Ambitious Whitecaps have Jason Kreis, Bob Bradley on their coaching wish list

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As mentioned earlier today, Vancouver newspaper The Province slipped a list of coaching candidates into their report on the Whitecaps’ contract decisions. Assistant Carl Robinson’s in the mix, former Montréal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch got an interview, and Richie Williams, a man some around the league have thought worthy of a shot for some time, has also talked to the club.

But the most notable names on The Province’s list are a couple of bombshells: current Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis, and former U.S. Men’s National Team boss Bob Bradley.

Either hire would be a boon for the Whitecaps, but looking at how the list is being reported (as well as what we know about the two coaches), one man is a far more likely hire than the other.

Kreis is just on the wishlist. His team nine days away from playing for a second title, the RSL boss has other things on his mind. Perhaps his people are talking to their people, but even then, a move northwest seems unlikely.

Kreis has long been connected with the job at NYCFC. If he’s going to leave Salt Lake, it’s more likely to be for that kind of opportunity. While there are a number of reasons a coach would want to take up residence with the Whitecaps (great city, strong talent base, decent financial resources, good fans), it’s unclear why somebody in Kreis’s place would trade Utah for British Colombia.

You can’t blame VWFC president Bob Lenarduzzi for keeping Vancouver’s options open, though, just like you can’t blame him for sounding out Bob Bradley. According to The Province, the Whitecaps have had discussions with the former U.S. boss, now free after finishing his duties with Egypt. While at first blush it may seem like a weird fit, this also looks like a longshot that’s worth pursuing.

Consider the situation Bradley’s in. He doesn’t need to take a job tomorrow (his phone won’t stop ringing anytime soon), yet no matter how noble his experience was in Egypt, it may not open that many new doors. People are going to remember that 6-1 in Ghana, though in North America, Bradley is highly respected for the work he did with the U.S. national team and at club level. In Major League Soccer, he is a prime coaching candidate, a status he doesn’t have anywhere else.

That’s both the reason for Vancouver’s interest and why the job makes sense for Bradley. If his options mean Major League Soccer is his best choice, he’s unlikely to get a better offer. Few competitive teams are changing coaches, and among those that do, Vancouver’s stands out. Real Salt Lake may open up, but another former Chivas USA coach (Robin Fraser) is the favorite there, while the Whitecaps’ situation is better than the one in Dallas. Unless the Toronto job opens up and Bradley wants to crack that nut, it’d be better to try and be the guy that gets talents like Mattocks, Miller, Manneh, Teibert, Salgado, Reo-Coker, Koffie, and DeMerit over the top.

Plus, if Bob Lenarduzzi is targeting the likes of Kreis and Bradley, it’s reasonable to assume the money’s there. Real Salt Lake is willing to make Kreis the third-highest paid coach in Major League Soccer. Vancouver wouldn’t jump into those sweepstakes if they were unwilling to match.

Whenever a big coaching job in Major League Soccer opens up, Bradley’s going to be mentioned, but with the talent in Vancouver, he could turn the Whitecaps into a regular postseason presence. And if that happens, Vancouver’s will become one of the league’s best jobs. All it takes is one man to go to B.C. Place and put the pieces together.

Celtic’s Griffiths tears into Rangers chairman after “gulf” comments

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Celtic star Leigh Griffiths took the Old Firm bait and promptly swallowed the fisherman.

If you missed it, Rangers chairman Dave King said Celtic should’ve been even further ahead of their rivals given the setbacks handed to Rangers, who finally climbed back to the Scottish Premiership this season.

Celtic went unbeaten, drawing just four of 38 matches and finished 39 points ahead of Rangers on the table.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

If Celtic won all 38, they could’ve finished 47 points clear of Rangers. So, we guess the gulf could be bigger.

Here’s what Griffiths had to say:

“What was the gulf? 30-odd points. How does he expect that to be bigger? They were touting at the start of last season that they were going to win the league and this and that.

Joey Barton was coming up and saying he was going to be the best player in Scotland – he lasted a few months. In the first [Old Firm] game, they got hammered 5-1 and they got hammered 5-1 at the end of the season. So, the gulf couldn’t be any bigger. This season, they’ll be trying to bridge the gap.

