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MLS approves the 'Beckham rule'

FRISCO, Texas — The MLS Board of Governors yesterday approved the designated player rule, which will allow teams to sign one player outside the salary cap.

The designation is commonly known as the ‘‘Beckham rule’’ after England and Real Madrid star David Beckham, who has been recruited to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls.

The designated player will count $400,000 toward teams’ nearly $2 million salary cap, and each team will be allowed to spend as much money as necessary to attract the player.

‘‘The responsibility for any amount above $400,000 will be on the individual owner,’’ MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis said.

The MLS also will allow teams losing a player to a transfer to be more fairly compensated. If a player is transferred, the team will be allowed to use most of the fee.

‘‘[Currently] the product takes half a step backward, the play on the field takes half a step backward, and the team is weaker for it,’’ Gazidis said. ‘‘This changes the dynamic.’’

Plenty of options

Every Revolution player trained yesterday in preparation for today’s MLS Cup against Houston. Coach Steve Nicol said midfielders Clint Dempsey (right ankle), Daniel Hernandez (plantar fasciitis), and Steve Ralston (calf), plus defender Avery John (knee) are set to play, but he did not announce a starting lineup. ‘‘I told the players I would give it to them at dinner,’’ Nicol said. ‘‘There is good and bad about the situation. Everyone is pretty much available, so somebody is going to be disappointed, but that’s the way it goes.’’ ..... The Revolution have lost two previous MLS Cups (2002 and ’05) by 1-0 scores in overtime against the Galaxy. ‘‘We are not thinking about the good stuff or the bad stuff that happened previously,’’ Nicol said. ‘‘This is a new game and we are going to go forward and try to score goals. We need to possess the ball well, and if we do that, we will make chances and score goals. If we don’t, our opportunities will be limited.’’ The Revolution ended the season with a 5-0-2 record and have a 7-1-2 record (14-6 goal differential) since Sept. 2. They have not surrendered more than a goal in a game since Sept. 2 (a 3-0 loss to Columbus). The Revolution’s Taylor Twellman is among the few MLS players to have scored in league play (11 goals), playoffs (2), US Open Cup (1), and for the US national team (4) this year. Dempsey had eight goals in the regular season and four for the US.

Direct approach

An important matchup will be Houston’s Brad Davis against the Revolution’s Steve Ralston on New England’s right wing. ‘‘Houston plays pretty direct, they like to get the ball wide and put a lot of crosses in the box,’’ Ralston said. ‘‘Brad is a proven player, very good on crosses and free kicks, and he really hammers the ball. I will have Wade Barrett coming forward also, so we really need to close them down because Brian Ching is a beast in the box.’’ This also will be a reunion for Davis and Ralston, who played for the Scott Gallagher club team in St. Louis. ‘‘I grew up watching [Ralston] playing with my brother,’’ Davis said. ‘‘He is a good player and a good guy. After the game, we’ll relax and have a beer together, but when it starts, you want to win the battles.’’ Ralston was also a teammate of Houston coach Dominic Kinnear with the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Ralston played on the right wing, Kinnear, normally a midfielder, concluding his career as a right back.

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at

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