The U.S. MNT face old foes Ghana Saturday evening in Connecticut with the Gold Cup just days away.
When last these two countries met a late John Brooks goal gave the Americans a victory in the opening game of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Clint Dempsey had given the U.S. a dream start with a first-minute goal but Ghana had responded through Andre Ayew, setting the stage for Brooks’ heroics.
It was a sweet victory for the Yanks who had been eliminated from the two previous Mundials by the Black Stars, in overtime in 2010. The stakes will be considerably lower in East Hartford on Saturday, the first time the sides have played outside of those three dramatic World Cup meetings.
Like their host, Ghana is playing something of a new look team with the visitors rebuilding after leaving Brazil in turmoil. The 2014 World Cup ended for Ghana with a 2-1 loss to Portugal as the U.S. advanced to the round of 16 with Germany while Portugal and Ghana were eliminated.
Veterans Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng had been sent home a day prior to the Portugal match with Muntari accused of slapping a Ghanaian official while Boateng was said to have berated coach James Kwesi Appiah.
On Wednesday night with Appiah still, at the helm, Ghana lost 1-0 in Houston to Mexico’s B-side while the first tier El Tri squad was occupied with Confederations Cup. Neither Muntari or Boateng is a part of this Ghana side, although Muntari has reached out in search of a Black Stars return.
American fans will recognize several members of the new look Ghana team, six of the side play in the U.S. Five in MLS and former NYCFC man Kwadwo Poku, who is now with NASL club Miami FC.
U.S. coach Bruce Arena will be looking to prepare for the Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Championship, which begins for the Americans July 8, in Nashville versus Panama, by far the team’s toughest group game.
In recent World Cup Qualifiers Arena showed that he is unafraid to play relatively untested players and shuffle formations to suit opponents, so it should be instructive to see who Arena turns to versus Ghana.
Gold Cup Group B:
July 8, 2017, 3:30 PM CT MNT vs Panama Nissan Stadium; Nashville, Tenn.
FOX, Univision, UDN
July 12, 2017, 9 PM ET MNT vs Martinique Raymond James Stadium; Tampa Bay, Fla.
FS1, UniMas, UDN
July 15, 2017, 7 PM ET MNT vs Nicaragua FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland, Ohio
FXX, Univision, UDN
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 54/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 2/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 39/1), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 39/1), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 2/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 11/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 2/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 1/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX; 6/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 47/5)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 8/0), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 5/2), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 60/2), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX; 17/2), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 6/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 0/0), Kenny Saief (Gent/BEL; 0/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 31/6)
FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 23/3), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 15/2)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Joseph Addo (Aduana Stars; 0/0), Richard Ofori (Wa All Stars; 4/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew SC/USA; 78/0), Lumor Agbenyenu (1860 Munich/GER; 1/0), Jerry Akaminko (Eskiserhispor/TUR; 11/1), John Boye (Sivasspor/TUR; 60/4), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew SC/USA; 58/1), Nicholas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea; 0/0), Samuel Sarfo (Liberty Professionals; 0/0), Rashid Sumalia (Al Gharafa/QAT; 8/0),
MIDFIELDERS (8): Mohammed Abu (Columbus Crew SC/USA; 5/0), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht/BEL; 19/2), Thomas Agyepong (NAC Breda/NED; 1/0), Winful Cobbinah (Hearts of Oak; 0/0), Ofori Ebenezer (Stuttgart/GER; 1/0), Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution 0/0), Kwadwo Poku (Miami FC/USA; 1/0), Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor/TUR; 1/0)
FORWARDS (4): David Accam (Chicago Fire/USA; 8/1), Raphael Dwamena (FC Zurich/SUI; 1/0), Asamoah Gyan (Al-Alhi/UAE; 102/49), Majeed Waris (Lorient/FRA; 27/4)