USMNT will play friendly vs. Serbia in Bruce Arena's first match back in charge

BY Ryan Rosenblatt • December 14, 2016

The United States will kick off the Bruce Arena Era (2.0) with a friendly against Serbia on January 29 in San Diego. The match will be the first of two friendlies to cap off January camp, giving Arena two weeks to put his team through training and he gets to know his team, then two friendlies to get a look at them in action.

The friendly against Serbia, as well as the one that follows, do not fall on a FIFA international date. That means clubs do not have release players to play in the matches. As a result, it's unlikely that there will be any players on the U.S. or Serbia rosters who play in major European leagues. Arena won't be able to call in the likes of John Brooks, Bobby Wood, Christian Pulisic or DeAndre Yedlin, and he may be limited on Liga MX players as well, but he will have access to everyone in MLS and will probably be able to call in a few youngsters from elsewhere.

Arena doesn't have much time to get his team lined up. He has January camp and two friendlies, but then he'll have two crucial World Cup qualifiers in March that aren't must-win, but he needs at least one win and a second would take considerable pressure off the team. That makes the work the team does in January so important -- it's Arena's only chance to prepare the team for March. How much preparation he can do is obviously limited because he doesn't have European players available to him, but he'll have to take what he can get.

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