SOCCER: U.S. men's national team loses World Cup tune up vs. Ukraine
The United States men's soccer team continues World Cup preparations with a friendly against Ukraine in Cyprus.
3:55 p.m. -- It's all over - Ukraine holds on for a 2-0 shutout win over the United States in an international friendly. Johannsson nearly finished off a beautiful volley in the 87th minute, but his attempt was cleared off the line by a Ukranian defender. The USMNT will certainly learn from a difficult match against a solid Ukraine side, but a defeat like today's can't sit well with a team hoping to make some noise in the 2014 World Cup. The Americans definitely showed improvement in the final 45 minutes, but it seemed too little, too late. Bottom line: Ukraine finished their chances and Klinsmann's side did not.
3:46 p.m. -- A corner kick for the United States leads to a beautiful chance, but Dempsey was wide left as he tried to head down the pass from Bedoya. Tempers flared shortly after, as a hard tackle on Dempsey and the ensuing pleasantries resulted in a yellow card for Ukraine's Bezus. Agudelo has now entered the match for the USMNT, replacing Altidore in the 85th minute.
3:41 p.m. -- Another substitution for the USMNT, as Danny Williams replaces Jermaine Jones in the 80th minute.
3:40 p.m. -- Near-disaster for the United States - a careless giveaway from John Brooks on an errant header led to a 40-yard blast that nearly skipped into the net when Tim Howard lost his footing. Howard was able to recover and deflect the shot harmlessly out of bounds while sprawled across the pitch.
3:30 p.m. -- GOAL UKRAINE! That one hurts. Just like in the first half, Howard found himself all alone in the box against an opposing player, this time Devic. Again, Howard made a spectacular save on the first attempt, but the rebound came right back to Devic. He calmly slotted it home between the retreating United States defenders in the 68th minute to double the Ukranians' lead.
3:25 p.m. -- The USMNT makes two substitutions in the 63rd minute: Brek Shea enters for Edgar Castillo and Aron Johannsson comes on to replace Sacha Kljestan. Through the qualifying run, Klinsmann showed a golden touch, bringing on replacements that made an impact on the scoresheet quickly. Will his moves pay off again?
3:15 p.m. -- Dempsey denied! The Ukranian keeper came out nicely to take Dempsey's chance away after Jones had sent him into the box with a perfect pass. The USA offense is clicking nicely now, making up for lost time after a mostly toothless first half. Will it translate into an equalizer?
3:10 p.m. -- Underway in the second half, and the USMNT is off to a much better start (although still without a goal). The best chance of the day so far, a half-volley from Bedoya, was deflected out of bounds for a corner kick in the 49th minute. Altidore came even closer to scoring moments later, knocking a header just over the crossbar on a pass from Geoff Cameron.
2:53 p.m. -- Halftime in Cyprus, and Ukraine leads the United States 1-0. The Americans needed a test to get ready for the World Cup's Group of Death, and through the first 45 minutes, Ukraine has provided just that. While the USMNT boasts quite a few competent goal-scorers, the midfielders will need to have more consistent possession in the second half if Jozy Altidore and company are going to get on the board. Howard's been good, the defense has been largely missing in action, the midfield has been erratic, and the strikers haven't been involved enough to even grade at this point. Can the USMNT at least pitch a second-half shutout? That would have to make Klinsmann feel better about things against a quality opponent.
2:43 p.m. -- Tim Howard has to be tired of seeing Ukranians with the ball at point-blank range behind the entire American defense, and it's still the first half. Thankfully for the USMNT, the score (inexplicably?) remains 1-0 after 35 minutes. Solid, if belated, play by Brooks to circle back and tackle cleanly from behind to prevent yet another wide-open two-on-none chance.
2:35 p.m. -- The USA struggled to assemble a single decent scoring chance in the first 25 minutes, but the Americans are showing signs of life more recently. While the USMNT midfielders haven't been able to string together enough completed passes to mount a serious attack, Cameron finally sent a low cross in just out of the reach of Kljestan that at least forced the Ukranian keeper to make a play.
2:22 p.m. -- So close - Ukraine nearly added a second goal but was whistled for being offside in the 16th minute. The USMNT's defense is trying to push forward and dare Ukraine to pass over the top, but so far, the Ukranians' passing has been near-perfect (if not the timing).
2:18 p.m. -- GOAL UKRAINE! The American defense was caught napping on a deep ball into the middle, and although Howard made the initial save, Yarmolenko finished the rebound off in the 12th minute to put Ukraine on top 1-0.
2:15 p.m. -- 10 minutes gone, and the match remains scoreless. Howard stepped up nicely to take away a through ball before the Ukranian striker could reach it. The USMNT keeper has gotten his hands on the ball a few times already. Both sides seem to be feeling each other out a bit, as well as adjusting to playing in a neutral site before such a small crowd.
2:06 p.m. -- And we're underway!
2:05 p.m. -- The teams and spectators are observing a moment of silence to reflect on those who have recently died in Ukraine.
2:00 p.m. -- The national anthems are playing now, and game action is only minutes away. The Americans will be wearing their new 2014 home uniforms, unveiled earlier this week. Today marks the last chance for European-based players to compete for the USMNT before World Cup camp starts.
1:20 p.m. -- Jurgen Klinsmann's lineup looks like a 4-2-3-1: Tim Howard; Geoff Cameron, Oguchi Onyewu, John Brooks, Edgar Castillo; Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan; Alejandro Bedoya, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson; Jozy Altidore. Dempsey is the United States captain.
The United States soccer team continues preparing for this summer's World Cup with Wednesday's friendly against Ukraine (2 pm ET on ESPN2). The match was originally scheduled to be played in Ukraine, but has been moved to Cyprus because of the current situation in Ukraine. The USMNT will be trying for its first-ever win against Ukraine (0-2-1 all-time), but more importantly, will be looking for players to prove themselves worthy of one of the coveted 23 spots on the Americans' World Cup roster.
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