Sporting Kansas City’s Tim Melia – a 31-year old native of Long Island – has powered the league’s best defense through the first five months of the season. As we dig into the Audi Player Index numbers, a story of Melia’s strengths begins to emerge.
Among goalkeepers with more than five starts, only Philadelphia’s Andre Blake (443 points) boasts a higher average Audi Player Index score than Melia’s 423. Additionally, Melia’s average far outpaces the league average for 300 points.
Melia turned in his best performance on May 20 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite a 2-0 loss, Melia buoyed a patchwork lineup by stopping a Fredy Montero penalty kick (670 points) and notching five saves.
Melia stands alone among goalkeepers with a 40.9 percent winning percentage in 2017, including a league-best nine shutouts. His save percentage of 78.8 percent is tops among goalkeeper who have faced at least 10 shots this season.
Of course, no goalkeeper is an island. Sporting KC’s starting defensive unit of Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Ike Opara and Seth Sinovic have displayed a cohesiveness acquired through years of playing together. Along with Melia, the group of five have been easily the best defensive unit in the league, allowing just 17 goals in 22 matches.
Melia’s mettle will be put to the test once again on Sunday as Sporting KC kicks off its August slate against Atlanta United (8 pm ET; FS1, FOX Deportes in US | TSN2 in Canada).