After a poor performance against Germany on Saturday, the USMNT dismantled Ghana at Geodis Park, winning 4-0 with all four goals coming in the first half. Gio Reyna netted the first goal in the tenth minute, which kick-started a goal frenzy for the Americans. They went 3-0 up ten minutes later with the help of Christian Pulisic and Folarin Balogun. Reyna was not finished yet and scored once again, this time from an indirect free kick.
We take a closer look at how it all went down, the context of some of the key plays within the flow of the game, and what it means for the team going forward.
Team USA (4-2-3-1): 1. Turner (GK) — 2. Dest, 12. M. Robinson, 4. Richards (Carter-Vickers, 72′), 23. Lund — 15. Johnny (Maloney, 65′), 6. Musah (de la Torre, 75′), 7. Reyna (McKennie, 46′) — 21. Weah, 20. Balogun (Pepi, 46′), 10. Pulisic (Aaronson, 46′)
Gregg Berhalter has made three changes from that 3-1 loss against Germany, with Kristoffer Lund and Johnny Cardoso receiving starts in place of Weston McKennie and Joe Scally. Pulisic is once again the captain for the Yanks.
After a bit of possession from both sides, the Americans broke the deadlock in the tenth minute with Gio Reyna scoring his first since 2021! Flo Balogun finds himself with the ball on the right side of the box and crosses it toward the center where Reyna is positioned. However, it first meets Nicholas Opoku, who fails to clear his lines, and the BVB attacking midfielder is there to finish the chance. Not quite an official assist for Balogun, but it is in my book.
Just eight minutes later, the Americans have a chance to double the lead! Tim Weah was the one to draw a penalty from a bad challenge by Gideon Manseh. Capitano Pulisic is, of course, the one to step up and slot it home to make it two for the Yanks.
It took only four minutes to see a third American goal, and it was Balogun’s turn to get onto the scoresheet! This is turning out to be a nightmare for Gideon Manseh. After conceding a penalty for a foul on Weah, the Juventus man goes on to strip the ball off the Ghanaian and picks out Balogun in the center of the box. The Monaco striker skillfully turns away from the oncoming central defender, leaving the goalkeeper on skates, and blasts it into an empty net.
It’s rare that you ever see an indirect free kick. It comes from a Ghanaian defender stopping play by what seems to be sitting on the ball rather than just kicking it out of play. The ref doesn’t point to the spot but rather signals for an indirect free kick, which sees the three goalscorers, Reyna, Pulisic, and Balogun, all on top of the ball with eight Ghanaians blocking the goal along with the goalkeeper. However, that doesn’t stop Reyna from placing it into the top right corner to make it four-nil to the USMNT after 39 minutes of play!
Matt Turner was untested thus far but was finally called into action just outside half-time in the 41st minute. Mohammed Kudus gets onto his favored left foot and tries to curl it into the top corner, similar to Pulisic’s goal against Germany last time out, but the Nottingham Forest keeper makes a fine stop to deny the West Ham United player.
The boys absolutely redeemed themselves after a shocking display against Germany a few days ago. Although Ghana isn’t on the same tier as Germany in terms of challenge, they still pose a formidable opposition with historical meetings in the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cup.
Ghana, in fairness, is missing some key starters, such as their No.1, Laurence Ati-Zigi, Mohammed Salisu, Tariq Lampey and some more. However, they still fielded many top players like Mohammed Kudus, Thomas Partey, and Inaki Williams. Their defenders are what let them down, making countless mistakes. You could say they appeared relatively open in the midfield, with a noticeable gap between their midfield and defense, similar to what the U.S. had against Germany. Ghanaian Head Coach, Chris Hughton, might’ve watched that match and incorporated the wrong ideas.
The three goalscorers all came off after the break and on comes on Ricardo Pepi, Brenden Aaronson, and Weston Mckennie.
The chances fell for the Americans in the 49th and 51st minute. The first chance saw the Americans on a quick counter with Weah running down the right wing. He had no support, so he goes for glory and just misses the bottom corner. So unlucky. The next chance falls to Pepi, who pickpockets the Ghanaian keeper. However, once again, he doesn’t have any support. So, instead of going for glory like Weah a few minutes prior, he waits for bodies in the box and finds Aaronson, who then passes it to Johnny Cardoso who misses the goal.
Ghana struggles to get a hold of the ball as the advancing American train keeps pinning them back in their defensive half. Sergiño Dest’s excellent play on the left finds Mckennie just outside the 18-yard box. The Juventus midfielder decides to have a crack as no one decided to close him down and nearly finds the bottom right corner.
Both teams seem to accept the scoreline after the hour mark. There’s not much to note from this point until the end of the match, and the USMNT concludes the October friendlies with a win against Ghana in Nashville, Tennessee.
The U.S. ended the contest straightaway in the first half with a four-goal blitz in the first half. Despite a goalless second half, the Americans hardly gave the Black Stars chances on goal, and was a relatively easy day at work for Matt Turner apart from that one magnificent save in the first half.
My man of the match, of course, goes to Gio Reyna, and it’s clear to see he’s the glue to this squad. We’ve seen evidence of performances dipping when he’s not on the pitch, as seen in both games against Germany and Ghana. With two goals for the BVB midfielder, it’s apparent he’s a key player in Berhalter’s plan once again. This is a massive confidence booster for the 20-year-old as he looks to use this momentum to secure a spot in the BVB lineup.