Saturday was a day of firsts for the U.S. MNT as recently naturalized American Dom Dwyer scored on his debut for his new nation and Kellyn Acosta added his first international goal as the Yanks defeated Ghana 2-1 in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the start of the 4th of July weekend, Bruce Arena’s men had the better of play for most of the evening, jumping out to an early lead when Dwyer pounced on a loose ball in the Ghana box to put the home team ahead in the 19th minute.
It was a goal that justified Arena’s faith in Sporting Kansas City striker with the coach selecting the English-born Dwyer as soon the paperwork allowed. Arena also handed Kenny Saief his U.S. debut, with the Israeli/American newly eligible following his one-time FIFA switch, while Kelyn Rowe also impressed as he picked up his first cap.
This was the fourth meeting between the U.S. and Ghana, oddly, all four matches have been decided by the same 2-1 scoreline. The others all took place at the World Cup with losses to Ghana sending the Americans home from Germany and South Africa in 2006 and 2010, before the U.S. topped the Black Stars to open the 2014 tournament.
This friendly then was by far the least consequential match of the series but Arena will have been pleased with what he saw from a number of players as he preps his side for the upcoming Gold Cup.
Man of the Match Dax McCarty made the most of a rare start with an impressive two-way effort. Joe Corona, returning to the national team for the first time since the 2015 Gold Cup, did well as a withdrawn forward and Brad Guzan came up big with a penalty kick save from Asamoah Gyan on the final kick of the first half.
Kellyn Acosta punctuated his maturation into a first team regular with a beautifully taken free kick goal to put the home team ahead 2-0 in the 52nd minute after Rowe, who also did well, earned the free kick inches outside the 18-yard box.
Gyan halved the U.S. lead on the hour mark with a brilliant free kick from just under thirty yards after Jorge Villafana fouled Frank Acheampong. The foul highlighted an up and down day for the U.S. fullback who was fortunate to escape a red card when he grabbed Acheampong’s jersey for the Ghana penalty but also played a big role in Dwyer’s goal.
Next up for the Americans is the Gold Cup opener versus Panama, July 8, in Nashville.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
GHA 0 1 1
USA – Dom Dwyer (Jorge Villafaña) 19th minute
USA – Kellyn Acosta 52
GHA – Asamoah Gyan 60
USA: 1-Brad Guzan (capt.); 19-Graham Zusi, 21-Matt Hedges, 5-Matt Besler, 2-Jorge Villafaña (3-Omar Gonzalez, 88); 13-Dax McCarty, 23-Kellyn Acosta; 6-Kelyn Rowe (9-Gyasi Zardes, 62), 10-Joe Corona (7-Kenny Saief, 71), 20-Paul Arriola (11-Alejandro Bedoya, 72); 14-Dom Dwyer (8-Jordan Morris, 76)
Subs not used: 12-Bill Hamid, 22-Sean Johnson, 4-Matt Miazga, 15-Eric Lichaj, 17-Cristian Roldan, 18-Juan Agudelo
Head coach: Bruce Arena
GHA: 1-Richard Ofori; 3-Asamoah Gyan (capt.), 6-Mohammed Abu (13-Isaac Sackey, 30), 7-David Accam (2-Thomas Agyepong,45), 8-Ebenezer Ofori, 11-Raphael Dwamena (20-Majeed Waris, 66), 14-Jerry Akaminko (12-Samuel Sarfo, 81), 15-Rashid Sumalia (19-Nicholas Opoku, 40), 17-Lumor Agbenyenu, 21-John Boye, 22-Frank Acheampong (9-Kwadwo Poku, 71)
Subs not used: 16-Joseph Addo, 5-Gershon Koffie, 18-Winful Cobbinah
Head coach: Kwesi Appiah
Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 10 / 8
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 7
Fouls: 13 / 17
Offside: 4 / 3
GHA – Richard Ofori (caution) 24th minute
USA – Kellyn Acosta (caution) 31
USA – Jorge Villafaña (caution) 45+2
GHA – Issac Sackey (caution) 61
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