Inspired Ukraine Defeat Woeful U.S. 2-0

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If Wednesday’s U.S. Men’s National Team match against Ukraine was supposed to be a final chance for European fringe players to make their case for World Cup inclusion, Jurgen Klinsmann’s options just became much clearer.

Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Devic scored goals on either side of the half, defeating a shaky U.S. side by a convincing 2-0 scoreline.

The U.S. trotted out a makeshift backline featuring Geoff Cameron and Edgar Castillo on the wings and veteran Oguchi Onyewu with John Brooks in the middle. Ukraine repeatedly tested the centerback pairing, dismantling the duo for both goals. A long ball from Denys Garmash exposed the centerbacks in the 12th minute, allowing Yarmolenko all the room and time needed to beat keeper Tim Howard for the go-ahead. A similar collapse led to Devic’s goal in the 67th minute to put the game out of reach.

The cavernous Antonis Papadopoulus Stadium in Cyprus stood silent at kick-off, but Ukraine came out driven. Playing as the “home” side, they took an immediate attacking stance, setting the tone for the match while testing the American backline.

As Onyewu and Brooks took the brunt of the attention, Castillo was also targeted often, particularly in the first half. Yarmolenko managed to get behind his defender in the 29th minute and dragged a shot wide of Howard — one of many tests for the Xolos defender. Meanwhile, Cameron handled his duties well on both sides of the ball, but could produce little to spark the U.S.

The U.S. looked better in the second half as Klinsmann kept his side intact. Sacha Kljestan, who was largely invisible in the first, fed a ball to Nantes midfielder Alejandro Bedoya who blasted a shot on net that was blocked by defender Artem Fedetskiyy. Altidore managed a chance with a rare feed reaching the Sunderland forward, but his effort was headed awry. Bedoya would be next to challenge keeper Andriy Pyatov, intercepting a pass in the 53rd minute, but send his attempt wide of net.

As the U.S. kept Ukraine busy, one breakthrough changed all their momentum. Once again, it was a long ball that divided the centerbacks, as substitute Devic took on Howard from a headed feed. His first shot was blocked but the Ukrainian made good on the second. Reinvigorated, Ukraine even managed to get a bit cocky as Yarmolenko sent a shot from distance on Howard who stumbled back to clear the attempt.

Klinsmann closed the match with a series of substitutes, including that of Danny Williams and Aron Johannsson. Both in-form players showed well against a dangerous opponent in limited minutes. Jermaine Jones, who was seeing only his second match on all levels since January, put in 81 solid minutes for the U.S. as well. Still, it was the defense which had most of the focus in this match, and neither Castillo nor Onyewu or Brooks managed to make their case for Brazil.

(MATCH HIGHLIGHTS)

LINEUPS:

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-John Brooks, 2-Edgar Castillo (21-Brek Shea, 63); 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 13-Jermaine Jones (14-Dani Williams, 80), 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.), 16-Sacha Kljestan (9-Aron Johannsson, 63), 23-Fabian Johnson;17-Jozy Altidore (19-Juan Agudelo, 85)
Subs Not Used: 4-Jonathan Spector, 6-Alfredo Morales, 12-Brad Guzan, 15-Will Packwood, 18-Terrence Boyd
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

UKR: 12-Andriy Pyatov; 3-Yevhen Khachiridi, 4-Anatoliy Tymoschuk (capt.), 5-Olexander Kucher, 7-Andriy Yarmolenko; 8-Roman Zozulya (22-Marko Devic, 66), 10-Yevhen Konoplyanka, 13-Vyacheslav Shevchuk, 14-Ruslan Rotan (21-Edmar Halovskiy, 78); 17-Artem Fedetskiy, 19-Denys Garmash (15-Roman Bezus, 46)
Subs Not Used: 1-Denys Boyko, 2-Denys Dedechko, 9-Oleg Gusev, 11-Yevhen Seleznyov, 16- Serhiy Sydorchuk, 18- Mykola Morozyuk, 20- Yaroslav Rakitskiy, 23-Rustam Khudzhamov, 24- Eugene Makarenko, 25-Andriy Piliavskiy, 27-Dmytro Khomchenovskiy
Head Coach: Mykhailo Fomenko

  • The real Stan

    So Agudelo gets 5 minutes? What was the point on even coming? Altidore needs a hug and he stinks it up while your young and hungry striker is on the bench, Jozy is done folks, he’s better off terminating that Sunderland contract and coming back to MLS