Dom Dwyer scored in his first international appearance to help the United States beat Ghana 2-1 on Saturday in a friendly ahead of the Gold Cup in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Dwyer was born in England but became a U.S. citizen in March, and the forward received his first call-up from U.S. coach Bruce Arena this month after starring for Sporting Kansas City in MLS.
He made his first appearance in a U.S. shirt count with a first-half volley, before Kellyn Acosta also scored his first international goal from a free kick early in the second half.
Longtime U.S. nemesis Asamoah Gyan got a goal back for Ghana, but the hosts were able to hang on to win the first friendly between the two countries since they became frequent World Cup opponents — the African nation won in 2006 and 2010 before the U.S. prevailed in 2014.
The Americans’ first clear scoring opportunity came in the 14th minute as Joe Corona played Dwyer in on goal, but his first touch was a little loose and he could only manage a soft shot.
Three minutes later, Dwyer was played in again by fellow debutant Kelyn Rowe, but Ghana defender Jeremiah Akaminko shouldered him off the ball and shouts for a penalty were waved away.
Dwyer made no mistake on his third chance, though, and delivered the breakthrough in the 19th minute.
Jorge Villafana dribbled the ball into the Ghana box before laying it off to Corona, whose shot struck Villafana before falling perfectly for Dwyer to slam home on the volley.
Dwyer was again in the center of the action five minutes later as he ran onto a Corona pass at the top of the box. Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori sent Dwyer sprawling with a late tackle, but the referee deemed the infraction only worthy of a yellow card.
The U.S. enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan was only called into action to knock down a 31st-minute free kick from Asamoah Gyan.
But Ghana were awarded a penalty in the final minute of first-half stoppage time as Villafana pulled down Frank Acheampong in the box. However, Guzan dove to his left to push aside Gyan’s spot-kick and preserve the halftime lead.
The U.S. made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute after Rowe drew a free kick at the top of the box and Kellyn Acosta curled his effort around the Ghana wall and inside the far post.
Dwyer nearly bagged a second goal after some careless Ghana defending, but this time Ofori was able to make a diving save.
Gyan, whose extra-time goal in 2010 helped eliminate the U.S. from the World Cup, then got a goal back on the hour mark with a long free kick that was just beyond Guzan’s reach.
Kenny Saief also made his U.S. debut as a substitute, just two days after FIFA approved his one-time switch of international allegiance from Israel.
Fellow substitute Jordan Morris lofted a free kick to the back post for Alejandro Bedoya, and only a fine save from Ofori kept the U.S. from restoring its two-goal lead.
Ghana, which lost 1-0 to Mexico earlier in the week in Houston, showed more attacking spirit after its goal but could only manage a few off-balance attempts from Gyan as the U.S. saw out the win.
The young U.S. squad opens the Gold Cup next Saturday against Panama in Nashville.