Sporting Kansas City defender Ike Opara and goalkeeper Tim Melia were named to the MLS Best XI, the league announced Thursday. It’s the first such honor for either player, voted by a combination of players, technical staff and media members.
Melia was dubbed the league’s goalkeeper of the year earlier this month, and Opara was named its defender of the year. They helped comprise the best-performing defense in MLS.
“It’s an honor being selected the best at your position from peers you compete against throughout the season,” Melia said in a news release. “While these awards mean a lot, my top priority is to win an MLS Cup with Sporting KC, and I’m excited to work toward that goal in 2018.”
Melia, 31, posted the best goals-against average (0.78) in MLS history for players starting at least 30 matches. He led the league with a 78.4 save percentage and was second with 10 shutouts.
Opara, 28, played in a career-high 30 matches, all of them in a starting role in the center of Sporting Kansas City’s league-best defense. The club allowed only 29 goals this season, eight fewer than any other team in the league.
“This is an honor that could have gone to anyone on our backline this season,” Opara said. “It’s an accomplishment that I will cherish.”
Melia and Opara are the first Best XI selections for Sporting KC since Benny Feilhaber was named to the team in 2015.