USMNT vs. Ghana - A Look Back at Four Close Encounters

By: Michael Lewis

When the U.S. Men's National Team meets Ghana, there are two numbers to focus on.

It is two and one, as in a 2-1 scoreline.

In the four confrontations between the countries, three have been played during the FIFA World Cup. The fourth was a friendly.

Here is a look at those four close encounters:

Ghana 2, U.S. 1 (June 22, 2006)

In the first meeting between the sides, the USA was eliminated from the 2006 World Cup in a Group E game in Nuremberg, Germany. Coupled with eventual champion Italy's 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic, the Americans' hopes of reaching the Round of 16 were dashed.

"We had a mixture of not 11 guys playing, bringing it all together at the same time, including myself," Landon Donovan said. "A lot of unluckiness. Hitting the posts. Horrible refereeing. Everything went bad."

The Americans endured a difficult time before a sellout of 44,000 at Franken-Stadion, which included the loss of captain Claudio Reyna to injury, mistakes and a questionable penalty kick call by German referee Markus Merk.

"There wasn't a whole lot of room for error," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. "There were too many errors."

The beginning of the end started in the 22nd minute. Reyna took a back pass on the left side of the U.S. defensive third. An onrushing Haminu Draman stripped the ball from Reyna while kicking him.

As Reyna fell to the ground in pain, Draman raced in alone on goalkeeper Kasey Keller and fired a low shot to the far-right post.

"When I took my first touch, the guy just closed me really quick," said Reyna, who was replaced by Ben Olsen in the 40th minute after suffering a sprained MCL. "I couldn't clear it. I tried to dribble out. I couldn't get him if I wanted to. My knee just buckled."

Three minutes later the U.S. equalized. DaMarcus Beasley stole the ball from Derek Boateng and sent a low drive across the penalty area that Clint Dempsey drilled into the net from eight yards. The goal was the first scored by an American -- other than an own goal -- in the World Cup in 338 minutes, dating back to the 2-0 victory over Mexico in the 2002 Round of 16.

The U.S. found itself facing another one-goal deficit as Merk called a questionable penalty kick on Oguchi Onyewu for taking down Razak Pimpong in the box two minutes into first-half injury time. Midfielder Stephen Appiah converted PK into the middle of the goal as Keller dove to his right.

"I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theory, but in 100 years that's not a penalty kick," Donovan said. "I don't know what the thinking was.”

Ghana 2, U.S. 1 (June 26, 2010)

The thrill of the iconic goal by Landon Donovan gave way to despair when the USA – playing on just two days rest following the epic victory against Algeria – lost in extra time.

For the second time in the competition, the Americans overcame an early deficit but could not use their magic to offset Asamoah Gyan's extra time goal en route to a defeat in a Round of 16 match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

"Obviously, we are disappointed," said Landon Donovan, whose 62nd-minute penalty tied it at 1-1. "The way we went out was frustrating because we played a pretty good game and made a couple of mistakes and got punished for it.”

After the game, Donovan sat on the U.S. bench by himself.

"The finality of it is brutal," said Donovan, who scored three of the team’s five goals. "You realize how much you've put into it, not only for the last four years, but your whole life. There's no guarantee there's another opportunity at that."

Added goalkeeper Tim Howard: "Certainly there's an opportunity missed. We should have won the game, certainly at least take it to penalty kicks, but it wasn't to be."

For the third time in four games in the competition, the U.S. surrendered the first goal.

"I don't know if we had anything left, we were pushing so much the entire tournament," captain and defender Carlos Bocanegra said.

Added Howard: "We just gave ourselves too much of a mountain to climb. We couldn't come back."

The winning goal became a battle between Rennes teammates from the French Ligue 1. Gyan took a gathered in a pass from Andre Ayew and beat Bocanegra, who tried pushing him off the ball, and then sent a left-footed shot past Howard to the right corner.

Ghana took a fifth-minute lead. Kevin Prince Boateng stripped Ricardo Clark of the ball at midfield and bolted down on the left side before beating Howard with a 12-yard shot.

U.S. 2, Ghana 1 (June 16, 2014)

Defender John Brooks had a dream that he was going to score the winning goal and because it came true, the USMNT still had a dream of reaching the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Natal, Brazil.

The second-half substitute connected on Graham Zusi's corner kick in the 86th minute to boost the Americans to a dramatic victory over their nemesis. The win gave the U.S. a fighting chance of advancing from Group G.

“It’s a great moment for me,” Brooks said. “Unbelievable. I had a dream [two days ago]. I told some teammates I dreamed I scored in the 80th minute, and we win the game. And now it was the 86th minute and we won.”

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was grateful that his team put in a gutty performance.

“We just have to grind it out and push and push,” he said. “We have some great spirit. It was fun.”

Clint Dempsey, who became the first American to score in three World Cups, agreed. "It's a huge three points," he said. "We grinded it out. It wasn't our best game, but we showed a lot of character. Everybody played their hearts out.”

Only 29 seconds after kickoff, Dempsey gave the enthusiastic American supporters something to cheer about. DaMarcus Beasley sent a throw-in to Dempsey, who returned the ball to the left back. Beasley passed to Jermaine Jones, who passed to Dempsey. The forward deked defender John Boye, firing a left-footed, seven-yard shot that bounded off the far right post past goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey.

It was the earliest U.S. goal in World Cup history and the fifth earliest goal ever in the competition.

Dempsey was knocked out of the match when he was kicked in the face by Boye in the 33rd minute.

He said he went “as long as I could. I had trouble breathing. I coughed up blood. ... I felt fine and I kept going. I got a little tired. Hopefully I will be able to start breathing through my nose again before the next game."

Ghana just about laid siege to the U.S. goal for most of the second half, connecting for the equalizer in the 82nd minute on an Andre Ayes goal past keeper Tim Howard at the near left post.

U.S. 2, Ghana 1 (July 1, 2017)

What a day for firsts for the USMNT.

Dom Dwyer scored in his international debut and Kellyn Acosta added his first goal for the U.S. in a Concacaf Gold Cup warm-up match at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.

"For a friendly, I thought it was just an excellent game," U.S. head coach Bruce Arena said. "Usually you don't see this kind of quality in friendlies. I thought the pace was pretty good. I think there was some good physical play as well. It was just a good game with some great goals."

Dwyer made history on at least two accounts, on his 19th-minute goal in front of 28,500 spectators.

Joe Corona’s shot deflected off Jorge Villafana to Dwyer, who fired home a volley from point-blank range. Dwyer and wife Sydney Leroux, a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, became the first husband and wife to score for the U.S. at the international level.

"I'm insanely proud of him and so happy for the overall win for the MNT," Leroux said.

Dwyer had become an American citizen that March.

"It has been a long road to get there,” he said. “I really wanted to show the fans and show the country that I'm very passionate about this country and very honored to play for this team.”

Ghana had a great opportunity to equalize three minutes into first-half stoppage time, but goalkeeper Brad Guzan dove to his left to deny Asamoah Gyan’s penalty kick.

After Kelyn Rowe was fouled just outside the penalty area, Acosta curved a free kick past goalkeeper Richard Ofori in the 52nd minute for a 2-0 lead.

The Ghanaians pulled within one in the 60th minute on Frank Acheampong’s free kick that he banked in off the crossbar.

A footnote: The Americans went on to win the Gold Cup, defeating Jamaica in the final.

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