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Kick Off: Potential candidates to succeed Nicol are named

So who will take over for Steve Nicol in New England?

At the very end of his Boston Globe piece, Frank Dell’Apa reports that current broadcaster Jay Heaps and former Revs player stalwart Steve Ralston are among the candidates.

Nicol refused to delve into the reasons for the parting of ways with the club after 10 years, saying, “I have no interest in all of that stuff.”

FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman is interested in ousting the New York Red Bulls in Wednesday’s Wild Card match and advancing in the MLS Cup Playoffs. But he knows that in front of FC Dallas will be “a very talented group, probably the most talent in the league.”

Hyndman has a lot to be concerned about. Apparently the Red Bulls were “flying” in practice on Sunday and Monday.

“We looked really, really sharp,” says RBNY manager Hans Backe. "The rhythm and the movement was phenomenal. I was very happy. … It’s the best for a month, perhaps since the start of the season, in the attacking game."

And while Backe says he’s banking on Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez to raise their game in the playoffs, Henry doesn’t sound so high on the postseason: “I will never get used to it,” he said. “In Europe, LA would have been champion, and rightly so. You play 34 games, you fight all season, that’s the way it is, and a team should be champion after that.”

Philadelphia Union captain Faryd Mondragón is apparently predicting something to go well for his club on Sunday afternoon at PPL Park in the series against Houston. This is the quote attributed to him at the very end of this Philadelphia Inquirer piece: “We're looking forward to Sunday, because it will be packed, and PPL Park will explode with joy and it will be a fantastic afternoon for everyone.”

Even though they have a playoff battle against the Union coming up, the Houston Dynamo were not about to forget to celebrate their manager Dominic Kinnear reaching 100 career victories in MLS: "It's pretty special," says veteran Brian Ching. "It's hard to do in this league, especially in a league where there's a lot of parity. For somebody to get 100 wins and be around for as many seasons as he did is quite the accomplishment."

The pundits are offering their forecasts for the postseason.’s Ives Galarcep says “If anybody can hand the Galaxy their first home loss of the year, it’s the Sounders.”

Speaking of the Sounders, today we expect results of the MRI conducted on the right knee of MVP candidate Mauro Rosales. In the very final graph of this article, Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times writes: “Signs continue to be encouraging that it's not a major injury and Schmid said after Monday's practice that Rosales ‘was surprised a little bit about how much he was able to do.’”

USA Today celebrates David Beckham wrapping up his fifth season in the league with a 35-photo montage that encompasses all five years spent in the USA. (PHOTO)

That is accompanied by a retrospective piece in which Beckham states that: “To be successful with the Galaxy, I have to win one [MLS Cup].” Meanwhile, the Galaxy’s owner, AEG, is already looking ahead: "I think at this point, David as a businessman is better served not moving his family, and in particular he has some business options in MLS as an owner," says Tim Leiweke. "My hope is that he stays for at least one more year with the Galaxy."

Here’s one more reason to stay in MLS. UEFA’s president Michel Platini isn’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for a potential arrival in France with Paris St. Germain: “If he's coming to Paris Saint-Germain, it will be for other reasons than just to play football," he said.

As MLS gets set to enter the playoffs, it does so while riding the wave of the highest average attendance in league history. Soccer America breaks down all the numbers.

It’s playoff time and players are focused on serious issues surrounding the postseason. RBNY goalkeeper Frank Rost, for instance, delves into one of them: “Why would you wear those new plastic cleats? Luke [Rodgers] has those new Nikes and he said the ball slides off his foot. What do you expect?”

Sporting Kansas City’s Aurelién Collin is not taking this playoff run lightly. He tells France Football that he appreciates being in the USA: “Coming to MLS has been the best decision of my life. Before this I found myself in some awful clubs. Here, it’s all perfect.” (FRENCH)

Toronto FC brass and manager Aron Winter met with media yesterday to close out the 2011 season and the priorities became clear: bringing back loan players Richard Eckersley and Joao Plata as well as searching for a central defender.

It seems that Toronto have already zeroed in on one offseason target. His name is Reggie Lambe.

Interesting to see what Eckersley says about his English club Burnley: “I haven’t heard from them. I’d like to stay. TFC has shown a lot more interest in me than Burnley. They’ve invested money in me and they don’t care.”

You want irony? How about the fact that the members of Iranian’s national team coaching staff all have connections to American soccer, including the head coach and US-born assistant Omid Namazi.

The managerial ranks were not kind to Sven-Göran Eriksson, who was let go at Leicester City and earned this cover in the Swedish sports daily. (PHOTO)

One of Eriksson’s former clubs, Manchester City, are in the news again today. Forward Mario Balotelli, whose house was on fire hours before he scored the opening goal in a 6-1 thrashing of Manchester United, is now the face of fireworks safety in England.

In other international news, Hope Solo and Abby Wambach will be competing against Marta for the 2011 FIFA World Player of the Year award. But that’s not what’s newsworthy. It’s that super-sub Alex Morgan is also in the running.

Speaking of the national team, Richie Williams was named new manager of the US Under-18 national team, completing a picture that sees Caleb Porter at the helm of the Under-23s and Tab Ramos managing the Under-20s.

Finally, fans have a pre-Halloween midweek treat from some of the European leagues today: Juventus vs. Fiorentina (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer) and Sevilla vs. Racing Santander (4 p.m. ET, GolTV). In England, they play the fourth round of the Carling Cup and Manchester United are in action against Aldershot Town (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus). Must-Reads:

TV industry expert talks World Cup TV rights on the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio

Uncertainty lies ahead for D.C. United star forward Charlie Davies

MLS Cup Top 50 Moments: #27 When It Rains, It Pours (1998)

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