SEATTLE — As Sporting Kansas City worked their way to a 2-1 victory in a “Best of the West” showdown, an altercation between goalkeeper Tim Melia and Seattle Sounders forward Cristian Roldan stole headlines.
With Sporting leading 1-0 in the second half, Seattle began piling on the pressure toward SKC’s goal, forcing Melia to make save after save as he has done throughout his career in Kansas City.
In the 54th minute, the Sounders sent a ball into the box that took a couple of deflections in the air before being turned toward Melia and the goal.
Roldan backed his way toward goal seeking position to try and header the ball in for the tying score, but obstructed Melia’s position while inside the six-yard box and on the goal-line.
The two continued to shove each other for position, frustrating the veteran goalkeeper who was unable to even get out from inside his own goal.
Melia then grabbed Roldan across the shoulders and took Roldan to the ground, landing him on his back after the referee had blown the play dead.
Both Roldan and Melia received yellow cards after the ref took time to check with the video assistant referee.
The tackle and discipline caught the attention of the internet and fans weighed in on the decision to not give Melia straight red card.
Melia’s takedown even caught the eye of WWE legend and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The Rock took to Twitter and said Melia delivered his signature finishing move the “Rock Bottom.”
In his estimation, Melia should have received a red card and Roldan should have fought “unless he got his bell rung.”
The Professional Referees Organization explained the yellow card by saying that “the observable conduct by Tim Melia did not rise to violent conduct due to the lack of brutality.”
After the game, Roldan was upset that he did not get an explanation from the head referee.
“Frustrating nonetheless because I felt that I had good positioning,” Roldan said. “I didn’t hear a whistle until the ball was cleared out and I was shoved to the ground. So, I want to hear an explanation on what happened, because I still don’t know.”
Although not asked about the play directly, SKC manager Peter Vermes defended his goalkeepers performance during the postgame press conference.
“I thought Timmy was really strong and brave in a lot of different plays, which really changed the game for us,” Vermes said. “It held a lead that we needed to have. Even though they scored and tied us, we still maintained ourselves throughout the game.”
The win clinched a playoff seed and positions Sporting KC three points behind the Sounders with a game in hand putting the coveted first round bye within reach as the season comes to a close.
With four games left, Sporting head home for the penultimate time this season to host the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Sporting won the first matchup on the road 2-0 against LA. The Galaxy are fighting for seeding in the Western Conference, currently sitting at No. 5, tied on points with the Portland Timbers.
SKC and the Galaxy kickoff on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. from Children’s Mercy Park.