USMNT: Ukraine Friendly Should Be Moved

By Douglas Smith
Maidan Protests
Getty Images

After the bloodiest day of protests since November uprisings in the Ukraine, the U.S. Men’s National Team‘s friendly in March should be moved to an alternate location. Officials say that 22 people died, including nine police officers, over the last 24 hours as a fight rages over those that want a European-style democracy and the Russian-aligned government.

The USMNT is scheduled for a friendly versus the Ukraine on March 5 at Stadium Metalist in Kharkiv. As protests continue to intensify and the U.S. State Department warns those in the Ukraine to stay indoors, it is time to make alternate plans for the friendly.

The estimates have as many as 1,000 others injured in what some may call a civil war as police rushed toward protesters with stun grenades and water cannons. The protest campers were attacked after weeks of calm and a few signs of a resolution. Failure to vote on a bill restoring the 2004 constitution limiting the powers of President Viktor Yanukovych enraged anti-government protesters, who’ve been occupying the streets for weeks.

As word spread, protesters began to march toward Parliament when they were confronted by police.

Jurgen Klinsmann has said that the players called for the March 5 match would be mainly from Europe given the short preparation time. Finding an alternate location in Europe would be advantageous to stay away from the highly volatile, political environment around Kiev. Kharkiv is 300 miles away from the focal point of the protest, but the State Department will continue to monitor the developments. Kharkiv is the second-largest city in the Ukraine, so it could be the next area to erupt.

The morality of playing the match could also be questioned as both the U.S. government and EU have sided with the opposition while calling for a peaceful solution. There are multiple locations such as Romania, Hungary, or Turkey that could provide alternate locations. The initial training camp is scheduled for Frankfurt with only about a day and a half scheduled for the Ukraine.

Of course, revenue distribution would be an issue if the match is moved, and this being a World Cup year complicates matters even more.

Let us know what you think. Should this match be moved, or is the distance from Kiev enough for the USMNT to feel secure?

Douglas Smith is a soccer writer for Follow him on Twitter @DFresh39, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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