CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- US national team coach Bruce Arena continues to get a feel for his team as they prepare for their second friendly match of the year, against Jamaica on Friday at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás).
The USMNT opened the second Arena era with a 0-0 draw against Serbia in San Diego, and Arena wants to see the squad advance in their final tune-up before opening 2018 World Cup qualifying against Honduras on March 24.
“I’d like to see everything just a little bit better,” Arena said Thursday during a prematch press conference. “Our speed of play a little bit better, our defending rock solid — which I thought it was the other day — and a little bit more balance in our attack.
“We’re going to look at a few more faces and have a couple of more evaluations that will allow us to prepare for March.”
With midfielder Jermaine Jones suspended for the Honduras match, Arena continues to look for options on that area of the pitch. Sebastian Lletget split time with Jones against Serbia, and the LA Galaxy midfielder hopes to continue to impress if given the opportunity against Jamaica.
“It was a great experience and something I’ve wanted to reach for a very long time,” Lletget said. “[Jones] brings a lot of things to our game, but I think we might change our formation a bit. There are still a lot of players that need a chance to be seen, and I think we’re going to try some stuff.”
Arena confirmed that there could be tactical changes from the Serbia friendly, especially in the midfield area as he continues to assess his players and adjust to Jones’ absence against Honduras.
“Tomorrow we’ll have a different midfield line, and there really won’t have a player playing the position that Jermaine played the other day,” Arena said. “We’ll have a different look in the midfield with a number of different players.
“I think every time we step on the field it’s important that we play to win and try to get a positive result. Having not won our last game this one will be important to win. I think it’s important, and I think you’ll see our players have a lot of energy to win.”
Arena expressed excitement about Friday’s match, and how it gives the team a chance to end the January training camp on a high ahead of the first competitive action of the year.
“We look forward to the match against Jamaica,” he said. “This is our final outing of our January camp, and I think it’s an important game. We will look at some new players tomorrow night. We have had a good three-and-a-half weeks, and it’s allowed me to get to know this group of players a lot better.
“It’s going to help us in our preparations for the very important World Cup qualifying.”