Tim Melia has been known for his heroics in penalty shootouts and Sunday was the latest example of the veteran’s impact in those situations.
The Sporting KC goalkeeper saved all three shots he faced in a 3-0 penalty shootout win over the San Jose Earthquakes after the teams played out a 3-3 result through 120 minutes.
After a winner wasn’t found in the 30 minutes of extra time, it was Melia who stood on his head in the shootout. Johnny Russell, Ilie Sanchez, and Khiry Shelton all put away their penalties while Melia denied Oswaldo Alania, Jackson Yueill, and Cristian Espinoza to secure the quarterfinal win, and become the first goalkeeper in MLS history to shut out an opponent in a penalty shootout.
The victory advances Sporting Kansas City to the Western Conference semifinals, where Peter Vermes’ side will face the winner of the Minnesota United/Colorado Rapids quarterfinal, being played on Sunday night.
The Sporting KC shootout domination followed a wild ending to regulation that saw both teams score stoppage-time goals. Gianluca Busio scored in the 91st minute off an excellent layoff pass from Khiry Shelton to give SKC a 3-2 lead, but the Earthquakes battled back, with Chris Wondolowski scoring in the seventh minute of stoppage time with a header in the final seconds of added time to send the match into extra time.
Those stoppage-time goals came after Melia came up with back-to-back outstanding saves to deny Wondolowski and Cade Cowell in the 88th minute on chances that could have given the Earthquakes a late lead.
The Earthquakes enjoyed a surprising halftime lead after shaking off a fourth-minute Roger Espinoza finish with a pair of first-half goals to surprise the top seed in the West. Carlos Fierro and Shea Salinas scored goals to give Matias Almeyda’s side the advantage at the break.
Sporting KC equalized just two minutes into the second half, with Ilie Sanchez scoring in the 47th minute off a pass from Busio.
A goal-less extra time period set the stage for Melia, who entered the match with the best penalty save percentage in MLS history, and he only improved that number with his perfect three-save performance.
Man of the Match
Melia made five saves in regulation before making an additional three in the shootout, propelling SKC into the second round.
Moment of the Match
When it looked like SKC won the match in second-half stoppage time, Chris Wondolowski bagged his first playoff goal since 2010 after a poaching finish from close range.
Match to Forget
Alanis was put under pressure by Sporting KC’s attackers for most of the match and didn’t help his cause with a missed penalty in the first round of the shootout.