Ireland captain Robbie Keane attends a news conference at Wembley Stadium in London

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.

League Cup roundup: Man City, Everton, Stoke knock off Championship clubs

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Wilfried Bony of Manchester City celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Capital One Cup Quarter Final match between Manchester City and Hull City at Etihad Stadium on December 1, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
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There will be no lower league wonder story in the League Cup semifinals.

Southampton and Liverpool’s marquee matchup in the quarterfinals of the League Cup will hit your screens on Wednesday, but three other Premier League teams booked their spots in the semis with Tuesday wins.

[ REPORT: Club America transfer lists USMNT’s Alvarado ]

Man City last won the League Cup in 2013, while Stoke last won in 1972 and Everton has never hoisted the Football League Cup. As for Wednesday’s quarterfinalists, Southampton’s last League Cup final came in 1979, while Liverpool most recently won in 2012.

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Romelu Lukaku (L) of Everton celebrates scoring during their Capital One Cup Quarter Final at Riverside Stadium on December 1, 2015 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Middlesbrough 0-2 Everton

The Toffees got two goals in eight first-half minutes, with Gerard Deulofeu scoring a goal off a magnetic dribble and shot in the 20th minute and Romelu Lukaku adding another in the 28th.

Manchester City 4-1 Hull City

Steve Bruce‘s Tigers still have plenty of power from last season’s relegation campaign, and planted men behind the ball in hopes of springing an upset on Manchester City. The defense was broken in the first half by Wilfried Bony after just 12 minutes. Kelechi Iheanacho scored late, before Kevin De Bruyne put home two more. Andrew Robertson provided late consolation for Hull.

Stoke City 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday

The Potters got a wonderful left-footed volley goal from Ibrahim Afellay on the half-hour, and that was about all they’d need against the visiting Owls. Phil Bardsley hammered in a low free kick late to insure and ensure the victory.

Report says Club America transfer lists USMNT back Alvarado

Ventura Alvarado - Club America
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Could Ventura Alvarado be leaving Club America? And where would the young USMNT defender go?, citing a Mexican web report, says Alvarado has been transfer listed by Club America after making just 7 appearances during the Apertura season.

Alvarado, 23, has earned 13 caps for the U.S. (all in 2015), but his performances have been uneven for country since debuting in late March. A dual national, he was cap-tied during the Gold Cup.

[ MORE: Impact to sign 96-times capped Ivorian defender? ]

Given that status, will he be attractive to other Liga MX clubs? Could he fit the plans of an MLS club? At age 23 and without consistent playing time for club, could a European stop be in the mix?

Transfermarkt estimates his value to about $1.6 million, and he comes with valuable international and CONCACAF Champions League experience. It will be interesting to see his destination, should the reports be true, as we continue to weigh what it means to be a U.S. international on the world stage.

LIVE: Man City, Stoke, Everton face second-tier teams in League Cup quarters

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City FC
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Three of the four Capital One Cup quarterfinals take place on Tuesday with three Premier League teams facing second-tier opposition.

“What’s that, did somebody say banana skin?”

[ MORE: Follow League Cup scores live

Manchester City host Hull City at the Etihad Stadium with Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hoping to have David Silva back in the starting lineup but Joe Hart is still out injured so Willy Caballero will continue in goal. Steve Bruce‘s side drew 1-1 at the Etihad last season when they visited City before being relegated from the Premier League. The Tigers are fighting for instant promotion back to the big-time and knocked out Leicester City on penalty kicks in the last round.

Everton face a tricky trip to the Riverside Stadium as Roberto Martinez and the Toffees play Middlesbrough. Aitor Karanka’s side lost in the play-off final to Norwich last season but are looking good for promotion this term as they sit second in the second-tier and knocked out Manchester United on penalty kicks in the last round. Can Everton sort out their defensive frailties?

A third PL club has a tricky test coming up on Tuesday as Stoke City’s reward for beating Chelsea on PKs in the last round is a home game against Sheffield Wednesday. This will be no stroll in the park for Mark Hughes‘ side as the second-tier Owls comfortably knocked off Arsenal in the last round and this game has “cupset” written all over it.

Below are the fixtures for Tuesday as you can click on the link above to follow all the games live.

League Cup quarterfinals


Manchester City vs. Hull City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Everton – 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 2:45 p.m. ET

FIFA sponsors demand “independent oversight” of reforms
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LONDON (AP) Five of FIFA’s sponsors have written to the executive committee of soccer’s scandal-battered governing body demanding “independent oversight” of the reform process.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Sponsors were originally promised places on the FIFA reform committee. But instead of being invited into meetings discussing the overhaul of the organization, they have only been offered seats on an advisory board which is yet to be appointed.

The sponsors’ letter was sent from Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch to FIFA’s ruling body ahead of meetings this week.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

The letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, says it is “clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process.”

The reform committee was established following the indictment of soccer officials by American authorities.