Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen hasn’t been that busy in goal over the last four games, but he’s stopped everything sent his way.
The New York Red Bulls couldn’t get anything past the 2012 MLS goalkeeper of the year in the teams’ last two matchups.
Nielsen and Kansas City will try to extend the second-longest shutout streak in franchise history when the Red Bulls look to build on their first road win of the season Wednesday night.
Nielsen has recorded four straight clean sheets and hasn’t been scored on since the 21st minute of a 2-1 loss at Toronto on March 9. He’s within one shutout of Tony Meola’s franchise record of 37.
Kansas City’s 429-minute shutout streak is the second longest in club history, trailing the 681-minute Meola-led stretch in 2000 which is the second best in MLS history.
Nielsen had to make only one save in his latest effort, a 1-0 win over D.C. on April 5. The MLS leader with 15 shutouts last year, Nielsen has stopped three shots during Sporting’s 2-0-2 stretch.
“(The defenders are) playing every roll of the ball, all of the time,” he told the club’s official website. “They’re so focused for 90-plus minutes. Everyone on the field is taking pride in the way they want to defend.”
Nielsen didn’t make any saves in a 1-all draw against the Red Bulls on Aug. 26, but he stopped all eight shots in the clubs’ final two matchups in 2012 - a 2-0 Sporting victory Sept. 19 that ended New York’s 16-match home unbeaten streak and a scoreless draw Oct. 20.
The Red Bulls (2-3-2) couldn’t be happier to be back home after playing their fifth road game of the season Saturday, a 2-0 win over United. Thierry Henry, making his first start in nearly a month due to a knee injury, scored his second goal while Jamison Olave matched his career high with his third.
New York had netted four goals in its previous five games since a 3-all draw with Portland in its opener.
“We played well to earn that,” coach Mike Petke told the Red Bulls’ official website, “so that’s the confidence right there. … That easily has to be transferred back to our home this Wednesday night. No excuses at home - we have to play well.”
Fabian Espindola could see more playing time Wednesday. The Argentine, who scored twice in the season opener, was a second-half substitute Saturday after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
New York’s Luis Robles, tied for second in MLS with two shutouts, faced one shot - a header by Kei Kamara in the 86th minute - in his only start against Sporting KC on Oct. 20. That tie helped the Red Bulls clinch their third consecutive playoff berth, and dropped Kansas City’s road record in this series to 4-10-8.
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