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U.S. soccer moves international friendly out of Ukraine to Cyprus

February 25, 2014|By Kevin Baxter
  • U.S. defender Michael Parkhurst kicks the ball during an international friendly match against South Korea on Feb. 1 at StubHub Center in Carson. The United States will play next week against Ukraine in Cyprus.
U.S. defender Michael Parkhurst kicks the ball during an international… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)

The U.S. national soccer team announced Tuesday that it has relocated next week's international friendly with Ukraine from the former Soviet republic to Cyprus.

The move comes after weeks of consultation with the U.S. State Department and the Ukrainian soccer federation over the deteriorating political situation in Kiev, the Ukraninian capital, which has been the scene of deadly violence between the regime of ousted President Viktor Yanukovich and anti-government protesters.

The match was scheduled to be played in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, about 300 miles east of Kiev.

"After discussions with the Ukrainian Football Federation, we have decided not to play in Ukraine on March 5 and are planning to move the match to a city in Cyprus," U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe said in one-paragraph statement. "We are in the final stages of discussions with Ukraine and Cyprus Football Association to determine the location and kickoff time."

Buethe said U.S. Soccer hopes to have the final details worked out by Wednesday.

The match is an important one for the U.S. since March 5 is the only FIFA match date available before preliminary World Cup rosters must be submitted in May. As a result, the match will mark the last opportunity for U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann to call up the European-based core of the team he expects to have in Brazil.

Ukraine, ranked 18th in the latest FIFA world rankings, is the highest ranked team that did not qualify for the World Cup. The U.S. is 13th on the FIFA list.

[For the Record, Feb. 25, 2:08 p.m.: An earlier headline on this article misspelled Cyprus.]

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