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 21, 2014, 7:38 AM EDT
‘Twas an easy decision for the awards-givers this week, as Sergio Aguero struck not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times.
Oct 21, 2014, 12:10 AM EDT
Paderborn hasn’t stopped winning or scoring insane goals, if you haven’t noticed.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT
Actor Mark Consuelos made his way to the Crap Part of Soho while the Men In Blazers tried to keep the ball out of their own net.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:47 PM EDT
Bayern Munich have a very difficult match on the road in Italy, while other matchups in Spain, Russia, and Germany will all prove enjoyable.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:28 PM EDT
Meghan Klingenberg bagged a laser beam for her first US goal and Abby Wambach grabbed two as the Americans will move on to the semifinals.
Oct 20, 2014, 8:42 PM EDT
Manchester Police confirmed a man was arrested after flying a drone over the match that entertained 45,000 people.
Oct 20, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Aron Johannsson bagged a penalty in his return from groin surgery, while Juan Agudelo continues to search for a new club.
Oct 20, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
Adel Taarabt says the harsh words from manager Harry Redknapp are not only untrue but damaging as a professional.
Oct 20, 2014, 6:16 PM EDT
The New York Cosmos completed a massive signing, beating out a few of his former clubs to nab the Spanish legend as a player and coach.
Oct 20, 2014, 5:36 PM EDT
Despite a solid confirmation from Croatia, the friendly will reportedly not be happening.
Oct 20, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT
Manchester United came from behind twice but still must settle for a disappointing result away from home.
Oct 20, 2014, 4:35 PM EDT
19-year-old Lazio striker Keita Balde Diao somehow walked away from what looks to be a major accident. His Lamborghini, however, didn’t.
Oct 20, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
Unruly fans will cost Wales and Galatasary as UEFA continues to crack down on off-the-pitch incidents.
Oct 20, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT
The yearly tournament organizes five-a-side matches for people that are homeless or living in extreme poverty.
Oct 20, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Liverpool, Everton and Swansea City are just a few of the Premier League clubs reportedly looking to sign the Marseille winger.
Oct 20, 2014, 12:37 PM EDT
With transfer rumors swirling, the Arsenal forward made it clear that he is #AlwaysAGunner.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT
Amidst the Ebola outbreak, South Africa has ruled out hosting the continent’s premier tournament should Morocco back out.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Sad news out of India as a young player died after injuring his spinal cord during a celebration.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Ahmed Musa stirred the pot ahead of his club’s Champions League clash this week, calling out City’s form.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Watch the Baggies take on Manchester United today, live at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
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