The US Men’s National Team (USMNT) beat Ghana 4-0 with a dominant performance in the team’s first appearance at GEODIS Park in Nashville.
Midfielder Gio Reyna recorded his first international brace, while captain Christian Pulisic and forward Folarin Balogun added one apiece to cap off a strong team effort. The win also marked Gregg Berhalter’s 40th as U.S. coach, becoming the fastest USMNT manager to achieve the feat.
The U.S. threatened early as Reyna recovered the ball just outside the opposition’s box in the second minute and found Balogun with a quick pass, whose shot was met by a big save from goalkeeper Abdul Nurudeen.
The U.S. looked creative and cohesive in the attack, which paid off just 10 minutes in when a low cross from Balogun following good combination play between he and defender Sergiño Dest on the right ended with the ball deflected by a Ghanaian defender straight into the path of Reyna, who buried a powerful strike from close range to open the scoring.
The floodgates then opened after a foul on Tim Weah inside the box resulted in a penalty kick for the U.S., which Pulisic stepped up and buried calmly down the middle to double the lead in the 19th minute. Four minutes later, Weah pounced on a visibly frustrated Ghana back line as they tried to recycle the ball out of the back. He picked the defender’s pocket outside the box on the right side and found Balogun near the penalty spot, where he cleverly turned with the pass and buried it toward the far-post side netting to put his name on the score sheet.
The U.S. was unlucky not to find the back of the net several more times as Balogun and Pulisic continued to be menaces, but a mistake by defender Nicholas Opoku that resulted in obstruction of play inside the box proved to be lethal. On the ensuing indirect kick, a clever execution by Balogun, Pulisic and Reyna resulted in the latter’s second goal of the night with a classy finish to beat a wall of defenders in the 39th minute. Ghana almost pulled one back two minutes later, but an incredible one-handed diving save by Matt Turner denied a long-distance effort from Mohammed Kudus to keep the shutout heading into halftime.
The U.S. maintained its dominance in the second half. Sparked by the use of all six substitutions, the hosts created plenty of danger, perhaps best highlighted by a brilliant run of play led by midfielder Weston McKennie and Dest in the 55th minute that was a complete display of creativity, but ultimately resulted in a shot that was just wide of the frame.
The night’s substitutions included midfielder Lennard Maloney, who earned his first cap after coming into the match for Johnny Cardoso in the 65th minute. Maloney became the 60th player to debut under Berhalter, tying the U.S. coach with Bob Bradley for second most debuts in team history.
Ghana did better to get into the attacking third in the second period, but a stout defensive performance and a few key blocks by the USA back line denied them of any dangerous chances and locked down the hefty lead that was secured in the first half.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA – Gio Reyna, 10th minute: The U.S. built out of the back and up the right side, where Dest and Balogun combined back and forth to get into the box. Balogun attempted a low cross that was blocked and left in the path of Reyna, who buried it with a powerful right-footed strike from nine yards out. USA 1, GHA 0
USA – Christian Pulisic (Penalty Kick), 19th minute: The USA was awarded a penalty kick following a foul on Tim Weah inside the box. Pulisic stepped up to the spot and buried a shot right down the middle to double the lead and register the 28th of his international career. USA 2, GHA 0
USA – Folarin Balogun (Tim Weah), 22nd minute: Weah pressed hard as Ghana tried to recycle the ball and picked the defender’s pocket just outside the box on the right side. He quickly found Balogun with a driven pass in front of the penalty spot, where he cleverly turned on his first touch and fired toward the back-post side netting to beat the ‘keeper. USA 3, GHA 0
USA – Gio Reyna (Christian Pulisic), 39th minute: The U.S. earned an indirect kick inside the box after a Ghana defender obstructed play by guarding the ball while on the ground. With three players over the ball, Balogun tapped it for Pulisic, who rolled it for Reyna to bury high over the wall and into the net from 12 yards out. USA 4, GHA 0 FINAL.