Former Greensboro player Nelsen led Kiwis
New Zealand team captain Ryan Nelsen and his Kiwi team tied Paraguay, 0-0, in its final group game today. Despite going unbeaten (0-0-3) the All Whites were eliminated from the World Cup. Nelsen was a Greensboro men's soccer player in 1997 and 1998.
Nelsen, the Goal.com World Player of the Week, was lauded for spearheading New Zealand's formidable defense. The All Whites allowed just two goals in its three matches.
New Zealand recorded three points and was one point behind Slovakia, which advanced with group winner Paraguay. The Kiwis placed ahead of defending champion Italy (two points).
"It has been absolutely fantastic what Ryan and his team have done for their country," said Darren Powell, Nelsen's coach on the 1998 national runner-up team. "Led by Nellie the All White's determination and spirit has been a great example for soccer."
A native of Christchurch, N.Z., Nelsen played under Steve Allison in '97 and earned Dixie Conference rookie of the year honors. He primarily played sweeper/defender. He also contributed 12 goals and 8 assists as well. As a freshman, Nelson helped the team to a 13-4-1 mark, Dixie Conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.
In 1998, he helped propel GC to the national title game, finishing 19-4, and earning another conference crown. His goal vs. Rowan lifted the Pride to the championship final vs. OWU. During his time at Greensboro, Nelson received DIAC rookie of the year, two-time Dixie Conference first team, 1998 NSCAA Third team All American, and a member of the 1998 NCAA Final Four Team.
Nelsen spent his last two years at Stanford, starting 19 games his junior year and named MVP. He concluded his college career being named the 2000 Men's Soccer NSCAA Adidas Scholar Player of the Year. He received his Bachelor's degree in physical science from Stanford in 2001.
Nelsen was then selected as the third overall pick by D.C. United of Major League Soccer. Named team captain, he earned league defender of the year honors, was named to MLS First 11, and won the league championship in his third year with team. Nelsen signed with the Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League in 2005 and serves as team captain. He also has been a long-time player for the New Zealand national side.
Nelsen was inducted into the Greensboro Athletics Hall of Fame in April.