Steven Gerrard

Liverpool players rolling the dice before Merseyside derby

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The extraordinary international efforts of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard are raising question marks around Liverpool ahead of this weekend’s rivalry match with Everton.

The match, set to kick-off on Saturday at 7:45am ET on NBCSN and NBC Live Extra, will be the 221st meeting between the two clubs and is one that Liverpool has dominated in the modern era.

Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, Liverpool has won 18 of the 42 league encounters, drawn 15 and lost only nine. Perhaps more poignant, Everton has only taken three points off their neighbors once in the last 13 league meetings (a 2-0 victory on October 17, 2010).

And while the majority of both sides remain away on international duty, the commitments and decisions of Suarez, Sturridge and Gerrard are creating an uneasy feeling among Kopites.

Suarez, who is on duty with Uruguay, plays at home to Jordan on Wednesday evening, one day later than most international sides. The tight schedule means the striker will hop a plane on Thursday and make the trip from Montevideo to London, a flight that takes over 13 hours. At the earliest that means Suarez will be back in Liverpool by late Thursday night, giving him 24 hours to get acclimated and have a quick training session ahead of Saturday’s kick-off.

It’s a turn-around that Brendan Rodgers won’t be happy with but fortunately, Uruguay won the first leg of the two legged clash with Jordan 5-0, meaning it’s unlikely the striker will need to go the full 90.

While Suarez’ situation is a minor concern that of Sturridge and Gerrard deserves greater weight.

Both players were unable to go in England’s 0-2 loss to Chile last Friday, Sturridge due to a thigh injury and Gerrard due to an ongoing hip issue. But both have pushed to get themselves healthy – with Gerrard going so far as to receive pain killing injections – and are currently set to start against Germany.

It’s a decision that boggles the mind. Granted, Germany is a long-time rival of England so both Sturridge and Gerrard will naturally be motivated to play but it’s just a friendly. The match means nothing. Perhaps if either player was not guaranteed a spot on the England squad going to Brazil you could understand the urgency. But that’s clearly not the case.

Making matters even more odd is the fact that Germany coach Joachim Low has already noted his intent to play fringe players as he seeks to solidify his squad for World Cup 2014. Notably, Lowe has already sent home Manuel Neuer, Phillip Lahm and Mesut Ozil not because they are injured but merely because they needed rest.

So what’s the point in risking the health of Sturridge and Gerrard in this game?

It’s a question many a Liverpool supporter may be asking himself ahead of Saturday’s matchup.

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.