He could thank goalkeeper Tim Melia for making sure they left Mapfre Stadium with any.
In what has become a recurring storyline for Vermes’ club, Melia smothered attack after attack from Columbus. He may have only made four saves, but almost all were of exceptional caliber as the visitors earned their first away point since July.
“He’s had huge games this year,” said Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic. “The way we play, we like to open up and possess the ball and if we’re not good in possession, we expose ourselves. So the few times a game when we give up opportunities, he comes up big and he’s been huge.”
Perhaps spoiled by Melia's consistency, Vermes suggested he’s come to expect that type of performance from the man who is making a strong case for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and perhaps even his first US national team call-up at age 31.
A USMNT call for Melia wouldn’t shock Vermes, who believes his goalkeeper’s play would translate onto an international stage.
“I don’t think he would shy away from it,” Vermes said. “He wouldn’t go into any game thinking it was too big for him, that’s for sure. He’s a very humble, confident guy who works really hard. I’m a big believer that when you work hard, good things come to you. So if he got the opportunity, I think it would be well-deserved.”
Melia said receiving that call is not something he’s considered.
“It’s not a reality at the moment, and my only focus right now is doing the best I can for Sporting,” he said.
But the understated goalkeeper did say he appreciated the "incredible compliment" from his coach.
“That’s the type of coach he is; he supports us through good and bad,” Melia said. “But that’s not a reality right now, and I just want to focus on New England next week.”
In typical fashion, Melia was largely unwilling to give himself credit for the draw, focusing on the corner-kick goal his team allowed in first-half stoppage time. Outside of that goal, he credited his defense for making Columbus shooters uncomfortable in his box.
“Our team is so balanced and organized defensively, even when guys are getting in, they have pressure on them, they know that someone is tracking down, they’re rushing what they’re doing,” he said. “That makes my job easier.”