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USA vs. Ghana - Brooks Stunner Hands USA 2-1 Win

Game Day

Game day is finally here. After years of preparation, the U.S. Men's National Team gets their World Cup journey underway tonight in Natal with their group stage opener against Ghana. Jurgen Klinsmann and his players have prepared extensively, so no matter rain or shine (and it could be either), they'll be ready. Follow along with the latest from the match right here, all day long.

Live coverage: 6 p.m. ET on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision & ESPN Radio

Kit Watch: USA - Red, Red, Red / Ghana - White, White, White
How are kit colors decided? Read Here

  • DateMonday, June 16, 2014
  • VenueEstadio das Dunas; Natal, Brazil
  • Kickoff6:00 PM ET
  • Attendance39,760
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Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ghana
Date: June 16, 2014
Competition: FIFA World Cup – Group G
Venue: Estadio das Dunas; Natal, Brazil
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Attendance: 39,760
Weather: 81 degrees, cloudy 

Scoring Summary:  1          2          F
USA                             1          1          2
GHA                            0          1          1           

USA – Clint Dempsey (Jermaine Jones)         1st minute
GHA- Andre Ayew (Asamoah Gyan)            82nd
USA- John Brooks (Graham Zusi)                  86th

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler (6-John Brooks, 46), 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (19-Graham Zusi, 77), 15-Kyle Beckerman, 13-Jermaine Jones, 4-Michael Bradley; 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.), 17-Jozy  Altidore (9-Aron Johannsson, 23)
Subs Not Used: 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 10-Mix Diskerud, 12-Brad Guzan, 14-Brad Davis, 16-Julian Green, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 21-Timmy Chandler, 22-Nick Rimando
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann 

GHA: 12-Adam Kwarasey; 4-Daniel Opare, 19-Jonathan Mensah, 21-John Boye, 20-Kwadwo Asamoah; 17-Mohammed  Rabiu (5-Michael Essien, 71), 7-Christian Atsu (14-Albert Adomah, 78), 11-Sulley Muntari,13- Jordan Ayew (9-Kevin-Prince Boateng, 59);  3-Asamoah Gyan (capt.), 10-Andre Ayew
Subs not used: 6-Afriyie Acquah, 1-Stephen Adams, 23-Harrison Afful, 8-Agyemang Badu, 16-Fatawu Dauda, 2-Samuel Inkoom, 22-Mubarak Wakaso, 15-Mohammed Awal, 18-Abdul Majeed Waris
Head coach: James Kwesi Appiah 

Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 8 / 21
Shots on Goal: 6 / 3
Saves: 4 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 7
Fouls: 12 / 10
Offside: 1 / 5 

Misconduct Summary:
GHA-   Mohammed Rabiu (caution)                 30th minute
GHA-   Sulley Muntari (caution)                      90+2 

Officials:
Referee: Jonas Erikkson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mathias Klasenius (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Warnmark (SWE)
Fourth Official: Norbert Hauata (TAH) 

Budweiser Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey

U.S. MNT Opens 2014 FIFA World Cup Against Ghana on Monday in Natal

U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ghana
2014 FIFA World Cup – Group G
Estadio das Dunas – Natal, Brazil
June 16, 2014

U.S. MNT OPENS 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP AGAINST GHANA: The U.S. Men’s National Team will face a familiar World Cup foe when it takes on Ghana in the opening match of the World Cup for each team on June 16 in Natal, Brazil, at the Estadio das Dunas. The game will be broadcast live at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision and ESPN Radio. Fans can also follow live on Twitter @ussoccer.

With Ghana having beaten the U.S. in the past two World Cups, this meeting will mark the third consecutive World Cup in which the two teams will square off. Ghana eliminated the U.S. in the 2010 Round of 16 (2-1 USA loss in overtime) and beat the U.S. in the final game of the group stage in 2006, knocking the Americans out of the tournament (2-1 USA loss).

The U.S. is coming off its undefeated Send-Off Series, most recently beating fellow 2014 World Cup qualifier Nigeria 2-1 in Jacksonville, Florida. Forward Jozy Altidore scored his first two goals of the year to power the U.S. The Send-Off Series began as the MNT faced Azerbaijan, powered by Yingli Solar, and recorded a 2-0 victory on May 27 in San Francisco. The squad then beat Turkey 2-1 on June 1 in Harrison, New Jersey.

U.S. Men’s National Team By Position – Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City),John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

2014 U.S. MNT SCHEDULE:

Date

Opponent

Result/Time (ET)

U.S. Goal Scorers/TV

Venue

Feb. 1

Korea Rep.

2-0 W

Wondolowski (2)

StubHub Center; Carson, Calif.

March 5

Ukraine

0-2 L

--

Papadopoulos Stadium; Larnaca, Cyprus

April 2

Mexico

2-2 T

Bradley, Wondolowski

Univ. of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.

May 27

Azerbaijan

2-0 W

Diskerud, Johannsson

Candlestick Park; San Francisco, Calif.

