USMNT will play Jamaica in final tune-up before vital World Cup qualifiers
The United States will take on Jamaica in a February 3 friendly that will serve as the team’s final tune-up before resuming World Cup qualifying in March. The match will cap the team’s training camp, which includes another friendly a week earlier against Serbia, and will be Bruce Arena’s only time with the team ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers.
The match is set for 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on FS1, with streaming available on FOX Sports Go.
Losses to Mexico and Costa Rica to open World Cup qualifying put the U.S. in a deep hole and cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job. The Americans now sit at the bottom of the qualifying table and Arena is charged with digging them out and getting them to the World Cup. That makes taking at least four points — and hopefully six — in March against Honduras and Panama.
To do that, he’ll have to get a feel for his players, let them get comfortable with him and begin instilling his system, which means having a very productive January training camp then friendlies against Serbia and Jamaica.
Unfortunately, because those friendlies don’t fall on FIFA international dates, clubs don’t have to release all their players for the matches. That means Arena can only call in MLS players, which limits the scope of his preparation.
Maybe the most surprising thing about the friendly will be its location: Chattanooga, TN. The only national team match that the city has ever hosted was a women’s friendly in 2015, but they had a great crowd for that match and have packed Finley Stadium to see their fourth division team, FC Chattanooga, play so it looks like a great soccer market. The expectation is that all 20,000 seats will be filled.
More than just going to Chattanooga, though, the match will be played on artificial turf. It’s been more than a decade since the men have scheduled a match on an artificial surface and Klinsmann was vehemently against playing matches on anything but grass, however Arena appears to be a bit more amenable to different surfaces.