USA vs. Ukraine: Preview and TV schedule

USA TODAY Sports

The match was supposed to be in Ukraine. Now it's in Cyprus. Wherever it is, it's a key match ahead of the World Cup.

The World Cup starts in 99 days and the United States' campaign gets underway in 103. That may seem like a lot of time, but consider this -- after today, Jurgen Klinsmann will not have his European-based players available to him until pre-World Cup training camp commences in late May.

Needless to say, there is a lot on the line when the U.S. takes on Ukraine today as players continue to jockey for World Cup spots.

It hasn't been easy to get this match played, with civil unrest and violence in Ukraine forcing the match to be moved from Ukraine to Cyprus. Then, the Ukrainian FA president said that the players would not travel to Cyprus for the match and that it would be cancelled, only for Ukraine to change their tune and then go ahead with it.

The U.S. team is almost entirely European-based, with Edgar Castillo and Clint Dempsey the only North American-based players left at Klinsmann's disposal following Michael Bradley's withdrawal due to injury. That means there are a bunch of opportunities for players to make their case for a ticket to Brazil.

At the back, it is a total audition, with Geoff Cameron the only defender who looks a sure bet to make the World Cup squad. Castillo has a chance to prove he can defend well enough at left back, while Alfredo Morales and Jonathan Spector both get chances to make their case for a spot at fullback, where the U.S. could sure use options. Meanwhile, the center is left to the eternal reclamation project Oguchi Onyreu and youngsters John Brooks and Will Packwood.

The midfield a little more known, although it is filled with players on the fringes of the team. Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea, Alejandro Bedoya and Danny Williams could all use an impressive showing -- Shea in particular because of his lack of playing time at Stoke -- to inch closer to a World Cup place.

Up front, the U.S. has their top three options in Jozy Altidore, Dempsey and Aron Johannsson, but the fourth forward place in Brazil is a toss up and Juan Agudelo and Terrence Boyd have a chance to make their case for it.

It's impossible to project what kind of team the U.S. will face. With Ukraine in turmoil, their players very well could have their minds elsewhere and not give the Americans much competition. That would make the few days of training in Frankfurt all the more important for the U.S., but this will still be the final chance for many of these players to impress before Klinsmann puts together his World Cup training camp roster.

Who wants to make it?

Match date/time: Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET

Venue: Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Larnaca, Cyprus

TV: ESPN2

Online: Watch ESPN

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