Tim Melia out, Andrew Dykstra to start in goal for Sporting KC at Houston

Tim Melia - Sporting Kansas City - injured - trainers examining

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tim Melia will not be available for Sporting Kansas City’s Western Conference Knockout Round match at the Houston Dynamo on Thursday (9:30 pm ET; UniMas in the US, TSN4, TVAS in Canada), manager Peter Vermes told reporters on Tuesday.

Backup goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra will get his fourth straight start in place of Melia, who injured his hamstring in SKC’s 1-1 draw at Minnesota on Oct. 7.

“Tim's not – we're not going to try to hurry Tim up to get him in there with him not being ready and maybe having a setback,” manager Peter Vermes told reporters on Tuesday as his club prepared for their seventh straight postseason and their fourth consecutive away date in the Knockout Round. “He's just not ready yet.”

Melia was perhaps the best goalkeeper in MLS in the regular season, allowing the fewest goals (24) and recording the best save percentage (78.4 percent) of any regular ‘keeper in the league.  

And while Dykstra is still looking for his first victory of the year after conceding five goals in three-plus matches, Vermes said he's still confident in the 'keeper's ability to earn a win in Thursday's do-or-die date with the Dynamo.

Now in his eighth year in MLS, the 31-year-old Dykstra has already faced the Dynamo twice in the closing weeks of the regular season. He suffered a 2-1 away loss on Oct. 11 on a late own goal but earned a clean sheet at home four days later in a scoreless draw in the season’s penultimate match.

“He's showed incredible leadership, incredible confidence and experience on the field,” Vermes said. “Other than one goal that's gone in, I would say, outside of that, everything else he's been excellent at. His distribution has been good. His reading of the game has been really good.

“He's locked in and he's given a good level of confidence to the team, for sure.”