Top five MLS coaching candidates (plus one apparently already off the “available list”)

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The urge to hire coaches with an accent (foreign dudes, that is) will simply be too irresistible for some Major League Soccer owner or GM. Managers from lands afar with no MLS experience may work in MLS, or they may not; there are examples on either side of that argument.

But there are plenty of good choices from the good ol’ USA, men with ample knowledge of the MLS quirkiness, the measurable tax of summer heat and travel, salary cap restrictions, the personnel acquisition peculiarities, etc.

(MORE: Updated list of MLS coaching dismissals)

(MORE: Why Martin Rennie failed at Vancouver)

Here are the top five North American coaching candidates (in alphabetical order), plus one bonus choice, who may already have been picked off the shelf:

Bob Bradley: It seems pretty unlikely the former U.S. national team boss will remain with Egypt once the Pharaohs are eliminated from World Cup contention (as they almost certainly will be upon the return leg against Ghana). Bradley (pictured) would love to remain at the international level. But he’s a soccer man through and through, and if he doesn’t get an offer quickly, the MLS suitors would be silly not to line up. Columbus is certainly eager to get in line.

Robin Fraser: Pay no attention to that dark spot on his resume, a.k.a. the Chivas USA period; that place is just this side of hopeless. (Although for Chivas USA fans, I certainly do hope things improve.) Everyone respects Fraser; he’ll get another shot at some point. (Probably at Real Salt Lake if Jason Kreis grabs the chance to become New York City FC’s first manager.)

Jesse Marsch: The longtime MLS midfield fixture did good things in 2012 with expansion Montreal. A Bradley protégé, he’s going to be a good manager somewhere – it just looks like Montreal wasn’t the right fit. Maybe he’ll be a better fit at Chicago if the Fire decides that Frank Klopas isn’t the right guy for the bench at Toyota Park.

Tab Ramos: As I wrote about before, he looks to me a lot like the next Caleb Porter. And who wouldn’t want the next MLS Coach of the Year – since Porter seems likely to be handed that honor in December? Ramos isn’t just a student of the game, he’s a student of teaching the game. In working with young players, you could do a whole lot worse than the thoughtful, former U.S. midfield standout.  

Eric Wynalda: I spoke to Wynalda recently in Kansas City, prior to a U.S. national team practice. He likes his TV gig. It works for him now – but I got the feeling he would listen to the right MLS offer. It has to be a good fit; the former American international is outspoken, and it’s going to take a bit of a maverick owner, someone who understands Wynalda isn’t a group-think guy and doesn’t always care about diplomacy. But he is a sharp guy, and he’ll get a lot out of his players.

(Bonus candidate: Frank Yallop. Thing is, he already seems to be off the shelf. Reports are coming out of Canada that he’s already in line to replace Martin Rennie at Vancouver. If not … then add him to this list. Everyone loves playing for him, and he remains well respected.)

(MORE: The MLS coaching carousel is about to get crazy)

(MORE: With coaching vacancies ahead, there should be a race for Tab Ramos)

Northern Ireland manager O’Neill banned for DUI

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EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has pleaded guilty to drunk driving and been banned from the road for 16 months.

O’Neill was caught by police on the outskirts of Edinburgh at about 1 a.m. on Sept. 10 and was found to be around three times the legal drink-drive limit.

O’Neill appeared on Thursday at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where he received the driving ban and fine of 1,300 pounds ($1,700).

O’Neill’s solicitor, James Mulgrew, told the court “this was simply a bad error of judgment.”

Northern Ireland is still in contention for its first World Cup trip since 1986. The team plays Switzerland in a two-leg playoff next month to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year.

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Newcastle takeover bid moves closer

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Newcastle United fans are getting very, very excited.

PCP Capital Partners, led by Amanda Staveley, have signed a confidentiality agreement with the club’s owners after Mike Ashley put the club up for sale earlier this week

Ashley is said to value Newcastle at over $520 million, while Staveley is said to believe the club is worth close to $395 million, so there is plenty of negotiating still to happen but things are heading in the right direction.

