The summer is certainly off to a good start for the USMNT. They got four out of a possible six points in World Cup Qualifying (which included a draw at the always formidable Azteca Stadium in Mexico City) and threw in a draw against Venezuela for good measure. While the World Cup Qualifying campaign certainly appears to be back on track, it’s time for the US to shift gears and start preparing for the Gold Cup which is just around the corner. To help prepare for the tournament the US will play a friendly against a familiar World Cup foe: Ghana.
The US roster for the Gold Cup was released on Sunday and it’s very evident that Bruce Arena is using this tournament to give some younger players a chance and leaving the majority of the European based players out to rest for the final stretch of World Cup Qualifying in September and October. In fact, only three of the twenty three players on this roster ply their trade in Europe (Eric Lichaj of Notthing Forest, Kenny Saief of Gent and Matt Miazga of Chelsea currently on loan with Vitesse). But that doesn’t mean there isn’t quality or experience on this roster. Brad Guzan will likely get the nod in goal. The US back line consists of Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, none of whom are strangers to the national team setup. But also included are young guns like Jorge Villafana, Matt Hedges and Justin Morrow. The same holds true in the midfield with experienced guys like Alejandro Bedoya and Gyasi Zardes (who is also very familiar with Bruce Arena from their time together with the LA Galaxy) but also young guys like Kelyn Rowe, Christian Roldan and Paul Arriola. But it’s a forward who garnered most of the headlines when the roster was relseased: Dom Dwyer an Englishman who was just recently granted US citizenship and is earning his first US call up. Dwyer has done very well in MLS with Sporting Kansas City (60 goals in 133 appearances) and is also married to USWNT striker Sydney Leroux. Joining Dwyer up front are Jordan Morris, whose national teal career has yet to really get going and Juan Agudelo, whose national team career started out astronomically well and has fallen back to Earth in a drastic manner.
Much like the Venezuela friendly at the start of June, this game against Ghana doesn’t mean too terribly much (though as was the case last month, it’s still not a good idea to lose). But it is a chance for the team to get familiar with one another and develop a measure of chemistry before the start of the Gold Cup. And though the US could be forgiven for looking ahead to the Gold Cup and even to the knockout rounds (their group stage opponents are Panama, Martinique and Nicaragua) it’s still good to get a win under their belt and continue the positive momentum generated by the last few months of good results.
For Ghana it’s been a pretty good year thus far. They made it to the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations (losing to Cameroon before falling to Burkina Faso in the 3rd place game). However they do have a measure of worry as they sit just third in their World Cup Qualification group (only the top team advances) behind first place Egypt and second place Uganda. They’ve only played two games but lost to Egypt and drew Uganda back in the fall of 2016. And prior to their game against the US they took on Mexico in Houston, losing 1-0. The Ghanaian roster feature several players who some US may be familiar with including former Portland Timbers keeper Adam Kwarasey (who was in goal when these two teams met in Brazil in 2014), the Columbus Crew trio of Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah and Mohammed Abu and West Ham midfielder Andre Ayew (who scored against the US in 2014). But the man to watch for Ghana is their captain, star man and talisman, Asamoah Gyan who scored the winner against the US in 2010 and has 49 goals in 102 appearances for the Black Stars.
• This is the first meeting between the US and Ghana that hasn’t been at the World Cup.
• As of June 22nd, roughly 20,000 tickets have been sold for this game.
• This US roster features ten players with five or fewer appearances for the US: Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Matt Hedges, Matt Miazga, Justin Morrow, Paul Arriola, Christian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe, Kenny Saief and Dom Dwyer.
When and where to watch the game on TV and streaming
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Pratt & Whitney Stadium
East Hartford, CT
4:45pm ET kickoff
ESPN, UniMas, Univision Deportes, DIRECTV NOW, fubo Premier and Sling Orange (7-day free trial)
USA trails 1-2-0
Arena das Dunas
USA – 2
Ghana – 1
Current FIFA Ranking
Next Game Up
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Gold Cup Group Stage
USA vs. Panama
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