After five years of serving as a backup and a league pool goalkeeper in MLS, Tim Melia
took his best opportunity to be a starter all the way to a major honor.
Melia, 29, was named Wednesday as MLS Comeback Player of the Year, an award that normally goes to players returning from serious injuries.
Instead, Melia stepped into the Sporting Kansas
City nets when Chilean World Cup veteran Luis Marin
got off to a slow start in his MLS career and held the starting spot for the rest of the season.
He took over in early May and set a league record by posting six shutouts in his first nine starts with a new team. (SKC signed him last winter after he’d been waved by Chivas USA). He posted
eight shutouts in his 23 league appearances. In the U.S. Open Cup he backstopped four straight wins and thwarted Philadelphia with two saves in the penalty-kick shootout as SKC prevailed.
The native of Great River, N.Y. played collegiately at Oneonta State and Lynn University before starting his pro career in 2007 with Long Island Rough Riders. He got spot duty (13 games) with
Rochester in 2008 and 2009, then signed with Real Salt Lake after a preseason trial but never played for the first team. Loan spells with Charleston and F.C. New York led to a contract with Chivas
USA, which waived him after he played six games in 2 ½ seasons. SKC signed him as a pool keeper after he’d been waived, and he accepted a first-team contract in December.
Portland midfielder Diego Valeri
finished second in the voting among team coaches and officials, media members, and active MLS players. Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp
He is only the second goalkeeper honored as Comeback Player of the Year since the award was first presented in 2000. It went to one
of his predecessors in the Kansas City goal, former U.S. international Tony Meola
. MLS Comeback Player of the
Year Winners: 2015:
Tim Melia, Sporting Kansas City 2014:
Rodney Wallace, Portland Timbers 2013:
Kevin Alston, New England Revolution 2012:
Eddie Johnson, Seattle Sounders FC 2011:
David Beckham, Los Angeles Galaxy 2010:
Bobby Convey, San Jose Earthquakes 2009:
Zach Thornton, Chivas USA
Kenny Cooper, FC Dallas 2007:
Eddie Johnson, Kansas City Wizards 2006:
Richard Mulrooney, FC Dallas 2005:
Chris Klein, Kansas City Wizards
Brian Ching, San Jose Earthquakes 2003:
Chris Armas, Chicago Fire 2002:
Chris Klein, Kansas City Wizards 2001:
Troy Dayak, San Jose Earthquakes 2000:
Tony Meola, Kansas City Wizards