June 1

Turkey

2-1 W

F. Johnson, Dempsey

Red Bull Arena; Harrison, N.J.

June 7

Nigeria

2-1 W

Altidore (2)

EverBank Field; Jacksonville, Fla.

June 16

Ghana **

6 p.m.

ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision

Estadio das Dunas; Natal, Brazil

June 22

Portugal **

6 p.m.

ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision

Arena Amazonia; Manaus, Brazil

June 26

Germany **

12 p.m.

ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision

Arena Pernambuco; Recife, Brazil

Sept. 3

Czech Rep.

TBD

TBD

Prague, Czech Republic

** 2014 FIFA World Cup

2014 FIFA WORLD CUP – GROUP G

Team

GP

W

L

T

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Germany

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Portugal

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Ghana

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

USA

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Monday, June 16
Germany vs. Portugal; Arena Fonte Nova; Salvador
Ghana vs. USA; Arena das Dunas; Natal

Saturday, June 21
Germany vs. Ghana; Estadio Castelao; Fortaleza

Sunday, June 22
USA vs. Portugal; Arena Amazonia; Manaus

Thursday, June 26
USA vs. Germany; Arena Pernambuco; Recife
Portugal vs. Ghana; Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha; Brasilia

For full standings and results, visit ussoccer.com’s 2014 FIFA World Cup homepage.

USA VS. GHANA SERIES:

  • The Group G opener will mark the USA’s 30th World Cup game and Ghana’s 10th. The U.S. MNT is 7-17-5 all-time and Ghana is 4-3-2.
  • This is the USA’s seventh consecutive appearance in the FIFA World Cup and 10th appearance overall.
  • Ghana is appearing in its third FIFA World Cup, all in consecutive cycles after previously qualifying in 2006 and 2010. Ghana advanced to the quarterfinals in 2010 before bowing out to Uruguay in penalties on July 2.
  • The U.S. is 0-2-0 in just two meetings against Ghana, losing by a score of 2-1 in the last game for the U.S. in each of the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
  • The last meeting against Ghana, on June 26, 2010, came in the Round of 16 in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan put a shot past Tim Howard three minutes into overtime for the game-winner as the USA fell short of a response for the remainder of the match. Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng scored the game’s opening goal in the fifth minute from the top of the box, and the USA found the equalizer in the 62nd minute. Clint Dempsey drew a foul in the box and Landon Donovan converted the penalty kick.
  • In 2006, the U.S. needed a win against Ghana in the final group game to advance out of Group E. Dempsey scored for the U.S on an assist from DaMarcus Beasley in the 43rd minute, but Ghana’s Stephen Appiah converted a penalty kick during first-half stoppage time for a 2-1 advantage that would stand the rest of the way. With the loss, the U.S. finished with just one point in group play, as the USA had tied Group E winner Italy 1-1 in its second group match.
  • U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann scored two goals against Ghana during a 6-1 Germany victory on April 14, 1993. USA World Cup advisor Berti Vogts was Germany’s manager.

U.S. ROSTER NOTES:

  • The USA roster features five players who have played in a previous FIFA World Cup: DaMarcus Beasley (7 caps; 2002, 2006, 2010); Clint Dempsey (6 caps; 2006, 2010); Tim Howard (6 caps; 2010; on 2006 World Cup USA roster but did not play); Jozy Altidore (4 caps; 2010); and Michael Bradley (4 caps; 2010).
  • Beasley is the third USA player to be a part of four U.S. MNT World Cup rosters, joining Kasey Keller (1990, 1998, 2002 and 2006) and Claudio Reyna (1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006).
  • Beasley is tied for 10th among U.S. MNT players with seven World Cup caps, matching Paul Caligiuri, Thomas Dooley, Frankie Hejduk and Tony Meola.
  • Dempsey’s two goals in the World Cup lead the current squad, having scored in each of the past two tournaments. He scored in the MNT’s first group stage match of the 2010 World Cup against England to earn a 1-1 draw, and he tallied the USA’s lone goal in the 2-1 loss to Ghana on June 22, 2006, in the last match of the group stage.
  • Bradley has one World Cup goal, an 82nd-minute equalizer against Slovenia that helped bring the U.S. back from a 2-0 halftime deficit and force a 2-2 draw on June 18, 2010, in the second of three group stage matches.
  • Altidore’s two goals in the U.S. MNT’s 2-1 victory against Nigeria on June 7 were his first two of 2014 for club or country. He now has 23 career international goals.
  • Fabian Johnson’s assist on Altidore’s first goal against Nigeria was his first of the year after leading the U.S. with three assists during World Cup qualifying
  • Johnson recorded his first international goal in his 21st appearance during the first half of the USA’s 2-1 win against Turkey on June 1.
  • During this qualifying cycle for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Dempsey led the team with 14 appearances in the USA’s 16 games while posting a team-high eight goals.
  • Howard was 9-3-1 during the qualification process for this year’s World Cup, posting five clean sheets.
  • Chris Wondolowski leads the U.S. MNT with three goals in 2014.
  • Bradley leads the U.S. with three assists in 2014.
  • The U.S. roster features 10 players who represent Major League Soccer sides, including three sets of club teammates: Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman at Real Salt Lake; Matt Besler and Graham Zusi at Sporting Kansas City; and Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin at Seattle Sounders FC.
  • Besler took home 2012 MLS Defender of the Year honors, a year after LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez earned the same award.
  • Altidore scored eight goals for the USA in 2013 and set a U.S. MNT record by scoring in five straight games as he earned 2013 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year honors.
  • Julian Green earned his first U.S. cap on April 2 against Mexico as a second-half sub. Born in Tampa, Florida, Green is a dual citizen of the United States and Germany. The 18-year-old played for Germany in qualifying for the UEFA U-19 championship, which required that he complete a one-time change of association that allows him to play for the U.S. National Team.

