st minute when Remi Walter was given a straight red card for a studs up tackle. The visitors would have to face the next 70 minutes a man down.
Minnesota very much enjoyed the advantage in the second half, but were unable to beat Tim Melia. The Sporting KC keeper continued his run of absolutely top class performances this year with several game changing saves. He did get help from the goalpost at one point, but when you’re on... you’re on.
This save in the 69th minute seemed to tell MNUFC, “It’s just not going to happen today.”
The match really should have been claimed by Sporting in the 64th minute. A fantastic long range pass from Johnny Russel sent Daniel Salloi off to the races. He made a clever touch to get into the box and send it over to a wide open Khiry Shelton. But Khiry made a mess of it, sending the ball way wide and taking a hit from the keeper in the process.
The final 20 minutes, plus another eight minutes of stoppage time, was a very gritty period. Minnesota United were throwing men forward. The chances were there for them. They had a couple dangerous free kicks, nine corner kicks, and a total of 23 shots.
But Tim Melia and the Sporting KC defense were able to hold on for another result on the road. The point pulls them level with Seattle Sounders at 39 points atop the Western Conference table, for at least a couple hours.
SKC finally get a full week’s rest before facing Colorado next Saturday, August 28th, at Children’s Mercy Park.