“Ultimately it’s about what we do and if we are at our best nobody in Scotland can live with us.”

It was absurd talk from King, who doesn’t need to amp up one of the world’s best rivalries and also doesn’t have a leg to stand on considering the dominant season from the Bhoys. Wow.

San Jose adds Designated Player from Legia Warsaw

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Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili is the latest MLS Designated Player, as the Georgian will hit the pitch for San Jose this season provided his visa and ITC go through.

Qazaishvili comes from Legia Warsaw after five seasons with Vitesse in the Eredivisie. The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been capped 24 times, and scored in Georgia’s 2-2 draw with Moldova earlier this month in World Cup qualifying.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

Equally adept at right or left wing, Qazaishvili posted a goal and two assists for Legia following his transfer from Vitesse. He scored 28 goals and added 13 assists in 121 matches for the Dutch side.

From SJEarthquakes.com:

“We were looking for a player, a younger, offensive player, that really excites the fans and has the possibility to stay with us for a long period of time. That’s what we found with Vako,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “We wanted a player that knows how to take on a defender one-on-one, that sees the goal and that also wants to bring a spark to our game.”

San Jose sits seventh in the Western Conference table, and only two teams — Colorado and DC — have scored fewer goals in MLS. Jahmir Hyka and Cordell Cato have been fine, but San Jose needed a better chance creator.

Qazaishvili, in theory, fits the bill. If he has half the impact of fellow Legia export Nemanja Nikolic, San Jose is cooking with gas.

Transfer rumor roundup: Van Dijk to Chelsea, Ox to Anfield

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More and more players are being linked with Manchester United, but — believe it or not — the Red Devils aren’t the only club seeking talent.

DiMarzio is reporting that Antonio Conte is close to securing the services of Southampton center back Virgil Van Dijk, insisting the Dutch back is Conte’s top choice ahead of Juventus power house Leonardo Bonucci (which isn’t to say there isn’t room for both). The price? An eyebrow-raising $77 million.

[ MORE: Confederations Cup scenarios ]

Meanwhile, Conte is selling talented Bertrand Traore outside the Premier League. A solid season on loan at Ajax upped interest in the 21-year-old striker, and L’Equipe says it’s a $22 million move to Lyon for Traore.

How much do you think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is worth? Liverpool may think his value is as high as $32 million, as The Independent reports that Arsenal is prepared to sell the Southampton Academy product to the attacker-heavy Reds.

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry‘s wild journey looks to have another stop despite a purchase from Bayern Munich this summer. Gnabry was one of Germany’s heroes at the Olympics and left Arsenal for Werder Bremen last summer. He thrived, and earned a deal to Bayern, but Kicker brings quotes from a Hoffenheim player that are hopeful of a loan for this season.

Messi offers to pay $558,000 to avoid 21-month jail sentence

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has offered to pay an additional fine of 500,000 euros ($558,000) to ensure he avoids a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud that a judge is expected to suspend, a Spanish state prosecutor said Friday.

State prosecutor Isabel Lopez Riera told The Associated Press the fine-for-time deal was presented by Messi’s lawyers to the judge who will rule on whether to suspend Messi’s sentence – as is widely expected. Lopez Riera said she has told the judge that her office is not opposed to the deal.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

Lopez Riera said Messi’s lawyers have made a similar offer for the Barcelona player’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi. He is offering to pay 360,000 euros ($402,000) to avoid his 15-month sentence for helping his son cheat on his taxes.

In Spain, prison sentences under 24 months for first-time offenders can be suspended by a judge.

The government attorney representing Spain’s Tax Office in the case will also be able to weigh in on the proposed deal. As state prosecutor, Lopez Riera is impartial in the case as a defender of the public interest.

Last year, a court in Barcelona found Messi and his father each guilty of three counts of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) from 2007-09. The unpaid taxes were from money made through endorsement deals, not Messi’s salary paid by Barcelona.

Messi was fined 2 million euros and his father 1.5 million euros. Both were originally sentenced to 21 months, but his father’s sentence was later reduced to 15 months.

In the last two weeks, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho have been accused by a Madrid-based state prosecutor of having defrauded Spain’s Tax Office of millions of euros (dollars) in unpaid taxes.

Both have denied wrongdoing.