IN THE RECORD BOOKS:

  • With the 2-1 win against Nigeria, goalkeeper Tim Howard now has 54 wins in his career, setting a U.S. MNT record that was previously held by Kasey Keller (53). Howard is now 54-28-15 all-time; Keller had a 53-27-18 record during his brilliant career. (Please note: Earlier references incorrectly stated that Howard was the winner on June 1 against Turkey after playing the first 45 minutes of a 2-1 victory. Because the eventual game-winning goal was recorded in the second half, Brad Guzan was awarded the victory, and not Howard.)
  • Howard has 100 caps during his career, becoming the 15th MNT player to reach the 100-game milestone. He is currently tied with Tony Meola and Joe-Max Moore for 13th all-time. Howard is also two caps behind the goalkeeping caps record held by Keller (102 caps from 1990-2007).
  • Howard currently has 99 starts in his U.S. MNT career, tying the goalkeeping record held by Keller.
  • Howard is currently second in career shutouts with 35, trailing Keller’s record of 47. Howard passed Meola for second when he notched his 33rd career clean sheet on Oct. 11, 2013, a 2-0 victory against Jamaica to lead the USA to the top of its third straight Hexagonal.
  • Jozy Altidore’s 23 goals during his international career rank sixth all-time for the U.S. MNT. He had previously been tied with Bruce Murray (21 goals from 1985-93). Altidore is one goal behind fifth-place Joe-Max Moore (24 goals from 1992-2002).
  • Clint Dempsey became just the third MNT player to score at least one goal in 10 consecutive years after tallying the game-winner against Turkey on June 1. The only other two players to record a goal in that many consecutive years are Brian McBride and Eric Wynalda with 11 years each.
  • Dempsey has 37 goals for his career, second all-time behind Landon Donovan’s record 57 goals.
  • Dempsey is 10th all-time with 105 appearances and is one cap behind ninth-place Wynalda (106 caps from 1990-2000).
  • DaMarcus Beasley and Dempsey are tied for eighth place in assists with 13 and are one behind Moore and Tab Ramos who are tied for sixth with 14 assists in their National Soccer Hall of Fame careers.
  • Beasley’s 17 goals put him in a tie for ninth place all-time with Earnie Stewart.
  • Midfielder Michael Bradley sits in 20th all-time in appearances with his 86th cap against Nigeria. His next appearance will tie him for 19th with Steve Cherundolo (87 games from 1999-2012).
  • Bradley earned the 10th assist of his career on June 7 against Nigeria to tie for 12th-all-time in U.S. MNT history with Cherundolo, Chris Henderson, Brian McBride and Earnie Stewart.
  • Chris Wondolowski, who leads the U.S. with three goals in 2014, has nine for his career and is tied for 21st all-time with Dominic Kinnear, Jovan Kirovski, Alexi Lalas, Peter Millar, Willy Roy and Josh Wolff. With his next goal, Wondolowski would tie Eddie Lewis’ mark of 10 goals from 1996-2008.
  • The USA is coming off a record-setting 2013 campaign, posting the most victories (16) and best winning percentage (.761) in team history.
  • The U.S. MNT saw its record 13-game home winning streak come to a close with the 2-2 draw against Mexico on April 2 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The 13-0-0 mark started with a 4-3 win against Germany on June 2, 2013, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and stretched through the USA’s 2-0 victory against the Korea Republic on Feb. 1 in front of a sold-out crowd of 27,000 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
  • U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (31-11-8) passed Bora Milutinovic for third on the all-time wins list. Ahead of him is Bruce Arena (71) and 2014 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Bob Bradley (43).

USA IN BRAZIL:

  • The U.S. MNT is 1-4 all-time in Brazil, with the lone victory coming in a 1-0 win against England in Belo Horizante on June 29, 1950, during the 1950 FIFA World Cup. The U.S. lost to Chile 5-2 in Recife and to Spain 3-1 in Curitiba in its other two games in the 1950 World Cup. The U.S. will play in Recife against Germany in the third of three Group G matches.
  • The last time the U.S. played in Brazil was for an international friendly on Feb. 6, 1992, a 3-0 loss to Brazil in Fortaleza.
  • The MNT’s first trip to Brazil came on Aug. 17, 1930, when the U.S. played Brazil in Rio de Janeiro and lost 4-3.
  • The U.S. has an all-time record of 5-15-2 playing in South America. The U.S. last visited the continent in 2007 for the CONMEBOL Copa America in Venezuela, losing to Argentina, Paraguay and Columbia.

