"Beyond The Box Score" is a weekly series presented by Compass Minerals that takes a statistical dive into every Sporting match, bringing to light the intriguing numbers and factoids that don't appear in the typical box score. To visit the series archive, click here.
Over the course of 90 minutes on Sunday night, a Disney fairytale appeared to be unfolding around Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal. The 21-year-old, who had earned his club debut in the MLS is Back Tournament one week earlier, had made eight saves to help the short-handed Whitecaps hold Sporting Kansas City to a 0-0 draw and force a penalty shootout in Sunday's Round of 16 encounter at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World.
The plot was written and the stars had seemingly aligned for an unlikely upset. But the goalkeeper at the opposite end of the pitch wasn't buying the script.
Enter 34-year-old veteran Tim Melia, who has yet to lose on penalty kicks in his 13-year professional career. Sporting's longtime goalkeeper offered a prompt reminder that his penalty-saving exploits remain second to none, as he thwarted two Vancouver penalties in a shootout that Sporting won 3-1. The result moved Melia's career shootout record to a perfect 5-0.
TIM MELIA IN PENALTY SHOOTOUTS
(PROFESSIONAL CLUB CAREER)
|Date||Team||Opponent||Competition||PK Result||PK Saves|
|06/30/2009||Rochester Rhinos||Columbus Crew SC||U.S. Open Cup||W 5-3||1|
|06/29/2010||Charleston Battery||Chicago Fire||U.S. Open Cup||W 3-0||1|
|09/30/2015||Sporting KC||Philadelphia Union||U.S. Open Cup||W 7-6||2|
|08/09/2017||Sporting KC||San Jose Earthquakes||U.S. Open Cup||W 5-4||2|
|07/26/2020||Sporting KC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||MLS is Back Tournament||W 3-1||2|
Melia's penalty kick success extends beyond just shootouts, as only 14 of 24 spot kicks have been successful against him throughout his MLS career. The keeper's 10 penalty saves in the last five seasons are most in MLS and five more than any other player. Among goalkeepers who have faced 10 penalties in the regular season, Melia has the lowest goals conceded percentage in MLS history at .583.
Sunday also marked the continuation of Melia's impressive MLS shutout streak dating back to the club's 2020 opener in Vancouver on Feb. 29. His 406-minute run without allowing a goal in MLS action is the fifth-longest in team history and just nine minutes away from becoming the third-longest.
LONGEST SHUTOUT STREAKS BY SPORTING GOALKEEPERS
(ALL MLS COMPETITIONS)
Melia's heroics between the posts ultimately gave Sporting the quarterfinal berth it deserved. Manager Peter Vermes' men dominated Vancouver from wire to wire, laying siege on Hasal and Co. throughout the night. Sporting ended the game with a remarkable 36 shot attempts, tied for the fourth-most by a single team in an MLS match all-time.
MOST SHOTS BY A SINGLE TEAM IN AN MLS MATCH
(REGULAR SEASON, PLAYOFFS AND MLS IS BACK)
|43||San Jose Earthquakes||08/24/2019||W 3-1 vs. Vancouver|
|38||NY/NJ MetroStars||06/03/1998||L 1-2 vs. Tampa Bay|
|37||FC Dallas||10/29/2005||T 2-2 vs. Colorado|
|T 0-0 vs. Vancouver
L 1-2 at Miami
T 0-0 vs. D.C. United
Among the chief orchestrators of Sporting's ceaseless attack was Scottish international Johnny Russell, who was highly involved during the 67 minutes he was on the pitch. Despite playing just three quarters of the match, he became the third player during Major League Soccer's Opta era (2010-present) to amass five shot attempts and 10 chances created in one game. The first two to accomplish the feat? Portland Timbers talisman Diego Valeri in 2014 and Toronto FC star Alejandro Pozuelo in 2019.
PLAYERS WITH 5 SHOTS + 10 CHANCES CREATED IN AN MLS MATCH (OPTA ERA SINCE 2010)
|Diego Valeri||09/07/2014||9||13||Portland Timbers||T 3-3 vs. San Jose|
|Alejandro Pozuelo||05/15/2019||7||12||Toronto FC||T 0-0 vs. D.C. United|
|Johnny Russell||07/26/2020||5||10||Sporting KC||T 0-0 vs. Vancouver|
Lastly, a milestone of longevity fell to 24-year-old forward Daniel Salloi in the late stages of Sunday's clash. With his 80th-minute introduction, he became the first Sporting Kansas City Homegrown Player to log 100 appearances for the club in all competitions.
MOST SPORTING KC APPEARANCES BY HOMEGROWN PLAYERS
|25||17||Erik Palmer-Brown||2013-2015; 2017|
Having escaped Vancouver, Sporting Kansas City has progressed to the MLS is Back Tournament Quarterfinals where a showdown with the Philadelphia Union beckons on Thursday night. The quarterfinal encounter between two of Major League Soccer's most impressive teams at the MLS is Back Tournament will kick off at 7 p.m. CT with live broadcasts on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, the ESPN app, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM. Sporting KC Live presented by Michelob Ultra will provide 60 minutes of pregame coverage from 6-7 p.m. as well as a 30-minute postgame show.