Jimmy Nielsen, Aurelien Collin lead Sporting KC past Red Bulls
Jimmy Nielsen extended his scoreless streak to 519 minutes with his fifth straight shutout, and Aurelien Collin scored his first goal in nearly a year in Sporting Kansas City's 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes didn't hesitate when asked if he had seen a goalkeeper on this kind of streak.
"Tony (Meola), I played with him," said Vermes about his former World Cup teammate. "I always considered Tony to be the best big-game guy, extremely consistent, will do the business all the time and Jimmy has the same quality. Sometimes it's not easy playing for us when, in certain games, you don't give up many chances and all of a sudden he has to make a save in the 80th minute. For some guys you're getting shots all game long and you're in the tempo of it."
Thierry Henry had a great chance to break Nielsen's scoreless run in the 64th minute, but pushed his shot inches wide of the right post in front of a crowd of 12,338 at Red Bull Arena.
"Henry is a world-class player, and he's a great finisher, but what (Nielsen) does is he makes guys be a little more accurate and sometimes they try to be a little too accurate and they hit a post or hit it wide."
Collin scored on a header in the 13th minute off a corner kick. Seconds after goalkeeper Luis Robles tipped Seth Sinovic's shot over the goal, Graham Zusi took the corner kick and Colliin headed a shot that Robles could only get a hand on as it sailed inside the near post.
"We talked about in a meeting before the game about going hard to the near post," Nielsen said.
The goal was the central defender's first since April 18, 2012, against Vancouver.
"I scored and I was very happy, but whether I score or someone else, if we have a clean sheet we're very happy," Collin said.
Henry has played seven games against Sporting KC for the Red Bulls and has yet to score against the Eastern Conference rival.
"It's always a big challenge when I play against him," Collin said. "Being one-on-one with a striker against a defender is a challenge and I'm always happy to have that challenge."
In seven games this season, Nielsen has made only 11 saves.
"My players in front of me are doing an unbelievable job," Nielsen said. "I had to change my way to prepare myself for the game the last two seasons. I don't face many shots, but I have to be ready all the time. I'll be honest with you, it's a lot easier to be a goalkeeper when you're facing shots all the time. When there is a lot of action, you're in the game. But you have to find a way to keep yourself in the game."
Four minutes after Kansas City scored, the Red Bulls had a chance at the equalizer. Juninho lifted a restart into the box and Nielsen came off his line to punch it away. The ball bounced toward Henry, whose rebound attempt from close range was batted away by Nielsen.
In the 90th minute, the frustration spilled over for the Red Bulls when Juninho kicked a ball toward Nielsen's face during a break in play. Nielsen blocked it with his arm. Juninho received a red-card ejection for the unsportsmanlike conduct.
"He got frustrated and kicked the ball after me," Nielsen said. "It's part of the game to be frustrated. I understand."
Kansas City improved to 4-1-2, and New York dropped to 2-4-2.