Dax, Dom, and Bruce Earn High Marks Against Ghana
July 01, 2017
THE U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM defeated its nemesis Ghana 2-1 on Saturday in a friendly in East Hartford, Conn. While friendlies tend to be snoozers, this one had a nice edge to it with many newcomers playing hard to try to impress Bruce Arena.
For the most part, the players succeeded. Dax McCary, Matt Hedges, Dom Dwyer, Kelyn Rowe, and Kellyn Acosta all came into the game with minimal caps—Rowe and Dwyer actually made their debuts. All of them will be leaving Connecticut in much better standing with the coach.
The best players in this game were McCarty and Dwyer, along with goalkeeper Brad Guzan who came up big on an important penalty stop. McCarty hardly put in a wrong foot the entire game and his passing was smart and decisive. Dwyer meanwhile should have had a hat-trick but still was remarkably effective in getting into dangerous positions.
Guzan came into this game facing criticism in the media but responded well. Jordan Morris hit a great left-footed cross. Gyasi Zardes had several nice touches. Dwyer and Rowe did not look in awe of their surroundings. All in all, Arena should be happy with his team’s performance.
The Starting XI
Brad Guzan: The veteran keeper came up huge when needed. In the first half he saved a well-taken free kick and a penalty. It took a beautiful free kick from Gyan to beat him. Rating: 7.5
Jorge Villafana: He was involved on Dom Dwyer’s opening goal with a nice move in the box but also gave up a penalty—and then Guzan bailed him out. He was overmatched physically at times and gave up a bad free kick in the 59th minute that led to Ghana's goal. Rating: 4.5
Matt Besler: A World Cup veteran, Besler brought some much-needed experience to the backline and worked well with Hedges to limit Ghana’s chances inside the box. Like Hedges, his distribution was pretty good. Rating: 6.5
Matt Hedges: Without much experience on the international stage, Hedges played well and improved as the game went on. Ghana had relatively little success going against him. Rating: 6.5
Graham Zusi: The recently converted right back looked more comfortable defensively than he has in the past at this position. Offensively, he pressed forward nicely at times but his crossing let him down occasionally—and that should be his strong point. Rating: 5.5
Dax McCarty: The Chicago Fire standout manned the No. 6 role and was one of the best players on the field. He did a lot of dirty work and his passing was usually right on the money. In the second half he was even better and was a big contributor in possession. He made a big case to be part of the team moving forward. Rating: 7.5
Kellyn Acosta: The rising FC Dallas star struggled a bit in the first half but came to life in the second half as the U.S began to control the game. His free kick goal was executed perfectly as he bent it around the wall with a low shot. Rating: 7
Paul Arriola: The Club Tijuana winger had his moments where he got into good attacking positions and was able hit some dangerous crosses although he had stretches where he was inactive. Rating: 5.5
Joe Corona: The Tijuana midfielder was the game’s best midfielder in the first half. His shot paved the way for the opening goal but his passing and movement was also smooth. He cooled off in the second half but it was a nice performance in his return to the team after a two-year absence. Physically he took a beating. Rating: 6.5
Kelyn Rowe: In his national team debut, Rowe had a positive impact on the game with some aggressive passing and nice runs—one of which in the 51st minute drew a dangerous free kick which led to the game's decisive goal. He was tough to defend and did not look in awe of the international stage. Rating: 6.5
Dominic Dwyer: Making his international debut, Dwyer did not disappoint. His finishing was suspect early in the game but he was always finding ways to get into dangerous positions. His opener was well taken and then he drew a foul Ghana keeper Richard Ofori which should have been a red card. He probably should have had more goals, but it was a very good outing. Rating: 7.5
Gyasi Zardes: The LA Galaxy midfielder replaced Acosta at the one-hour mark. In the midst of a rough season for his club, his outing was decent and he fit well into the midfield and showed a nice touch on multiple times—often a source of criticism. Rating: 5.5
Kenny Saief: One of the team’s most intriguing newcomers replaced Corona in the 71st minute and played relatively well for a guy who knew none of his teammates before this camp. You have to like his competitive fire and his ability to get involved with 14 touches in 19 minutes. Rating: 5.5
Alejandro Bedoya: He didn’t have much to do after coming on for Arriola in the 71st minute. He could have scored on the great cross from Morris. Rating: 5
Jordan Morris: The Seattle Sounder came on for Dwyer in the 76th and should have had an assist in the 85th minute with a dangerous left-footed (yes, he does have a left foot) cross. Rating: 6
Omar Gonzalez: The Pachuca mainstay had nothing but a cameo. Rating: NR
Bruce Arena: Arena had the Midas touch today as everything turned to gold. His newcomers worked well. He gave three players their international debuts. For such an inexperienced team, the players looked hungry and were eager to impress. Arena successfully expanded the player pool today—which was his top goal. Rating: 7.5
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