Having produced the second-longest scoreless streak in franchise history, Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen is on the verge of setting a different team record.
With Nielsen’s help, Sporting KC (4-1-2) hasn’t allowed a goal in 519 minutes, a streak that trails only a 681-minute run in 2000 that was led by Tony Meola. The club hasn’t been scored upon since the 21st minute of a 2-1 loss to Toronto on April 9.
While moving closer to matching that record, which represents the second-longest shutout streak in league history, Nielsen tied Meola’s career mark for clean sheets in a 1-0 win over New York on Wednesday.
“I always considered Tony (Meola) to be the best big-game guy, extremely consistent,” coach Peter Vermes said. “Jimmy has the same qualities.”
With its third consecutive win, Kansas City is 3-0-2 in its last five and has moved a point ahead of Montreal for the Eastern Conference lead. The club will try to add to it while earning a second victory in as many tries against Los Angeles (2-1-2), with Nielsen seeking his fourth shutout in five career games against the Galaxy.
That may not bode well for Los Angeles, which was blanked in its last game and is waiting for star Landon Donovan to get back in the groove after missing the early part of the season due to a sabbatical following the club’s second straight MLS Cup title.
Donovan played 90 minutes for the first time this season in a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas last Saturday.
“Last week was really good for me personally. This has been a good week of training,” Donovan told the league’s website. “My hope is that this is the week that it all finally comes together.”
The Galaxy are also hoping to see forward Robbie Keane on the field after he missed the last game due to a sprained left ankle. Defenders Todd Dunivant and Sean Franklin might also be back from minor injuries, while forward Jose Villarreal is questionable due to a strained shoulder.
“It’s a good test of how we bounce back. We haven’t done that yet this year,” said midfielder Mike Magee, tied for the league lead with five goals. ‘We’re going to see what this team’s about.”
Los Angeles couldn’t get a shot past Nielsen in the lone matchup last season, a 1-0 defeat April 7, 2012.