KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jimmy Nielsen finally got his domestic cup-winning moment – and the first thing he did was share it.
“I think this is so well-deserved for the whole organization and the whole City,” Sporting Kansas City’s goalkeeper and captain told MLSsoccer.com after his club beat the Seattle Sounders in Wednesday night’s US Open Cup final. “There are a lot of hard-working people in this organization doing a great job to promote this soccer team. This is not only Sporting Kansas City’s win tonight. This is for the whole area.”
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Nielsen, who endured three runner-up finishes in the Danish Cup with former side Aalborg BK, climbed a ladder to add “2012” to the Livestrong Park wall commemorating the club’s previous titles: the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup in 2000 and the 2004 Open Cup championship.
But afterward, he said it would be some time before he could look at the title as “his” in any sense.
“I’ll think about that when I get 60, 70,” he said. “Not now.”
That’s why Nielsen is Sporting’s captain, manager Peter Vermes said.
“He’s a team guy all the way down,” Vermes said. “I think he’s an unbelievable goalkeeper, and I think he’s an even better man. I didn’t know that he was as good a guy as he is when we brought him in [in 2010]. I knew he was a good goalkeeper, but there was something about him when we were talking on the phone. He just had an interesting way about him.”
Nielsen made a key save in the penalty stage, stopping Christian Tiffert’s low shot in the fourth round, and saw two of the Sounders’ attempts – including Eddie Johnson’s last-ditch try in the fifth round – sail over the bar.
Before that last kick, Nielsen pulled out all the gamesmanship stops against Seattle’s star striker – yelling at him as Johnson spotted the ball, pulling his jersey up over his eyes and then dancing side to side just before Johnson started his run-up.
“I had a Plan A and a Plan B on the shootout,” Nielsen said. “I didn’t really feel my Plan A worked for me. So I changed things around, tried to mess around a little bit, tried to get in their heads.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.