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Who Should the USMNT start vs. Jamaica?

Photo by Jake Roth/USA Today Sports
Photo by Jake Roth/USA Today Sports

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s draw with Serbia provided a few answers as the team heads towards World Cup qualifying, but there are still plenty of lingering questions left to be answered by the current group.

Some of those questions may be answered on Friday as the U.S. takes on Jamaica for the second and final friendly of January camp. The match comes following a solid if not unspectacular performance against a weakened Serbia team, an effort that saw the U.S. struggle to create any sort of attacking spark.

Several of the team’s bright spots should be back in the lineup, while the departures of Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan open up spots in the starting lineup for players looking to make an impression before March. There are still spots up for grabs, and Friday could go a long way towards determining who fills out the roster when World Cup qualifying resumes.

Here’s a closer look at one possible lineup the USMNT could deploy on Friday:


Some thoughts:

Following the departures of Sacha Kljestan and Jermaine Jones, all eyes turn to the central midfield, and for good reason. Jones’ spot, in particular, is slightly up for grabs due to his March suspension, and it appears there’s already a front-runner.

Sebastian Lletget impressed in his USMNT debut, slotting right in to the central midfield against Serbia. Lletget worked well alongside Michael Bradley, offering balance to the midfield while providing that extra spark of creativity in the attacking end. Lleteget is versatile and technical and, with another good performance, he could make himself a legitimate contender for a starting spot in March’s World Cup qualifiers.

Ahead of the duo of Lletget and Bradley, Benny Feilhaber is a natural fit to occupy the No. 10 position. The Sporting KC midfielder looked dangerous enough in his return against Serbia and an extended run out would be a good test for a player looking to solidify his spot with the team once again.

On the wing, Darlington Nagbe should get an extended run out. Another strong performance could see him lock down a spot on the left wing, which would certainly alleviate some headaches for Bruce Arena. If Nagbe can hold down that spot, Fabian Johnson can move to left back without much drop-off, giving the U.S. a very dangerous left-sided pairing. That idea depends on Nagbe and a solid performance against Jamaica would be a good indicator.

Speaking of left back, expect there to be rotation once again. Jorge Villafana, Greg Garza and DaMarcus Beasley remain on the roster and each could conceivably be named starter. The former two looked solid enough against Serbia and, with Beasley’s long-term future all but set, expect the two of them to split time again against Jamaica.

Then there’s the forward position and Jozy Altidore, who admitted he wasn’t comfortable playing in the USMNT version of a 4-3-3 last time out. If the formation is here to stay, and it very well could be, Altidore will need reps. He’ll need to find his footing in a formation that sees him play without a partner. Is he best with a partner? Yes, and the return of Bobby Wood in March could see the USMNT go that route. But for now, it makes sense to let Altidore work out the kinks before giving him a few minutes with Jordan Morris, a player vying for more minutes on the international level.



  1. I like two cents’ first line up, but I’d flop Nagbe to the outside and bring Lleget inside between Benny and MB.

    If Arena goes with a 4-4-2, I’d rather see Morris or Lleget at RM.

    If Morris at RM then Juan and Jozy up top.

    I really liked the Lleget sub for JJ against Serbia…big difference in continuity, ball movement and tempo…need to see it again against Jamaica.

  2. Arena has confirmed that Robles will start in goal, and Villafana and Zimmerman will also be in the starting 11.

    Mildly disappointed that we didn’t get a look at a GK younger than 32 in either of these games.

  3. I think Feilhaber needs to be reminded that the reason he was exiled is that he has to play defense, which he is simultaneously not good at and loathe to do.
    I see a lot of “he is better going forward” and not a lot of “he is better” Bedoya is not flashy, but he is a grinder who does the dirty work that wins games.

  4. I would look to put Jozy into a two forward set up. 4-4-2 Bob Bradley style bucket


  5. Regardless of formation, we will need some speed to deal with Jamaica. The fullbacks in particular will need to be able to handle fast attacking players on the flank. I don’t know some of the MLS players on the US, but if any of the young guys come with major wheels, then this game might be a good time to give them a shot.

  6. I watch most of the mnt games…Is Bedoya that bad? he is a regular starter and isnt as bad as many claim. seems logical to start him and use morris off the bench

    • Bedoya is not exciting, he’s dependable, but he’s not going to put a team on his back and carry them. I think also suffers from being a regular starter as you said “the grass is always greener” effect weighs on assessments of Bedoya. I just don’t like him with Zusi on the same side, no ability to stretch a defense to the end line. Jozy can handle the lone striker if he has guys that can make runs off of him like Rickets in Toronto, don’t think Ale has that at this point in his career.

