U.S. men to play 18th-ranked Ukraine in March friendly, World Cup tune-up
Ah, Seinfeld references.
Expect plenty of them between now and March 5, when the U.S. men's national team plays a friendly at Ukraine for the Americans' first visit to the European nation. U.S. Soccer confirmed the rumored match Thursday, and it will be one of the USA's final World Cup tune-ups prior to departing for Brazil.
The Ukraine certainly is not weak or feeble, just missing out on qualifying for the World Cup after dropping its UEFA playoff to France despite holding a 2-0 edge following the first leg. The side is the highest-ranked team in the world (18th) that did not qualify for this summer's tournament in Brazil.
"Ukraine is a very talented team and was very unfortunate not to qualify for the World Cup," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a statement. "We want to continue to make statements that we can get results in games like these.
"Since this is our only chance to bring in all the players before the pre-World Cup training camp, this is a huge opportunity for them to make their case to be included on the 23-man roster for Brazil."
Ukraine boasts the likes of veteran Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and up-and-comers Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko, and it tied World Cup-bound sides England and Cameroon 0-0 in games last year in addition to the first-leg playoff triumph over France.
The game, whose location has yet to be announced, will follow the Feb. 1 friendly against South Korea on the USA's 2014 schedule. The unofficial start to that slate took place Thursday, when the U.S. lost a closed-door friendly to Sao Paulo FC 2-1, according to U.S. Soccer's Twitter account. No word on the goal scorers, but Klinsmann used the opportunity to play nearly his entire camp roster: