This year’s warm-up match for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup is a friendly that’s been years in the making.
Bruce Arena’s side will welcome three-time World Cup foe Ghana to Pratt & Whitney Stadium on Saturday, July 1, in East Hartford, Conn.
Having met in each of the past three FIFA World Cups, the Black Stars eliminated the USA with matching 2-1 wins at the 2006 and 2010 editions, while the U.S. MNT got some revenge - appropriately enough - with a 2-1 victory in its opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Take a look back on all three of the high-profile meetings:
Ghana 2, USA 1 - June 22, 2006 - Nürnberg, Germany
While both teams having lost their tournament openers, each rebounded in their second matches – Ghana posting a 2-0 shutout against Czech Republic 2-0 and the U.S. gutting out a 1-1 draw against eventual World Cup champion Italy – making the group finale a high stakes affair.
With both teams having all to play for, it would be fair to say the U.S. MNT had some qualms with the officiating on the day. Ghana grabbed the game’s first goal when Haminu Draman appeared to foul Claudio Reyna, dispossessing the U.S. captain to open up a clear lane towards goal where he finished past Kasey Keller in the 22nd minute. Reyna was stretchered off the field, returning five minutes later, only to be replaced by Ben Olsen in the 40th minute.
Three minutes after losing their captain, the U.S. jumped back into the match when DaMarcus Beasley forced a turnover at midfield and sent a penetrating cross from the left for Clint Dempsey, who buried his first World Cup goal with a one-time finish past Richard Kingson.
The U.S. was on equal footing for just a few minutes, however, when referee Marcus Merk whistled center back Oguchi Onyewu for a controversial penalty kick as he won a header against Razak Pimpong at the top of the area. Stephen Appiah stepped up to convert the spot kick past Keller in first half stoppage time, and the U.S. was unable to find a second answer as Ghana secured their place in the Round of 16 with a 2-1 win.
The match proved to be the final international appearances for Reyna – who was diagnosed with an MCL sprain from the first half challenge – and Brian McBride. Eddie Pope, who was serving a suspension due to the red card he received against Italy joined Reyna and McBride in announcing their international retirements following the tournament, while the game was also the end of Bruce Arena’s first tenure in charge of the MNT.
Ghana 2, USA 1 – June 16, 2010 - Rustenberg, South Africa
Only three days after Landon Donovan’s iconic stoppage time game-winner in the group finale against Algeria to win Group C, the U.S. paired up with Ghana again. The Black Stars had started the tournament strong with a 1-0 win against Serbia, drawn Australia 1-1 and fell 1-0 to Germany in advancing out of their group.
Despite the U.S. having the momentum, it was Ghana that once again struck first in the Round of 16 clash, as Kwando Asamoah forced a turnover in midfield that led to Kevin Prince Boateng’s opening strike in the sixth minute. While Ghana held the lead at halftime, the U.S. responded on the other side of the break when Clint Dempsey was chopped down in the box by Jonathan Mensah. Donovan stepped up and coolly banked his shot off the right post to equalize in the 62 minute. The penalty marked Donovan’s fifth-career goal in the World Cup, an MNT record that still stands today.
The game headed to extra time where Ghana once again scored early through Asamoah Gyan’s 93rd minute strike. The best U.S. chances came in the dying minutes of the match, with Dempsey, Herculez Gomez and Jay DeMerit all seeing desperation attempts go begging as Ghana bested the U.S. once again.
USA 2, Ghana 1 – June 16, 2014 - Natal, Brazil
With Ghana seeing the U.S. out in the Round of 16 in South Africa, it was almost unbelievable that they’d been drawn against the U.S. for their opening group match four years later in Brazil. Having experienced the sting of being sent home from the World Cup by the Black Stars twice before, Clint Dempsey set the tone with the USA’s quickest goal in World Cup competition.
After the MNT’s opening kickoff sequence resulted in a throw-in, the U.S. captain received a pass from Jermaine Jones on the left and took four touches in carving his way between Ghana’s Mubarak Wakaso and Sulley Muntari, before his left-footed effort ricocheted off the lower right post and into the net just 30 seconds into the match. Along with it being the fastest U.S. goal at a World Cup, the strike also made Dempsey the first MNT player to score in three different tournaments.
By halftime, the U.S. has already suffered two untimely hamstring injuries. Jozy Altidore had the most severe, his tournament ending when he was replaced by Aron Johannsson in the 23rd minute. Matt Besler, who was taken out for precautionary reasons, was replaced by 21-year-old John Brooks at the break.
The U.S. dodged a few dangerous attempts from Asamoah Gyan in the second half, but Ghana finally broke through in the 82nd minute when his back heel unlocked enough space for Andre Ayew to beat Howard.
Not willing to let Ghana deliver another disappointing World Cup result, the U.S. earned a late, 86th minute corner kick thanks to the determined effort of Fabian Johnson. Graham Zusi’s driven take from the right narrowly eluded Geoff Cameron but caught Brooks perfectly, with the World Cup debutant nodding the ball down and past Adam Kwarasey to deliver the U.S. a memorable 2-1 victory.
Brooks’ goal came in just his fifth international appearance and also made him the first substitute in U.S. MNT history to score in a World Cup.