U.S. Soccer
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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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US Soccer

Five Things to Know About U.S. MNT Midfielder Kenny Saief

One of 11 players to make their senior team debuts in 2017, midfielder Kenny Saief's path to the U.S. Men's National Team is an intriguing one. 

Here are five things to know about the MNT midfielder who has just signed with Belgian giants Anderlecht: 

American by Birth 

The story of how Kenny Saief (SIGH-ef) was born in the U.S. is a fascinating one, relating to his family’s practice of the Druze religion. After his parents’ marriage, their attempts to have a child proved unsuccessful resulting in their desire to seek advice inside their faith.

Carrying out a coffee drinking ritual, a religious advisor looked at the way the grounds rested in the cup after they finished and interpreted that they needed to travel abroad to change their fortunes.

“They could see the shape that the coffee grounds formed in the cup and symbolized the need for them to travel out of the country in order to have kids,” Saief said in describing the practice.

“They decided to come to the United States and my father started working here. After three years I was born in Panama City, Florida.”

Kenny Saief during U.S. Men's National Team Training on June 27, 2017 - John Dorton / ISI Photos

Having spent his first three years of life in Florida, he moved back to Israel after the death of one of his grandfathers. The return was originally only supposed to be short-term, but when his other grandfather passed, his parents elected to stay in Israel in order to be with the family.

Though his parents weren’t citizens, Kenny’s birth on U.S. soil granted him American citizenship, paving the way for him to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team.

“People look at how that happened and will think it may be little strange. I look at it today and think it all worked out pretty well,” he said with a smile.

Early Career and Move to Belgium

Beginning his youth career with famed Israel club Maccabi Haifa in 2005, the attacking midfielder bounced between the Academies of Hapoel Haifa, Maccabi Netanya, and Beitar Nes Tubruk. During this time, he also turned out for Israel’s youth national teams. While playing internationally, Saief impressed scouts on a trip to Germany and was invited to join the 1860 Munich Academy where he was briefly teammates with MNT striker Bobby Wood in 2010.

“He was a good friend for me,” Saief remembered. “We still keep in touch and talk once and a while – not about football, but just as friends and about life.”

After a stay in Germany, Saief returned to Israel to play for Bnei Sakhnin and eventually made his professional debut with the club as a 17-year-old in January 2011. Though he got an early professional run-out, Saief found scarce playing time and later moved between the first teams of Hapoel Haifa and Ironi Kiryat Shmona, before settling with Ironi Nir Ramat Hasharon.

“Early on, I had a difficult period finding playing time as a young player,” Saief said. “Ironi Nir Ramat Hasharon was a lower team in the Israeli First Division where I could play a lot and show myself.”

Saief scored nine goals in 28 matches at the club, and at the same time was performing well with the Israeli youth teams. That effort eventually attracted interest from abroad, where he found a home with Belgian Jupiler League side Gent in August 2014. The winger saw his career begin to take off in Belgium where he helped De Buffalos to top four finishes each of the past three seasons. 

As a result, Saief turned out for the club in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League, and more recently played a big role in the club’s UEFA Europa League campaign tin 2016-17. Playing 13 matches in the competition, Saief tallied a goal in a 2-0 early-round win against Konyaspor and played both legs of the club’s 3-2 aggregate upset of Tottenham Hotspur in the Round of 32.

Happy to stay home 🔵⚪️ 2020📝!

A post shared by Kenneth Saief (@kennethsaief_) on

International Game

Having come through the Israel National Team program, Saief earned two caps for the senior team in 2016, coming on as a substitute in friendly losses to Croatia in March and Serbia in May.

Though he played in official competition with the Israeli youth teams, the friendly appearances with the full team did not tie him to the Israeli Football Association, keeping the door open for his one-time switch to the United States.

In spring 2017, conversations initiated between Saief and the U.S. Men’s National Team staff got the ball rolling on the player filing a one-time change of association request with FIFA.

On June 2, 2017, Saief was included on the USA’s 40-man preliminary roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and 15 days later his change of association request was approved, paving the way for him to be a part of the 2017 Gold Cup team. 

 Having anticipated the trip to join MNT camp, Saief opened up about his feelings when he arrived June 25 in Nashville.

“It was very special. I was very excited to meet the guys and the people here that helped me with the paperwork to switch. It was a really special moment for me. When I got my clothes from here and put it on, I was looking at the U.S. crest. I called my mom first to tell her I got here and told her about my new U.S. National Team gear. She asked me to send a picture, so I took a selfie and sent it to her.”

“My family is very proud,” he said. “They’re all behind my decision and wanted me to be here, so it’s a special moment for them also.”

Saief made his international debut on July 1, 2017, coming on as a 71st minute substitute for Joe Corona in a 2-1 win against Ghana in East Hartford, Conn. While the debut was special, the midfielder had a groin injury flare up which forced him to withdraw from the Gold Cup roster. 

Injury Return and a New Club

Upon returning to Belgium, Saief underwent hernia surgery which kept him from taking part in the beginning of the Jupiler League season and his recovery was stalled further when he was diagnosed with a stomach infection. The two ailments delayed the winger's season debut to Nov. 24 and saw him make just five competitive appearances for Gent before the Belgian winter break. 

In search of more playing time, Saief completed a loan move to Belgian giants Anderlecht on Jan. 5, 2018, where he reunited with Hein Vanhaezebrouck, the former manager at Gent who signed the young winger with De Buffalos in 2014. 

New challenge @rscanderlecht @dududahan555

A post shared by Kenneth Saief (@kennethsaief93) on

With the switch, Saief follows in the footsteps of MNT midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who was a beloved player Constant Vanden Stock Stadium from 2010-15. 

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MNT Jan 7, 2018
US Soccer

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
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