Ukraine vs. USA: American Players with the Most to Prove Before World Cup

Lacey DavisContributor IIIMarch 4, 2014

Onyewu looks to prove himself tomorrow in a game against Ukraine.
Onyewu looks to prove himself tomorrow in a game against Ukraine.Michael Sohn/Associated Press

The U.S. men's national soccer team has a big game ahead of it against Ukraine on Wednesday. There will be a mix of players that have secured their spot on the World Cup roster and those that have yet do so.

Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu and Sacha Kljestan all have something to prove on the field. Ukraine is the highest-ranked team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup, so it will be a hard-fought match on both sides.

This is the final game before head coach Jurgen Klinsmann makes roster decisions for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.


Clint Dempsey

Although Dempsey will likely be on the roster in Brazil this year, he has to prove to his teammates and Klinsmann that he still belongs. One major question surrounds Dempsey as he heads into tomorrow’s game: will he be able to return to his form from 2013 with six international goals?

Dempsey just completed an MLS offseason loan to Fulham, which didn’t go as well as many hoped. Prior to this, he was moved from Tottenham to the Seattle Sounders, which was a fairly unsuccessful move.

The video below shows the offensive power that Dempsey has become known for and what he needs to bring to the game against Ukraine.

In tomorrow’s game, Dempsey needs to prove that he is able to lead the USMNT and return to his top form. If he is able to lead tomorrow, it will prove that he’ll be able to lead in Brazil.


Oguchi Onyewu

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Onyewu is back on the roster for the first time since last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. The 31-year-old has recently moved to Sheffield Wednesday and been able to play a consistent position day in and day out. He is trying to prove to Klinsmann that the team needs him in Brazil.

The veteran player has crucial experience on the field and in the locker room. Recently, Onyewu has told ESPN FC, “I feel physically I can help out any team that I'm on and I've proven that when given an opportunity. That's definitely the case with the national team, and I was captain the last time I played [vs. Cuba].”

He is motivated to play tomorrow and make an impression that will be hard to forget when it comes time to make cuts for the World Cup team.

In tomorrow’s game, Onyewu will need to prove he is a dominating defender that is vital to the team’s lineup.


Sacha Kljestan 

After failing to make the final roster cuts in 2010, Kljestan is determined to do whatever it takes to make it in 2014.

The video below shows a piece of Kljestan's fun personality as well as his ability to make big plays up top.

He said in an interview with ESPN FC, "As I've gotten older, I've put less pressure on myself. I know I'm a couple notches better than I was in 2010, but all I can do is give everything I have."

The lively character is open to make adjustments to get himself on the team.

He said in the same interview with ESPN FC:

I've expressed to [Klinsmann] that I feel comfortable in that substitute's role when the game is getting late, and maybe I can get in and get forward maybe a little more than Jermaine [Jones] or Michael [Bradley] can.

Tomorrow, Kljestan must prove that he is an asset to the team. He has a wide range at midfield and is skillful with his feet. Kljestan will need to play to the best of his ability in order to find his name on the roster after the final cuts.

Regarding the game tomorrow, Klinsmann told, “This game is a huge opportunity ... for those guys to prove to us that they are eager and hungry to jump on the train to the FIFA World Cup.”

Only time will tell if the players are ready to step up into the roles that Klinsmann is looking for them to fill.