BY THE NUMBERS:

  • 3: Goals by Chris Wondolowski to lead the USA in 2014
  • 5: U.S. MNT Players with previous FIFA World Cup appearances (Altidore, Beasley, Bradley, Dempsey and Howard)
  • 14: USA’s FIFA ranking
  • 16: Victories during USA’s record-setting 2013 campaign
  • 24: Ghana’s FIFA ranking
  • 31: Victories under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann
  • 54: Career wins for Tim Howard, a U.S. MNT goalkeeping record

2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BREAKDOWN:

The U.S. Men’s National Team is based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The USA opens Group G play against Ghana at 6 p.m. ET on June 16 in Natal. That is followed by a 6 p.m. ET match against Portugal on June 22 in Manaus and a 12 p.m. ET match on June 26 against Germany. For the full group standings and schedule from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, visit ussoccer.com.

Group Breakdown:

  • Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
  • Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
  • Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
  • Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
  • Group D: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
  • Group F: Argentina, Bosnia, Iran, Nigeria
  • Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
  • Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic

Links:

ALSO ON USSOCCER.COM:

Videos

Features and Q&As:

Releases

JURGEN KLINSMANN FACT FILE: Jurgen Klinsmann became the 35th coach in the history of the U.S. Men’s National Team on July 29, 2011. Here is a look at the program’s achievements since that time:

  • Overall, Klinsmann has a 31-11-8 record. He is third on the U.S. MNT’s all-time coaching wins list. The top five include Bruce Arena (71), Bob Bradley (43), Klinsmann (31), Bora Milutinovic (30) and Steve Sampson (26).
  • He won a record-setting 13 straight games at home.
  • He led the MNT to a 12-game winning streak in 2013, the longest in program history.
  • The U.S. finished 2013 with a 16-4-3 record. The 16 victories and .761 winning percentage are all-time U.S. MNT records for a calendar year.
  • The U.S. finished the final round of 2013 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying atop the Hexagonal with a 7-1-2 overall record, including an unblemished 5-0-0 home record that was achieved by pitching clean sheets in all five matches.
  • The team won six straight games en route to capturing the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, during which the squad scored a record 20 goals.
  • Committed to challenging the group against the best, under Klinsmann, the United States has a 2-1-1 record against teams ranked in the top 10 in the world. With Klinsmann at the helm, the U.S. has collected four historic victories:
    • Beating four-time World Cup champion Italy for the first time ever
    • Earning the first win against Mexico on Mexican soil
    • Defeating Jamaica on the road for the first time in World Cup Qualifying
    • Topping second-ranked Germany in U.S. Soccer’s Centennial Celebration Match
  • Klinsmann’s U.S. coaching debut was a 1-1 draw against Mexico on Aug. 10, 2011, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. During Klinsmann’s abbreviated 2011 tenure, the USA’s two victories included a 1-0 win against Honduras (Oct. 8) and a 3-2 victory against Slovenia (Nov. 15).
  • Klinsmann was named the Germany National Team manager in 2004 and guided Germany to a 20-6-8 record and a third-place finish in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He earned Coach of the Year honors in Germany, and two years later, he took over the head coaching position at Germany’s most high-profile club Bayern Munich.
  • As a player, Klinsmann played 17 club seasons from 1981 to 1998 with the following teams: Stuttgarter Kickers (1981-84), VfB Stuttgart (1984-89), Internazionale (1989-92), Monaco (1992-94), Tottenham Hotspur (1994-95, 97-98), Bayern Munich (1995-97) and Sampdoria (1997-98). During that time, he scored 226 goals in 506 appearances. He was named German Player of the Year in 1988 and 1994 and FWA Footballer of the Year in 1995.
  • Klinsmann earned 108 caps with the German National Team, scoring 47 goals. He participated in three World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998) and won the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
  • Klinsmann was born on July 30, 1964, in Goppingen, Germany.

IN FOCUS: GHANA
Ghana Football Association
Founded: 1957
Head Coach: James Kwesi Appiah
FIFA World Ranking: 24
FIFA World Cup Appearances: 2 previous (2006 and 2010)
Best World Cup Finish: 2006 Quarterfinals (2006)

GHANA ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars)
DEFENDERS (6): Harrison Afful (Esperance), John Boye (Stade Rennes), Samuel Inkoom (Platanias), Jonathan Mensah (FC Evian), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), Rashid Sumaila (Mamelodi Sundowns)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Afriyie Acquah (Parma), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Christian Atsu (Arnheim), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Agyemang Badu (Udinese), Michael Essien (AC Milan), Rabiu Mohammed (Krasnodar), Wakasu Mubarak (Kasan), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan)
FORWARDS (4): Jordan Ayew (Sochaux), Asamoah Gyan (Al-Ayn), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes), evin-Prince Boateng (Schalke)