      • well put, Bedoya is not bad he just offers little in the way of speed, creativity off the dribble or on the pass and when you pair that with Zusi behind him you have a left side of the field that is not fast and lacks in creative spark. In fact I would argue that you could use Bedoya in a similiar manner to Zusi, ie…convert him to a left back as well.

        we need players on the wings to be dynamic.

  7. Start anybody who can connect multiple passes, that should be goal number one. Then work from there so u can have some depth behind the European players when they come in in March

  8. Llelget shouldn’t be the starter in Jones’ role come next month. Williams is the natural successor and has had a monstrous last two seasons. His absence during that time has been a huge disappointment.

  9. We need to utilize a 4-4-2 with Jozy and Morris up top, and sit Bedoyas pedestrian ass on the bench. Bradley currently occupies the pedestrian role in our mf core we dont need two of those types.

  10. what has bedoya done to earn a starting spot?

    as johnnyrazor recommended bench bedoya and start Morris or Agudelo.


    also looking at Jamaica’s C team roster, if we are not constantly peppering Andre Blake with shots on net something is really up. should be a cakewalk/confidence booster for the attackers.

    prediction: Feilhaber gets his 1st goal in a decade and everyone says “wow-how did Jurgen miss this guy all of those years!” then we start him vs. Honduras and are reminded that he isn’t that good.

    • While I don’t have any problems/concerns with your player selections, I could see Bruce giving Zardes an extended run-out in the game tomorrow. Zardes may not have a great first touch, but he does bring a significant speed option. His speed would give the team an option to get in behind while he also provides decent defense.

      I’d either slot him in as a sub/starter for Agudelo or as an option over Bedoya.

      • Zardes had a slight injury and didn’t travel to the first match not sure if he is available on Friday. Given Bruce’s relationship with LAG if there is any doubt he won’t play tomorrow.

    • Bedoya did not look like himself in this last match, but I think he has a place on the A team. That said, I don’t like where SBI lined him up above. If we go with that 4-3-3 or whatever you call it, then someone with more attacking verve should be there like a Morris or Agudelo. Although that would put a lot of pressure on Zusi if he starts at right back again. But maybe it’s time to see if he can handle it.

  11. We already know 2 things
    1. A Bradley / Jones midfield does not produce goals
    2. The Lone Striker up top does not produce a lot of goals





    BRADLEY and ALTIDORE are with the first team so we shouldn’t risk injury as we have the games that matter around the corner. We already know what they can do (especially since there is no Fabian Johnson, no Bobby Wood, no Geoff Cameron, no Deandre Yedlin, No Sasha Kljestan and No Christian Pullisic). Lets try to expose the rest of the players to tough opposition and see who we can rely on.

    • I would like to see that as well, aside from Bedoya. Then again if your goal is to protect Bradley I am not sure what other option you would have. I just don’t like Bedoya there.. and prefer he sit this one out honestly. I wonder how Brad Evans would do in a DM role… not that it matters

      • I see what you’re saying. DAX MCCARTHY for Bedoya should work perfectly (that’s actually better for the DM spot!!!!!!)







        This game SHOULD’NT be as tough as playing against the Jamaica team we are use to, especially since Jamaica have only home league and MLS players also:


        GOALKEEPERS (2): Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Ryan Thompson (St. Louis FC)

        DEFENDERS (7): Sergio Campbell (Unattached), Oneil Fisher (Seattle Sounders), Rosario Harriott (Harbour View), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Damion Lowe (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers), Ladale Richie (Montego Bay United)

        MIDFIELDERS (6): Dwayne Ambusley (Montego Bay United), Michael Binns (Portmore United), Ewan Grandison (Portmore United), Omar Holness (Real Salt Lake), Kevon Lambert (Montego Bay United), Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution)

        FORWARDS (5): Cory Burke (Bethlehem Steel FC), Jourdain Fletcher (Montego Bay United), Owayne Gordon (Montego Bay United), Shamar Nicholson (Boys’ Town), Romario Williams (Atlanta United FC)

      • This is pretty much the Jamaica squad, minus a couple MLS guys over age 30. We should remember that the Jamaican league just finished up their season so those players could either be in top form or ready for a vacation could go either way.

