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
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
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
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