In a statement on Monday Ashley said he would allow any potential buyer to pay the overall transaction fee in installments, while he also wants a buy to be completed by the end of December.

Who is Staveley?

She was seen at a Newcastle vs. Liverpool game at St James’ Park earlier this month as speculation was rife that a new owner was being lined up to buy Newcastle. That is indeed the case and Staveley, 44, is now able to look over the finances of the club exclusively.

Staveley oversaw the purchase of Manchester City by Abu Dhabi United and also lined up a deal for Liverpool to be bought by Dubai International Captial which fell through in the past.

Her close links to the Middle East has seen her become one of the most prominent British businesswomen in recent years and she currently manages over $34 billion of wealth globally. Staveley and her investors are said to be interested in buying several Premier League clubs.

Ashley’s lawyer, Andrew Henderson, released a statement on Thursday stating several other parties have inquired about buying the club since the announcement came that they were up for sale.

“Since Monday, a number of additional parties have come forward which we believe to be credible. We are also continuing to engage with a number of parties with whom we had entered into negotiations prior to Monday’s announcement.”

Things are moving very quickly for Newcastle’s fans as they thought they’d never get rid of much-maligned owner Ashley who is a lifelong fan of the club and bought them in 2007.

After two relegations from the Premier League (followed by instant returns to the PL on both occasions) Ashley has been accused of failing to spend money on the playing squad and realize Newcastle’s full potential as they challenged for the Premier League title on numerous occasions during the 1990s.

With Rafael Benitez getting the most of his squad and the Magpies sitting in the top 10 of the PL as things stand, the future is looking bright for Newcastle with plenty of investment expected if this sale does go through to Staveley or those she is closely connected with.

VIDEO: Man United ooze class after consoling teenage goalkeeper

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Wednesday was a big night for Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

The 18-year-old was making his debut in the UEFA Champions League and in doing so he became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to play in the competition, jumping ahead of the likes of Iker Casillas to set a new, hugely impressive, record.

Still, the night did not end well for the Belgian youngster.

[ MORE: United targeted Benfica’s goalkeeper ]

With Marcus Rashford‘s free kick floating into the box from out wide, he caught the ball but then stepped back over his own goal line… taking the ball with him.

Goal-line technology showed the ball had gone over and United were awarded the goal and won 1-0.

At the final whistle the teenager was stunned but Romelu Lukaku was one of the many United players who took time to console the distraught teenager.

Classy from Lukaku.

Even if Jose Mourinho did admit afterwards that United had targeted the teenager…

FIFA probe: Al-Khelaifi confirms his presence in Switzerland

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi says he will go to Switzerland next Wednesday to answer questions from Swiss prosecutors investigating the suspected bribery of a top FIFA executive for World Cup broadcasting rights.

Criminal proceedings against Al-Khelaifi, who is also CEO of Qatar-owned BeIN Media Group, former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, and an unnamed businessman working in sports rights were announced by the office of Switzerland’s attorney general last week.

The case involves the award of broadcast rights for the next four World Cups from 2018 through 2030.

Al-Khelaifi is alleged to have offered advantages to Valcke – FIFA’s CEO-like secretary general from 2007 until his firing in January 2016 – for the award of media rights in certain countries for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup.

Speaking Wednesday night on Canal Plus television, after PSG’s 4-0 win away to Anderlecht in the Champions League, Al-Khelaifi confirmed his trip to Switzerland.

“I have an appointment on the 25th. I will go there to speak with them, the Swiss (authorities),” said Khelaifi, who attended Wednesday’s match in Belgium. “That’s all.”

The proceeding against Al-Khelaifi is one of the first direct links to Qatar in sweeping investigations by federal law enforcement authorities in Switzerland, the United States, and France concerning FIFA, international soccer, and the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Last week, the Paris offices of BeIN Sports were searched. Properties were searched in Greece, Italy, and Spain while Valcke was questioned in Switzerland.