USMNT to play Ukraine in March friendly

Jermaine Jones

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is taking his squad to Eastern Europe for their final FIFA-international date match before the final World Cup squads will be announced.

According to a press release on the Ukrainian Football Federation’s website, Ukraine will host the USMNT on March 5, in a city and stadium to be determined later. The release states that Ukraine and their official partner, Ukraine Football International, have until Feb. 10 to decide on a location for the match.

U.S. Soccer has yet to officially comment but sources have confirmed to SBI that the friendly match will happen and a formal announcement is expected Thursday. (UPDATE – U.S. Soccer officially announced the friendly on Thursday morning.)

Last November, Ukraine was 90 minutes away from qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, before France scored three goals to defeat Ukraine, 3-2, on aggregate. Ukraine is currently ranked 18th in the FIFA World Rankings, four places behind the USA. Ukraine is captained by Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, who spent four seasons with Bayern Munich from 2009-2013.

———-

What do you think of this report? Do you regard Ukraine as a tough opponent? Who do you see earning a call-up for this game? Do you expect MLS-based played to be called up despite their season starting three days later?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, International Soccer, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to USMNT to play Ukraine in March friendly

  1. Shurls says:

    This is an AWESOME test for the USMNT. Ukraine has had great success at home. This needs to be a match featuring the final 23 roster.

  2. Yevgeniy says:

    I will be only slightly torn. USA all the way!!!

  3. JayAre says:

    Why can’t we just play someone that actually qualified for the tournament. Cameroon, Ivory Coast or Nigeria to prepare for Ghana!

    • Shaggie96 says:

      When was the last friendly we played against an African team? I can’t think of one in recent history, other than S.A. the year after the WC. I wonder why that is?

      • Benjamin C. says:

        Perhaps it could be a travel issue? I am sure the United States would want a home match, whereas an African team would likely want to play a match in Europe. Just one theory.

        • Shaggie96 says:

          I think you’re right about an African team probably wanting to play in Europe which, considering how many friendlies we play in Europe, makes it even more surprising that we haven’t played one. Maybe there wouldn’t be enough interest?

        • beto says:

          agreed but Ivory Coast and Nigeria have both played Mexico in US stadiums over the past 12 mo. or so..

          crazy that Brazil, Portugal, Mexico, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Bosnia, Honduras, England, Argentina and others have all played or scheduled games in the USA recently and we are off in Eastern Europe again…

          • Benjamin C. says:

            An earlier poster mentioned interest, and I think plays into it as well i.e. money. Mexico could play anyone in the U.S. and draw huge crowds because fans with a Mexican background in this country don’t have a chance to see their national team that often; I doubt a match against the Ivory Coast would garner the same attention within Mexico. The U.S. v. Nigeria would not draw a massive amount of interest (except from people of Nigerian descent in the U.S.).

            • bryan says:

              i guarantee the final game before the World Cup would be a big success in the US. i was in Philly in 2010 for the send off game which was USA v. Turkey in a almost sold-out Lincoln Financial Field.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Here is a useful resource for US Soccer game history:
        link to homepages.sover.net

        Since roughly 2000, we’ve played Ghana twice in WC, Cameroon in Confed 2003, and then the only friendlies I recall are South Africa for the 2010 game (a special event) and then them again in 2000-ish (here). Also Tunisia here in 2000.

        African teams constantly have something like ACN or WC qualifying going. They don’t have our two slack years at the front of the cycle.

        Travel to Africa would be more complicated and possibly risky. In some places, you’d have to worry that, “A bunch of name Americans will be in town on x date, schedule your terrorism accordingly.” Travel to here would be expensive for poorer African federations. A fair amount of the big African teams play friendlies in European capitals like London but then you have to be a big draw to justify the site (usually an EPL stadium) and I’m not sure how we’ve performed or we’re perceived in terms of neutral site drawing power.

    • John says:

      Why would playing an African team prepare us any more for Ghana then anyone else?

      • Benjamin C. says:

        I was thinking the same thing just now. How could one friendly against, say, Nigeria get the U.S. totally prepared for Ghana’s style of play? Too small a sampling size. The coaches have to prepare and come up with a strategy, and the players have to try to impose their will on whatever team they come across. Not saying it wouldn’t help, but I think the value might be overblown by some.

