An underwhelming Ghana Black Stars side were annihilated at Geodis Park in Tennessee on Tuesday as the US national soccer team showcased their prowess by securing a resounding 4-0 victory.
Chris Hughton and his men gave Ghana its poorest first-half performance in history, as the US needed only 39 minutes to complete their mission.
The match will be remembered for stellar performances by young talents Gio Reyna, Christian Pulisic, and Folarin Balogun who were totally unstoppable on the day.
Gio Reyna scored twice in a stunning blitz, while Christian Pulisic and Folarin Balogun hit the back of the net in a moment when Ghana looked poorer than it was against Mexico 72 hours earlier.
After a 2-0 defeat to Mexico in North Carolina just three days prior, Hughton was hankering for a better performance from his boys. But it turned out to be a fiasco for the man who had not tasted defeat until this US journey.
The Americans stayed on the front foot throughout the match’s first half – with players allowing for creativity against a Ghana team that seemed distracted and outclassed from seemingly the outset. At one point, the Ghanaian keeper was screaming his players into formation as the USA had a free kick.
The first half of this match saw the USMNT playing more long balls and sprinting much further. It pinned Ghana back multiple times, including during one of the more confusing moments of the night – where Opoku slid in for a tackle, then trapped the ball between his legs and held it there.
Referee Marco Antonio Ortiz called for an indirect free kick for dangerous play—a rarity at the international level—with the kick at the penalty spot and Balogun, Reyna, and Pulisic standing around the ball. Balo rolled it to Pulisic, who teed it up for Reyna. The Dortmund winger fired it and the ball went into the net off the head of Joseph Paintsil. 4-0.
They almost added another after Matt Turner found Pulisic deep off a save, but nothing of substance came of it after the Americans lost steam.
Frustration began to set in for Ghana for both the players and the fans. Some, like West Ham United midfielder Mohammed Kudus and Athletic Bilbao striker Iñaki Williams felt compelled to try something of substance but no results came before halftime. As the whistle blew, Ghana’s players gathered in a huddle near the center circle – trying to find something to motivate the team.
Halftime substitutions saw Ricardo Pepi enter for Balogun, Brenden Aaronson swap with Pulisic, and Weston McKennie enter as Reyna came off, despite Gio being on a course for a hat trick. In the second half, the team reverted to a flat 4-3-3, which seemed to bring a more restrained sense of attack to this team.
The crowd let out gasps of delight as Weah flicked the ball over the head of Alidu Seidu in minute 63. Up until that point, the 4-3-3 provided some sights of beauty, but nothing that reflected on the scoresheet. When the team reverted back to the same tactic they used for the majority of the World Cup , the forward movement seemed inefficient, but not for lack of some players trying.
Cardoso came off at minute 65 – replaced by Heidenheim midfielder Lenny Maloney, making his debut for the Stars and Stripes.
The US started putting some form of attack together later in the contest, but it wasn’t as direct as before. McKennie sent in a 72′ cross that Aaronson wildly missed, but it fell to Kristoffer Lund, who skied it over the bar.
Ghana did make some attacks on the American goal, but none that truly bothered Turner – who had just one save on the night.