Monday, July 23, 2012

Nielsen earns 26th career shutout in 0-0 draw

Sporting Kansas City drew 0-0 with the New England Revolution in front of a sold out crowd on Saturday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

Sporting KC are now in second place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the New York Red Bulls.

Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen recorded his ninth shutout of the season, most in MLS in 2012, and 26th clean sheet of his career, the second most in MLS since 2010. Nielsen, along with Sporting KC teammates Aurelien Collin and Graham Zusi, will depart on Sunday for the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game against European champions Chelsea FC on Wednesday in Philadelphia.

It was New England with the first chance of the match in the fifth minute when Ryan Guy struck from 18 yards out, forcing Nielsen to punch the ball out of harm’s way.

The Revolution nearly netted a goal 10 minutes later when Guy received a corner kick from Lee Nguyen and struck the ball expertly with a diving header only to be denied by a spectacular save from Nielsen.

Sporting KC’s first chance didn’t come until the 21st minute when a cross serviced in by Bobby Convey, making his first start since May 19, was pinballed around the box until Jacob Peterson settled it and took a right-footed volley from 35 yards, nearly grazing the far right post.

Sporting Kansas City took anothershot from distance seven minutes later, this time from Zusi, who took a controlled shot outside of the box only to find goalkeeper Matt Reis’ gloves.

The home side had claims for a penalty kick in the 45th minute after Peterson received a pass from Seth Sinovic on the left side of the penalty area.  Kevin Alston's challenge left both players on the ground, but no foul was given and the teams entered halftime deadlocked in a scoreless draw.

The second half began with a flurry of chances for Sporting Kansas City. Peterson put Reis to the test in the 52nd minute when he received a pass from Michael Harrington, playing his 150th MLS match, and made a diving goal-bound header, but Reis was there for the save.

The Revolution responded eight minutes later when Tierney made a low cross from the left flank in to second-half substitute Saer Sene, who settled it with one touch and took a shot, but was wide of the left post.

The 60th minute began a string of chances for Sporting KC, instigated by Harrington on the right. His cross was met by Kamara inside the penalty area but hisheader bounced into the ground and then the arms of Reis.

Only 30 seconds later, Harrington made a run down the right flank and crossed into the box,searching for Peterson, but he couldn’t get clear of New England’s defense.

In the 64th minute, Kamara and Peterson played a quick give-and-go in New England’s end, with Kamara gaining enough space to shoot from 15 yards out, sending the attempt just wide of the right post.

Four minutes later, Convey looked to notch his second goal of the season when he took a bold shot from 40 yards out, drawing Reis off his line to chase out the shot that curled wide.

The visitors began to push back in the 80th minute, beginning with a cross from Sene on the left into Fernando Cardenas.

The Colombian settled the ball and shot, but was too slow for Nielsen, who caught the ball expectantly.

Three minutes later, Tierney made a well-placed cross to Sene at the backpost, only to see the first time volley go wide of the goal.

In what would be the first of more than 11 minutes of second half stoppage time, Zusi’s corner found the head of Soony Saad, but the looping attempted floated over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Sporting Kansas City drew the crowd to their feet when Zusi blazed down the right flank and crossed to Kamara.

His header was struck with pace and on frame but was denied by Reis for his sixth save of the match. 

New England nearly stole three points late when Blake Brettschneider muscled his way past Seth Sinovic and shot from close range, but was blocked by Matt Besler.

Saturday’s match-up was the second of the season between the two Eastern Conference opponents, who will meet again next month at Gillette Stadium for the regular season series finale.

Sporting Kansas City will host French Ligue 1 champions Montpellier Herault SC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

Tickets for the international friendly are available at or at the LSP Box Offices.