Tim Melia of Sporting KC makes a save in the penalty kick shootout in the 2015 US Open Cup Final. Photo: Mark Shaiken | Sporting KC
Entering the 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final, Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia’s workload was relatively light. Before the championship game against the Philadelphia Union kicked off at PPL Park, Melia had only made seven total saves en route to his team’s third title game appearance. However, in US Open Cup Final, Melia was called upon several times, making eight saves as the two teams finished extra time tied at 1-1. In the penalty kick shootout, Melia made a pair of saves to help Sporting lift the trophy.
For his efforts, Melia was voted TheCup.us Player of the Round for the Final. He edged teammate Krisztian Nemeth, who scored KC’s only goal in regulation, but missed his spot kick attempt in the shootout. Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux also received consideration for scoring his 16th career Open Cup goal, extending his Modern Era record.
While Melia won the award based on his performance in the Final, it’s been a history-making tournament for the netminder. He becomes just the eighth Modern Era (1995-present) goalkeeper to start every game of the tournament en route to a title and the first since Kasey Keller did it for the Seattle Sounders in 2009.
Tim Melia of Sporting KC collects the ball in traffic during the 2015 US Open Cup. Photo: Henry Hauck Jr. | Sporting KC
The Long Island native made his Open Cup debut in 2007 with the Long Island Rough Riders of the Premier Development League (PDL) when they lost a narrow 1-0 game to the Rochester Rhinos. By lifting the trophy on Sept. 30 with Kansas City, Melia becomes the first goalkeeper in the Modern Era to represent an amateur club and move on to win the tournament with a MLS team.
Over the course of his career, he has represented four different teams in the Open Cup, starting with the Rough Riders, and then moving up to the professional level to play for the Rochester Rhinos (2009), the Charleston Battery (2010), Chivas USA (2012) and this year with Sporting Kansas City where he won his first title.
After backing up Dan Kennedy at Chivas USA, and then Nick Rimando at Real Salt Lake before being plucked from the MLS goalkeeping pool by an injury-plagued Sporting KC team in 2014 and earning himself a contract for 2015.
Since making his debut in 2007, Melia has put together a solid Open Cup career. In 15 games, he is 9-3-3 with a 1.00 goals against average and is undefeated (3-0) in penalty kick shootouts.
This is the second time Melia has won the award. As part of the Charleston Battery in 2010, he shut out the Chicago Fire in the Third Round over 120 minutes before making a save in a 3-0 penalty kick shootout win.
Melia becomes just the second goalkeeper to win TheCup.us Player of the Round for the Final. Bill Hamid of DC United won the award in 2013. He’s just the fourth Sporting Kansas City player to win, and the third this season (Benny Feilhaber in Semifinals; Dom Dwyer in Round 5; Matt Besler in 2012 Final)