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While other goalkeepers may have faced more shots, and none played behind as steady a defense as Sporting Kansas City’s, Jimmy Nielsen’s season was a special one because the Danish goalkeeper always seemed to make the important save when his team needed it the most.
Nielsen played every minute of the season for Sporting KC, compiling a league-leading 15 shutouts, which doubled his total from 2011. Nielsen posted a 0.79 goals-against average, one of the best totals in MLS history and also proved instrumental in helping Sporting KC win the U.S. Open Cup in penalty kicks.
While the argument can certainly be made that Nielsen didn’t face as many shots, or as much attacking pressure as other goalkeepers, there is no denying that when the time came to make vital saves, particularly in tight matches for a Sporting Team that didn’t always generate goals in bunches, Nielsen almost always made the important save.
That is why Nielsen is the pick for SBI MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
Here is a closer look at the other contenders for the honor:
Posted the best goals-against average in the league, and was steady when healthy, but he missed a third of the season and also lost out to Nielsen in the U.S. Open Cup Final. That didn’t stop him from still being considered a very close second for the award.
The Columbus Crew didn’t make the playoffs, but the reason they were still alive until the final weeks was the outstanding work of Andy Gruenebaum, who was the best goalkeeper in the league through the first half of the season.
One of the most consistent and reliable goalkeepers in the league, Hall’s poise and ability to avoid mistakes made him the stabilizing force on a Dynamo side that struggled to maintain a consistently high level. He would have played every game of the season if he hadn’t been rested in the regular season finale, and his clutch saves were a major reason the Dynamo didn’t miss the playoffs.
What did you think of this year’s crop of goalkeepers? Who impressed you the most in net in 2012?
Share your thoughts below.