Melia stars in shootout as Kansas City advance in MLS Cup playoffs

Ruben Hill
November 24, 2020

Sporting Kansas City players celebrate after winning an MLS soccer match against the San Jose Earthquakes with a penalty kick in overtime Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Kansas City, Kan.

Melia went to his left to stop Oswaldo Alanis and then dived to his right to deny both Jackson Yueill and Cristian Espinoza to help send Sporting to the Conference Semifinals.

Melia is 6-0 in shootouts.

This was Melia's fourth PK shootout triumph with SKC after his first two came with lower-division Rochester and Charleston - albeit against MLS competition - in the US Open Cup.

"I've never seen that done by a goalkeeper before".

"Just the emotions of dealing with getting scored on in these big games", said the 'keeper, "and coming together as a group and over time being very compact defensively, not giving anything away and doing what we need to do to get through it, is something that we can really build off of".

"Everybody out here can hit penalties, but the one thing is, Timmy can save them", Sporting coach Peter Vermes said. "You're trying to pick up little queues, you're trying to see what directions people are looking, tendencies of the shooter, their run-up, their approach".

Gianluca Busio scored in the first minute of stoppage time to give Sporting Kansas City a 3-2 lead, but Chris Wondolowski scored about six minutes later, heading home a high cross to the far post by Cristian Espinoza to force extra time.

Although Wondolowski has a league-record 166 regular-season goals, it was just his second in the post-season.

Kansas City, who missed the post-season a year ago as they finished 11th in the West, booked a Western Conference semi-final showdown with Minnesota United, who defeated the Colorado Rapids 3-0. Sporting beat San Jose in a shootout earlier Sunday.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Kevin Molino scored two goals and Robin Lod added another as Minnesota claimed its first playoff victory in franchise history.

Finland's Lod, put through by Emanuel Reynoso, made it 2-0 in the 54th when he curled a left-footed shot into the corner. Jan Gregus tapped a cross to a charging Molino who chipped it over sliding goalkeeper William Yarbrough to cap the scoring in the 79th.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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