KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The "White Puma" will be back between the pipes in Kansas City for at least two more years.
Manager Peter Vermes announced on Monday that Sporting had agreed to a contract extension with goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen that will keep the Dane in Kansas City until the end of 2013, with a club option available for 2014.
“Jimmy and I have talked on and off but really intensely over this [past] Thanksgiving weekend,” Vermes said. “To be honest with you, the deal got done pretty quickly. I think both parties were very interested. He wanted to stay here, and we wanted to keep him here.”
Nielsen, 34, started 31 games for Kansas City in 2011 after joining the team prior to the 2010 season. He has quickly become a fan favorite at Livestrong Sporting Park with his colorful personality and standout play.
In a statement provided by the club, Nielsen, whose previous contract ran through 2012, said it was just a matter of agreeing on a deal once Vermes approached him.
“There was never a question that I wanted to stay, after Peter told me that he would like me here as well,” he said. “I’ve only had Sporting on my mind, and I’m excited to play in front of our fans for the next couple of years that lie ahead as we work towards winning a championship.”
Along with Eric Kronberg, Vermes has said in the past that he believes Kansas City have two top-shelf ‘keepers to turn to in any situation. Kronberg became Sporting’s longest-tenured player following the trade of Davy Arnaud to Montreal and will push Nielsen for the starting job, but Vermes said he expects the veteran to keep doing what he has done for the past two seasons.
“He’s in the prime of his career,” Vermes said. “He showed that this year. Not to mention everything he brings off the field. … It’s hard to find guys like him.”
Zambrano to coach in Colombia
Octavio Zambrano will leave his post as Sporting KC assistant to take the reins of Colombian second-division side Deportivo Pereira for the 2012 season, the MLS club announced on Tuesday.
What had been mostly rumors the last few weeks took a much more concrete turn early this week when the Colombian league’s official website posted a story claiming Zambrano would assume his duties on Dec. 12 and had spent a week in Colombia discussing the position.
The story said Puebla manager Juan Carlos Osorio, a name MLS fans will be familiar with following his stints with the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls, recommended Zambrano to Deportivo Pereira.
The 53-year-old Zambrano had been an assistant coach under Vermes in Kansas City since 2010 after joining the coaching staff from Hungarian side FC Tatabánya in December 2009. Zambrano previous MLS coaching experience included stints as head coach with the LA Galaxy and the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.