GHANA ROSTER NOTES:

  • Ghana is currently ranked 24th in the FIFA world rankings.
  • Ghana returns seven players from the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad, all of whom played in the game against the U.S. in the Round of 16.
  • Among the holdovers is Asamoah Gyan, who scored three goals for Ghana in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, including the game-winner against the USA in overtime.
  • Gyan led the Black Stars in 2014 World Cup qualifying with six goals.
  • Ghana will make its third World Cup appearance and third straight, finishing 13th in 2006 and seventh in 2010. Ghana ousted the U.S. MNT in both 2006 and 2010.
  • The Black Stars began their World Cup preparations by meeting with Ghana President, H.E. John Mahama and staging a farewell game at the Accra Stadium.
  • Ghana traveled to the Netherlands for a friendly with the Dutch in Rotterdam on May 24, which it lost 1-0 on a Robin van Persie goal.
  • Ghana concluded its World Cup preparations with a training camp in Miami, Florida, that included a friendly against Group H qualifier Korea Republic on June 9. Ghana beat Korea 4-0 in its last match before opening the World Cup against the U.S. on June 16.
  • In its two previous appearances, Ghana has compiled a World Cup Record of 4-3-2 (9 GF; 10 GA).
  • In 2014 World Cup Qualifying, Ghana finished 1st in CAF Group D, defeating Egypt 7-3 on aggregate in the CAF Playoffs (5-1-0; 18 GF, 3 GA).
  • In its second trip to the World Cup in 2010, Ghana qualified for the knockout round for the second time in row. Ghana tied Africa’s best performance by beating the U.S. to reach the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, Ghana lost in a penalty kick shootout to Uruguay, which denied the Black Stars from becoming the first African team to reach the semifinals of a FIFA World Cup.
  • Ghana’s roster populates 13 different leagues around the world, with the majority being stationed in Europe – both France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A have five representatives on the Black Stars’ roster. Only one player, goalkeeper Stephen Adams, plays in Ghana’s domestic Premier League.
  • Ghana has won the African Cup of Nations four times; in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982.

LAST TIME:
On the field for the USA:
June 1, 2014 – EverBank Field – Jacksonville, Florida – International Friendly

USA     2   Jozy Altidore 31, Jozy Altidore 68
NGA    1   Victor Moses (penalty) 86

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson, 5-Matt Besler, 20-Geoff Cameron, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (21-Timmy Chandler, 75); 11-Alejandro Bedoya (19-Graham Zusi, 60), 15-Kyle Beckerman (10-Mix Diskerud, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 4-Michael Bradley; 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (18-Chris Wondolowski, 87), 17-Jozy Altidore (3-Omar Gonzalez, 80)
Subs Not Used: 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 6-John Brooks, 9-Aron Johannsson, 12-Brad Guzan, 14-Brad Davis, 16-Julian Green, 22-Nick Rimando
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

NGA: 1-Vincent Enyeama; 2-Joseph Yobo (capt.), 5-Eric Efe Ambrose, 13-Juwon Oshaniwa, 14-Godfrey Oboabona; 10-John Obi Mikel (4-Ruben Gabriel, 46), 15-Ramon Azeez (25-Michael Uchebo, 74), 17- Ogenyi Onazi; 8-Peter Osaze Odemwingie (18-Michael Babatunde, 46), 11-Victor Moses, 23-Shola Ameobi (9-Emmanuel Emenike, 64)
Subs Not Used: 3-Elderson Echiejile, 6-Azubuike Emmanuel Egweukwe, 7-Musa Ahmed, 12-Kunle Odunlami, 16-Austine Ejide, 19-Uche Nwofor, 21-Agbim Chigozie, 22-Kenneth Omeruo
Head Coach: Stephen Keshi

On the field against Ghana:
June 26, 2010 – Royal Bofakeng Stadium – Rustenberg, South Africa – 2010 FIFA World Cup Round of 16

USA   1   Landon Donovan (penalty) 62
GHA  2   Kevin Prince Boateng 5, Asamoah Gyan 93

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 15-Jay DeMerit, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 10-Landon Donovan, 4-Michael Bradley, 13 -Ricardo Clark (19-Maurice Edu, 31), 8-Clint Dempsey; 20-Robbie Findley (22-Benny Feilhaber, 46) 17-Jozy Altidore (9-Herculez Gomez, 91)
Subs Not Used: 18-Brad Guzan, 23-Marcus Hahnemann; 2-Jonathan Spector, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Stuart Holden, 14-Edson Buddle, 16-Jose Torres, 21-Clarence Goodson
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

GHA: 22-Richard Kingson; 2-Hans Sarpei (19-Lee Addy, 73) , 4-John Pantsil, 5-John Mensah (capt.), 7-Samuel Inkoom (11-Sulley Muntari, 113), 8-Jonathan Mensah; 6-Anthony Annan, 13-Andre Ayew, 21-Kwando Asamoah, 23-Kevin Prince Boateng (10-Stephen Appiah, 78); 3-Asamoah Gyan
Subs Not Used: 1-Daniel Agyei, 16-Stephen Ahorlu; 9-Derek Boateng, 12-Prince Tago, 14-Matthew Amoah, 17-Ibrahim Ayew, 18-Dominic Adiyiah, 20-Quincy Owusu-Abeyie
Not Available: 15- Isaac Vorsah
Head Coach: Milovan Rajevac

