The Full 90

Is Nielsen merely a mediocre keeper?

This was brought to my attention last night: The good folks at Soccer America have

ranked every team based on the strength of their goalkeepers.

Kansas City and Jimmy Nielsen were 11th on the list.

Yeah, 11th. Ranked behind Toronto, San Jose, New York and Colorado. Oh, that also ranked well behind former Wizards keeper Kevin Hartman and his new team, FC Dallas. Real Salt Lake's duo of Nick Rimando and Kyle Reynish finished first.

Now, as a person who has watched a lot of MLS soccer this year (and sure, is slightly biased), this ranking is just strange. Seriously, I'm not sure what planet Bouna Coundoul and Joe Cannon are better 'keepers this year than the White Puma.

Here's their blurb:

In his first MLS season, the Dane has earned Save of the Week honors multiple times yet has also let a few stoppable shots slip by him while playing every minute. The Wizards need a bit more from him to get into the playoffs.

The part that sticks in my craw (always wanted to type that) is the last sentence. How could the team possibly get any more from Nielsen? If not for the White Puma's performance against Columbus, Colorado and Real Salt Lake this last month, this team wouldn't even be in a position to fight for a playoff race!

Here are some stats: Only three 'keepers have faced more shots than Nielsen (Coundoul, Chris Seitz, Stefan Frei). He has allowed fewer goals than Kasey Keller (22 to 24). He has a better goal allowed average than Zach Thornton (1.17 to 1.20). He's tied for fourth with seven shutouts (which is two more than Kevin Hartman and Matt Pickens have on the season). He easily leads the league in awesome nicknames.

The best I can determine, they are faulting Nielsen for the faulty defense in front of him. After all, there's no goalie in the world who could have stopped the Renteria goal against Columbus. Or the first goal in the Red Bulls game. Or either of the Braun goals against Chivas USA. If Nick Rimando had Pablo Escobar in front of him this season, his numbers wouldn't be so great either, don't you think?

I think another factor for my ire is a hatred of preseason polls. As in college football, whomever starts the preseason at the top of the pile (based on nothing but reputation mostly) tends to get the benefit of the doubt. Nielsen and KC started ranked 14th in the preseason and moved up a staggering 3 spots.

What do you think? Are we in KC over-valuing Nielsen because he's our keeper in KC? Are these type of power rankings just ridiculous? Does this even matter?

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