USA-Jamaica: What to look for Friday night

After more than three weeks together, the U.S. men's national team closes out its winter preparations for the all-important March World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Honduras and Panama. For Friday's friendly against Jamaica, not in the Hexagonal, on turf in Chattanooga, look for Bruce Arena to make wholesale changes in the starting lineup.

1. Back with two up top.

After deploying a 4-5-1 formation with Jozy Altidore in the uncomfortable position of operating alone up front, the USA should come out with a more traditional 4-4-2 against the Reggae Boyz.

That means Altidore should play with Juan Agudelo or Jordan Morris at his side in the role Bobby Wood (back in Germany with Hamburg) operated at for much of last year.

Neither Agudelo or Morris is likely to knock Wood out of the starting lineup, but either could make a strong case for the first forward off the bench in the March qualifiers with a good match on Friday night.

2. Big chance for Lletget in midfield.

Jermaine Jones, suspended for the March 24 match against Honduras, has joined his new club, the LA Galaxy, leaving his future club teammate, Sebastian Lletget, as first line for the No. 8 role in front of captain Michael Bradley.

That's a bit ironic, given the Galaxy's offseason moves. Lletget played on the outside in his first season with the Galaxy, moved into the middle in Year 2, but likely returns to the wing in Year 3, given the acquisition of Portuguese Joao Pedro and Jones.

Lletget has only 45 minutes under his belt for the USA, but he is the kind of passer Arena has been looking for in midfield.

3. Shot for Robles in goal.

One of the positions most in flux is in goal, where Tim Howard is injured and Brad Guzan the No. 2 at Middlesbrough until his move to Atlanta United in July.

Guzan remains the likely starter for the March qualifiers while Nick Rimando, who started in the 0-0 tie against Serbia, is all but assured of returning as one of three keepers for the March qualifiers.

Luis Robles will get the start, giving him a shot at the third goalie spot in March. Other options include William Yarbrough, who is starting for Leon in Mexico, and Ethan Horvath, who has moved to Club Brugge in Belgium.

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Luis Robles (NY Red Bulls).
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Free Agent), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders), Jorge Villafana (Santos, MEX) Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union).
FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders).

Jamaica Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Ryan Thompson (Saint Louis FC).
DEFENDERS (9): Sergio Campbell (Free Agent), Oniel Fisher (Seattle Sounders), Rosario Harriott (Harbour View), Kevon Lambert (Montego Bay United), Kemar Lawrence (NY Red Bulls), Damion Lowe (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers), Ladale Richie (Montego Bay United).
MIDFIELDERS (5): Dwayne Ambursley (Montego Bay United), Michael Binns (Portmore United), Ewan Grandison (Portmore United), Omar Holness (Real Salt Lake), Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution).
FORWARDS (5): Cory Burke (Bethlehem Steel), Jourdaine Fletcher (Montego Bay United), Owayne Gordon (Montego Bay United), Shamar Nicholson (Boys’ Town), Romario Williams (Atlanta United).
16 comments about "USA-Jamaica: What to look for Friday night".
  1. Chester Grant, February 3, 2017 at 6:59 a.m.

    I guess the players will ensure that there will no security at the game? What could possibly go wrong? Turn a blind eye?
    Apparently THEY think that there is no risk to life and limb as a result of admitting to the USA people with a medieval and barbaric ideology incompatible with modern values and basic human rights.

  2. P R replied, February 3, 2017 at 9:36 a.m.

    Hello in there, Cliff. Tell me, what color is the sky in your world?

  3. Scott O'Connor replied, February 3, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.

    Chester, respectfully, just because the players get asked a question and give an answer doesn't mean they are inciting any movement.

    They play all over the world and probably understand what it is to be an American and what has Made America Great more than most citizens.

    The refugees are simply trying to get away from the "people with a medieval and barbaric ideology" rather than be slaughtered without trying to save themselves or their children.

    Any of us here would do the same in their shoes.

    Most people with an ounce of empathy would gladly risk a bad person getting through to save a million lives over allowing those million to be slaughtered because we're afraid of that one bad guy.

    International soccer players are exposed to the vast differences in countries around the world. OF course, they might have a different take on things than someone who has never ventured beyond their county or state line let alone outside of this country.

    Perhaps their comments should be listened to for the wisdom they may contain. Instead the rabid "Patriots" insist they "shut up and just play soccer."

