Jimmy Nielsen, Sporting Kansas City

Critics' Choice

Professional athletes come and go in Kansas City, with few leaving a lasting impression in this Midwestern metro's social fabric. But for the most part, high-paid pros leave Kansas City when their playing days or contracts expire. But Jimmy Nielsen is one who seems intent on making KC his home. Sporting Kansas City's goalkeeper left behind a somewhat troubled past in his native Denmark to get playing time in the United States. He has been the best net minder in Kansas City since Tony Meola. And unlike George Brett, who lives in tony Mission Hills, largely removed from the Kansas City commoner, Nielsen has taken up residence in a modest Brookside home where he isn't shy about striking up conversations with neighbors and fans. Joggers and dog walkers on the Trolley Track Trail can often spot Nielsen walking his well-behaved dog. Chances are, he'll strike up a conversation with a stranger, and not the other way around.

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