Playing with a squad primarily comprised of the country's Europe based players, the U.S. showed everything they do not want to do at this summer's World Cup in a 2-0 loss to Ukraine. Hopefully they got it out of their collective system.
The pre-match confusion matched that of the U.S. players during the game. There were reports of Ukraine canceling the match after moving it to Cyprus because of the crisis currently going on in their country, but after some late-night conversations between the two federations, the match was confirmed to go ahead at the neutral location.
The terrible circumstances surrounding the friendly produced an eeire atmosphere at the mostly empty Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, where tickets were sold for just 10 euros. An impeccably observed moment of silence was held for those who have lost their lives in Ukraine just before kickoff, and then the Ukraine players did all they could to make their countrymen proud.
For the U.S., a makeshift backline with Oguchi Onyewu and John Anthony Brooks in place of the usual central pairing of MLSers Omar Gonzalez and Matt Basler showed their inexperience playing together, leaving goalkeeper Tim Howard unprotected. Ukraine's Andriy Yarmolenko opened the scoring in just the 12th minute after his teammates eposed the U.S.'s defensive failings.
Even worse was Marko Devic's goal in the 67th minute, though. After Howard came off his line to block the inital shot while sitting down, Devic's second attempt trickled between two U.S. defenders who just stood and watched the ball roll into the net.
While the defender's shortcomings were all too visible, the United States' attack was just the opposite. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey's now epic struggles at the club level carried on through this match, leaving fans to hope that these two key players are getting all their listless and terrible play out of their systems before the World Cup. Aaron Johannsson was once again a bright spot off the bench, but it wasn't enough to produce a goal.
Despite all the negatives, it's hard too read to much into this performance. This was very much an experimental squad slapped together just to give these players something of a World Cup tryout and with three months to go, there's still time for some of them to find better form and make a better final impression before decisions need to be made. This was also an opponent that just missed out on a trip to Brazil of their own by losing to France in a UEFA qualifier playoff.
In short, the U.S. will want to forget this game ever happened, but remember not to do anything they did here.
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- Sports & Recreation