"I have no idea what took them so long," said a source for the Union, the home team of PPL Park. "We are just granting use of our facility. That's as far as I am willing to comment."
Ghana's belated return appeared reminiscent of when the Soviet Red Army team balked at returning to the ice against the Flyers in 1976, only to acquiesce when Snider threatened their payday.
All things considered (and trust, there were many to consider), the match, once resumed, was fantastic. Ghana maintained the edge until the 76th minute, when a mistake in its own 18-yard box allowed Chile to capitalize. Chilean star forward Alexis Sanchez was fouled, setting up a penalty kick for midfielder Matias Fernandez, who pounded home the shot and secured a 1-1 final.
"Chile is a very good side that plays very good football, so we knew what we were coming to face," said Muntari, who plays in Italy for Serie A club AC Milan on loan from rival Inter. "But we did well in the first half and managed to keep them off the board."
While much of the hype surrounded Chile and Sanchez, its FC Barcelona front man, Ghana stole Chile's thunder with crisp passing in the first half and bone-jarring hits in the second.
Mpong entered the match in the 18th minute for Dominic Oduro, the speedy forward for MLS' Chicago Fire. Oduro trotted off showing no visible signs of injury. Postgame, Ghanaian coach Goran Stefanovic didn't comment on why Oduro was pulled so soon, but Muntari made sure to praise his teammate.
"I hope he'll continue to contribute to our national team. He is getting to be well known, because he is a very good player," Muntari said.
Ghana, ranked No. 23 in the world by FIFA, has bounced the United States in back-to-back World Cups. In 2006, Ghana defeated the United States in its final group match, 2-1.
In 2010, the Ghanaians ended the Americans' dream run in second-round play after Asamoah Gyan scored in extra time for a 2-1 win. Gyan, not in attendance last night, reportedly took time off from international play to focus on his lucrative club career at Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates.
Last night, it was Chile's turn to fall victim to Ghana.
Odds and endlines
The Union has 3 more days of training in Costa Rica before returning to Chester on Sunday. The Union opens its 2012 campaign in Portland on March 12 . . . Saturday is a big day in local youth soccer, with Eastern Pennsylvania holding its annual coaches workshop at the United Sports Training Complex in Downingtown from 9 a.m. 3 p.m. Later that night, the organization will hold its 40th-anniversary gala and awards dinner at the Crowne Plaza (18th and Market).
For more info, contact Jim DeLorenzo at 215-266-5943.
Contact staff writer Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com or @sprtswtr on Twitter.