ESPY award winners will be determined through a fan vote at ESPYS.com. Voting is now underway and all categories will close when the live show starts at 7 p.m. CT on July 18 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Hosted by former professional racing driver Danica Patrick, the 2018 ESPYS will celebrate major athletic achievements, relive unforgettable moments and salute the top performers over the past year in sports. Melia and Opara are two of four nominees for Best MLS Player alongside 2017 MLS MVP Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers and 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic of the Chicago Fire.
Melia, 32, was named the 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year after posting 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-percent passing accuracy. Melia also saved three penalty kicks, one shy of the single-season league record, and started all five matches en route to Sporting KC’s 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title.
This season, Melia is tied for the MLS lead with seven shutouts and places third with a 0.93 goals against average. In addition, his 76.6 save percentage ranks first among goalkeepers with at least 10 games played.
Opara, 29, earned 2017 MLS Defender of the Year honors as the lynchpin of a Sporting KC defense that allowed just 29 goals last season, eight fewer than any other team. The center back set MLS career-highs with 30 starts and 2,700 minutes played, contributed to 11 shutouts, helped Sporting KC reach the MLS Cup Playoffs for a seventh straight year and also scored five goals in all competitions.
Opara has carried his strong form into 2018, anchoring a backline that has conceded a league-low 14 goals through 15 MLS matches. He has made 14 starts for the Western Conference leaders, who currently sit second in the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings with an 8-2-5 record and 29 points.
Melia and Opara are the second and third Sporting KC players to be nominated for an ESPY. Defender Graham Zusi was one of four finalists in 2013, the same year he helped the club to an MLS Cup championship.