Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sporting's Nielsen named 2012 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was voted the 2012 MLS Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, Major League Soccer announced on Wednesday.

"I'm very proud and thankful to the players and coaches who voted for me but it all comes back to the great season that the whole team had. I'm just a little part of this," Nielsen said. "I think we did an incredible job as a team and like I said before: after the season you get awards when the team is doing well. I think it's well deserved that team is getting all this credit now."

Nielsen, originally from Denmark, played every minute in goal for Sporting Kansas City this season, setting new club records for minutes played (3,060) and games started (34).

He started the 2012 MLS All-Star Game and led MLS with 15 shutouts (second most in MLS history) and 18 victories (matching the MLS record in the non-shootout era).

His 0.79 goals against average this season became the best in club history, breaking Tony Meola's record set in 2000 with a 0.92 goals against average.

His all-time 1.02 goals against average is the lowest in MLS history, ahead of second place Kasey Keller with 1.06.

The 35-year-old captain was also named to the 2012 MLS Best XI, alongside teammates Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.

Nielsen was named the team's Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year and was also nominated six times for the 2012 MLS Save of the Week honors and winning the accolade all six times.

"Jimmy [Nielsen] has a great passion for the game. It's evident in his work ethic and his commitment to the team which transpired into him being named captain this year," Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said. "He is an incredible leader on and off the field and he has helped this team a great deal in the past three years. The way he trains and leads the team were the magic formula to his consistent performances and to him ultimately winning the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award."

The White Puma, as fans affectionately call him, quickly became a fan favorite upon signing with Sporting Kansas City from Danish Club Vejle in February of 2010. Nielsen has played 94 regular season games for Sporting and every playoff game in his tenure, recording 32 shutouts in three seasons with a record of 40-28-25 in goal.

Off the field Nielsen has earned the praise of the Kansas City community for his involvement and his kindness.

Nielsen is known for helping to cultivate youth talent, regularly taking time out of his day to surprise groups of unsuspecting young soccer players and aid in their training. Nielsen always keeps spare goalie gloves on hand to give to aspiring goalkeepers.

He is the second Kansas City player in club history to be named Goalkeeper of the Year along with Tony Meola (2000).

Nielsen received more than 70 percent of the media votes, 20 times more than Chivas USA goalkeeper and runner-up Dan Kennedy received.

Nielsen also received nearly 50 percent of the club votes and more than a fourth of all player votes.