Mexico vs. Nigeria, Italy vs. Spain also on international friendly schedule
The United States men’s soccer team faces Ukraine Wednesday in an international friendly that almost didn’t happen. The unrest in the Ukraine forced the game to be moved to Cyprus, and reports surfaced early in the week that Ukraine was going to pull out of the contest. But both the U.S. and Ukrainian soccer federations have declared the match will take place (ESPN2, 2 p.m. ET ET).
The American’s most recent friendly, a 2-0 win against South Korea, was not played on a date designated for international matches by FIFA, meaning coach Jurgen Klinsmann could only call in players who were in their offseasons — primarily MLS guys. With the MLS season starting Saturday and Wednesday being a recognized FIFA date, the U.S. roster filled with Europe-based players.
That includes Jozy Alitdore and Clint Dempsey, who have struggled in the Premier League recently, as well as Geoff Cameron, Danny Williams and longtime USA veteran Oguchi Onyewu, all of whom have been performing well. Midfielder Michael Bradley was called in for the game, but has since withdrawn and will not be available.
Ukraine is the highest-ranked team by FIFA (No. 18) not to make the 2014 World Cup, as they surrendered a 2-0 advantage in its playoff tie against France. While the FIFA rankings aren’t always the most reliable way to measure a team, this Ukrainian side is one of the best teams that won’t be in Brazil this summer.
Though the game is taking place at a neutral site, the LVH SuperBook has made the USA a slight underdog for the contest. The game is a pick ’em on the goal line, with the USA offered at +110 and the Ukraine laying -130. On the three-way result, Ukraine is +145, the USA is +190 and a draw +145. The total is 2.5 goals.
Mexico favored in Georgia
The Mexican national team is also in action on Wednesday, as it travels to Atlanta to face Nigeria (8:30 p.m ET, UNIMAS) . It will be a chance for Mexico’s Europe-based players to see how they fit into coach Miguel Herrera’s system in advance to the World Cup. However, forward Giovani Dos Santos will miss the clash with a calf injury.
Despite his absence, Mexico is a half-goal favorite at +110 to come out with the victory. Nigeria, who will also be in Brazil in 2014, can be had with the half-goal cushion at -130. Mexico are +110 on the three-way result, a draw is +230 and a Nigeria victory is +260. The African side will be without multiple regulars for the contest.
It may seem like a lifetime ago, especially for a Mexican squad that nearly missed out on the World Cup, but these teams met ten months ago in Houston with the game finishing in a 2-2 draw.
The marquee clash of the day takes place between 2012 Euro finalists Italy and Spain (4 p.m. ET, ESPN 2). The rosters are newsworthy themselves — Spain left Juan Mata and Fernando Torres at home, while Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa will make his debut after choosing Spain over Brazil. Meanwhile, Italy will be without star striker Mario Balotelli due to a shoulder injury.
At home, Spain is laying a goal at -115. You can get Italy with the goal cushion at -105. A Spanish outright win is -185 on the three-way result, with Italy offered at +550 and a draw +300.
All odds are from the LVH.
INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES- WEDNESDAY, MAR. 5
USA vs. UKRAINE – 2 PM ET (ESPN2) (at Larnace,Cyprus)
USA pick ’em (+110)
UKRAINE pick ’em (-130)
TOTAL: 2.5 goals (OVER +110, UNDER -130)
ITALY vs. SPAIN- 4 PM ET (ESPN2)
ITALY +1 goal (-105)
SPAIN -1 goal (-115)
TOTAL: 2.5 goals (OVER -115, UNDER -105)
NIGERIA vs. MEXICO – 8:30 PM ET (UNIMAS) (at Atlanta,GA)
NIGERIA +1/2 goal (-130)
MEXICO -1/2 goal (+110)
TOTAL: 2.5 goals (OVER -110, UNDER -110)