Washington (AFP) – English-born striker Dom Dwyer scored a goal on his international debut as the United States defeated Ghana 2-1 in a friendly international on Saturday.

Sporting Kansas City forward Dwyer, who became a US citizen three months ago, lashed home a first-half volley to fire the Americans ahead as they build towards this month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Another debutant, FC Dallas’s Kellyn Acosta scored the American side’s second goal on 52 as Bruce Arena’s team — with several first-choice players rested — claimed a well-earned win.

Ghana’s veteran forward Asamoah Gyan pulled a goal back for the visitors with a stunning free kick in the 60th minute but the US held on for victory.

Although a friendly international, the game pitted two sides who have battled against each other in memorable World Cup encounters during the 2006, 2010 and 2014 finals.

The rivalry was evident at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field on Saturday with a series of full-blooded challenges flying in throughout the game.

Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori was lucky to stay on the pitch after a wild lunge on Dwyer as the striker raced in on goal midway through the first half.

Dwyer, who moved to the United States to pursue football after being told as a teenager in England he would not be able to play professionally, enjoyed an impressive first appearance for his adopted homeland.

The 26-year-old was a lively presence throughout until he was substituted midway through the second half.

Dwyer’s had already twice threatened the Ghana goal before scoring his opener in the 19th minute. 

Jorge Villafana cut in from the left and saw his shot deflected by team-mate Joe Corona, falling into the path of Dwyer who buried his finish from close range.

US keeper Brad Guzan meanwhile saved a penalty on the stroke of half-time to preserve the American lead at the break.

Early in the second half, Acosta then curled in a low free-kick from just outside the area to make it 2-0.

Gyan made amends for his earlier penalty miss with a thunderbolt free-kick into the top corner to give Ghana hope — his 51st international goal — but US finished strongly to close out the win.