USMNT Up For Tough Friendly In Ukraine
The United States Men’s National Team will play a World Cup tune-up match against Ukraine on March 5, according to a report from Steven Goff of the Washington Post. The venue has not been announced yet, but reports are stating the match will take place in Lviv at the Arena Lviv.
Confirmed: USA at Ukraine on March 5 (FIFA fixture date) #usmnt
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 15, 2014
This friendly will be the only one before the 23-man squad is set to be finalized, in which the entire player pool will be available to manager Jurgen Klinsmann since the match will be played on an official FIFA Fixture date. Clubs are required to release their players for international duty on these FIFA matchdays. While the United States does have a friendly scheduled with Korea Republic on Feb. 1, it does not fall on a FIFA matchday, so clubs are not required to release their players.
One of the interesting things to watch with the squad announcement for the Ukraine friendly will be how many players from MLS are selected to the squad. The MLS season kicks off just three days later with a full slate of games and managers will surely not want to see their players making a mid-week round-trip to Europe and back as the year is getting started.
My anticipation is that the squad will consist only of Americans who are playing in Europe, both starting players and possible fringe players. This could be the chance for players like Mix Diskerud, Fabian Johnson, Sacha Kljestian and Eric Lichaj to confirm to Klinsmann why they deserve a spot on the final squad to Brazil.
With the MLS-ers on offseason and getting their opportunity to showcase what they have for Klinsmann, it only feels natural that he would extend the same courtesy to the European-based players.
Ukraine is the best possible option for this match as, in some opinions, they were the best team who did not qualify for the upcoming World Cup. The team lost in the UEFA playoffs 3-2 on aggregate to France after winning the first leg at home. Ukraine survived through a tough group that included England, Poland and Montenegro only conceding four goals in the 10 group matches. Had it not been for a shock 1-0 defeat in Kyiv to Montenegro, Ukraine would more than likely be participating in Brazil.