November 28, MLS announced that Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was voted the 2012 MLS Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year by a sweeping 49.12 percent of the vote for the five nominees.
Nielsen, a fan favorite, was affectionately nicknamed “The White Puma” by fans. 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.
“Jimmy [Nielsen] has a great passion for the game,” said Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes. “It’s evident in his work ethic and his commitment to the team which transpired into him being named captain this year.
He’s 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.”
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). Nielsen 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).
Nielsen’s 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 named to the 2012 MLS Best XI, alongside teammates Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. Nielsen was named the team’s MVP for the second consecutive year and won 2012 MLS Save of the Week honors six times.
“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.
Nielsen is the second Kansas City player in club history to be named Goalkeeper of the Year along with Tony Meola (2000).
2012 finalists for Goalkeeper of the Year
Jimmy Nielsen (SKC)
Dan Kennedy (CHV)
Michael Gspurning (SEA)
Nick Rimando (RSL)
Andy Gruenebaum (CLB)
MLS Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year Winners:
2012: Jimmy Nielsen – Sporting Kansas City
2011: Kasey Keller – Seattle Sounders FC
2010: Donovan Ricketts – LA Galaxy
2009: Zach Thornton – Chivas USA
2008: Jon Busch – Chicago Fire
2007: Brad Guzan – Chivas USA
2006: Troy Perkins – D.C. United
2005: Pat Onstad – San Jose Earthquakes
2004: Joe Cannon – Colorado Rapids
2003: Pat Onstad – San Jose Earthquakes
2002: Joe Cannon – San Jose Earthquakes
2001: Tim Howard – MetroStars
2000: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
1999: Kevin Hartman – Los Angeles Galaxy
1998: Zach Thornton – Chicago Fire
1997: Brad Friedel – Columbus Crew
1996: Mark Dodd – Dallas Burn
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