Picking the 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year wasn't overly complicated.
Despite a deep and talented group of netminders in the league, Tim Melia simply stood out above the crowd.
A unanimous pick among the Goal staff, Melia delivered a 2017 campaign that was notable for both brilliance and consistency. While others struggled at times throughout the year, giving up soft goals or failing to make the one or two saved required, Melia was always on hand when called upon, allowing less than a goal a game in his 31 matches.
Playing behind a stout Sporting Kansas City defense — including Goal MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara — certainly didn't hurt matters, but Melia deserves plenty of credit for the job he did when that back line was in trouble.
The 31-year-old came up with his share of brilliant stops along the way, including this full-extension dive against Portland, an MLS Save of the Year nominee.
Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) November 2, 2017
A hamstring injury deprived Melia of the chance to be a hero in the MLS playoffs as Kansas City fell to the Houston Dynamo, leaving plenty of what-ifs to go around. But with a healthy Melia between the sticks, don't count on Sporting KC being easy to break down in 2018.
2. Andre Blake: The 26-year-old's record as a starter in 2017 is a travesty considering how good he was, making one highlight save after another to keep the Philadelphia Union in games despite playing behind one of the most inconsistent back lines in the league.
3. Zack Steffen: 2017 was a breakout year for the 22-year-old, who has long been considered a top prospect. He'll be remembered for his playoff performances, and on the strength of those may have topped this list, but his regular season play was every bit as crucial in keeping the Crew viable throughout an up-and-down campaign.
4. Bill Hamid: His last season in MLS was a good one for the 26-year-old. Sitting behind a poor D.C. United team didn't make life easy on him, but he posted 98 saves and six clean sheets in just 24 matches.
5. Stefan Frei: The 31-year-old continues to play a vital part for the Seattle Sounders and has grown into one of the top goalkeepers in MLS, posting another solid season in 2017. His knack for brilliant saves helped Seattle post the third-best defensive record in the league.