U-20 World Cup: Ghana humble US 4-1 as young Yanks crash out of Turkey
Just like their senior team did in 2006 and 2010, Ghana's Under-20s destroyed the USA's dreams in the FIFA U-20 World Cup on Thursday, routing the young Yanks 4-1 in Kayseri, Turkey, to eliminate coach Tab Ramos' team from contention for a spot in the tournament's knockout stages.
The “Black Satellites” led at halftime, then poured it on down the stretch as Ebenezer Assifuah charted the way with two goals to render Shane O'Neill's header a scant consolation. In truth, it might have been worse as Ghana directed nine shots on Cody Cropper's goal, keeping the Minnesota-bred goalkeeper busy all evening at Kadir Has Stadium.
The young Yanks created their first clear chance in the 13th minute as Mario Rodriguez met a delightful cross to the far post from Seattle Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin with a header that skidded disappointingly wide.
The USA looked sure to grab a useful early lead in the 27th minute. A fluid move ended with Rodriguez slashing in from the left and beating his marker on the dribble, but with Ghanaian goalkeeper Eric Antwi at his mercy, he scuffed his shot right into the netminder's grateful arms.
Ghana came even closer in the 33rd minute, punishing slack US defending on a corner kick. Lawrence Lartey was kept onside despite the ball being cleared from the Yanks' box and he had a seemingly easy finish when it fell to him inside the six-yard area, only for Cropper to make a sensational reaction save at point-blank range.
Moments later, Assifuah missed a sitter at the far post as he ghosted in behind Juan Pablo Ocegueda to meet an inswinging cross but missed the target.
After riding their luck on those chances, the USA promptly spurned all that good fortune by handing a gift of a goal to Ghana seven minutes before halftime.
Columbus Crew Homegrown Wil Trapp was the most culpable victim as he failed to clear the danger of a loose ball at the top of his team's 18-yard box, though several of his teammates looked even sleepier as Frank Acheampong pounced on the half-chance with aplomb, stroking a low finish into the right corner to give the Black Satellites a 1-0 lead.
Acheampong went on the prowl again just after halftime, breaking clear on the left side of the US box and lashing a rising shot that drew yet another impressive save from Cropper, as it seemed the young Yanks had failed to learn the lessons of the first 45 minutes.
Needing two goals as time ticked away, the USA pressed forward and that left space at the back, something Assifuah used to good effect to double his team's advantage in the 58th minute.
Ghana counterattacked after a turnover by second-half sub Danny Garcia, and Assifuah finished the move with a cut past Caleb Stanko that bought just enough space for him to rifle the ball into the top corner as Cropper got a touch but could not keep it out of the net.
O'Neill was presented with a good chance to haul the US back into contention when a long-distance effort by Ocegueda was deflected into his path inside the Ghanaian penalty area. But Antwi stood tall and made the save.
Antwi was left helpless on O'Neill's next opportunity, however. The Black Satellites failed to deal with a short corner kick, leaving the Colorado Rapids Homegrown product wide open to steer a free header inside the left post and cut the score to 2-1 as Oscar Sorto found him with a first-time cross from the right.
Antwi made another important save after a good run by Daniel Cuevas, and minutes later the Americans' flagging hopes were dealt a devastating blow when Assifuah struck again. This time he outmuscled US captain Caleb Stanko to meet a Ghana corner kick delivery with a downward header that flashed past Cropper to restore the two-goal advantage.
The hole grew even deeper in the 83rd minute. The Yanks allowed a free kick to sail through their penalty area and a cutback from the endline set up Ghana sub Kennedy Ashia to slip a low shot between Cropper's legs at the near post to run the score to 4-1.
The one-sided scoreline improves Ghana's goal differential and leaves them in contention for the knockout stages, but they must wait on results in other groups to know their fate. Meanwhile Ramos and his men will trudge home, their campaign done and dusted after this game.