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Scottish accent in MLS Cup

Revolution's Nicol has some links with Dynamo

The finalists for the MLS championship are teams from Texas and Massachusetts, but Scottish burrs will drown out Southern drawls and New England accents when the Revolution and Houston Dynamo meet in the MLS Cup Sunday afternoon in Frisco, Texas.

Houston coach Dominic Kinnear, 39, was born in Glasgow and raised in Fremont, Calif., where he played for a high school team coached by his father, and went on to a professional career in the US and Mexico.

Revolution coach Steve Nicol, 45, was born in Troon, just outside Glasgow, and made his name with Liverpool FC before moving to Hopkinton in 1999, having been signed as player-coach for the Boston Bulldogs by another son of a Scotsman, current Harvard coach John Kerr.

Kinnear tapped into Scotland for a late-season reinforcement, forward Paul Dalglish, and he scored twice as the Dynamo defeated the Colorado Rapids, 3-1, for the Western Conference championship Sunday night.

But Nicol probably should have had the inside track on Dalglish. Nicol played alongside Dalglish's father, Kenny, at Liverpool; they won the Champions Cup in 1984 and continued to play together after Kenny became Liverpool player-coach in 1986.

"I spoke to him two years ago and he was packing the game in," Nicol said.

Paul Dalglish had started working in broadcasting, emulating his sister, Kelly, a Sky Sports commentator.

"Then he was popping up in Houston," Nicol said. "I was kind of surprised he was still playing. Why was I talking to him? Not for any particular reason. He was up to doing stuff with players. He was at Blackpool at the time."

Asked if he had recruited Dalglish, Nicol replied, "We didn't really need anybody. I've known him since he was a wee boy. He used to come to our games, and when he was a bit older, 9 or 10, he started coming to away games with his dad's mate."

Nicol often converses with Kenny Dalglish, who left the coaching and management professions in 2000 and is involved in broadcasting.

Kenny, said Nicol, "phoned me up and asked about Houston and Dominic and what kind of team it was. I told him it was a good place with good people. I spoke to him last week. We talk about everything."

Kenny Dalglish is regarded as possibly the greatest player in Liverpool history and further enhanced his reputation with his coaching, joining Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley as the club's most successful coaches.

"He had his time, he enjoyed it, and he was successful," Nicol said. "He took Blackburn to the title and he had Newcastle for a period when they were staring relegation in the face. He's seen it at both ends of the table.

"But you move on. Not everybody is like Bobby Robson, going on forever. [Dalglish] was a player-coach, manager, director of soccer at Celtic. He's been through it all and he's done everything but be the tea lady.

"He still has his finger in the pie in some ways. He is still at the games. If there are any good jobs going, Kenny has one."

Nicol, who has guided the Revolution to three MLS Cup finals in five years, said Dalglish is a strong influence on his method of coaching.

"As a player, he was the best, fantastic," Nicol said. "He never gave the ball away and he always put it exactly where you wanted it. As a manager, he was somebody you could talk to but he wasn't afraid to stick his finger in your face if you needed telling, either. You knew exactly where you stood with him."

Nicol is a hands-on coach but he rarely reprimands players.

"The way we have it, everyone knows what is expected, and generally guys do that," Nicol said. "I'm not going to get on them if they don't deserve it. If they do deserve it, I'm going to be the first one that goes into them. But we don't need to do it very often, and that's a good thing."

The Dalglish part of the Houston scouting report is simple for Nicol.

Kinnear has been going with US national teamer Brian Ching as a target forward, Dalglish running off him.

"I'm sure it wasn't easy for him," Nicol said of Dalglish. "His father was such a great player and Paul never tried to fill his dad's boots. Paul was just being Paul. But I'm sure when he was younger he got comparisons all the time. He is level-headed and well brought up, and it wouldn't have affected him.

"He has good all-around ability. He's got some pace, he's a grafter, and he is decent in the air, he's got a bit of everything. We have to keep an eye on him, and if he gets the ball, we have to be tight on him."

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com

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