On the brink of the MLS All-Star Game, which will be played Wednesday in Chicago, The Star counts down the top-five moments from the first half of Sporting Kansas City’s season.
5. Melia’s stunning save
The Tim Melia story has been told many times over — his journey included time as an MLS pool goalkeeper. The legend has grown during a season in which he leads MLS keepers in just about every major statistical category.
Melia highlighted his career year with a world-class save against first-place Portland to preserve a 1-0 road victory. After Darlington Nagbe unleashed a missile from distance, Melia contorted his body into the air and grazed the shot with his fingertips, redirecting it off the crossbar.
4. Fernandes records a hat track
After spending the offseason searching for offensive firepower, Sporting Kansas City landed designated player Gerso Fernandes.
In May, Fernandes recorded the first Sporting KC hat trick in seven seasons. Even more impressive? He scored all three goals in just a 14-minute span against Seattle.
He leads the team with six goals this season.
3. Ike’s bike
It’s been a long-awaited breakthrough season for Ike Opara, who has started a career-high 19 matches and placed himself in the conversation for MLS defender of the year.
But for all of the defensive praise Opara has drawn, an offensive play remains his top moment of 2017. On June 24, Opara scored perhaps the club’s highlight-reel goal of the season, a bicycle kick in the first half of a 2-0 win against the LA Galaxy. On the play, Opara turned his back from goal as he collected a pass, and in one motion kicked the ball over his own head and over keeper Clement Diop for his second goal of the year.
2. An emotional victory
The U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal against FC Dallas featured a little bit of everything — ejections, extra time and an onslaught of late goals leading to a Sporting KC win.
And it came a particularly emotional evening.
In its first match after the death of co-owner Neal Patterson, Sporting KC defeated FC Dallas 3-0, despite playing a man down for 86 minutes. The club managed to get to extra time with the match still scoreless before Latif Blessing scored twice and Daniel Salloi added a third goal.
The win “probably has its own special place because of Neal’s passing,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said afterward.
1. Dom Dwyer traded to Orlando City SC
Obvious, isn’t it?
The most significant moment of Sporting Kansas City’s first half of 2017 didn’t even occur on the field. The club pulled the trigger on the biggest trade in franchise history last week, sending Dwyer to Orlando City SC in exchange for an MLS-record $1.6 million in allocation money.
Because of the return for Dwyer, the second best scorer in franchise history, it’s a move that will have a ripple effect on Sporting KC for years to come.
Sporting KC marched on without Dwyer on Saturday, defeating Chicago 3-2. Afterward, captain Matt Besler said, “Offensively, that was some of the best stuff we’ve had all season.”