Finding His Form: Johannsson Leads AZ to Europa League; Ready for June MNT Friendlies

Four weeks ago, U.S. Men’s National Team forward Aron Johannsson and his club AZ Alkmaar were seven points out of the third-place position in the Eredivisie. That third-place spot is particularly important because it guarantees the club that holds it a qualifying spot in the Europa League. With that many points to overcome, many of the AZ players were resigned to the fact that if they were going to play Europa League, they’d more than likely have to earn their place during the post-season playoffs.

“When we lost against Feyenoord six games ago we thought we were going to the playoffs,” Johannsson said. “For the rest of the games we were mentally preparing ourselves as if we were going into the playoffs.”

But that was four weeks ago.

On Sunday,  Johannsson scored two goals and added an assist to lead Alkmaar to a 4-1 win over Excelsior. The win landed AZ in third place in Eredivisie, clinching a sport in the Europa League. It was an improbable run highlighted by a hot streak of performances from the MNT forward that began three weeks ago.

Following a 3-1 win against ADO Den Haag, AZ matched up with FC Twente on April 26. Thirty-five minutes into the game, Alkmaar found itself up 2-0 after Johannsson flicked a cross into the back of the net with the outside of his left foot. Johannsson and the team held on for the remaining 65 minutes, and for the first time since February, AZ had won back-to-back games. The positive result berthed a positive thought. If AZ could keep winning, maybe they had a chance.

“We went into the game against NAC Breda realizing third place was possible.” Johannsson said.

The team knew that continuing to win was the only way that possibility could turn into reality, but after 82 minutes AZ trailed 2-1. In the 83rd, Robert Muhren leveled the score line for AZ, but at this stage a tie was not much more valuable than a loss. With two minutes to go, Johannsson kept the Europa League hopes alive, blasting in a stunning long-range goal from 35 yards out.

“I’ve never shot from that far before,” Johannsson said. “We needed to win the game obviously so we could have a chance at third place, and the whole game NAC Breda was defending. They had almost 11 in their own box in the last 30-40 minutes. I didn’t’ get any chances and I barely saw the ball. Finally I got the ball and it was a little bit far away, but I just said ‘screw it’ and decided to shoot on goal. Obviously the result was great.”

With the win AZ moved into a tie with Feyenoord for third with 59 points. Had the season ended that day, Feyenoord would have claimed the automatic Europe League bid based on goal differential. But there was still one game left to play. With Feyenoord holding a huge advantage in the tiebreaker, Johannsson and his teammates knew that they’d need a win in their last game with Excelsior and some luck with the other result.

“After the NAC Breda game, we were thinking the whole week about Excelsior and we knew we had to win to have any chance and hope for good results,” Johannsson said. “It was also tough for us because it was not in our own hands. In a situation like that you can only focus on yourself and get those three points and hope for the best.”

Five minutes into the match with Excelsior, AZ proved they were ready to take care of business. And Johannsson was ready for the spectacular.

“The ball came into the box and bounced high in the air. It was on turf and it was spinning a lot, so I was trying to read where the ball would eventually come down and I made it there before the defender,” Johannsson said.  “The ball was at a perfect height and I just decided to do a bicycle kick. I’m really happy it worked out.”

Johannsson’s goal sent the number of AZ fans that had traveled to Stadion Woudestein into a frenzy and gave his team an early 1-0 lead. It was good thing he heard the roar of the supporters, since he wasn’t quite sure it had gone in.

“I felt it when I hit it and it felt very good,” Johannsson sad. “First I heard everybody celebrating and then I just looked up in the goal and saw the ball, so I didn’t see it in exactly the same time as everybody else. It was amazing. Not only was it a beautiful goal, but we needed to score a goal early in the game to help us build confidence and this was after five minutes. From every perspective it was really nice.”

Bicycle-kick goals are rare, but for Johannsson, this one was not a fluke.

“Two days before the game I was training, we had a striker training at the club, and I was training bicycle kicks. So it was really fortunate the ball came exactly there in this game. We were training and we had the trainer play us the ball and I was kind of taking it off my chest and putting in the air and taking, I think it was five or six bicycle kicks. So it was probably in the back of my head in the game when the ball came in that position.”


Weekend Review: MNT Players Play Big Roles in Club Success

In a weekend where Champions League and Europe League spots awaited clinching, where promotions lay for the taking, and where streaks sought to be continued, there to respond were members of the U.S. Men’s National Team who made an impact with their clubs.

