This was an important match and the United States Men’s National Team blew it in the biggest way possible.
The defense looked flat. Clint Dempsey seemed uninterested, and the USMNT let Ukraine score twice to leave Cyprus with the 2-0 win versus a World Cup-bound squad.
In a game that was the last time Jürgen Klinsmann could take a close look at his European-based players, the German must be feeling disappointed in the outcome.
The American defense of Edgar Castillo, John Brooks, Oguchi Onyewu, and Geoff Cameron looked lost, and Ukraine took full advantage.
In the 12th minute, a cross to Ukraine’s Denys Garmash, who went unmarked, began the scoring for Ukraine. Garmash’s shot was blocked by Tim Howard but Garmash himself cooly collected the rebound and passed it to the wide-open Andriy Yarmolenko who had no difficulty making it 1-0.
The USMNT nearly went down 2-0 three minutes later when USMNT midfielder Sacha Kljestan lost the ball to Yarmolenko in midfield, which lead the way to yet another Ukrainian breakaway chance for Artem Fedetskyi, but the play was called offside.
As the second half began, the USMNT looked a little more composed, which translated to a few chances for Alejandro Bedoya and Jozy Altidore. However neither were able to find the back of the net.
Bedoya’s shot from the left side of the box in the 49th minute was blocked by Fedetskyi. Altidore’s header in the 51st minute was just over the crossbar, and Bedoya once again got a loose ball in the 53rd but his shot went far left.
Despite the loss, USMNT fans should be warned that this is not the normal backline for the US, with Michael Bradley and Omar Gonzalez not in uniform. Also, Landon Donovan was not playing.
The game was more or less a trial for European-based players such as John Brooks, who did not look ready for the task of holding down his position in the back for the USMNT, and Onyewu, who has been playing scarce minutes due to a number of injuries.
Onyewu made his last appearance with the USMNT on July 13, 2013 in a 4-1 victory against Cuba, a game in which he captained the team.
With less than 100 days until the World Cup, and even less until Klinsmann calls his World Cup squad to mid-May camp, the USMNT and its supporters must look at this game as a wake-up call. Ukraine, the highest FIFA-ranked country not to make the World Cup, saw all of the USMNT’s weaknesses and exploited them. The question that remains is, will Klinsmann and his group fix them in time for the World Cup?
The next game for the USMNT will be April 2nd versus border-rivals Mexico in Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium.