This was supposed to be a big opportunity for a lot of fringe players to establish themselves ahead of the final pre-World Cup camp in May. What it turned into was a staggeringly poor display of soccer.
Ukraine scored two goals, one in each half, as they defeated the United States 2-0 in an international friendly in Cyprus. The game was moved to a neutral site due to the ongoing political unrest in Ukraine, and the bright side of the game is that perhaps that served as a minor distraction for the people dealing with so much in that country right now.
But for the US, there are few positives to take from this game. In the first half, center backs Oguchi Onyewu and John Brooks were caught napping and allowed Denis Garmash in behind the defense. The Ukrainian's initial effort was saved by US keeper Tim Howard but he collected his own rebound and calmly found Andriy Yarmolneko for the opener in the 12 minute. The US offered very little going forward in the first half but did have a good start to the second half. Geoff Cameron initiating most of the offense overlapping with Alejandro Bedoya on the right side but only managed a clean header from Jozy Altidore over the bar for the US.
Just past the hour mark, it was Ukraine again catching the US center backs napping, as Roman Bezus played Marko Devic in behind the US defense. Howard again made the initial save but was powerless to stop Marko from slotting in his own rebound in the 67th. The second goal all but sealed the game as even the plethora of US subs could not spark any type of consistent offense. The US failed to record a single shot on goal and aside from a late Aron Johannsson shot that was blocked on its way to the net offered very little in the way of the attack.
The only two players who arguably had good showings were Cameron and Howard (, with Cameron largely the driving force in the attack early in the second half. Yes his crossing wasn't good but it was still the best run of play the Americans had all night. Edgar Castillo and Fabian Johnson didn't have a bad showing on the left side and Bedoya was okay, but aside from that there are few positives to take from this game.
Centerbacks Onyewu and Brooks have largely played their way off the roster for Brazil, opening the door for MLS-based players Clarence Goodson and perhaps even Michael Parkhurst among the others that could impress Klinsmann before May. Central midfielders Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan weren't impressive for a majority of the match. Key attackers like Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey failed to generate any real attacking chances through the center and spent most of the game chasing the ball.
Former New England Revolution player Juan Agudelo replaced Jozy Altidore in the 85th minute and played both striker and winger in his short appearance, his first with the national team in over a year.
Overall, it was a forgettable evening for the United States in Cyprus. Cameron's form with Stoke City and the US certainly has assured himself a spot on the World Cup roster and should have every chance to challenge Brad Evans for the starting right back spot during the summer. Other players will have to wait and see if their names appear on Klinsmann's lineup for the Mexico friendly in April and the initial 30-man roster for the World Cup in two months.