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Aug. 11, 2005 – Steve Nicol named MLS All-Star team coach for Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu at Real Madrid

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New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol tried to make it work, but MLS’ haphazard attempt to send a team to compete against Real Madrid resulted in disappointment.

As I wrote in The Boston Globe: “If the MLSers are routed, nobody should be shocked …”

The league considered sending the first-place Revolution, and Nicol clearly believed that would have been a better option. The Revolution could have booked a direct, non-stop flight – instead, most of the players met in Chicago, the trip to Madrid taking 14-plus hours.

From Aug. 26, 2005 editions of The Globe:

“I wouldn’t say it was a mistake to take a team like we did,” Nicol said. “We needed longer to prepare from a physical point of view. I thought we did well — for an hour we were competitive. The difference was finishing their free kick [by David Beckham] and the great finishes by Ronaldo. Matt [Reis] had no chance on any of the goals.

“The score line is disappointing, but if you ask all the players who played in the game, they all learned something. It was a great experience, the atmosphere was fantastic, everyone loved it.”

Nicol was named coach because the Revolution (12-5-6) are in first place in the overall standings going into tomorrow’s game against D.C. United. The MLS considered sending the first-place team, then settled on an all-star group that included at least one player from every team. The Revolution played five games in 15 days, but had no matches scheduled since Aug. 18.

“If you send one team, you have a lot more cohesion, a lot more understanding, from the fact that everyone is used to playing together,” Nicol said. “If you have a Saturday off, so you have a full two weeks between games, you could play a game like this. [The Revolution] had some time off, but it would not have been ideal, because we had just played [five games in 15 days].”

Aug. 23, 2005 – Real Madrid 5:0 MLS XI, 27th Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu, at Estadio Bernabeu (Att.: 60,000)

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