Friendly Preview: England vs. Ireland

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This one should be  very intriguing contest at Wembley Stadium this afternoon. (2:30pm ET, Fox Soccer)

England and the Republic of Ireland have not squared off at Wembley Stadium since 1991, and the Irish could well seal a shock win at the home of football.

England are missing several regulars for the visit of the Irish, with captain Steven Gerrard (shoulder) out and Andy Carroll (heel), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tom Cleverley (calf) and Kyle Walker all missing.

For fans of Major League Soccer, you’ll get to see Robbie Keane captaining the Irish national team bang in form, after his hat trick against Seattle on Sunday night.

As for Keane’s teammates, they’re struggling through injury too. Wolves striker Kevin Doyle (Achilles tendon), Norwich’s Anthony Pilkington (knee) and Leeds United’s Paul Green (hamstring) are all missing, while Stoke defender Marc Wilson is out with a calf injury.

The rigors of a tough domestic campaign have hit both teams.

No game has been played between these two nations since 1995 when a ‘friendly’ in Dublin had to be abandoned after 27 minutes after England fans rioted at Lansdowne Road. No doubt the English FA will be hoping for calm at Wembley, with the match organized as part of the FA’s 150 year anniversary.

One of the stories ahead of tonight’s clash is Ashley Cole winning his 100th cap at left back. The Chelsea defender will lead the Three Lions out to celebrate the occasion (after much confusion and deliberation) as he joins an elite club of English players to reach a century of games.

(More: What to expect from England vs. Ireland at Wembley)

As for the game itself, there is certainly nothing ‘friendly’ about this. Both teams will be flying into the tackles with their nations pride at stake. That sentiment is often echoed too much. But in this game it is certainly the case.

Roy Hodsgon has refused to call the game a ‘friendly’ and cites the importance of preparing the team for crucial World Cup qualifiers at the end of the summer.

All eyes will be on Wayne Rooney are his recent weeks of unrest with Manchester United, and Arsenal attackers Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should pose Ireland a serious threat.

Giovanni Trapattoni has much more at stake, after Ireland’s disastrous showing at Euro 2012. The Italian manager will be preparing his squad for their crucial World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands on June 7.

A positive result in this crunch match at Wembley would do the men from the Emerald Isle the world of good.

Prediction: I am going for an England win. But I do not think it will be anywhere near as comprehensive as fans are suggesting. Ireland are a stubborn and aggressive side, with almost their whole squad plying their trade in the English leagues, so huge pride is at stake here. If Hodgson can get England’s defense settled, then they should find goals going forward. In an open game, I think 3-1 to England will be the final score.

AT HALF: Lletget, Bradley, Dempsey spur USMNT to 3-0 lead

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The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes is off to a flying start.

As it stands, the 3-0 halftime lead provided by Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey has the Yanks up from sixth to fourth in the Hex table.

Sebastian Lletget scored a fifth minute goal to ease the tensions of the Avaya Stadium crowd in San Jose, though he’d leave the match with injury before the match was 20 minutes old.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal.

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks, Cameron; Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′)

LIVE – USMNT looks to right ship vs. Honduras

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The United States starts to make amends for its 0-2 start to the final round of World Cup qualifying with a match against Honduras on Friday in San Jose.

Losses to Mexico and Costa Rica cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job and Bruce Arena will try things differently

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Most importantly for Arena, Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard are available this time around.

Cameron starts at right back, with John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez in the center of the back four. Jorge Villafana slots into the mix at left back.

Captain Michael Bradley will sit atop the midfield, with Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Lletget, and Christian Pulisic in the midfield.

Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are the forwards. Kickoff is set for 10:55 p.m. EDT from Avaya Stadium.

Minnesota’s Molino lifts Trinidad and Tobago to big win (video)

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Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.

Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.

[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]

Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.

The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.

The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.

WATCH: Zaha drives Russia nuts with mazy dribble goal

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Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.

With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.

He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.

Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.