MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 6 – Tim Melia comes up big in record-setting performance

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

There was only going to be one winner of Week 6’s MLSGB Defensive Player of the Week so it will come as no surprise to see Tim Melia as our standout defensive performer of the weekend. The Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper put in a record-setting performance in the 2-0 road win at LA Galaxy. Melia made a staggering ten saves to earn a valuable shutout and help SKC to three more big points.

The 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year made six saves from shots made from outside the box, saving all four of the Galaxy’s efforts from inside the area too. He also completed 35 of his 42 passes.

Sporting Kansas City were the league’s best defence last season by some margin. But there were early concerns this campaign after they conceded nine goals in their first four games. However, Melia has now kept back-to-back clean sheets as the SKC defence begins to look solid once more.

A look at the ten shots Tim Melia saved in the 2-0 win over LA Galaxy (Stats via @StatsZone)

The graphic above shows just how impressive Melia’s goalkeeping was. LA Galaxy peppered his goal with ten attempts for a variety of positions but the 31-year-old stopper would not be beaten.

The one concern for SKC will be the fact they are allowing their opponents so many shots at goal. Melia is currently facing an average of 13 shots per game from opponents, and while not all of those will be on target, he will hope his defenders can start closing down attacks sooner.

Don’t miss: MLS Attacking Player of the Week – Week 6

Sporting KC’s win sees them stretch their lead at the top of the Western Conference to three points. They have made a good start to the season and now prepare for their Week 7 home clash with Seattle Sounders.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City

Major League Soccer: New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City

Yankee Stadium – Wednesday, September 6 – 19:30 ET (00:30 )

Match Odds: New York City FC 19/20 – Draw 5/2 – Sporting Kansas City 13/5

New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City: Preview

New York City FC welcome Sporting Kansas City to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night in what is a key game for both sides. International absences mean both teams will be without key players but that shouldn’t prevent what should be an intriguing battle.

Both sides are well on course for the playoffs. Sporting Kansas City are third in the West but have games in hand over Portland and Seattle. They are in a strong position to win the conference and just need to continue their form over the final couple of months of the regular season.

New York City are second in the East, nine points behind league leaders Toronto. They are unlikely to catch the Reds but this is their game in hand, so a win would cut the gap to six points.

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NYCFC is unbeaten in four matches, winning three and drawing one in that time. They haven’t failed to score at home all season and have only lost once at Yankee Stadium in 2017. In fact, that defeat to Orlando back in April was their only home loss in the last 14 months of regular season play.

This is the first of two games at Yankee Stadium in three days for New York City. They face Portland on Saturday and know that they will have all but guaranteed their postseason berth with back-to-back wins.

But Sporting Kansas City have only lost five times all season – only Toronto have lost fewer – and arrive in good form. Peter Vermes’ men have only lost one of their last 11 MLS games. However, that did come in their latest road trip at Seattle a few weeks ago.

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SKC have been consistent all season, without really setting the world alight. They will be looking to frustrate NYCFC on Wednesday ahead of Sunday’s trip to Columbus. A win on Wednesday would send them top of the West. A draw would leave them just one point off the summit.

Sporting KC also have the US Open Cup Final to look ahead to. They take on the New York Red Bulls at Children’s Mercy Park on September 20 with the chance to with the competition for the second time in three seasons.

This will be the only regular season meeting between the two teams. NYCFC claimed a 1-0 win in a preseason friendly back in February. However, SKC have won both previous MLS clashes, winning 1-0 at Yankee Stadium in 2015 before claiming a 3-1 home win last year.

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New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City: Team News

NYCFC will be without Rodney Wallace as the midfielder will serve a one-game suspension as a result of yellow card accumulation. Although Wallace is with the Costa Rican team anyway, and would not have been available for Wednesday’s match. David Villa will miss out as he is away with the Spanish team, who face Liechtenstein on Tuesday. Alex Ring (Finland) and Yangel Herrera (Venezuela) are also unavailable as a result of international duty. On top of that, Ronald Matarrita, Miguel Camargo, Maxime Chanot, Ethan White and Mikey Lopez are injured.

