The US national team will travel to eastern Europe to face Ukraine in an international friendly on March 5, U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday.
As the only international fixture date before coach Jurgen Klinsmann names his roster for the World Cup, the match will serve as a final audition of sorts as players on the bubble look to make their cases for inclusion in the traveling party to Brazil. The match's venue will be announced in the weeks ahead.
It will be the USMNT's first visit to Ukraine, who fell short in their World Cup qualifying campaign via a heartbreaking UEFA playoff loss to France but should provide a worthy challenge as the No. 14 side in the latest FIFA World Rankings.
“Ukraine is a very talented team and was very unfortunate not to qualify for the World Cup," said Klinsmann in a statement. “We want to continue to make statements that we can get results in games like these. Since this is our only chance to bring in all the players before the pre-World Cup training camp, this is a huge opportunity for them to make their case to be included on the 23-man roster for Brazil.”
The United States and Ukraine have met three times, all on US soil in a 16-month span from June 1992 to October 1993. The teams dueled to a 0-0 draw in Piscataway, N.J., on June 27, 1992, and Ukraine won twice in back-to-back games in High Point, N.C., and Bethlehem, Pa., a little more than a year later.
The actual venue and time of the March friendly will be announced at a later date.
The USMNT are currently in São Paulo, Brazil, for a month-long training camp and will return home face the Korea Republic at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., on Feb. 1. (5 pm ET; ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas).
Klinsmann and his charges open their World Cup campaign with a Group G clash vs. Ghana in Natal on June 16.