Onyewu gets 1st start since July in US-Ukraine

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Defender Oguchi Onyewu got his first start since summer when the United States played Ukraine on Wednesday night in an exhibition game moved to Larnaca, Cyprus, from Kharkiv because of political trouble.

Onyewu’s only prior international appearances since June 2012 were last July 5 in exhibition against Guatemala and in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Cuba eight days later.

A member of the 2010 World Cup roster, he signed with Sheffield Wednesday in January after failing to appear in any games for Queens Park Rangers during the first half of the season in the second-tier English League Championship.

With 99 days remaining until the World Cup opens in Brazil, the U.S. changed all 11 starters from the 2-0 win over South Korea on Feb. 1 at Carson, Calif.

Both starting lineups bowed their heads as they stood on the field before the game for a moment of silence for the victims of violence in Ukraine. There was a small crowd at Papadopoulos Stadium, which has a capacity of about 10.000.

Onyewu was paired with John Brooks in central defense by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Geoff Cameron started at right back and Edgar Castillo at left back, and Tim Howard was in goal.

Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan were in defensive midfield, with Alejando Bedoya, Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson in front of them. Jozy Altidore was the lone forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Klinsmann is evaluating his Europe-based players and will use a roster dominated by Major League Soccer selections for an April 2 match against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz. Brooks, Castillo, Kljestan and Onyewu do not appear to be assured spots on the 23-man World Cup roster.

The Americans open their pre-World Cup training camp in mid-May.

Preparing for its seventh straight World Cup, the U.S. plans home exhibitions on May 27, June 1 and June 7, with sites and opponents to be announced Thursday. The Americans play their World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16, face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal six days later and close the group stage against Germany on June 26.

At 18th, Ukraine is the highest-ranking nation that failed to qualify for the 32-team World Cup. It was eliminated by France last November in a two-leg playoff, winning the opener 2-0 in Kiev but losing 3-0 in Paris.

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