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First International Goals from Dwyer and Acosta Give U.S. MNT 2-1 Win vs. Ghana in Gold Cup Warmup

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (July 1, 2017) – The U.S. Men’s National Team used a 19th minute volley from Dom Dwyer, who was making his international debut, and Kellyn Acosta’s 52nd minute free kick to earn a 2-1 friendly victory against Ghana in a Gold Cup warmup match in front of 28,494 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. The U.S. now sets its eyes on winning its sixth confederation championship when it kicks off the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup against Panama on Saturday, July 8 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. (3:30 p.m. CT on FOX, Univision and UDN).

Handed his first U.S. appearance by head coach Bruce Arena, it took Dwyer just 19 minutes to find his first goal for the MNT, when Joe Corona’s shot deflected off Jorge Villafaña and fell perfectly to allow the debutant to smash home a volley from close range.

Ghana nearly equalized just before halftime when Villafaña was judged to have fouled Frank Acheampong in the penalty area, but Asamoah Gyan’s spot kick in the third minute of first half stoppage time was read well by Brad Guzan, who sprawled out to his left to turn the shot around the post.

Fellow MNT debutant Kelyn Rowe and Kellyn Acosta helped the U.S. double its lead just after the break. Rowe was chopped down just outside the area, leading to Acosta’s 52nd minute free kick, which saw the FC Dallas midfielder curve his effort around the wall and inside the lower right post for his first international goal.

Ghana responded with a free kick of its own on the hour mark when Gyan expertly placed his free kick from 30 yards off the crossbar and inside the right post.

The Black Stars continued to put the USA under pressure, but the MNT closed out the 2-1 victory to move to eight matches unbeaten since Bruce Arena returned as head coach last November.

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. MNT kicks off the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup against regional rival Panama on Saturday, July 8 in Nashville, Tenn. Kickoff from Nissan Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. CT and the match can be seen live on FOX, Univision and UDN.
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Goal Scoring Rundown:

USA – Dom Dwyer (Jorge Villafaña), 19th minute:
Dom Dwyer started off his international career in the best way possible. Villafaña dispossessed a Ghanaian defender on the left, and penetrated the area before cutting back for Joe Corona. The midfielder reached back to hit a shot which banked off Villafaña as he continued his run before falling for Dwyer who smashed a left-footed volley past Richard Ofori to tally his first international goal before pulling off an impressive double-flip in celebration. USA 1, GHA 0 [WATCH]

USA – Kellyn Acosta, 52nd minute: After Kelyn Rowe was fouled just outside the area by Jerry Akaminko, the man that shares his first name stepped up to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. A regular free kick taker for FC Dallas, Kellyn Acosta calmly swerved a low effort around the Ghana wall and inside the right post, leaving Ofori flat-footed to record his first international goal. USA 2, GHA 0 [WATCH]

GHA – Asamoah Gyan, 60th minute:
After a U.S. foul 30 yards from goal, Gyan stepped up and impressively struck his free kick towards the upper right corner where it banked in off the cross bar and past Brad Guzan. USA 2, GHA 1 [WATCH] FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:

USA – Matt Hedges, 1st minute: Ghana looked to take advantage early when a long ball down the right was headed by U.S. defender Jorge Villafaña and fell straight into the path of Frank Acheampong. The speedy winger took the open space down the flank before cutting inside, but his centering pass looking for Raphael Dwamena was cut out well in the area by Hedges.  

GHA – John Boye, 9th minute: After a spell of possession in Ghana’s defensive half, Kellyn Acosta swung a ball from the left to Kelyn Rowe at the edge of the area on the right. The winger played a penetrating, first-time ball back across goal for Joe Corona, who was ready to pounce before Boye alertly put the ball over the end line for a corner kick.

GHA – Richard Ofori, 14th minute: A nice ball through the middle from Dax McCarty was cleverly flicked into space by Corona, giving Dom Dwyer a lane to goal up the right. The speedy forward cruised to the top of the area, but didn’t get a full hit on his low effort as Ofori went down to his right to make an easy stop.

GHA – Richard Ofori, 24th minute: Ghana was fortunate not to go down to 10 men when Corona threaded a great ball through the Black Stars’ back line for Dwyer. Ofori came far off his line and out of the box to challenge the U.S. forward, going in studs up to clear away the danger as he upended Dwyer, flipping the player in the process. Despite the severity of the infraction and being the last player back, Ofori was shown just a yellow card.

