Revs' Nicol to coach MLS vs. Real Madrid
Steve Nicol and the coaching staff of the New England Revolution will lead the way when a squad of the league's best players take on Real Madrid on Aug. 23 for the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain, Major League Soccer announced Thursday. The players who comprise the MLS Select Team will be named early next week.
"It's a great honor to be representing MLS at such a special place as the Santiago Bernabeu," said Nicol, who faced Real Madrid in the 1989 edition of the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu while with Liverpool. "It's a good opportunity to play at such a great stadium against such a great team. We'll enjoy it even more if we perform together as a team."
Nicol's New England Revolution side currently sits at the top of the Eastern Conference and all of MLS with 39 points. Fresh off a 4-1 thrashing of Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium, the Revolution are second in the league in goals scored (38) and first in goals allowed (22). Nicol narrowly missed out on coaching the MLS All-Stars against Fulham FC in the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game last month because FC Dallas held the best record in the league after the weekend of July 4.
Now in his third full season as an MLS head coach, Nicol has led the Revs to within spitting distance of a first league title in each of the past three seasons. After taking over midway through the 2002 campaign, Nicol earned MLS Coach of the Year honors that same season by leading the club to MLS Cup 2002, where they fell in overtime to the Los Angeles Galaxy. Another overtime defeat followed in the 2003 Eastern Conference Final against the Chicago Fire, and the club lost out at the same step in a penalty kick shootout to D.C. United last season.
Nicol's successful coaching career follows an even more successful playing career in which he made 467 appearances for legendary English club Liverpool, winning four league titles, three F.A. Cup trophies and the 1984 European Cup while at Anfield. Nicol was also a member the Reds team that fell to Juventus in the European final in 1985.
The MLS-Madrid match will mark the first time a U.S. team has vied for the Santiago Bernabeu trophy, which - like Real's stadium - is named after the club's former president. The match will be Real's final tuneup before the start of the Spanish Primera Liga season, which kicks off on Aug. 28.
Also on Thursday, MLS unveiled the jersey to be worn by the MLS Select Team against Real Madrid. The black adidas jersey will feature a Pepsi logo across the front, an MLS badge on the jersey and shorts and an MLS 10th Season patch and a U.S. flag patch on either sleeve.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.