World Cup opponent watch: Ukraine violence forces USA to move friendly to Cyprus

Ghana's World Cup opponents, the United States, have moved next week's friendly against Ukraine from Kharkiv to Cyprus following weeks of violence in the Eastern European nation.

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.

Ghana’s World Cup opponents, the United States, have moved next week’s friendly against Ukraine from Kharkiv to Cyprus following weeks of violence in the Eastern European nation.

This means Ghana’s scouts travelling to watch the match and report to coach Kwesi Appiah must adjust their travel plans.

The March 5 match is the only game before the start of the Americans’ pre-World Cup training camp in mid-May in which the full player pool is available.

But following a State Department warning on Sunday to “U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine” the U.S. Soccer Federation decided to change the venue for the game.

The warning went on to say “U.S. citizens in Ukraine, and those considering travel to Ukraine, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of political instability and the possibility of violence.”

This prompted the U.S. Soccer Federation into action to relocate the match according to spokesman Neil Buethe on Tuesday.

“We are in the final stages of discussions with Ukraine and the Cyprus Football Association to determine the location and kickoff time,” Buethe said

“We hope to have confirmation on all the match details by Wednesday.”

No. 18, Ukraine is the highest-ranked team that failed to qualify for the World Cup.

In three previous meetings, all in the early 1990s, Ukraine beat the U.S. twice and tied once.

The U.S., ranked 13th, hosts Mexico on April 2 at Glendale, Ariz., with a roster of players mostly from Major League Soccer.

The Americans are planning home exhibitions on May 27, June 1 and June 7 before leaving for Brazil, where they play Ghana, Portugal and Germany in the first round.

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