Mar 4, 2014, 3:41 PM EDT
Monday’s reports that the Ukrainian national team would skip Wednesday’s friendly proved false, but if U.S. Soccer’s confirmation the game is still on wasn’t enough to eliminate doubt, consider today’s reporting from Cyprus. Mykhaylo Fomenko’s team is on the ground. They’re practicing. They’re planning on playing tomorrow. It’s almost as if some Ukrainian web site decided to play a joke on the U.S. soccer world.
Not quite. As the Associated Press’s work shows, the decision to leave an increasingly uncertain situation was not taken lightly.
“[We] reached a consensus to play the USA after all,” Ukrainian soccer association president Anatoliy Konkov said in a statement, hinting that pulling out of the friendly had been a serious consideration. “[U.S. Soccer] stood behind us to protect the national interests and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Those interests, currently in flux as unrest in Ukraine has left a country divided, looked set to keep the national team at home this week, with a friendly moved from Kharkiv, Ukraine, to Larnaca, Cyprus, leading Konkov to question the value of the game. After rhetorically asking broadcaster ICTV “why shall we go to Cyprus in those troubled times for [our] country,” Konkov has seen his national team honor their commitment.
“The national team is a symbol of unity because players come from all over Ukraine,” captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk said at practice on Tuesday. Still, the conflict in the Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder’s homeland was not far from his mind.
“It’s a dangerous situation,” he said. “We have our families, we worry but we hope that we can keep the peace in Ukraine as quickly as possible.”
In the interim, a squad with predominantly Ukraine-based players get a chance to return to the field, with the country’s Premier League canceling last weekend’s return from a two-month break amid the domestic unrest.
“The players want to play on an official level and want to test their level of play after a two-month winter break,” spokesman Alexander Glyvynskyy said.
Against a team of U.S. players auditioning for this summer’s World Cup, Ukraine’s sure to see spirited opposition. But that opposition will be kept in perspective by a team facing bigger challenges at home.
Oct 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Will Saints swoop to sign former Liverpool star, Dutch veteran?
Oct 23, 2014, 8:34 AM EDT
Liverpool’s players react to Real Madrid humbling, as growing pains continue to spiral out of control.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:54 AM EDT
After two draws in October, the USA drops six places in latest world rankings.
Oct 22, 2014, 11:04 PM EDT
How did the Galatasaray supporters pull off this Tifo before Wednesday’s match against Borussia Dortmund? How?!?
Oct 22, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT
The pair of Premier League clubs remaining in the competition face quite different tests on Thursday.
Oct 22, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT
Perhaps it isn’t the sexiest year for rookies in Major League Soccer, but there’s a quartet of names set to stick around for a while.
Oct 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
“I had hope, it maybe didn’t look like it, but it happened,” Wenger said.
Oct 22, 2014, 7:23 PM EDT
“So overall, it’s a squad with a lot of experience playing at the highest level, and this will be another great benchmark for us,” Klinsmann said.
Oct 22, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Of course many are claiming this “is the beginning of end” for Balotelli on Merseyside. That seems a bit much.
Oct 22, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
Here’s the bar, Week 33 of Major League Soccer: Please feel free to raise it.
Oct 22, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT
We are at the halfway point in Groups A-D, and some English clubs are concerned about their fortunes to be sure.
Oct 22, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT
It was a night to forget for the home side, as Real ruled at Anfield. Here’s what we learned.
Oct 22, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
The 21-year-old Honduran international did what a dangerous Alexis Sanchez couldn’t, but Arsenal was rescued late.
Oct 22, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT
Ronaldo, Benzema and co. put on a clinic at Anfield, as Liverpool are taught a lesson.
Oct 22, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT
The CAF claimed Platini said something he didn’t, and it hurt his feelings.
Oct 22, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
Here’s what it’s like at Anfield, as Liverpool host Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
Oct 22, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT
With yesterday’s goal frenzy, will today give us the same excitement?
Oct 22, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT
This is the second time Robinho is under investigation for such an alleged incident.
Oct 22, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT
NYCFC’s first Designated Player will be returning to the United States to fulfill commercial and marketing obligations, and it’s unclear whether he will make his way back to Australia to finish out his loan.
Oct 22, 2014, 11:36 AM EDT
Now that he’s back from a hernia problem, the American told Stoke’s YouTube channel that he is no longer a right-back and the club is aware of where he wants to play.
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