This week, the Ghanaian national team is on a bit of a tour of the United States. The federation scheduled friendlies for Wednesday night in Houston against Mexico and Saturday against the U.S. in Hartford, Connecticut.
Three Columbus Crew SC players — Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah and Mohammed Abu — were all called up to represent their country.
The question in Columbus is if these three would miss Saturday’s Eastern Conference clash against Atlanta United at MAPFRE Stadium.
“That’s TBD,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said on Tuesday. “It’s just conversations with the federation.”
“I’m sure we’ll see some combination of them being back for Saturday.”
Because these matches are not during a FIFA sanctioned international window, Crew SC is not required to release players. Berhalter allowed the three to take part against Mexico.
In Wednesday night’s match, a 1-0 loss to El Tri, both Afful and Jonathan started. Afful played 60 minutes and captained Ghana. When he subbed off, he gave the armband to Jonathan, who played the full 90 minutes.
“I’m not sure how often that has happened in the history of the MLS where two different players have captained a foreign team from the same team. So it is great,” Berhalter said.
Abu also saw time in the friendly, coming off the bench in the 55th minute.
Berhalter was happy with the overall performance of his three players.
“I think by and large they played good games,” he said. “They had chances to equalize in the game, a little bit unlucky, but it was good to see them out there.”
None of the Ghanians were back in training Thursday and Berhalter was still relatively tight lipped on whether or not they would return for the Atlanta game, although he did admit it is more likely that Afful and Jonathan, who each have over 50 caps, would come back given the minutes they played against Mexico.
“We’re working through all that right now,” Berhalter said. “By FIFA law, we’re not required to release them for these games.”
Massive Report has since received word that both Afful and Jonathan are returning to Columbus and should be in training on Friday, while Abu will remain with his national team. Their availability for Saturday would then be determined by fitness and selection decisions.
The 30-year-old Afful and the 26-year-old Jonathan have made an identical 13 appearances and 12 starts for Crew SC this season.