Sporting Kansas City has announced former goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen as the newest member of the Sporting Legends hall of honor.
Nielsen, who enjoyed a brilliant four-year stint in Kansas City from 2010-2013, will be officially inducted as a Sporting Legend in a pre-match ceremony before Sporting Kansas City hosts the Colorado Rapids on June 23 at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets for the Western Conference clash are now available at SeatGeek.com.
Nielsen, who famously captained Sporting to the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup titles, is the 11th club icon to join Sporting Legends, an initiative launched in 2013 that pays tribute to all-time greats while providing a platform for inductees to engage with the Kansas City community. Nielsen was selected through an online ballot of write-in votes submitted by fans.
Sporting Legends Inductees
- 2013: Bob Gansler, Tony Meola, Preki
- 2014: Jimmy Conrad, Lamar Hunt, Peter Vermes
- 2015: Chris Klein
- 2016: Kerry Zavagnin
- 2017: Mo Johnston
- 2019: Josh Wolff
- 2021: Jimmy Nielsen
Like the previous 10 Sporting Legends inductees, Nielsen will have his name adorned outside The Victory Suite in the northwest corner of Children’s Mercy Park. A new UMB Sporting Legends Pylon will also be erected at the stadium, showcasing three Nielsen memorabilia items from Sporting’s 2013 MLS Cup victory over Real Salt Lake: the iconic pink goalkeeper jersey and rib protector he wore in the match as well as the printed scouting report he used during a victorious penalty shootout in which he made two pivotal saves.
As part of his Sporting Legends experience next month, Nielsen will support the local soccer community by engaging with Sporting KC Youth Soccer and The Victory Project. On June 17, he will visit Children’s Mercy Park for the SKC Boys Homegrown Experience, involving players ages 7-14. Prior to the June 23 match, Nielsen will meet The Victory Project Honoree during Sporting KC training at Compass Minerals National Performance Center. After Sporting’s home match against LAFC on June 26, he will present medals to local youth athletes competing in the Special Olympics Unified Soccer exchange game at Children’s Mercy Park.
In four standout seasons at Sporting, Nielsen established himself as one of the club’s most influential players of all time. The Denmark native made 142 competitive appearances for Sporting, earning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and MLS Best XI honors in 2012 as well as MLS All-Star recognition in 2010 and 2012. Nicknamed the White Puma and beloved by fans, Nielsen started 100 straight MLS matches for Sporting from 2011 until the end of 2013, when he retired from professional soccer after a storied 19-year playing career.
Across all competitions, Nielsen ranks first in club history in win percentage (.585) and places second behind Tim Melia with 65 goalkeeping wins (65-41-35 record) and 52 shutouts. Additionally, his 0.99 goals against average in the MLS regular season is the best in league history among goalkeepers with at least 3,500 minutes played.
After spending the first 15 years of his professional career in Denmark and England, Nielsen joined Kansas City in 2010 and was named an MLS All-Star and the club’s Defensive Player of the Year in his first season. He led an impressive resurgence the following year as Sporting punctuated its move into Children’s Mercy Park by finishing atop the Eastern Conference regular season standings and advancing to the conference championship match.
In 2012, Nielsen became the team captain and was named team MVP for the second straight season to go along with MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and Best XI honors. He started the MLS All-Star Game against Chelsea FC and guided Sporting to a shootout victory in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, saving a penalty kick in a dramatic triumph over Seattle Sounders FC at Children’s Mercy Park. He ended the 2012 regular season with 18 wins, 15 shutouts and a 0.79 goals against average, all of which are the second-best single-season marks in club history.
During Sporting’s championship campaign in 2013, Nielsen led all MLS goalkeepers with 19 victories and 14 shutouts (including playoffs). His 0.88 goals against average in the regular season was the best among goalkeepers with 1,000 minutes played and his 546-minute shutout streak was the second-longest in team history. He was named an MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist for a second straight season and cemented his legendary status in the 2013 MLS Cup at Children’s Mercy Park, saving two penalties in the decisive shootout as Sporting knocked off Real Salt Lake following a 1-1 draw.
Nielsen began his professional career in 1994 at English side Millwall FC. A year later he signed for hometown club Aalborg BK, where he made 342 appearances and won the 1999 Danish Superliga championship. Following his stint with Aalborg, Nielsen played 63 matches over two years for Danish club Vejle before moving to Kansas City.