On the heels of Saturday’s dispiriting 3-1 loss to Germany, the U.S. men’s national team responded in the best possible way, crushing frequent World Cup nemesis Ghana 4-0 Tuesday in a friendly game between the sides in Nashville.
Gio Reyna scored twice for the Americans, his first goals for his country since mid-2021. Christian Pulisic and Folarin Balogun also found the net for the hosts, with all for USMNT strikes coming in the first half.
It was the third consecutive win for the U.S. against the Black Stars, including a group stage victory at the 2014 World Cup – the third of three straight meetings between the countries on the biggest stage in sports. Ghana won the first two encounters, eliminating the Americans from the competition both times.
Here are a few quick takeaways from Tuesday’s match.
Play of the game
All four U.S. goals were easy on the eyes, but Balogun’s deserves special mention. The New York born, London raised striker who chose to represent the U.S. over England last May barely touched the ball against the Germans. Afterward, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said that finding Balogun in good scoring positions was one area in need of improvement for his team.
That’s precisely what Tim Weah did in the 22nd minute. Weah pounced on a heavy touch by Ghana fullback Gideon Mensah and quickly played a pass to Balogun in the middle of the visitors’ penalty area. Balogun feigned hitting the ball first-time, spun his defender and hit a left-footed shot off the inside of the post and in. It was a spectacular goal. “We got Balo involved like we wanted to,” Berhalter told the official broadcaster at halftime.” And Balogun — who became the first American to score more than 20 goals in a Top 5 European league last season — showed exactly what he’s capable of when the service he receives is sufficient:
Determined to get off to a fast start after the lopsided defeat to Die Mannschaft, the U.S. took the lead just 10 minutes in through Reyna. It was an important strike for other reasons, too. Reyna was at the center of a post-2022 World Cup storm that almost led to Berhalter not returning as coach for the 2026 World Cup cycle. Taking part in his first USMNT camp since Berhalter was rehired in June, there has been a ton of focus on Reyna since he was named to the October roster earlier in the month.
After starting and playing the opening half against Germany, Reyna exploded for two goals on Tuesday, the fifth and sixth of the 20-year-old attacker’s career. The first was cathartic, both for a young player who’s had to deal with injuries in addition to the off-field drama this year, and for a team that needed to make a statement to its fans and perhaps to even to itself that it can dominate World Cup caliber opposition, if not yet the sport’s truly elite nations.
Tuesday marked the first time the U.S. went up even by three goals against any opponent from outside of the CONCACAF region in the first half of any match since all the way back in 1999, an eventual 3-0 friendly win against Germany – its first victory over the four-time World Cup champs – in Jacksonville, Florida. Gio Reyna’s father, two-time USMNT World Cup captain Claudio Reyna, scored the third goal for the Americans that day.
What’s next for the USMNT
After playing a pair of friendlies in both the September and October windows and facing two teams from the Asian Football Confederation and one each from Africa and Europe, the Americans will resume real competition next month, when they’ll face local opponent to be determined later Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the 2023-24 CONCACAF Nations League. That two-leg, home and home, total goals series will double as a chance to automatically qualify for the 2024 Copa America.
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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