Fast Facts: U.S. vs. Ghana

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By EoS STAFF

US logoUnited States men’s national team Coach Bruce Arena is taking what some people call an “experimental” lineup to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which begins for the American team with a game against Panama in Nashville next Saturday.

But first, there is a friendly against Ghana in East Hartford, Conn., as Arena prepares his team for the regional championship and the final four games of World Cup qualifying, which begin in September.

Here is a quick look at some of the more interesting aspects of the match between the U.S. and Ghana:

Gold Cup Group Stage: The United States will play Panama (July 8 in Nashville), Martinique (July 12 in Tampa, Fla.) and Nicaragua (July 15 in Cleveland).

World Cup Combatants: The U.S. and Ghana have played three times, all in the World Cup finals in the last three tournaments — all three ending in 2-1 scorelines.

In 2006, a loss in the final group stage game in Germany sent the U.S. home and also ended Arena’s first stint as national team coach. The teams met in the Round of 16 in South Africa in 2010 and went to extra time after Landon Donovan‘s second-half penalty kick tied the match. But a goal by Asamoah Gyan ended the tournament for the American team.

In it pressure-packed opening match in Brazil in 2014, the U.S. jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Clint Dempsey in the game’s first minute. Ghana equalized with fewer than 10 minutes left before a header in the 86th minute by John Brooks planted a corner from Graham Zusi into the back of the net as the U.S. went on to advance from the so-called Group of Death.

National Team Debutants: With Europe-based players mostly given a pass on the Gold Cup, Arena has a number of first-timers on the roster. The list is led by the England-born Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer, who became a U.S. citizen earlier this year. The Israeli-American Kenny Saief (Gent/Belgium) recently obtained a one-time change of association and will get a look. Also, the former U.S. youth internationals Kelyn Rowe (New England) and Christian Roldan (Seattle) could earn their first caps in the coming days and weeks.

Another Opportunity: Joe Corona (Club Tijuana) and Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest) are back for another look with the national team. Corona last played for the U.S. in September 2015; Lichaj last played for the American team in November 2013.

The Guys From Brazil: A handful of players on the roster were also part of the roster at the 2014 World Cup: Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Brad Guzan and Zusi.

A Break From MLS: There are 16 players from 11 Major League Soccer teams on Arena’s roster. The balance of the roster is composed of seven players from clubs outside M.L.S. — four from Mexico, two from England and one from Belgium.

Most U.S. Caps: With 60, Bedoya has the most international experience, followed by goalkeeper Guzan (54), and defenders Zusi (47), Besler and Gonzalez (39 each).

Ghana Players in the U.S.: Ghana has six players on its roster who have ties to the U.S. They are: David Accam (Chicago Fire); Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution); Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah and Mohammed Abu (all of the Columbus Crew); Kwadwo Poku (Miami FC of the North American Soccer League).