Ukraine defeats US in a soccer friendly

A small crowd of Ukrainians cheer for their team’s friendly soccer match with US, which had to be moved to Cyprus.
petros karadjias/associated press
A small crowd of Ukrainians cheered for their team’s friendly soccer match with US, which had to be moved to Cyprus.

LARNACA, Cyprus — One banner in the stands read ‘‘Ukraine is Undivided!’’ on the top and ‘‘One Country — One Team!’’ on the bottom. Ukrainian fans sang their nation’s anthem in the final moments, and some broke into a chant of ‘‘No war in Ukraine!’’ after the final whistle.

A small contingent of Ukrainian fans had a couple hours to forget about their nation’s troubles, wave their flags and unite amid a political crisis back home. Ukraine eased past the United States, 2-0, on Wednesday in an exhibition soccer game shifted from Kharkiv to a Mediterranean island nation 600 miles to the south.

‘‘Our country is facing difficult times now, we must support our team and our country,’’ said Oleg Ivanovskyi, a fan from Kiev currently residing in Larnaca. ‘‘Ukraine lives and will live. This friendly match is important for us to show the friendship between the US and Ukraine. The friendship between the two countries is more important than the score.’’


Andriy Yarmolenko scored in the 12th minute and Marko Devic in the 68th as Ukraine exposed the shaky American central defense of Oguchi Onyewu and Anthony Brooks.

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The crowd of 1,573 at Papadopoulos Stadium, which has a capacity of about 10,000, was so small that players could be heard talking with each other during the game.

‘‘Of course we do it for our supporters, for our country,’’ Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko said

US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said his team’s thoughts were with the Ukrainian people.

‘‘You feel for that nation, and there’s nothing more than wishing them well and to solve these issues peacefully,’’ he said.


At 18th, Ukraine is the highest-ranking nation that failed to qualify for the World Cup. The match marked the last chance for Klinsmann to evaluate his Europe-based players before he chooses his 23-man World Cup roster in mid-May. He will use a squad mostly from Major League Soccer for an April 2 exhibition against Mexico at Glendale, Ariz.

‘‘We’re disappointed with the result,’’ US captain Clint Dempsey said. ‘‘We just have to do a better job and learn from our mistakes.’’

‘‘It’s understandable that collectively, it’s not clicking. It would be half a miracle if we would click,’’ Klinsmann said. ‘‘It was difficult for a lot of players to get into a rhythm.’’