I still don't understand what happened with Tim Melia and Chivas USA in 2014.
Melia was the third longest-tenured player on the squad heading into the season, believe it or not, and the backup goalkeeper had signed a contract extension last year, so it seemed like his place was assured. Of course he was going to be the backup as long as Dan Kennedy was healthy and available, but Melia had gotten action for the Goats his first two seasons, even last year when he had a major back injury that kept him out a significant portion of the campaign.
And he got on the field this year, too, making two league appearances for the third season in a row. This time, however, things went a bit different. Kennedy got a red card in an April game against San Jose, and Melia was pressed into action for the final 12 minutes. He didn't give up any goals in that span, but Chivas were already losing, and they ultimately lost that game.
He then started the following game, due to DK's suspension, against the Houston Dynamo, and it was not a great night. While I don't think anybody would say it was Melia's fault CUSA lost 4-1, he did let in three goals (after the Goats took an early lead, no less) and picked up a red card of his own for tripping a Dynamo player in the box, meaning Chivas USA's third-string 'keeper, rookie Trevor Spangenberg, had to step up. It wasn't his finest hour, but since the incumbent starter also had a red card from the week before, it kind of seemed like par for the course for Chivas in 2014, really.
Here were Melia's statistics with Chivas USA in 2014:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Saves||Goals Allowed||GAA||Shutouts||Win %||Save %||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||2||1||79||1||3||3.42||0||0||25||0||1|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Ultimately, that 67 minutes against Houston in early May spelled the end of Melia's competitive time with the Goats. He wasn't waived until July, but then again, the timing of the move was weird, at least on the outside.
Did Melia have a difference of opinion or personal conflict with Wilmer Cabrera or his coaching staff? With a teammate? Was he the victim of circumstance, of a flailing club that was trying to trim costs in any way, and decided to drop the backup 'keeper with the higher salary? Melia made $70,000 base salary/$75,000 guaranteed compensation, which is kind of a lot for a backup with little experience, but a previous CUSA regime signed him to that.
I have no inside information here, so I really don't know what caused Melia to be dropped in the summer. He stayed an employee of the league (since his contract was guaranteed by that point in the year, another way the timing of the move was weird), and was an MLS pool goalkeeper (meaning he stepped up to help teams that had GK shortages) for the rest of the season.
In the end, Melia never won a game in MLS play with Chivas, losing four and drawing one across three seasons (he did win three games as the starter in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup run). MLS pool goalkeepers don't tend to get picked up by another MLS team, but he has more experience in the league than most of that class, as the 28-year-old has been in MLS for five seasons to this point, though he obviously doesn't have a lot of game experience.
It's hard to say, then, what the future holds for Melia. There will be more openings for goalkeepers in American (and Canadian) professional soccer next year, so that should increase his chances of finding a team, though it may have to be in NASL or USL PRO.
At any rate, Melia's midseason departure remains one of the enduring mysteries for me in Chivas USA's 2014 season. Compared to losing the team altogether, it's pretty small potatoes, and we are talking about a player who probably wouldn't have played again this year, but still, it's something that I wonder about. It will be interesting to see what's next for Melia.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!