EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Dom Dwyer scored in his international debut, joining Sydney Leroux to become the first husband-and-wife couple with goals for the United States, and the Americans beat Ghana 2-1 on Saturday in an exhibition ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
A 26-year-old English forward who gained American citizenship in March, Dwyer put the Americans ahead in the 19th minute with an acrobatic volley.
Brad Guzan saved Asamoah Gyan’s penalty kick in first-half stoppage time, and Kellyn Acosta added his first international goal in the 52nd minute on a low free kick from just outside the penalty area that went through the wall and in on a bounce past goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
Gyan scored for the Black Stars in the 60th minute with a free kick that beat Guzan and went in just under the crossbar. Ofori made an outstanding stop in the 66th to deny Alejandro Bedoya’s back-post header from Jordan Morris’ cross.
U.S. coach Bruce Arena changed eight starters from his lineup in the June 11 World Cup qualifier at Mexico, retaining only Guzan, Acosta and Paul Arriola. Seven American starters entered with fewer than 10 international appearances.
There also were debuts for a pair of midfielders. Kelyn Rowe started and Kenny Saief, who played twice for Israel before switching his affiliation to the U.S. last month, entered in the 71st. The U.S. improved has four wins and four draws in eight matches since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann in November. Arena’s first stint as U.S. coach ended after eight years in 2006 when Ghana eliminated the U.S. in the World Cup’s Group stage.
Most Europe-based players are on vacation ahead of preseason training, and Arena chose youth over experience in many instances for his Gold Cup roster, wanting to evaluate the deeper reaches of his player pool. The U.S. opens the Gold Cup against Panama on July 8 at Nashville, Tennessee; then play Martinique on July 12 at Tampa, Florida; and Nicaragua on July 15 at Cleveland.
Wearing new uniforms with red and blue horizontal stripes, the Americans played their first exhibition against a team they met in each of the last three World Cups. Ghana eliminated the Americans in 2006 and 2010, and the U.S. beat the Black Stars in its 2014 opener.
Dwyer, who has played for Sporting Kansas City since 2012, has been married since January 2015 to Leroux, a 26-year-old forward who was born in Canada but has 35 goals in 75 international appearances for the U.S. and was part of the team that won the 2015 World Cup. They are only the fourth husband and wife who both played for the U.S., joining Jim Gabarra and Carin Jennings, Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan, and Zach Loyd and Casey Nogueira. Egan’s only goal was in 1993, four years before she married Reyna.
“I’m insanely proud of him and so happy for the overall win for the MNT,” Leroux said. “I love the fact that we both came to the USA from other countries and get to chase our dreams together wearing the crest that means so much to us. When he scored, it’s really hard to describe the feeling. Just chills. I know this is only the beginning for him.”
Dwyer and Leroux announced on Valentine’s Day 2015 that they had married a month earlier. She wears No. 2 and he No. 14. Leroux and son Cassius watched the game on television with Becky Sauerbrunn, her Kansas City teammate, and Sauerbrunn posted video of Leroux holding the infant to Twitter, taken in the aftermath of the goal.
“This was taken after we screamed and ran around and scared Cassius. He’s calm now,” Sauerbrunn tweeted.
Dwyer was dynamic atop a 4-5-1 formation. He broke in alone in the 14th minute but did not get much pace on his angled shot. Played in three minutes later by Rowe, he could not get off a shot from near the penalty spot as he was marked by a pair of defenders.
Jorge Villafana started the action toward the opening goal when he dribbled from a flank past defenders and laid the ball back to Joe Corona, who made his first U.S. appearance in two years. Corona’s shot hit Villafana and bounced up to Dwyer, who volleyed in with his left foot from 8 yards, then did a backward somersault.
Dwyer broke in alone again when he was sent tumbling by a studs-up tackle from Ofori, who was given only a yellow card by referee Ismael Ornejo of El Salvador.
Guzan dived left to bat away Gyan’s penalty kick in the third minute of first-half stoppage time after Villafana was given a yellow card for pulling down David Accam.