NEW YORK – Jimmy Nielsen was an unknown in MLS circles when he arrived in Kansas City ahead of the 2010 season, an obscure Danish goalkeeper tasked with the unenviable job of replacing Kevin Hartman. These days, though, Nielsen's value is undisputable.
So indisputable, in fact, that the 35-year-old was named 2012 MLS Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year on Wednesday, capping a sterling campaign for Sporting that included a league-best 15 shutouts -- just one behind Tony Meola's all-time record -- and a 0.79 goals-against average.
Nielsen, nicknamed the White Puma, provided an injection of veteran experience to a backline that excelled despite fielding four starters 26 years old and younger. Sporting KC allowed the fewest goals in the league during the 2012 season (27), earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for their efforts. Center back Matt Besler also won Defender of the Year, and he, Aurélien Collin and Nielsen were named to the MLS Best XI.
Dan Kennedy from Chivas USA, last year's winner, finished third in the voting, largely due to votes received from the players, who obviously admired his ability to keep the Goats in games almost single-handedly. The 2012 MLS All-star was the lone bright spot in a dismal season for the Goats, posting a 1.69 goals-against average despite facing a league high 167 shots.
Seattle's Michael Gspurning finished third in the voting after replacing Kasey Keller between the pipes for the Sounders. The Austrian was hampered by injuries early in the season, but recorded a league low goals-against average of 0.73 and a 12-4-5 mark as a starter.
But looking at the numbers, Nielsen was clearly the favorite. He dominated every category of the voting, including earning more than 70% of the media vote and more than 26% of the players votes. In other words, everyone knows who the White Puma is now.
|GOALKEEPER||% Club Votes||% Media Votes||% Player Votes||WEIGHTED TOTAL|
|1. Jimmy Nielsen (SKC)||49.12||70.77||26.44||146.33|
|2. Dan Kennedy (CHV)||12.28||3.08||14.94||30.30|
|3. Michael Gspurning (SEA)||12.28||4.61||11.49||28.38|
|4. Nick Rimando (RSL)||8.77||4.61||4.60||17.98|
|5. Andy Gruenebaum (CLB)||3.51||9.23||4.60||17.34|
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