Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
For a moment, when Shane O’Neill headed home an Oscar Sorto goal to make the pull the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team within a goal of Ghana, there was a brief glimpse of hope that the American team could avoid the fate of past U.S. teams facing Ghana in a World Cup.
That hope vanished as quickly as it came, with the Ghanaians scoring two more goals to complete a 4-1 thumping of the United States.
The loss eliminated the Americans from the Under-20 World Cup with one draw and two losses in the ‘Group of Death’. It also marked the third time since 2006 that the U.S. has lost to Ghana in a World Cup, with the previous two losses coming on the senior national team level at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Ebenezer Assifuah scored a pair of goals to lead Ghana to the victory and a chance for a place in the Round of 16.
The Americans leave Turkey with one draw and two losses, having allowed 10 goals in three matches.
Ghana controlled the match from the start, overpowering the U.S. in midfield, as their speed on the wings kept constant pressure on the American defense. The Africans finally broke through in the 38th minute when Frank Acheampong beat Cropper for the opening score. The goal came after a strong spell of play from the Ghanaians, and it only seemed to boost their hold on the match.
The U.S. midfield struggled to keep up with the match, as the absence of Benji Joya was felt, with Wil Trapp and Mikey Lopez unable to maintain any sort of hold on the game.
Cody Cropper helped keep the U.S. in the match with several outstanding saves, but could not keep Ghana out for long as Assifuah curled a right-footed shot past Cropper in the 58th minute to make the score 2-0.
O’Neill gave the Americans some hope when he headed home an Oscar Sorto cross, but that never fazed the Ghanaians, who responded nine minutes later with Assifuah’s second goal of the match. Kennedy Ashia headed home a corner, beating Caleb Stanko, to make the final score 4-1.
Ultimately, the U.S. defense couldn’t deal with Ghana’s speed, and the American midfield never got a firm grasp on the match, except for a short spell in the second half. Tab Ramos left Dani Cuevas out of the starting lineup yet again, but Cuevas did provide a spark off the bench in the second half.
It wasn’t enough though as the U.S. crashed out of the tournament after managing just one point in three matches.
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