Off the Pitch with Sporting KC Goalkeeper Tim Melia

After traveling across the country for five seasons, “The Hulk” has arrived in Kansas City and he’s already playing soccer with penguins from the Kansas City Zoo.

 

Tim and Roger holding penguin-made artwork

Tim and Roger holding penguin-made artwork

Sporting Kansas City’s newest goalkeeper Tim Melia first appeared with the team last season as a pool league goalkeeper backing up then injured Eric Kronberg and Jon Kempin. In December, he was signed to a contract with the club.

 

Since his signing, Melia has taken on the role of goalkeeper very well, especially after the early departure of Luis Marin this May which earned Melia the starting position.

 

Starting from a young age of 5 years old, Melia’s passion for the game grew with each game. The exposure he would soon receive from joining a young club team would later give him an opportunity to start playing for college teams like State University of New York College at Oneonta and Lynn University in Florida, respectively.

 

Melia’s professional career started with USL Pro team Rochester Rhinos, were he recorded 14 league appearances. Melia was then signed to his first Major League Soccer club, Real Salt Lake, but later transferred to Chivas USA in Carson, California. He spent two seasons with the team before being released prior to the team’s disbandment in 2014. After being released, Melia soon found himself on the League Pool Goalkeeper list with Major League Soccer.

 

“It’s hard being a league-pool goalkeeper,” Melia said. “You never know where you’re going next or how long you will be with that team. You are part of the team, but you’re not a part of the team.” Melia appeared in several clubs before finally settling down in Kansas City with Sporting KC.

 

By definition, the Pool League Goalkeeper position steps in when“the main goalkeeper is injured, then the club [will] call MLS saying they need someone” and MLS would send the club in need their “reserved” goalkeeper if one is available. Having the opportunity to back up several goalkeepers including Real Salt Lake goalkeeper and USMNT star Nick Rimando, Melia said that there is a positive twist to traveling constantly.

 

Following the announcement of Jimmy Nielsen’s retirement, Sporting KC began their search for a new goalkeeper. Of course, this would not be an easy task after Nielsen’s incredible record with the club.

 

Although there were three goalkeepers prior to Melia’s arrival, Melia has proven his worth this season with several “Save of the Week,” “MLS Player of the Week” and “Team of the Week” nominations and honors, earning a spot on the MLS All-Star 2015 ballot, and recorded seven consecutive shutouts in one game. Melia recently helped his teammates win the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship earning the league their third Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy on Sept. 30 in Philadelphia.

 

Off the pitch, Melia enjoys getting involved with the community and meeting fans around the KC metro area. Currently, he has been involved with The Victory Project – whose mission is to help children thrive through life’s challenges – participating in projects such as the Victory Project’s Annual Soccer Clinics fundraiser and Celebrity Bartending event at Westport Ale House last month, were a portion of the proceeds went to benefit the Victory Project.

 

Melia also teamed up with MLS WORKS and Univision Deportes’s community program “Every Save Makes A Difference.” For every save made, $500 worth of soccer equipment was donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City, who started their newest soccer program this May. With the help of members from the Victory Project, Melia personally delivered the new equipment to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City and mingled with the excited children and staff.

 

Tim Melia donating new soccer equipment at the Boys and Girls Club

Tim Melia donating new soccer equipment at the Boys and Girls Club

 

When not training for future tournaments or getting involved with the community, Melia and his wife enjoy exploring the many eateries and theatres Kansas City has to offer.

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