POLITICS: PennAve

Political unrest puts U.S. vs Ukraine soccer match in jeopardy

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Politics,Sports,PennAve,Sean Lengell,Foreign Policy,Ukraine,World Cup,Soccer

Political violence in Ukraine has put next month's U.S. men's national soccer team match in the Eastern European country at risk.

U.S. Soccer said Friday it will announce an update "very soon" on whether to go ahead, postpone, cancel or move its March 5 "friendly" against Ukraine's national team. The match is scheduled to be played in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and is a key tune-up ahead of the American team's appearance in this summer's World Cup.

A brutal crackdown by government security forces on protesters this week in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, left scores dead and hundreds wounded in the worst violence the country has seen since it became independent in 1991.

If the game is canceled, U.S. Soccer desperately hopes to quickly find another opponent. The March 5th calendar date lies in the only FIFA sanctioned international match window until May, and U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann plans to call up several of his European-based players for the game.

The United States has scheduled a friendly April 2 against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz. But the match falls outside a FIFA match window, meaning world soccer's governing body can't force professional clubs to release players for national team duty.

The violence in Ukraine forced Dynamo Kiev's home Europa League matchup with Valencia on Thursday to be moved to Cyprus. Valencia won 2-0.

But Ukrainian club Dnipro's home Europa League match the same day with England's Tottenham Hotspur was played as scheduled because the city of Dnipropetrovsk, where Dnipro is based, is about 300 miles away from Kiev. Dnipro prevailed 1-0.

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