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Contract extension kicks in for coach

Steve Nicol has achieved incentives in his contract that guarantee his return as Revolution coach next season. The Revolution finished the season with a 12-9-9 record, second place in the Eastern Conference, and will begin the playoffs against the MetroStars at Giants Stadium Saturday.

Nicol, 41, was named MLS Coach of the Year in 2002 and guided the team to the MLS Cup final after being elevated from assistant following the dismissal of Fernando Clavijo. Nicol accepted a contract for one year with an option, the option contingent on the Revolution exceeding a .500 record for the 2003 regular season. The team clinched that mark with a 2-1 victory over the MetroStars Oct. 18.

"The team has certainly progressed from last year," Nicol said yesterday. "But at the end of the day, you just hope we will be ready for the playoffs and everyone performs when we need them to. As far as the season is concerned, we would have loved to be in first place. We had a dip in the middle of the season but we weren't playing poorly. The only time we played poorly was the first couple of games at home."

The Revolution have gone 17-9-10 in the last 36 regular-season matches. Several starters have emerged among the league's most productive players, others have reestablished themselves, and newcomers such as Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard, and Pat Noonan have become recognized among the league's top young prospects.

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