Sporting KC

Sporting KC’s Matt Besler, Jimmy Nielsen are finalists for MLS awards

Updated: 2013-11-22T14:37:33Z

By SAM McDOWELL

The Kansas City Star

Two Sporting Kansas City players were announced Wednesday as finalists for Major League Soccer awards.

Matt Besler is one of three finalists for the MLS defender of the year, and Jimmy Nielsen is a finalist for the MLS goalkeeper of the year.

Besler, who won the award last season, is up against Los Angeles’ Omar Gonzalez and New England’s Jose Goncalves. The winner will be announced Tuesday.

“It’s an honor, and it’s always nice to be recognized as a finalist,” Besler said. “Our team’s stats defensively are at the top of the league again this year, and that’s what I take pride in the most.”

Nielsen led the league with 17 wins and a 0.88 goals-against average. He was second with 13 shutouts. Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando and Portland goalie Donovan Ricketts are also finalists for goalie of the year.

“It has been a different season for me personally,” Nielsen said. “As the team continues to get better, I’m not facing as many shots. You have to prepare yourself with a different mentality.”

On Tuesday, Erik Palmer-Brown was nominated for U.S. Soccer’s young male athlete of the year. Palmer-Brown, 16, a Lee’s Summit native, became the youngest signing in Sporting KC history when he signed his contract with the club in August.

To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.

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