Fabian Johnson and his club Borussia Monchengladbach made history this weekend. Entering just one win away from clinching a group-phase spot in next season’s Champions League, Johnson started and gave ‘Gladbach 78 strong minutes, which helped propel the Foals to capture the needed victory by a 2-0 score line against Werder Bremen. This marks the first time ‘Gladbach has punched a ticket to the Champions League group stage. The Foals have not lost a league match in which Johnson has started since the winter break, going 10-0-2 in that stretch.

Staying in Germany, Alfredo Morales and his squad FC Ingolstadt had an opportunity to secure first place in the 2. Bundesliga and promotion, needing a win against RB Leipzig. Leipzig got on the board early, scoring in the game’s fourth minute. In the 39th Morales came on, and just before the halftime whistle Ingolstadt leveled at 1-1 with a penalty kick. In the 76th minute Morales assisted on the goal that proved to be the game winner. In the end, he helped hoist the 2. Bundesliga silverware that declared Ingolstadt was headed to the top division.

Moving north, Aron Johannsson and his Dutch club AZ Alkmaar entered the weekend tied with Feyenoord for the Eredivisie’s third-place position and the Europa League spot that goes along with it. Johannsson was clearly set on AZ taking that position as he scored a pair of goals, including a full bicycle. Johannsson also added an assist in AZ Alkmaar’s 4-1 win over Excelsior. With Feyenoord losing, AZ are officially in the Europa League for next season.

In MLS, Clint Dempsey continued his point-scoring tear for Seattle Sounders FC. Dempsey again contributed to the Seattle attack, setting up Chad Barrett for what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 2-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. In doing so, Dempsey extended his streak of recording at least a point to 10 games, which is the fourth-longest streak of its kind in MLS history and the longest since 1998. Dempsey has at least one point in 18 of Seattle’s last 19 games and is tied for the league-lead in goals (7) and assists (5).

In Mexico, Ventura Alvarado and Club America entered the second leg of the Liga MX quarterfinals trailing Pachuca, 3-2. Alvarado came on in the 59th minute of a match packed with excitement and drama that included seven goals, two red cards – both for Club America and the first leaving them a man short after 33 minutes – and last-minute strikes. Ultimately, Club America lost 4-3 at home and 7-5 on aggregate.

Michael Bradley, Chris Wondolowski and Juan Agudelo were a trio of other MNT players that made a mark last weekend, each scoring a goal. Agudelo was a difference maker for the New England Revolution scoring on a diving header to give his team the lead against Toronto FC. Michael Bradley, his MNT teammate, but opponent in this matchup, responded with a game-tying goal for Toronto. Bradley’s was an exhibition of individual dominance. The midfielder dribbled through a host of New England Revolution defenders and finished in the lower left corner of the goal. In San Jose, Chris Wondolowski directed in a header in his team’s 2-0 win over Columbus Crew SC. The goal was the 99th of his career, which ranks him ninth overall in MLS history.

USMNT - Five to Follow

With the seasons in Europe reaching their climax and MLS in full swing, there are Champions League and Europa League spots to be won, promotion to be earned, and streaks to be continued. Here's five MNT stories to follow this weekend.


  • Fabian Johnson and Monchengladbach can guarantee at least third place in the Bundesliga and an automatic spot in next season’s Champions League with either a win away to Wolfsburg on Saturday or if Leverkusen fails to win against Hoffenheim. [FABIAN FEATURE ON USSOCCER.COM]
  • Alfredo Morales and FC Ingolstadt can secure first place and promotion to the Bundesliga with a win against RB Leipzig on Saturday.
  • Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar are tied on points (59) with Feyenoord but behind on goal differential for third place with one game to go. The third-place finisher gets automatic entry into the Europa League; otherwise they go into a playoff. Alkmaar is away to 15th place Excelsior on Sunday.
  • Ventura Alvarado and Club America go into the second leg of the Liga MX quarterfinal at home down 3-2 to Pachuca. Interestingly, in Mexico the tiebreaker in the series is a little different. If both the aggregate goals and away goals are equal, there is no extra time and penalties. Instead, the team with the most points during the regular season advances.
  • Clint Dempsey goes into the Cascadia Cup match against Vancouver on fire, tied for the league lead with seven goals and adding four assists. He has at least one point in 17 of the last 18 games for Seattle. 

Johnson and Monchengladbach on Bundesliga Hot Streak

U.S. MNT Midfielder Fabian Johnson has played a part in Borussia Monchengladbach’s surge in the Bundesliga, who are now just one win away from securing a place in the Group Stage of the UEFA Champions League. With huge friendlies against Netherlands and World Cup champions Germany on the horizon ahead of the vital Gold Cup this summer, Johnson looks to carry that form into the National Team.

After going an unbeaten 5-5-0 in the season’s first 10 games, entering week 13 Borussia Monchengladbach took a sudden skid in the form of three-game losing streak and fell to fifth place on the table. Seven weeks later at the week-20 mark, the team was still in in fifth. Now, entering the last two weeks of the season, ‘Gladbach is riding a 12-match unbeaten streak and holds on to the league’s No. 3 spot. U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Fabian Johnson has played an integral role in helping make Die Foals the hottest team in Germany.