    I'm sure some or most in the crowd in Tennessee will probably "Boo" Michael Bradley with each touch. That's their prerogative. 1st Amendment. Mike's prerogative was to answer the question posed to him with his honest opinion. Neither of those acts are less American than the other.

    Chester, open your mind, grow a pair, and stop being so scared of the Boogeyman, wuss.

  4. Dan Eckert, February 3, 2017 at 7:17 a.m.

    WTF? Please take these kind of opinions to different forums.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, February 3, 2017 at 7:23 a.m.

    I decided it was better to ignore the off-topic comment than to respond.

  6. Chester Grant replied, February 3, 2017 at 7:44 a.m.

    You are correct - but these off-topic comments were introduced by the players themselves - if you care to read what has been posted in Soccer America!
    Off-topic political stuff has no place in sport.

  7. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 3, 2017 at 12:31 p.m.

    Take this garbage to breitbart Chester. This article has nothing to do with politics.

  8. Bob Ashpole, February 3, 2017 at 7:21 a.m.

    My suspicion also is that we will see a 442 at some point. Given the circumstances we will see a 4-back system. The question in my mind is how many of the starters from the last match will start today. I don't get to watch practices so I am wondering how Bradley, Lletget, Nagbe and Feilhaber would do together in either a 451 or 442.

  9. Wooden Ships replied, February 3, 2017 at 9:49 a.m.

    I like your midfield question Bob. I think Benny, has had the most to offer for our attack for the last 6 years. At some point, and I would have done it much sooner, when will MB and JA be replaced. IMO they inhibit our game. Also, from the matches I've seen, including Colombia, Horvath seems to command the box and defenders better than the others. We might qualify for Russia, but depending on this core we've gone with, I don't think we are dangerous enough. We must start scoring goals. Once March gets here I'd have Jozy as the third or fourth option as forward in a two man front. Bradley and JJ subs as well. We have better, when is somebody, JK and now BB, going to get it. Obviously, many disagree with this. Good luck tonight.

  10. beautiful game, February 3, 2017 at 11:12 a.m.

    Until the game is played can there be serious discourse...I'd like to see at least five players in the offensive zone 80% of the time.

  11. Eve Montgomery, February 3, 2017 at 11:53 a.m.

    Chester Grant, your remark is rude and inappropriate for this forum. But I'm sure you'll find a home at Twitter, so please keep your disparaging of the players and common decency to yourself.

  12. Ginger Peeler, February 3, 2017 at 12:37 p.m.

    Now that Arena is using our guys at their (mostly) usual positions, I was heartened by their play, although a little disappointed with the last game. I just don't care for the single forward doesn't seem to work well for Jozy. And, as for Jozy: I've complained about him for years, only to have him put me in my place by ripping off killer moves and having outstanding games! Put Bobby Wood up there with him and I just have to shut up. We still won't really know what we have, teamwise, until our players based outside of the US are brought into the fold. I'm am so looking forward to seeing how Arena incorporates them into tonight's bunch. Best of luck to all of our guys playing Jamaica. May they, each and every one, play magnificently! Go USA!

  13. John Soares, February 3, 2017 at 1:18 p.m.

    Not too many players succeed "all alone" as target men, unless they have a very good supporting (attacking) cast. The USA hasn't produced such a cast....Altidore is doomed standing all alone and well marked while waiting for a long ball. He was a power at Toronto in a different more comfortable position. His potential is good but he needs help

  14. Scott O'Connor, February 3, 2017 at 3:47 p.m.

    Want to add a more overt soccer comment to the reply above. Sorry to the purists for dirtying up the board with a mostly political reply......................

    I think Morris has similar physical attributes to Wood. Fast, strong, determined. I'm interested to see how he pairs with Jozy............

    I think the 4-4-2 is probably good against Jamaica since that formation should allow us to keep our shape better in the back, rather than constantly pushing the backs forward as we tend to do in the 4-5-1. Jamaica is very fast and killed us in the Gold Cup with the Counterattacks. Hoping that the solid presence up front will allow the team to attack without getting too stretched forward opening us up to the Jamaican counter...........
    Enjoy the game everyone. The game after looms very large.

  15. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 3, 2017 at 5:03 p.m.

    Thanks Scott, appreciated and agree with both comments.

  16. Dan Murphy, February 3, 2017 at 7:50 p.m.

    Ok, somebody has to say it... I love the MF pairing of Benny & Lletget!!

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