A familiar and unpleasant trend for U.S. soccer fans reared its head again on Thursday when Ghana knocked the USA out of yet another World Cup.
This time the match was on the youth level, with the African side claiming a 4-1 win over the Americans and preventing the USA U-20 team from advancing to the knockout stages of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
A brace by Ebenezer Assifuah would have been enough to keep Ghana out front, but goals from Kennedy Ashia and Frank Acheampong made sure that Shane O'Neill's goal for the USA did not lead to a thrilling finish.
Coming into the match the USA needed a win to have a chance of advancing out of the group, but Ghana took control of the match from the start. Moses Odjer and Assifuah both wasted potential chances to put the African team in front early on, but the energy and pace the Ghanaians played with in the opening minutes set the tone for the first half.
The USA, playing largely on the counter, had a good chance to capitalize on Ghana's early wastefulness in the 13th minute when DeAndre Yedlin's cross found the head of Mario Rodriguez, but the forward couldn't turn his chance on target.
Rodriguez carved out another good chance with a solo run in the 28th, but his shot was tame and right at goalkeeper Eric Antwi. Jose Villareal also had one good chance tipped over the bar, but chances were few and far between for the Americans.
Ghana, on the other hand, should have been on the board multiple times before actually scoring the opener.
Cody Cropper made a huge save from his back in the 34th minute, and Mikey Lopez slid in to clear the rebound to keep out one chance. Just one minute later Assifuah somehow sent the ball back across goal when he got on the end of a cross, missing the chance to touch it into an open net on the back post.
Acheampong finally opened the scoring in the 39th minute, latching onto a deflected pass and calmly passing the ball into the net. Ghana doubled the lead in the 58th, with Assifuah getting his first of the game, but Shane O'Neill clawed the USA back into the game in the 69th with a powerful header after a well-worked short corner.
But as has been the case whenever the USA has faced Ghana -- with the Black Stars eliminating the USA from the 2006 and 2010 senior World Cups -- the African team had all the answers.
Assifuah scored his second of the game in the 78th minute to kill off the USA's dimming hopes of advancing, and Ashia added one for good measure 83 minutes in.
The loss leaves the USA with one point from three games and an early ticket home. Ghana will have to wait and see if the three points it earned with the win will be enough to qualify for the knockout rounds as one of the top third-place finishers.