In what was unmistakably a friendly with low stakes, the United States warmed up their engines for the Gold Cup with a 2-1 result against a second string Ghana side in Connecticut.
Facing Ghana's B team fresh off a friendly against Mexico on Wednesday, the intensity of the game was never going to be high. Still, the Americans played some bright, technical soccer that should encourage Bruce Arena moving into the Gold Cup next week. The midfield worked well together, creating several good chances. Dom Dwyer's debut resulted in his first USMNT goal, adding an extra feel-good element to the win. Kelyn Rowe was good in his first cap, as was Kenny Saief in a substitute role.
Aside from a drop in energy in the second half and giving away the foul that led to Asamoah Gyan's free kick goal, it's difficult to find too many negatives from the American performance. Dwyer's finishing was just good enough to help get the win, but the game might have been a more comprehensive victory if there was just a bit more sharpness in the attacking third. Set piece defending is still an issue.
7 -- It's tough to pin down how to rate Arena because of the friendly nature of the game and the fresh-faced nature of his roster. His starting lineup played relatively well together after an opening-minute mistake. Ball movement was good, and an understanding in the midfield developed quickly. Arena waited longer than expected to use any substitutions but may have planned that pattern specifically due to the upcoming Gold Cup opener.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Brad Guzan, 8.5 -- Saved Gyan's penalty to help the U.S. maintain their first-half lead. Looked confident and came off his line to good effect.
DF Graham Zusi, 7 -- Acquitted himself well defensively and helped in possession. Got forwarded a few times as part of overlapping runs.
DF Matt Besler, 7 -- Wasn't asked to do much in the first half. Played his position well to help put out a few fires in the last 45.
DF Matt Hedges, 7 -- Slow to adjust to the way the referee was calling the match. Pressed high and helped slow the Ghanaians down in the middle of the field.
DF Jorge Villafana, 6.5 -- Mixed day. Pressed well to win the ball and set up Dwyer's opener, then gave away a penalty in the dying moments of the first half. Defended well beyond that mistake.
MF Kelyn Rowe, 7.5 -- Strong showing in his debut for the national team. Played several clever one-touch passes in the first half. Far from perfect, but set himself up for minutes in the Gold Cup.
MF Kellyn Acosta, 9 -- Scored the free kick goal that proved to be the winner, but it was the rest of his day that should excite fans. Displayed his passing ability while working out a relationship with Dax McCarty in midfield.
MF Dax McCarty, 8 -- Needed some time to work out the positional relationship with Acosta, but settled in nicely. Marshalled the American lines and played his usual heady passing game.
MF Joe Corona, 8 -- Best when drifting into wide areas but did set up an excellent chance for Dwyer in the first half that should have resulted in a red card for Ghana. Good on the ball.
MF Paul Arriola, 6 -- Had some bright moments in the second half but struggled to find the game for the first 45 minutes. Did not pop up in any dangerous areas when the U.S. was dominating proceedings.
FW Dom Dwyer, 8 -- The newly minted American scored in his debut and harried the Ghanaian back line all afternoon. Wasted a few chances but otherwise was the presence up top Arena wanted.
MF Gyasi Zardes, NR -- Missed a chance to play a switch into space and was too often flustered on the ball. Looked out of sync with his teammates.
MF Kenny Saief, NR -- Charged around the field in his USMNT debut, showing the industry that earned him a call-up. Set the stage for an intriguing Gold Cup.
MF Alejandro Bedoya, NR -- Popped up on the back post for Jordan Morris' cross but couldn't beat the Ghana keeper. Covered well defensively as the game became stretched.
FW Jordan Morris, NR -- Pressed the Ghanaian defense and provided an excellent left-footed cross -- to the surprise of many -- that nearly resulted in a goal.
DF Omar Gonzalez, NR -- Made a cameo appearance with time running out after Jorge Villafana went down with a cramp.