Mohammed Abu

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Trio of Crew players in Ghana roster to face USMNT, Mexico

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Ghana’s team to face the United States men’s national team on Saturday in East Hartford will look somewhat familiar to fans of Major League Soccer.

Columbus Crew players Harrison Afful, Mohammed Abu and Jonathan Mensah join David Accam of the Chicago Fire, and Gershon Koffie of the New England Revolution on a unit with Kwadwo Poku of the NASL’s Miami FC.

John Boye, Asamoah Gyan, and Mensah are the only three players from the loss to the USMNT in the 2014 World Cup.

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Like the U.S., this is a less than full-strength squad. Missing are a number of Black Stars standouts, with Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Afriyie Acquah, Daniel Amartey, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Christian Atsu, Jeff Schlupp, and Baba Rahman not with the team.

Saturday’s match is the last USMNT outing before the Gold Cup begins on July 8 in Nashville against Panama.

Goalkeepers: Addo Joseph (Aduana Stars), Richard Ofori (Wa All Stars)

Defenders: Lumor Agbenyenu (Munich 1860), Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew),  Nicholas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea), Jerry Akaminko (Eskiserhispor),  John Boye (Sivasspor), Rashid Sumalia (Al Gharafa), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew), Samuel Sarfo (Liberty)

Midfielders: Mohammed Abu (Columbus Crew, Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor), Ofori Ebenezer (Stuttgart), Kwadwo Poku (FC Miami), Winful Kwaku Cobbinah (Hearts of Oak), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht), Thomas Agyepong (NAC Breda), Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution)

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Alhi), Raphael Dwamena (FC Zurich), Majeed Abdul Waris (Lorient FC), David Accam (Chicago Fire)

MLS (afternoon) roundup: FCD start Shield defense; Giovinco’s PK saved

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The first MLS Saturday of 2017 is just about about halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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LA Galaxy 1-2 FC Dallas

The LA Galaxy FC Dallas don’t rebuild; they reload. Sure, Fabian Castillo left late last summer, and sure, Mauro Diaz will miss most of the 2017 season as he recovers from a torn achilles. To which Oscar Pareja shrugs, “So what?” Rather than fretting, Pareja opted to further bolster and already loaded squad of dynamic youngsters, to the point he now has two capable starters in every outfield position.

The other thing he’s got at his disposal to start the season? Flexibility, in spades. For Saturday’s opener against LA, Pareja opted for a 4-4-2 featuring Maximiliano Urruti and winter signing Cristian Colman up top, Kellyn Acosta and Carlos Gruezo in the middle. En route to a 2-1 win at StubHub Center, Urruti and Acosta bagged goals — each of the highest quality and pinpoint precision — and FCD’s Supporters’ Shield is off to a flying start.

Columbus Crew SC 1-1 Chicago Fire

Early-season soccer can be mighty tough to watch — especially in MLS, especially for two teams who’ve only just undergone a major transformation during the offseason just gone by. It didn’t help Chicago that one of the crown jewels of their offseason, former LA midfielder Juninho, was unavailable through suspension carried over from Liga MX. Thus, Dax McCarty, who was also acquired this winter, operated on an island, with very little in terms of defensive protection alongside or creative license ahead. Nemanja Nikolic spent the majority of his MLS debut in an offside position. Regardless, David Accam remains one of the most criminally underrated attackers in the league, and rescued a point in the 73rd minute.

On the other side, Crew SC started a pair of brand new signings at center back — Jonathan Mensa and Nicolai Naess — just behind newcomer Mohammed Abu alongside the incumbent Wil Trapp. U.S. youth international Zack Steffen, who’s 21, made his MLS debut in goal. Likewise, it was the established stars — Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay — who linked up for a well-worked opener.

Real Salt Lake 0-0 Toronto FC

Sebastian Giovinco saw his penalty kick saved by the penalty kick-saving magician otherwise known as Nick Rimando, as RSL and TFC played to a scoreless draw at Rio Tinto Stadium. Non-penalty division, the game’s best chance fell to Joao Plata late in the second half, but the diminutive Ecuadorian international blazed his breakaway effort over the crossbar, and the Reds were let off the hook.