Are you ready for some futbol?
Bruce Arena gets a second look at the U.S. national team Friday night as it plays a friendly against Jamaica in Chattanooga, the team’s final rehearsal before the March 24 World Cup qualifier at Honduras. The 7 p.m. game will be televised on FS1 and UniMas.
The U.S. lineup, made up almost entirely of Major League Soccer players, will have some changes from the 0-0 game against Serbia last week.
Arena, hired to replace Jurgen Klinsmann two months ago, said defenders Jorge Villafana and Walker Zimmerman will play against the Reggae Boyz. Zimmerman, who plays for F.C. Dallas, is making his U.S. debut.
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Sebatian Lletget is expected to get a lot of time in the midfield to replace Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan, both of whom left camp. Jones is suspended, and Kljestan is home awaiting the birth of a child. Luis Robles will start in goal instead of Nick Rimando, the 37-year-old former Miami Fusion keeper.
Arena liked the “energy” Lletget brought against Serbia and the chances he created.
Tim Howard is recovering from leg surgery and Brad Guzan has spent a lot of time on the bench at Middlesbrough in England, so the U.S. goalkeeper position is unsettled.
“I’d like to see everything just a little bit better,” Arena said. “Our speed of play a little bit better, our defending rock solid, which I thought was pretty good the other day, a little bit more balance in our attack and, obviously, creating a few more good chances.”
The U.S. is tied with Trinidad and Tobago for last place in the six-team CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group after two games. Costa Rica leads with six points. Mexico and Panama are tied for second with four points, and Honduras has three. The top three teams advance to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the fourth-place team enters a playoff with the fifth-place team from Asia.
The Americans play Honduras on March 24 and then face Panama four days later.
Jamaica was eliminated from World Cup contention, so the Reggae Boyz are using Friday’s game to prepare for the Caribbean Cup in June and the Gold Cup in July.
Among the U.S.-based players starting for Jamaica: goalkeeper Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), defenders Damion Lowe (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Sergio Campbell (Pittsburgh Riverhounds), Oniel Fisher (Seattle Sounders), Alvas Powell (Portland); midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution) and forward Romario Williams (Atlanta United FC).