Tim Melia makes a save during the shootout for KC. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Tim Melia played hero for Sporting Kansas City when it needed it the most Wednesday night.
The former East Islip High School standout made two saves in the shootout to boost KC over the San Jose Earthquakes in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup at Children’s Mercy Park.
The hosts won the penalty-kick tie-breaker, 5-4, after playing to a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes of regulation and extratime.
Kansas City will welcome the winner of the Red Bulls-FC Cincinnati semifinal Sept. 20 as it reached the Open Cup final for the second time in three years. The Red Bulls visit Cincy Tuesday night.
“I have all the confidence in the world that our players are going to make their PKs,” Melia said. “I just have to do my job and make a save or two and they’re going to do the rest.”
Both sides’ first shooters missed from the spot. Benny Feilhaber’s squib was kept out by San Jose keeper Andrew Tarbell, who 11 saves during regulation and extra-time.
“I just think it helped our confidence a little bit going into the next rounds of shooting,” Melia said. “Benny is the guy that I would bet the most on making a penalty, he’s allowed to miss one and fortunately we were able to win. So I think it was just the little confidence boost that we needed to get us through the rest of the shootout.”
Up next, Melia denied Chris Wondolowski with a diving save to his right. The two sides went hell-for-leather and into sudden-death kicks, where Victor Bernardez, a late substitute, saw his kick blocked by Melia to send the home crowd into hysterics.
“I would say that Tim’s been really good on all parts of the game,” Sporting head coach Peter Vernes said. “Whether it’s just PKs – it’s not just PKs – I’m confident in our team, all the way around. Tim, the rest of the players, I’m confident. I believe that the right thing happened tonight.”
Danny Hoesen fired San Jose ahead in the fourth minute, but Diego Rubio was the recipient of a superb team goal in the 32nd minute.
“All due respect, San Jose played a hard fought match but we were the better team and we deserved the victory,” Vermes said. “It was well deserved, we had to fight for it – that builds some, character’s not the right word, we made some deposits tonight about certain things that we’re going to be able to use later down the road but it was a special performance tonight.”