“We've just been trying to do everything we can,” Johnson said of the team’s success in the second half of the season. “I think the first half was also good, just not as good as the second half.  We have been able to win big games like against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen that we missed in the first half of the season.”

The victory against Leverkusen was perhaps the most significant for the Foals, particularly with the clock ticking on the season. Going into the match, Leverkusen was just two points off ‘Gladbach’s third place position in the table, which is an especially valuable position to be in since the Bundesliga top three are ensured automatic bids in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Ultimately the hosts triumphed for their third-straight league win, with Johnson assisting on the game’s final goal of his team’s 3-0 victory and bolstering the team’s Champions League position. Johnson also assisted on ‘Gladbach’s game-winning goal in its 1-0 victory against Wolfsburg on April 26, that win guaranteeing his side at least a place in Champions League qualifying, but they want more.

“Getting to Champions league would mean very much,” Johnson said. “It was our goal to go to the Champions League. We've already achieved being in the qualification stage, but now we want to go to the group stage directly.”

Johnson said he’s never been a part of an experience like the one he is on right now, and said it’s a thrill to have played a part in it. In league games since January in which he has been in the Starting XI for Gladbach, the team has not lost. In that time frame, Johnson has settled into his role on the left side of midfield, scoring a goal and adding three assists.

“Right now I’m playing left mid. When I first when got to ‘Gladbach it was kind of difficult because it had been a while since I had played the position and I wasn't so used to it,” Johnson said. “After the winter break, I had a few good games and now I’m feeling better. I know where to run and where to pass and I’m feeling much more comfortable in the position right now. I like it.”

The team is now just a win away from that automatic group stage placement in Champions League, and they will have a chance to get it on Saturday when it plays Werder Bremen.

“In almost every game in the second half of the season we have had great team performances. Everybody worked for each other and gave everything in those games,” Johnson said. “I think we’re just having a great run right now and we’re trying to keep it going over these last few games. We have to at least win one more, and hopefully we can manage it on Saturday.”

‘Gladbach has had tremendous defensive success during this run, shutting out its opponent in nine of its last 15 Bundesliga games.

“It’s very difficult to score against us. I think we have a great defensive work and then as soon as we get the ball we are very quick in transition and work to score very quickly. We did a lot of good work on these elements during the Winter break.  We just feel comfortable out there and everybody’s positive, not just the players but the club and the whole area here.”

Borussia Park, the home stadium for ‘Gladbach, has a capacity of 54,057, of which 16,145 are standing-room only due to the team’s popularity. Johnson said the Foals fans are some of the world’s best, and that their support propels him and his teammates when they’re on the pitch.

“Our fans are just great,” Johnson said. “When we play road games, it sometimes doesn’t even feel like we’re away. They’re doing a great job and they’re always supporting us.”

Johnson isn't the only player with U.S. MNT ties that has given the Foals faithful something to cheer about. U.S. MNT Special Advisor Berti Vogts was a two-time Bundesliga Player of the Year when he played for Gladbach from 1969-1975. Vogts was a key player for the team in its Golden Decade in the 1970s, when he earned German Player of the Year honors twice (1971, 1979) and led the team to three-straight Bundesliga titles from 1975-77. Former U.S. MNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller captained the squad in the 2006-07 season.

 ‘Gladbach and Johnson look to continue the success and finish the season on a high note. From there it’s only a few short weeks before Johnson gets back on the field in a U.S. uniform when the MNT faces Netherlands on June 5 and World Cup Champion Germany on June 10 in international friendlies.

“I think these are great games and I think everyone’s excited for it,” Johnson said. “We’re going to play against the World Champion. We already played them in Washington D.C. and it was a great game. Now we’re playing them away and I think it’ll be a huge game. Everybody wants to play against the best players in the world so it will be fun.”

The U.S. lost to Germany in the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, last summer 1-0. This time around the game will be played on German soil in Cologne, which happens to be just a few minutes away Johnson’s home in Dusseldorf. His mother, brother and friends will be there to watch him play.

The proximity to home with these friendlies also helps because  Johnson has a lot to prepare for in the next few months with the end of the Bundesliga, the MNT friendlies with Netherlands and Germany, and the start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup just a few weeks after that.

Johnson said he’ll closely focus on his training to ready himself for the host of games he’ll encounter, while many of his club teammates will likely be on vacation. Johnson said that the significance of the games and the Gold Cup will fuel him as he works.

“The Gold Cup is very important,” he said. “We want to go to the Confederations Cup, that’s our goal, so we have to win the tournament.”

While Johnson’s club season is wrapping up, he knows his soccer year is far from over, there’s plenty more to come on the horizon with the U.S. MNT, hopefully Johnson says, when his year is over, he’ll have a Gold Cup to hoist and a Champions League group stage matchup to look forward to.

It has been close to four years since Johnson debuted for the U.S. MNT in its match against France in November 2011. He’s come a long way since, having played a big part in the U.S.’s run in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where he started all four games. Johnson hopes that this recent success proves to be a continuation of better things to come.


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