Sporting Kansas City announced the club’s 2017 awards on Friday night at Children’s Mercy Park during Pitch Black, presented by Jaguar and Land Rover of Merriam and Aristocrat Motors. Votes from Sporting KC players, media members and supporters determined the following award winners:
- Most Valuable Player, presented by Jaguar and Land Rover of Merriam: Goalkeeper Tim Melia
- Offensive Player of the Year, presented by Ivy Investments: Forward Gerso
- Defensive Player of the Year, presented by Firedoor Solutions: Defender Ike Opara
- Newcomer of the Year: Midfielder Ilie
- Goal of the Year, presented by Rosnet: Defender Ike Opara
In addition, Sporting Kansas City selected the following award winners:
- Golden Boot, presented by Henry Wurst, Inc.: Forward Gerso
- The Neal and Jeanne Patterson Humanitarian of the Year: Defender Seth Sinovic
- Swope Park Rangers Most Valuable Player, presented by Henry Wurst, Inc.: Midfielder James Musa
- Bob Gansler Academy Player of the Year: Goalkeeper Alec Wons
- Sporting Club Network Member of the Year, presented by Price Chopper: Sporting Iowa
Melia has enjoyed his best campaign as a professional, boasting a 0.78 goals against average that ranks lowest in MLS history among goalkeepers to play at least 30 games in a season. He also leads MLS with three saved penalty kicks and places second with 10 league shutouts. Melia owns a 16-7-12 record as a starter in all competitions this year, including five starts in Sporting KC’s run to the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title.
Gerso sits atop the Sporting KC goal charts in 2017, scoring 10 times in all competitions with eight goals in MLS action. The 26-year-old Bissau Guinean has also added three assists during his first season in Kansas City and ranks among the MLS leaders in dribbles completed and touches in the opponent’s box.
Opara has effectively anchored the stingiest defense in MLS, boasting a 16-5-12 record as a starter in all competitions. Sporting KC has a 0.70 goals against average and 13 shutouts in the 33 matches he has played, including three clean sheets in the club’s successful Open Cup campaign. The center back has scoring four goals in all competitions and ranks second among MLS defenders in recoveries. Now in his fifth season with Sporting KC, Opara is also the club’s Goal of the Year winner for his spectacular, game-winning bicycle kick in a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy on June 24.
Ilie has served vitally as Sporting KC’s holding midfielder throughout the year, having played every minute in 36 of the club’s 37 matches in all competitions. The 26-year-old Spaniard has excelled in his first MLS season, leading the league in total passes while ranking fourth among midfielders in interceptions. He has also tallied three assists and contributed to 13 clean sheets across all competitions.
Sinovic was named the Neal and Jeanne Patterson Humanitarian of the Year for playing a major role in several Victory Project initiatives this season. In addition to participating in fundraisers across his hometown, Sinovic has made monthly visits to Children’s Mercy Hospital and raised awareness for the Victory Project through TV and radio appearances. He is also a loyal supporter of Braden’s Hope, another organization committed to the fight against childhood cancer.
Musa lands Swope Park Rangers MVP honors in his first season with the USL side. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder, who sits near the top of the USL charts in successful passes and passing accuracy, has helped lead SPR to a second straight appearance in the USL Playoffs with 21 starts. Musa’s strong performances landed him a contract with Sporting KC on Aug. 11, and he made his MLS debut the following day with a start against Seattle Sounders FC.
Wons is currently in his fourth year with the Sporting KC Academy, having joined the organization in 2014. The Lee’s Summit, Missouri native has appeared in every game for the U-19s this season after previously competing at the U-16 and U-18 levels. In 2016, he helped the Sporting KC U-18s advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs for the first time in program history. Wons will play college soccer at Marquette University next fall.