USA – Brad Guzan, 31st minute: Ghana pressed for an equalizer and won a free kick about 25 yards away from goal. Asamoah Gyan stepped up and curled a right-footed effort towards the upper right post, but Guzan read it all the way to make a comfortable stop.

USA – Brad Guzan, 45th+3 minute: Referee Ismael awarded a penalty kick after Jorge Villafaña was judged to have fouled Frank Acheampong at the six-yard box. Asamoah Gyan quickly picked up the ball to take the spot kick and aimed a low effort towards the right post, but was thwarted by a diving stop from Guzan to help the U.S. maintain a 1-0 lead going into halftime. The penalty save was Guzan’s second in international play.

GHA – Richard Ofori and John Boye, 58th minute: After Dwyer forced a giveaway at the back he pounced and sent a quick effort that forced a diving save out of Ofori. The rebound fell for Corona whose follow-up effort was put out of danger thanks to a sliding clearance from Boye.

GHA – Richard Ofori, 85th minute: The U.S. nearly restored its two-goal lead when Jordan Morris broke free down the left and cross for his fellow substitute Alejandro Bedoya, whose pinpoint header at the right post was kept out as Oforio threw his body in front of the ball.

NOTES:

  • With the victory, the U.S. MNT remains unbeaten in eight matches since Bruce Arena’s return as head coach, going 4-0-4, while conceding just four goals. 
  • Dom Dwyer’s 19th minute strike makes him the 48th U.S. MNT player to score in his international debut and first since Paul Arriola did so in a 3-1 win at Puerto Rico on May 22, 2016.
  • Kellyn Acosta hit home a lovely free kick in the 52nd minute to join Dwyer in tallying his first international strike
  • Making his 55th international appearance, goalkeeper Brad Guzan captained the side against Ghana and made two saves, including the penalty stop on Asamoah Gyan in first-half stoppage time to earn his 29th career win.
  • Guzan’s penalty stop was the second of his international career and first since denying Hugo Rodallega in the USA’s 1-0 loss to Colombia on July 5, 2007.
  • Having had his one-time change of association request granted by FIFA earlier this month, midfielder Kenny Saief made his U.S. debut when he entered for Joe Corona in the 71st minute.
  • Jorge Villafaña registered his first career assist on Dwyer’s 19th minute goal.
  • New England Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe was also handed his international debut by Bruce Arena, starting and going 61 minutes.
  • Center back Matt Hedges earned his first international start, partnering with Matt Besler on the back line.
  • Besler made his first U.S. MNT appearance since Nov. 15, 2016, at Costa Rica.
  • Midfielder Joe Corona earned his first cap since the 2015 Gold Cup Third-Place Match against Panama on July 25, 2015.
  • With the victory, the U.S. moves to 2-2-0 all-time vs. Ghana and 4-1-1 all-time when playing at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Renschler Field.
  • All four matches between the United States and Ghana have ended with 2-1 results.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ghana
Date: July 1, 2017
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Pratt & Whitney Stadium; East Hartford, Conn.
Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET
Attendance: 28,754
Weather: 78 degrees; cloudy

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

Lineups:
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

Misconduct Summary:
GHA – Richard Ofori (caution)                       24th minute
USA – Kellyn Acosta (caution)                       31
USA – Jorge Villafaña (caution)                      45+2
GHA – Issac Sackey (caution)                      61

Officials:
Referee: Ismael Cornejo (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: David Morgan (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Douglas Bermudez (SLV)
Fourth Official: Jaime Herrera (SLV)                                                             

Budweiser Man of the Match: Dax McCarty

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MNT Jul 1, 2017

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ghana
Date: July 1, 2017
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Pratt & Whitney Stadium; East Hartford, Conn.
Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET
Attendance: 28,754
Weather: 78 degrees; cloudy 

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

Lineups:
USA:­ 1-Brad Guzan (capt.);, 2-Jorge Villafaña (3-Omar Gonzalez, 88), 5-Matt Besler, 6-Kelyn Rowe (9-Gyasi Zardes, 62), 10-Joe Corona (7-Kenny Saief, 71), 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Dom Dwyer (8-Jordan Morris, 76), 19-Graham Zusi, 20-Paul Arriola (11-Alejandro Bedoya, 72), 21-Matt Hedges, 23-Kellyn Acosta
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

