It's no secret that Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia is amidst his best season as a professional.
Sunday offered a profound reiteration of that storyline.
As the match highlights above will indicate, Manager Peter Vermes' men could have taken more than a point in Sunday's back-and-forth 1-1 draw at Columbus Crew SC. They also might have come away with nothing if not for Melia's timely heroics.
Sporting Kansas City's gloveman made four saves, including multiple stops of the jaw-dropping variety, to help his side move within three points of first place in the Western Conference. Heading into the final month and a half of the regular season, Melia has built a resume that puts him in clear contention to win his first MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honor.
The table below illustrates how Melia stacks up among 2017 goalkeepers, also comparing his numbers to the Kansas City and MLS record-holder for that respective category.
TIM MELIA: 2017 MLS REGULAR SEASON
|GAA||0.77||1st||0.79 - Jimmy Nielsen (2012)||0.62 - Kevin Hartman (2010)|
|Shutouts||10||1st||16 - Tony Meola (2000)||16 - Tony Meola (2000)|
|PK saves||3||1st||3 - Tim Melia (2017)||4 - Nick Rimando (2014)|
|Save %||79.8||1st||79.6 - Tony Meola (2000)||82.5 - Matt Pickens (2006)|
The next table might be even more impressive. This chart ranks the top goalkeepers based on a simple formula: goals conceded minus expected goals conceded. The statistics are generated by ASA Database, and fans can click here to view a variety of expected-goal statistics dating back to 2011.
In short, Melia has conceded almost 12 fewer goals this season than what is expected based on opponents' quality of scoring opportunities. Hence his -11.8 value in the far right column. No other goalkeeper comes close, as Luis Robles ranks second at -3.2.
GOALS CONCEDED VS. EXPECTED GOALS CONCEDED
2017 MLS REGULAR SEASON (through Sept. 6)
|Matt Van Oekel||RSL||2||0||0.8||-0.8|
Melia and Sporting Kansas City now look forward to a four-game homestand, where the club boasts a 10-0-6 record across all competitions this season. In those 16 home games at Children's Mercy Park, Melia has a 0.56 goals against average, nine shutouts and an 80.0 save percentage. It was also the venue where Melia saved two penalty kicks in a dramatic shootout win over the San Jose Earthquakes in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals on Aug. 9.
Sporting KC's next home test comes Saturday against the upstart New England Revolution, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. CT and tickets available at SeatGeek.com.