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Kansas City Wizards sign goalkeeper Nielsen

The Kansas City Wizards today announced the signing of Danish goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to a Major League Soccer contract. Per League and team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Nielsen is expected to arrive in Kansas City this week and will join the team for the second leg of their preseason preparations in Phoenix, Arizona starting on February 21st.

"We are very pleased to add a goalkeeper of Jimmy's pedigree to our squad," Wizards Manager Peter Vermes said. "He brings a wealth of experience playing overseas, and I know he can't wait to put that experience to work in Kansas City."

Nielsen comes to Kansas City after a long career in the Danish Superliga, appearing in 388 games since 1995 in the country's top-flight league. A vast majority of those appearances came with hometown club AaB Aalborg, with whom he won the 1998-1999 Danish Superliga championship and participated in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds. In 1998 and 2004 Nielsen won the Det Gyldne Bur (The Golden Cage), awarded annually to the best goalkeeper in Danish soccer. After the 2004 season, Nielsen was named Aalborg's captain.

Nielsen remained a fixture in Aalborg until 2007, when he left to join Leicester City in the English Championship. However, Nielsen's arrival coincided with a tumultuous time for the club that saw the Foxes hire and fire four different managers before the mid-point of the season. Nielsen left Leicester by mutual consent in January 2008 and signed with Danish club Vejle, with whom he made 46 appearances over two seasons.

"Everyone I've talked to said it's a great setup here in Kansas City, with good facilities and great support from the fans," Nielsen said. "I'm really looking forward to coming to Kansas City and winning a lot of games with the team."

Though Nielsen will become just the second Danish player in Wizards history after Miklos Molnar, he does have a pair of connections to Major League Soccer. Current New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe managed the championship winning 1998-1999 Aalborg team, which featured Nielsen as the starting goalkeeper. In addition, the Dane was teammates with current Philadelphia Union defender Danny Califf at Aalborg during the 2006-2007 season.

Nielsen will compete for a starting spot with the team upon arriving in Arizona. Current goalkeepers in camp include Louis Crayton, Boris Pardo and Alex Horwath.

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