      • JayAre says:

        Because Ghana is an African team so therefore other African teams have a lot of experience against them.

      • beto says:

        it could also give Ghana a chance to preview how we would play against a team like them.. I think at this point you just go for the best test for your team. Logistics and match-ups in consideration too.

      • Andy Los Angeles says:

        I was thinking the same thing after reading that comment. Why don’t we play Spain too to practice for Germany/Portugal? Surely if all African teams are the same, all European teams are the same as well!

    • Human says:

      That would a great idea considering that CAF teams (just like CONMEBOL teams) may share similar tendencies and characteristics as it pertains to their style of play.

      • James says:

        I’m not sure how true this is. I don’t think playing Costa Rica or Mexico in any way would prepare them to play the US (or vice-versa). CONCACAF only holds up well for the lower echelon teams. Likewise, Cameroon and Ghana really are not all that similar as far as personnel or style. I think this notion made plenty of sense 10-20 years ago, but its a little antiquated now.

        I think if we were to play a team like Nigeria, we might glean a little insight, but its significance is overblown, IMHO.

        • Human says:

          The point you make is fair, although the similarities between CONMEBOL teams is much truer I would presume. Most South American sides attack aggressively and are very good with the technical aspects of their game. That said, the players a national teams have make the difference.

          In CAF, teams are very athletic and quick although their tactical play and overall technical ability has grown over the years. This is mostly attributed to many African players playing in higher level leagues.

    • chuck says:

      Mexico is playing NIgeria IN THE US on that exact date :/

      • Benjamin C. says:

        Mexico v. Nigeria in the U.S=lots of fans.
        U.S. v. Nigeria in the U.S.=not nearly as many fans.
        Money would be my guess.

      • Increase says:

        Nigeria played Mexico last summer too. I think they had a 2 game home and away agreed to. I think this game has been planned for a while. Even before qualification.

  4. Юрій says:

    Дуже радий що ми вибрали достойного суперника як США і матч буде в Україні. Ми не могли прорватись на Чемпіонат Світу, але, думаю, ми зможемо довести, що гідні путівки на мундіаль! Удачі вам, фанати, ласкаво просимо в Україну! :)

    Translation: “I’m very glad that we chose a worthy opponent as the U.S. and the match will be in Ukraine. We could not break through to the World Cup, but I think we can prove that we deserve to go to the World Cup! Good luck to you, the fans, and welcome to Ukraine! :)”

  5. Maykol says:

    Didn’t altidore get an offer from shaktar Donetsk or some other top Ukrainian champions league team?

  6. rellimjs says:

    too bad we’re not playing Spain.

    • Human says:

      The U.S. played Spain in 2011 and lost 4-0. Playing more games against solid opposition will give the players a good test prior to the tournament.

  7. rh says:

    I’ll root for USA, because my kid could only get Polish citizenship despite ethnic Ukrainian lineage. Darn Austro-Hungarian Empire!

    • blokhin says:

      um… let’s see… an EU passport, or a Putinstan passport… I and 49.9% of Ukrainians would say your kid made out OK

  8. blokhin says:

    As a soccer legend of the 1970′s and 1980′s you know where my allegiances lie…

  9. Cosmo Kramer says:

    The Ukraine is weak!

  10. Pete says:

    That’s Ash Wednesday, and the anniversary of the Boston Massacre. Not sure why that could be relevant.

  11. beto says:

    Good matchup. I would have preferred a World Cup bound team and a game in the states as over half of our team is located in NA now! but contrary to Kramer’s point of view the Ukraine should be a good test.

    Hopefully we get 3 Send Off Games in the USofA this time around.

    • Eurosnob says:

      Playing in a hostile stadium against a good team on the road, where they beat France 2-0, could be pretty good preparation Brazil.

    • 2tone says:

      I think it was being reported that US will be playing three send off games in the US.

      • bryan says:

        any idea as to when? this is the last FIFA date before the World Cup. in 2010 there was a send-off series in May, but i believe those dates were on the FIFA calendar and are not this year.

  12. Good Jeremy says:

    In Soviet Ukraine the ball kicks you!

  13. dude1 says:

    Finally, we’re playing a World Cup quality opponent in a friendly.

    For those who want to tell me Ukraine isn’t playing in the World Cup, I know. They nearly kept France from making the trip, though, and they’ve got quality on their side. This is a good test.

