The United States and Ghana series had never played a friendly before despite three straight years of meeting in the World Cup. Now the USMNT can claim their first winning streak of the short rivalry if you want to call it that.
Dom Dwyer scored on his debut and Kellyn Acosta notched his first international goal as the USA defeated Ghana 2-1 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut.
It was Dwyer who opened the scoring in the 19th minute, converting a powerful volley of what seemed to be an accidental setup from Jorge Villafana. The US leftback was attempting to corral a partially blocked shot when his flick went slightly backwards to Dwyer who smashed hit home as Ghana looked for the offside flag. Dwyer, a dual English-America citizen, gained citizenship and filed paperwork to be eligible to play for the US earlier this year, then celebrated his debut goal with a couple of backflips.
Five minutes later, Ghana should’ve been down a man as goalkeeper Richard Antwi scythed down Dwyer at the top of the box. The studs-up and high challenge was only punished with a yellow card. Right before halftime the US could’ve been down a man as well, when Villafana pulled down Frank Acheampong inside the box possibly denying a goal-scoring opportunity.
Asamoah Gyan stepped up to take the penalty but was read all the way by Brad Guzan who pushed the effort wide of the post to preserve the 1-0 US lead going into halftime.
Minutes after the restart, Kelyn Rowe got loose at the top of the area and was fouled by Jerry Akaminko at the top of the box. Kellyn Acosta coolly curved the ensuing free kick around the wall and beat Antwi at his near post to double the US lead.
At the hour mark, Gyan would leave his usual mark on the match as he so often does against the United States. Gyan would pull a goal back for Ghana in the 60th minute with a superb free kick into the top corner that Brad Guzan got fingertips to but not enough to prevent the score.
In the 71st minute, another US debutante would enter the match, this time midfielder Kenny Saief who filed for a one-time switch with Israel. There was little for the US to do except sit back and possess for the rest of the game though the US gave away a few dangerous free kicks and Alejandro Bedoya nearly sealed the match with a late header only to be denied by Antwi.
It was a solid debut for Kelyn Rowe who played mostly on the right side of the midfield. While Rowe’s passing going forward was statistically solid, his vision while looking for Dwyer in particular was noticeable. Rowe also had the unofficial assist on Acosta’s goal, drawing the foul that would lead to the game winning free kick attempt.
Neither Juan Agudelo or Gershon Koffie entered the game, meaning Koffie did not receive an official cap with Ghana. The United States begins Group B play in the 2017 Gold Cup in one week on July 8th in Nashville, Tenn., against Panama. The New England Revolution travel to the Philadelphia Union for a match tomorrow afternoon.