It didn’t take long for Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia to make history in 2020.
Less than two months after signing a contract extension with the club, and just two games into the campaign, Melia recorded his team-record 46th regular season shutout in Sporting’s 4-0 demolition of the Houston Dynamo on March 7.
As it turns out, that milestone could be the first of several highlights for the veteran goalkeeper this year as Major League Soccer’s regular season resumes in home markets later this month.
Melia, who turned 34 in May and has served as Sporting’s first-choice keeper since 2015, has enjoyed an excellent start to 2020 as evidenced by a number of metrics. At the forefront, he boasts a 3-0-0 record as a starter with a 0.26 goals against average in regular season play. He also ranks second in MLS with a save percentage of .875 and boasts a 316-minute regular season shutout streak dating back to Feb. 29, the longest active run in the league.
That’s not to mention the fact that Sporting sits atop the early Western Conference standings with 12 points and a 4-1-0 record, one point behind Columbus Crew SC in the Supporters’ Shield race.
Those regular season stats also neglect his game-changing performance in a shootout win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16. Melia made five saves in regulation before producing two decisive penalty stops to send Sporting through to the quarterfinals. In doing so, Melia improved to a perfect 5-0 in penalty shootouts during his professional career and further cemented his status as the penalty-saving king of MLS.
Need more evidence? 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.
At a club with such a rich history of goalkeepers—fans fondly remember the likes of Tony Meola, Jimmy Nielsen and Kevin Hartman—Melia leads the team’s all-time charts in the following goalkeeping categories:
- Wins in regular season (65) and all competitions (77)
- Shutouts in regular season (47) and all competitions (56)
- Appearances in regular season (151) and all competitions (176)
Melia looks likely to build upon these totals in the weeks and months to come. MLS announced on Saturday the league’s plans to complete a 23-game regular season by Nov. 8, followed by the 18-team Audi MLS Cup Playoffs from Nov. 20 to Dec. 12. In conjunction with the announcement, Sporting released the schedule for its next six league games from Aug. 21 to Sept. 13, including three home fixtures at Children’s Mercy Park.
Should his imperious form continue into the late summer and fall, Melia stands a legitimate chance at claiming MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors for the second time, having won the award in 2017. What will remain of utmost importance to him, however, is the success of the team. Melia helped the side to four consecutive playoff appearances from 2015-2018, and after falling short in 2019, Sporting will view the busy slate of upcoming matches as an opportunity to right the ship, contend for a high seed and return to the postseason.
Sporting's campaign will resume Aug. 21 at Minnesota United FC in a clash of the West's top two teams. Manager Peter Vermes' men will then return to Children's Mercy Park on Aug. 25, facing Houston in the first game at Children's Mercy since the sides met 171 days earlier. The remainder of the regular season schedule is expected to be announce in the near term.