Misconduct Summary:
GHA – Richard Ofori (caution)                       24th minute
USA – Kellyn Acosta (caution)                       31
USA – Jorge Villafaña (caution)                      45+2
GHA – Issac Sackey (caution)                      61

Officials: 
Referee: Ismael Cornejo (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: David Morgan (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Douglas Bermudez (SLV)
Fourth Official: Jaime Herrera (SLV)                                                             

Budweiser Man of the Match: Dax McCarty

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GALLERY: MNT Takes Down Ghana 2-1 in Pre-Gold Cup Friendly

Photos from the U.S. Men's National Team's friendly victory against Ghana in a warmup match ahead of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The MNT used a 19th minute volley from Dom Dwyer, who was making his international debut, and Kellyn Acosta’s 52nd minute free kick to earn a 2-1 win in front of 28,754 fans at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. The U.S. now sets its eyes on winning its sixth confederation championship when it kicks off the 2017 Gold Cup against Panama on Saturday, July 8 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. (3:30 p.m. CT on FOX, Univision and UDN).

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MNT Jul 2, 2017

Man of the Match Performance vs. Ghana Has Dax McCarty Hungry for Gold Cup

Lost among the numerous first caps and first goals attained in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2-1 victory against Ghana on Saturday was the Budweiser Man of the Match performance from Dax McCarty.

Though making just his seventh MNT appearance the Chicago Fire midfielder was the steady, veteran presence in the heart of the U.S. midfield McCarty played the tried-and true-defensive role he’s become known for during his 12 seasons in M.L.S., but also showed well in moving the ball through midfield, leading all U.S. starters in Passing Accuracy (95.4%) and Total Passes (65).

McCarty found a good understanding with central partner Kellyn Acosta as the duo balanced the U.S. midfield throughout the game.

“I thought Dax and Kellyn were very good and the matchup they had against Ebenezer Ofori and Isaac Sackey, who are excellent players,” U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena said in his post-game press conference. “It was a real battle in there and they held up well. I think Kellyn is a young player that showed a lot of composure and Dax is a more experienced guy and I think he did a good job giving us a balance in the midfield.”

For his part, McCarty said he was honored with the recognition, but complimented the players around him for pushing the U.S. to another victory and extending the team’s unbeaten streak to eight matches since Arena’s return last November.

“I thought we had a lot of really good performances tonight,” McCarty said. “We trained for a week and we tried to prepare as best we could. It’s a lot of new guys on the field together – you always want to come away with a win – you want to get confidence heading into the Gold Cup and I thought for the most part we were pretty comfortable. I thought a lot a good of performances from our guys, I was just happy to be able to contribute to us getting a win.”

While always recognized as a top central midfielder in Major League Soccer, McCarty’s is experiencing a renaissance for both club and country this year. Traded to Chicago the day after arriving at this year’s U.S. MNT January Camp (and two days after his wedding), McCarty has been one of the biggest reasons for the club’s turnaround this season, a resurgence that has seen the Fire go from the worst team in the league the last two seasons to top of the table as of Saturday night.

Internationally, he earned his first cap in a 2009 friendly at Slovakia, but only intermittent call-ups and appearances followed, until Arena took over the job in November. The Winter Park, Fla., product has been a constant on every U.S. MNT roster since, but has been rooted behind Michael Bradley for more time on the field. With the U.S. captain not on the current roster, the 30-year-old midfielder recognizes the golden chance for minutes he’ll have during the next month as the U.S. seeks its sixth confederation championship at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“It’s going to be a big opportunity for me. Obviously I’m a little bit more of a veteran guy on the roster, but I’m just trying to do my part to be a good leader and try to help the young guys. I think we have a lot of really young, talented players in this camp who are all going to be big parts of the National Team going forward.”

As someone that has largely been on the outside of the National Team looking in, McCarty also admitted to savoring the current run he’s been given by Arena.

“For myself, who knows how much longer I’m going to be able to enjoy these games and camps? I want to try and enjoy every moment I get to step on the field and tonight was an awesome moment, a great crowd here in Hartford. To be able to contribute in this game and hopefully some games in the Gold Cup, it’s going to be a great feeling. I never taking representing my country for granted and tonight was awesome.”

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MNT Jul 2, 2017
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