Melia finished the afternoon with four saves, none of which were bigger than his denial of Mexican international Marco Fabian from the penalty spot just before halftime.
The stop proved decisive in what became Melia’s 40th career regular-season shutout as Sporting claimed all three points in their MLS home opener.
As tough as stopping a penalty kick is—just 16.7 percent of penalties were saved during the 2018 MLS regular season—Melia has oftentimes made the art look easy. Case in point: his heroics between the posts in recent years.
Since the start of 2016, Melia has saved eight penalties in MLS regular season matches. No other goalkeeper has more than five.
Incredibly enough, Melia has saved eight of 18 penalties faced over the last four regular seasons. Among keepers with at least five penalty kicks faced during that time, his 0.44 save percentage on spot kicks blows away a crop of second-placed goalkeepers tied on 0.33.
MLS REGULAR SEASON: MOST PENALTIES SAVED SINCE 2016
|Tim Melia||Sporting KC||8||18|
|Nick Rimando||Real Salt Lake||5||15|
|Zach Steffen||Columbus Crew SC||4||12|
NY Red Bulls
Orlando City SC
With Sunday’s MLS fixture in the books, Melia and Sporting will switch gears Thursday as the club battles Panamanian side Independiente in the decisive second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals. Faced with a 2-1 deficit, Manager Peter Vermes’ men can win the series with a 1-0 triumph or a multi-goal victory.
Tickets for the pivotal matchup are included in Season Ticket Member packages and remain available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting aims to reach the semifinals of North America’s most prestigious club competition for the first time.