Sporting Kansas City are without key duo Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, who have both been away with the USA. James Musa is with the New Zealand team, while Soony Saad has been away with Lebanon. Cameron Porter remains sidelined for the season with a serious ankle injury.

New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City: Key Points

NYCFC’s last five: L/W/W/W/D

Sporting KC’s last five: D/W/D/L/W

Key Stat: Sporting KC have the league’s leading defence in 2017, having conceded just 19 goals in 25 games so far.

Key Player: Tim Melia – The SKC goalkeeper has played every minute of MLS action this season and has shone in between the sticks. He has kept 10 clean sheets and has made the sixth-most saves in MLS this term with 74. New York City haven’t failed to score at home all season but if anyone is likely to stop them, it’s Melia given his form.

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New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City: Prediction

New York City FC 1-1 Sporting KC – Both sides have key players missing for Wednesday’s game. Squad depth will be tested and both will fancy their chances of taking all three points. However, NYCFC are a real force at home and Sporting Kansas City are tough to break down. That should lead to a low-scoring draw.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Wednesday, May 17th – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)
Match Odds: Sporting KC 4/5 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle 100/30

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City host Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night as part of an action-packed midweek slate of MLS fixtures, as both Western Conference sides look to bounce back after a couple of disappointing weeks.

Sporting Kansas City sit third coming into Week 12, but could go top of the West with a win over Seattle on Wednesday, depending on Houston’s result Philadelphia. Seattle sit ninth on ten points but are only three points off the playoff places at this stage.

SKC battled to earn a point in a 2-2 draw at Orlando last weekend, following their disappointing 2-0 loss at Minnesota a week before. A return home should provide them with a platform to get back to winning ways but they must not get complacent.

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Peter Vermes’ side were defending extremely well through the opening weeks of the season but they’ve now conceded four goals in two games – more than they had conceded in their first nine games in total.

Seattle have lost back-to-back MLS matches for the first time since last July and come into Wednesday’s game looking vulnerable. Despite having attacking talents such as Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, Seattle have only managed to score once in their past 180 minutes of action.

Their 4-1 defeat at Chicago on Saturday will have left alarm bells ringing for Brian Schmetzer, who needs to get a tune out of his team if the Sounders are to put themselves in a position to retain their 2016 MLS Cup title come December.

Last season’s late surge to glory could well be replicated but given the fact Seattle already have the players available to challenge at the very top of the West, there is no excuse as to why they are already nine points off the pace.

This will be the first meeting between the two sides since Seattle beat Sporting KC 1-0 in the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round last October. SKC won last season’s home regular season game 3-0 after picking up a 1-0 win at CenturyLink Field on opening weekend last term.

Team News

Sporting Kansas City’s only injury absentee is Diego Rubio, who is set to be out for the season with a torn ACL. Latif Blessing scored two last time out and may keep his place ahead of Dom Dwyer, who returns from suspension for Wednesday’s game. Peter Vermes may ring the changes for the double gameweek.

Seattle Sounders will travel to Kansas City without four players as Roman Torres, Nouhou Tolo and Henry Wingo are all out, while Aaron Kovar is listed as ‘questionable’. Brian Schmetzer will also be looking to rotate his squad ahead of Saturday night’s home clash with RSL.

Key Points

Sporting KC’s form: L/W/W/L/D

Seattle Sounders’ form: L/W/D/L/L

Key Stat: Fortress – Sporting Kansas City are unbeaten in 14 consecutive home games in MLS, conceding just 10 goals in that stretch.

Key Player: Tim Melia – The SKC goalkeeper has been in fine form this season, conceding just seven goals in 11 games and producing 31 saves – the sixth-most in MLS so far this campaign coming into Week 12.

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Score Prediction

Sporting KC 2-1 Seattle Sounders – This is a great opportunity for both sides to get back to winning ways but the fact is Seattle look a shadow of the side that bossed MLS through the late stages of the 2016 season. Sporting Kansas City are a really tough unit to break down and look set to record a fifth-straight home win on Wednesday evening.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to invest in Crew attackers for Week 7?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

Double delirium for the Rapids in Week 6, alongside a duo of poor performances for the Red Bulls made last week a complete reversal of form from the 2015 season. However, FC Dallas have stayed true to last season’s form and top the Supporters’ Shield rankings with 17 points from 8 games, six of which were gained in Week 6 with comfortable wins over SKC and the Timbers. A first goal for Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.1) could signal the start of things to come from this much-hyped youngster. Overall, Week 6 was a positive one, with plenty of things to build upon in the coming weeks of the campaign.

