Jimmy Nielsen passes Tony Meola to take sole ownership of Sporting Kansas City's franchise shutout record
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – It wasn't that Jimmy Nielsen had nothing to do all day.
He took a few goal kicks, organized his defense on a handful of set pieces, even charged out of his area once or twice to boot the ball away from an onrushing forward.
But Nielsen didn't have to make a single save – or even face a shot on goal – as he broke Sporting Kansas City's career shutout record in Sunday's 4-0 thrashing of shorthanded Chivas USA.
“That was probably one of the easiest [of the shutouts],” said Sporting's Danish captain, whose 38 clean sheets moved him one ahead of Tony Meola in the club's record books. “You know, there wasn't a lot to do.”
Even before Chivas USA 'keeper Dan Kennedy's ejection early in the second half for bringing down Paulo Nagamura in the penalty area, Sporting shut down the visitors' attack and kept the game largely in the attacking end of the pitch.
“They made it very easy,” Nielsen said. “If they continue like that, I can play until I'm 44.”
The important thing, Nielsen said, was that Sporting snapped a two-match losing streak and corrected the sloppiness that cost them two leads in last weekend's 3-2 home loss to Portland.
“We have studied a lot of video and we've kind of been [ticked] off at each other and the way we've performed last week and also in LA,” Nielsen said. “So they came with the right attitude and rightly challenged the other team today. It was a big win for us and it was a good win for our confidence.”
Nielsen, who leads MLS with six shutouts this season and is well on pace to break Meola's single-season mark of 16, said he will take time to appreciate his record – someday.
“Not now,” he said. “Maybe later when I retire or something, but that's not in my mind at all. I came here to win today and we won. I'm a happy man.”
And while manager Peter Vermes was pleased for Nielsen, he also praised the 35-year-old's "results-first outlook.”
“Jimmy will tell you that he doesn't care about [records] at the end of the day,” Vermes said. “What he wants is another championship with the team and wants the MLS Cup. That's what the rest of us are striving for. If he keeps getting those, he will help put us in the right position where hopefully we can win.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com