After one of the best defensive seasons in franchise history, a pair of Sporting Kansas City players are in line to potentially reap the rewards of it.
Ike Opara was chosen Tuesday as a finalist for the MLS defender of the year honor, and Tim Melia was identified as a finalist for the league’s goalkeeper of the year award. The winners will be announced over the next two weeks.
Sporting KC rated as the best defensive team in MLS this season, allowing 29 goals, the fewest in the league.
Opara, 28, started a career-high 30 games on the back line. Sporting KC recorded shutouts in 11 of those matches. Opara also contributed three goals, including a bicycle kick against the LA Galaxy in June.
Melia, 31, was chosen as the Sporting’s most valuable player. He allowed only 0.78 goals per game, setting a team record. But he missed the final three matches of the regular season and last week’s playoff loss with in Houston with a hamstring injury.
The league announced five finalists for its most valuable player award — Miguel Almiron (Atlanta), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Nemanja Nikolic (Chicago), Diego Valeri (Portland) and David Villa (New York City FC).
The defender of the year will be announced on Nov. 9. The goalkeeper of the year will be announced a week later, on Nov. 16.
The finalists are selected by a mix of current MLS players, front office personnel and media members.