ORLANDO – Sporting Kansas City and the Vancouver Whitecaps played one of the most lopsided 0-0 draws through ninety minutes, that probably anyone has ever seen. Thomas Hasal stood on his head for 90 minutes making 8 saves. Usually fairy-tale endings ensue, but not when you have to face Sporting KC in a shootout. Tim Melia was studly, saving two of the four PK’s he faced, and going the right way on all of them.
Goalkeeping tutorial breaks out as Sporting KC wins in shootout at MLS is Back
Thomas Hasal continues shutout streak
For 90 minutes of the game, the storyline was Sporting KC’s onslaught versus Thomas Hasal. The 21-year-old, third-string goalkeeper was in net for the second straight game after becoming somewhat of a folk-hero in his debut clean sheet, that was of necessity thanks to a rash of injuries and family emergencies. To his credit, Hasal was great. He made 8 saves, and the ‘Caps survived a Sporting KC onslaught.
Sporting KC put up 36 shot attempts with numerous attempts blocked or sailing wide. Vancouver did whatever they could to put them off in their attack. It seemed like their only plan. They were deep, drawing a line of confrontation at the top of their defensive penalty area for the majority of the match. They occasionally ventured forward but Sporting snuffed out the majority of their ventures forward.
Hasal stayed strong, taking a camera and a knee to the head, making some very good saves, and claiming a few of Sporting’s hopeful crosses. But, once the clock struck midnight, the carriage turned back into a pumpkin for VWFC, and the fairy-tale magic was no more. It quickly became the Tim Melia clinic.
Tim Melia continues perfect run in shootouts
As Sporting KC’s starting goalkeeper, Tim Melia is unbeaten in Penalty kick shootouts. In 2015, Melia and Sporting won in Philadelphia to clinch the US Open Cup. There were also shootouts to follow in the 2017 US Open Cup semifinals as well, that Melia won. You can add this one to the list, as Melia put on a “spot shot” stopping clinic.
On the first attempt against, he went the right way but it was clattered off the post. After the next attempt was made, but through his hands, Melia got warmed up. He then took two steps to his left during Cornelius’s run-up because it was so easy to read. He promptly pushed it to the side. Then, he got down to make the save on Yordy Reyna’s PK.
Give Hasal credit. He went the right way on all but Pulido’s PK, saved one and got a hand to another. But Gianluca Busio closed it out with a rocket, above the hands, and into the side netting to get it past the diving Hasal.
Ultimately this came down to one thing: Sporting were the better side, and Tim Melia is the league’s best penalty kick stopper. His obvious preparation and ability to read a player in his run up is second to none. He studies, does his homework and makes the stop. Hasal could potentially get there one day. He’s young and has talent. But for now, his fairytale will have to carry over to reach the level that Melia raised his game to during the shootout.