USA vs. Ukraine friendly in more trouble as large protests start in Kharkiv

Streeter Lecka

Protests in Kharkiv are throwing the U.S. vs. Ukraine friendly into even more doubt.

The United States and Ukraine are scheduled to play a friendly on March 5 in Kharkiv, although that match has been put into question because of mass protests in the country. The only positive -- at least relative to the match -- was that the protests were largely restricted to the capital of Kiev, but that is no longer the case. Now, the Ukrainian people are protesting in Kharkiv too.

A deal to end fighting raised hopes among some that it would be possible for the match to go on, but with president Viktor Yanukovych fleeing to Kharkiv and reports that the country may split, the friendly looks as tenuous as ever.

With Yanukovych in Kharkiv, it seems unlikely that things will calm down soon.

Steve Goff reported that U.S. Soccer was speaking with the State Department and monitoring the situation before things started in Kharkiv today, so this is unlikely to help.

Jurgen Klinsmann will not want to cancel the match because it will be the last time he will have his entire team available to him before World Cup camp starts in May. It's possible that the match can be moved to another country -- Germany is most likely, especially with the U.S. conducting a two-day camp in Frankfurt before the planned Ukraine match -- but even that is tough to coordinate on such short notice.

Sometimes, sports are an escape from politics. Now, at least with respect to this one match, it is beholden to it.

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