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Jimmy NielsenJimmy Nielsen
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen moved atop the club's all-time shutout chart on Sunday in the team's 4-0 victory over Chivas USA at Sporting Park, Kansas CIty, Kan., with the 38th regular season clean sheet of his MLS career.
The 2012 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year breaks a tie with National Soccer Hall of Fame member and former KC goalkeeping great Tony Meola for the most regular season shutouts by a goalkeeper in club history. Nielsen is the 13th goalkeeper in MLS history to record at least 38 career regular season shutouts and he did so in the fewest regular season games played (104) among that group.
In his fourth MLS season, Nielsen is a two-time MLS All-Star and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2012. His 1.00 goals against average in MLS regular season play all-time is the lowest in MLS history among goalkeepers with a minimum of 4,000 minutes played.
Nielsen, 35, was named the team's Most Valuable Player each of the last two seasons and has appeared in 71 straight MLS matches, including postseason. His six shutouts this season are most in MLS and his 546-minute shutout streak earlier in the year is the longest in the League this season.
Sporting KC All-Time Leaders - Goalkeeper Shutouts
1. Jimmy Nielsen - 38 shutouts (104 games)
2. Tony Meola - 37 shutouts (125 games)
3. Kevin Hartman - 22 shutouts (90 games)
3. Bo Oshoniyi - 22 shutouts (96 games)
Sporting Kansas City defeated Chivas USA 4-0 on Sunday afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd at Sporting Park.
Claudio Bieler opened the scoring in the 41st minute with Graham Zusi claiming the assist. Bieler doubled Sporting KC's lead in the 57th minute after converting a penalty kick drawn by Paulo Nagamura. Zusi added a goal to his tab in the 65th minute while Josh Gardner, in his debut for Sporting Kansas City, provided the assist. C.J. Sapong secured Sporting Kansas City's victory in the 87th minute when he notched his first goal of the season.
Jimmy Nielsen's clean sheet marked his 38th with the club, the most in team history. The win also marked Peter Vermes' 50th as manager for Sporting Kansas City.
The victory improved Sporting Kansas City's record to 5-3-2 and puts Sporting in a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.
It was Sporting Kansas CIty with the first chance of the match, arriving in the 10th minute when Zusi crossed the ball to Jacob Peterson, who did well to find space deep in the box and sent in a shot that was saved by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
Eight minutes later, Zusi played a similar ball across the mouth of the goal to Peterson, but it was just beyond his sliding reach. The 21st minute saw another chance for the home team, orchestrated by Zusi once again when he evaded Chivas USA's backline and nudged the ball out wide to Bieler, but his looping chip on frame was skillfully headed out by Joaquin Velazquez.
Peterson again proved to be a thorn in Chivas USA's side when he found himself unmarked on the right flank, cut to the middle and shot low but Kennedy deflected the shot.
Sporting Kansas City's persistence paid off in the 41st minute when Peterson forced a turnover by Chivas USA, nudged the ball to Zusi who slid it to Bieler on the right. The Argentinean Designated Player evaded Kennedy and shot a cool and collected ball into the back of the net, notching his fifth goal of the season while Zusi claimed his fourth assist.
In the third minute of stoppage time, Zusi nearly doubled Sporting Kansas City's lead when he fired in a dangerous cross that went unmet.
The second half commenced with the same fervor and Sporting Kansas City dominating the game. In the 54th minute Kennedy denied Paulo Nagamura of a goal-scoring opportunity inside the box and was shown a red card prior to the penalty kick. Bieler converted the penalty, notching his second goal of the game and his sixth of the season.
Zusi tripled Sporting Kansas City's lead in the 65th minute after he met Gardner's cross at the mouth of the goal, got a neat touch on it and sent it in past goalkeeper Patrick McLain. The goal marked Zusi's third of the season and Gardner's first assist.
Sporting Kansas City secured its victory with a fourth goal in the 87th minute with a strike from Sapong. Mechack Jerome served in a low cross to the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year, who re-directed the service with a first-time volley to the far post.
Sporting Kansas City will play host to the Seattle Sounders at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8, at Sporting Park. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com and at Sporting Park.
- Story from Sporting KC