Week 6 Review

The Good:

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Only six minutes into his MLS return for Montreal, Didier Drogba’s ($11.5) cheeky back heel leveled the score up at 1-1, as Montreal went on to earn three huge points away to Chicago. Impact teammate Ignacio Piatti ($10.6) netted a stunning 90th-minute winner with a curled effort from the edge of the box in a game dominated by Montreal. Meanwhile, the Sounders’ revival continues as Seattle beat Philadelphia 2-1 with defender Chad Marshall ($8.6) heading home from a corner to score for the second consecutive week. While it may have been a disappointing defeat for New York City, World Cup winning forward ‘El Guaje’, David Villa ($11.3) netted a brace – his third and fourth goals of the season. An emphatic victory for LA Galaxy was was started and continued by a Giovani Dos Santos ($10.9) double, with the Galaxy running away as 4-1 winners in Houston. Portland’s Fanendo Adi ($10.2) also continued his fine form, netting his second brace of the campaign against San Jose. Michael Barrios ($8.1) netted in both of Dallas’ games, which leaves the Western Conference leaders on a six-game unbeaten run. On the theme of unbeaten runs, Real Salt Lake remain the only MLS side yet to lose a league match this season. Juan Manuel Martinez ($8.5) netted early in the second half to make it consecutive 1-0 victories. How long can this incredible run continue for RSL?

The Bad:

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union Red Card Alberg

Philadelphia midfielder Roland Alberg ($8.1) picked up two yellow cards within 53 minutes of his side’s 2-1 defeat to Seattle. Columbus Crew’s Tyson Wahl ($6.0) conceded a penalty that teammate Michael Parkhurst then saw red for in a case of mistaken identity in his side’s eventual win over NYCFC. Wahl has since been handed the suspension that Parkhurst was wrongly given. Portland’s Diego Valeri ($10.3) also saw red in the dying moments of Portland’s 3-1 triumph, picking up a 90th minute yellow and 95th minute red card. The Red Bulls made it six defeats from seven as the star club from the 2015 season are being let down by key attacking players such as Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.5), Lloyd Sam ($8.9) and Mike Grella ($7.8), with the team having only netted five goals from their seven matches so far. A club with such high expectations will be expecting to push on sooner rather than later. Houston Dynamo dropped to the bottom of the Western Conference after being outclassed by LA Galaxy, despite taking the lead within the first minute. The Dynamo have only managed one win so far this campaign (admittedly it was a resounding 5-0 romp against Dallas, with this being Dallas’ only defeat). It summarises the thrilling unpredictability of the league!

Week 7 Preview

Must Buy:

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With Columbus finally returning to form in their victory over NYCFC, now’s the time to stock up on their star players. When Kei Kamara ($10.9), Ethan Finlay ($10.7) and Federico Higuain ($10.3) are firing on all cylinders, they are an unbeatable side. Looking ahead to upcoming DGW’s, adding some SKC players would certainly seem wise. Nuno Coelho ($8.3) is quickly building a name for himself in Kansas City, along with their only two other ever-present starters, goalkeeper Tim Melia ($5.7) and French fullback Amadou Dia ($6.0).

Must Sell:

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Chicago Fire only play once in the next three weeks, so budget-hogging players like David Accam ($9.2) and Kennedy Igboananike ($8.1) need to be discarded for now. Portland are relying incredibly heavily on Adi and the now suspended Valeri, and won’t play in Week 7. Even when they do return to action, it might be worth transferring out Lucas Melano ($8.7), who is extremely pricy for a player that’s yet to really shine. Injuries to Marco Pappa ($8.2), Matt Hedges ($9.0) and Alvas Powell ($7.1) mean these three players will be dead weight for at least the next two or three game weeks and replacements should be brought in.

Who will you be transferring in for Week 7?