    • Benjamin C. says:

      Finally? So I guess you missed the Bosnia, Belgium, and Germany friendlies last year then? Granted Scotland and Austria were not ideal (though both quality opponents), the U.S. has played some pretty decent friendlies in the past year or so.

      • dude1 says:

        I was talking about the friendlies we’ve booked since Bosnia. This is the year before the World Cup, and we’ve booked some pretty underwhelming opposition so far. Ukraine’s the first team that is actually suited to that.

    • QuakerOtis says:

      Don’t forget South Korea on Feb 1.

  14. Benny Dargle says:

    It will be interesting to see Altidore et al handle the crowd. Ukraine has had a serious problem with racist chants and abuse of the players.

    • Eurosnob says:

      Ukraine hosted Euro 2010 without a single racial abuse incident from the host nation after BBC’s “documentary” portrayed Ukraine and Poland as hotbeds of racism and encouraged not to travel there. By the way, Altidore did an admirable job handling racist chants in Holland so there’s nothing new that Ukraine could potentially offer in tis respect.

      • rh says:

        It’s better for Philadelphia Eagles fans to throw batteries at Santa Claus or Honduran fans to throw p1ss at players?

        Yeah, call me a name.

        • blokhin says:

          false choice proposer?

          neither is admirable.. if US was playing in Honduras or against the Eagles, those concerns would be aired as well….

        • alabamafutbol says:

          Mexico. You’re thinking of Mexico.

          • ZZtoppppp says:

            Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica have all done it. I think it was Costa Rica that had fans vomiting into cups and throwing those as well though.

      • Benny Dargle says:

        You might want to update your knowledge on Ukraine. In November, FIFA upheld a fine on Ukraine for racist incidents in the WC qualifier at Lviv and banned them from using Lviv as a site for WC qualifiers in 2018 group play qualifying.

        • Eurosnob says:

          I am aware of this incident, but I doesn’t render Ukraine anymore racist than England, Holland or the United States. The incident with Jozy in Holland was way worse. And by the way, the incident, which you referenced, occurred in a game that Ukraine played against San Marino team, which I believe does not have any racial minority players.

          • DevinRigg says:

            So they were just chanting racist things for the hell of it? Chanting at a person is racist, but chanting at no one is downright insane.

            • Eugene Berkovich says:

              I might be wrong but didn’t FIFA fine Ukraine for use of the red-black flags that are somehow considered racist by FIFA despite being historical for Ukraine?

              I do not think there was racist chanting in the San Marino game.

      • blokhin says:

        you are both correct-there is and always has been a problem (due to severe ignorance and lack of exposure to people from othrerplaces in the world) and yes, during the Euros fans were on their best behavior

  15. MikeG says:

    Ukraine is not a weak team. They have been making a lot of strides in a short amount of time. It would not surprise me if Ukraine beats the USA. The key, as usual, will be USA players put in there best position and a formation for the best players to make it click. We cannot have anymore Jamaica meltdowns.

  16. Bean says:

    Ukraine is a very good test. They are on the cusp of qualifying for WC, which is not easy in UEFA.

    • rh says:

      (after all, fair draws and all in UEFA, unrelated to popularity of teams and national allegiances of top FIFA members)

  17. derrick says:

    The U.S is scared to play good subsaharan African teams.

    • Shyam says:

      Nice try troll. You’re not going to schedule a friendly right before the WC with a team in your group, and otherwise, you can’t really play what doesn’t exist.

  18. hank2 says:

    Yaw people be careful if you do go they rasict over there. They get into fights for fun. If your black or jewish go in packs don’t be alone. Remember euro 2012!

    • Eugene Berkovich says:

      Not a single racist incident occurred in Ukraine at the Euro 2012. What the heck are you talking about?

  19. McQ says:

    Surprised noone has mentioned the symbolic significane of the United States travelling to Ukraine in response to the recent troubles and anti-government protests by pro-Democracy “Ukranians” (as opposed to pro-Russia government supporters). I’m not sure who the US would be viewed as supporting though, I have to think about this for a bit.

  20. rh says:

    If it was Bush still, you’d know.

    Ukrainian-Americans I know would rather the Ukraine stay completely independent, neither Europe nor Russia should be an ally over all.

    Ukraine sold China an aircraft carrier, supposedly.