Sporting Kansas City will begin defense of their championship in Major League Soccer Saturday with a road game at Seattle to open the season.
There will be one noticeable difference in the look of this year’s team. Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, nicknamed "The White Puma" and known for wearing pink, decided to go out on top.
Nielsen announced his retirement shortly after Sporting's 2013 MLS Cup win. He is now coaching in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Succeeding Nielsen will be Eric Kronberg.
“Jimmy (Nielsen) was a great goalkeeper and a legend in this city, so hats off to him,” said Kronberg. “But I just try to think about the future, this year and my teammates now.”
Kronberg has waited for his big chance since he was drafted out of the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. He has answered the same question the last two months: Are you ready for the opportunity?
"Obviously I’m very excited about that, my opportunity. I’m ready to show this city what I can do,” he said.
Sporting’s first match at home will be a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal next Wednesday. Then FC Dallas will be Sporting’s first MLS opponent at home March 15.