Hope everyone had a great Labor Day. Filled mine with mullets and corn dogs at Santa-Cali-Gon Days. Let's stumble back into a normal work week, even though the Wizards have been forced to reschedule their game this Saturday because a minor-league baseball team is hosting a playoff series.*
*I guess when your city is so strapped for playoffs of any kind, you'll boot a more prominent team out of a stadium with nothing more than a knowing look and/or a helpless shrug of the shoulders. Personally, I find it funny. It's also yet another sign of how important having their own stadium will be next season.
It's been no secret that Jimmy "The White Puma" Nielsen has been the team's salvation multiple times this year. He's fresh off yet another game where he kept the team in it (making five important saves) and gave KC a chance to win. (See also, Columbus mid-July). He's also fresh off his 5th NAPA Save of the Week award.
Many fans and media members (me included) feel that Nielsen is probably the team's MVP this season. But is The White Puma having a better season than the guy he replaced?
Kevin Hartman, who was shipped to FC Dallas before the season started, is having a near-MLS MVP season.
He's allowing 0.61 goals per game (with four fewer games played than Nielsen) and has saved 80 percent of the shots he has faced. More importantly, his team is 10-1-7 when he plays. (It probably needs to be repeated multiple times to believe it: Dallas has only lost 2 games the entire year!)
FC Dallas is currently four points away from the top of the table. Hartman has been a very, very important part of that.
Kansas City is miraculously still fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Nielsen has been a very, very important part of that.
With both our current and former 'keeper having such great seasons (but their teams in just such different situations), it's about time we ask the question (and be honest): Is Kansas City better off with The White Puma than El Gato? Would Hartman be having this type of season between the sticks in KC?
I think Nielsen. That's mostly because I feel that Hartman's numbers are buoyed a bit by the defense in front of him (Dallas is tied for 2nd in the league with only 17 goals allowed) and Nielsen was stuck trying to mop up Pablo Escobar's mistakes more often than not. But it took me a little longer than I thought it would to come to that conclusion.