      • Johnnyrazor
        This is not the Jamaican team that put a hurting on us, actually far from!!!!. Remember we got torched by our very own Barnes and Mattocks. This is their “A” team:
        GOALKEEPERS: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Dwayne Miller (Syrianska), Ryan Thompson (Pittsburgh Riverhounds)

        DEFENDERS: Michael Hector (Reading), Lance Laing (FC Edmonton), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace), Wes Morgan (Leicester City), Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers)

        MIDFIELDERS: Rodolph Austin (Unattached), Simon Dawkins (Derby County), Joel Grant (Yeovil Town), Christopher Humphrey (Preston North End), Jobi McAnuff (Leyton Orient), Garath McCleary (Reading), Je-Vaughn Watson (FC Dallas)

        FORWARDS: Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo), Andre Clennon (Arnett Gardens), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps), Allan Ottey (Montego Bay United), Michael Seaton (Orebro)

    • Not risking injury is a pointless idea. That would mean sitting in front of the TV getting fat. Players must play and to play well as a unit, they must play together. Bradley, Jones, Altidore and maybe Morris/ klejstan are probably the only players more or less guaranteed to play in the qualifiers. Playing without them teaches nothing about how other players fit with them. Already down 2 of those so the others will (must) play.

      Every player risks injury every time they attend training sessions or play in games (or get in a car for that matter). There is no way to avoid it and still make progress.

  12. Since Howard’s out, and Guzan’s form may be questionable, there’s a strong chance Rimando will be the choice to start in the March qualifiers, and thus best to play him v. Jamaica.

    • What’s worse is that he isn’t really a great “winger” either. We know he has a motor and decent skill, but he’s more of “in the trenches” type of player. Granted, due to the pool of players available to us, it limits us to likely using him.

      I would like to see the 4-3-3 (legitimate 4-3-3, not the 4-5-1), although I understand the usage of a 4-4-2 as well. Below are my thoughts on the lineups with the players still in the pool. Lletget could move back to the center of midfield somewhere, but figured he is one of our more dynamic guys available for selection.




      • TC, I think what you’re trying to say, when you say a legitimate 4-3-3, is that you want to see the Dutch version of the 4-3-3. Because the real legit version of the 4-3-3 is only a 4-3-3 in attack. Defensively, it’s a 4-5-1. The way the Italians play a 4-3-3, the team that has won more world cups than most, and certainly more than holland, who have as many gold stars on their jerseys as the USA

      • @Dikranovich We certainly need to keep a defensive shape that doesn’t allow for us to be broken down easily. Problem is, our offense is in the form of a 4-5-1, which does not bode well. We can’t have Jozy sitting on an island. When we push forward, we need the additional attackers with Jozy, not behind him.

        The past Italian teams have also had very good players and extreme tactical awareness. Serie A is a league that proves that particular style. So, a combination of a fluid 4-3-3 in attack, with the proper defensive shape is certainly ideal, but you need the players and understanding to make that work as well as they did in the past. Now, we have Germany that has provided us with more attack minded versions. Ozil, Schurrle, Reus, Muller, Gotze, etc. are not the most defensive minded players, but they have shown that a 4-3-3 (at times. I realize they adjust tactics depending on the players and opponent) that can maintain possession and attack is something to consider as we move forward.

        I realize we don’t have the players or tactical awareness that either of the those teams did or do have, but we also need to put our best foot forward, especially as younger and more skillful players enter the fold. I think the 4-3-3, with the right players, can be very formidable. Granted, this is just my opinion.

      • Well, TC, you know what they say about opinions? I’ve got an opinion also, and it is that the US national team has a style, and has had the same style for a long time, just like every other nation on the planet. National teams styles don’t change. Why??? Because Brazil is Brazil, and Italy is Italy. And Australia is Australia. You want to change the style, because you think more skilled players are in the mix. It’s a strange dicotomy we face, and it seems like klinsmann fell victim to this thinking.

        the 4-3-3 is a 4-5-1 in defense, just like the 3-5-2 in attack, becomes a 5-3-2 in defense. I can tease the Dutch style, because originally, their brand was for any player to be able to play anywhere. Of course, that doesn’t work in today’s game. Maybe that mentality, has kept the Dutch from winning a World Cup. Who knows? Spain sure won a World Cup, after having zero stars on the jersey. With all their great firepower, wasn’t it their defense, that put them over the top?

        I mean, TC, do you want to see the USA win a World Cup, or just look good getting to the knockout stages every World Cup, or maybe not even every World Cup? I think a large number of US soccer fans, and I don’t know, it’s not like soccer fanatics are raining down in the USA, but a large number of fans are of the opinion that USA should try and play with a style different from the one that is engrained. Why not enhance the style we have?

        If the other team does not score, you can’t lose. However, we can score three goals, and the other team can score four, or more. You and those other fans I’m talking about would be wise to remember this. The old younger more skillful players arguement

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