The Ukraine arrived in Cyprus with a clear point to prove. They felt they deserved a place at Brazil 2014 and only were not due to an epic collapse against France where they blew a two goal lead. The Americans brought a team of only European based players as Jurgen Klinsmann elected to not call his MLS players with the regular season kicking off this weekend.
It didn't take long for the Ukraine to expose the American center back pairing of Onyewu and John Anthony Brooks. In the 11th a sneaky run from the midfielder by Denis Garmash completely caught the American pair napping.
Tim Howard raced off his line and made the initial save from close range, but Garmash collected the rebound and passed square to Andriy Yarmolenko who slotted home easily.
It was always going to be a big ask from Onyewu and Brooks. Let's face it, Onyewu shouldn't be playing at this level anymore and John Anthony Brooks is only 21 years old with almost no international experience. It was painfully evident.
The opening twenty minutes belonged to Ukraine as they exploited acres of space given by the US as the Americans were trying to gain a foothold in the match. It took almost 27 minutes for the US to get a meaningful attack, but keeper Pyatov smothered a very dangerous Geoff Cameron cross.
Ukraine had another massive chance in the 32nd and once again it was Garmash splitting the American center backs. He walked in all alone as Howard came out to meet him. Howard made himself big and Garmash decided not to shoot, basically freezing up. By then it was too late as the retreating defenders arrived and claimed the ball.
The US got on the ball a bit more as the half came to a close. Could they rally in the second half?
The second half opened with the Unites States on the front foot. Bedoya saw a close range volley deflected out for a corner. Then Altidore headed a cross just over the crossbar. A couple minutes later Bedoya whistled a rocket just wide. The goal felt like it was coming for sure as the Ukraine looked out of sorts.
Ukraine were able to settle though and in the 63rd Klinsmann brought on Brek Shea and Aron Johannsson to switch the US to a 4-4-2. Only minutes later Ukraine doubled their lead.
Marko Devic blasted straight down the center racing thirty yards straight in on Tim Howard. Meanwhile, Onyewu jogged back and watched. Once again Tim Howard made a great first save, but the ball came back to Devic who rolled it home. Neither US center back ever even got into the play.
Thank goodness we have Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez for Brazil after watching this display from Onyewu and Brooks. We clearly have a lack of depth at center back.
The Americans piled on the pressure late as Johannsson saw his rocketed volley cleared just before crossing the goal line in the 87th.
In the end, this match was to get answers for Brazil and Jurgen Klinsmann should have gotten them about several players. Next up is a chance for the US based players to make their case next month against Mexico in Arizona.