The United States men’s national team welcome Jamaica to the W. Max Finley Stadium in Tennessee for an international friendly soccer fixture this Friday (7pm ET on Fox Sports 1).
Bruce Arena’s second spell in charge of the United States began with a 0-0 draw against Serbia last week. It was a solid if not spectacular performance from the home side at California’s Qualcomm Stadium, but Arena will have been happy with his team’s defensive resolve as preparations continue for the resumption of World Cup qualification next month.
International friendlies can have pitfalls for bettors, but Arena will want a good result here and that thought is worth bearing in mind for the betting picks and predictions that conclude this preview. It is down to the USMNT’s poor results in their first two matches in the Hexagonal stage that he has returned to the position he previously held between 1998 and 2006, with predecessor Jurgen Klinsmann given the boot following a hefty 4-0 loss to Costa Rica in November last year. Six Concacaf nations are still in with a chance of qualifying for Russia 2018, with three set to advance automatically, one taking part in an intercontinental play-off and two missing out altogether.
This meeting with Jamaica is therefore primarily about getting Team USA ready for their crunch clashes with Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago in March. That said, the result does still matter in terms of the effect it could have on the players’ confidence levels.
Jamaica are already out of contention for the World Cup in Russia, with their focus instead on the upcoming Caribbean Cup in Martinique in June. Triumphs over Suriname and Guyana in the final few months of last year saw the six-time champions qualify for this year’s edition of the tournament, but the Reggae Boyz were in poor form prior to those victories. Theodore Whitmore’s charges lost all three of their group stage games at the Copa America Centenario in 2016, before going on to be defeated by Panama and Haiti in the previous round of World Cup qualification. Wins away from home against the United States and Chile in the last couple of years serve as evidence as to what Jamaica are capable of on their day. The Caribbean nation also turned in some spirited showings at the 2015 Copa America despite their early exit.
Arena named a 21-man squad for the friendlies against Serbia and Jamaica, but Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan will play no part having already returned to their clubs. The United States lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in their last outing but may switch shape for the visit of the Reggae Boyz, with Arena likely to continue assessing his options in what is only his second match in charge of the U.S. team since his return. Regardless of the exact configuration used, experienced midfielder Michael Bradley, burly frontman Jozy Altidore and solid central defender Chad Marshall will all be important figures in what is an entirely MLS-based roster.
Jamaica have included eight United States-based players in their 16-man group, including Kemar Lawrence of New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson, Bethlehem Steel’s Cory Burke and Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake. The rest of the squad is made up of players who ply their trade in Jamaica, with Whitmore opting to hand opportunities to numerous stars who remain inexperienced on the international stage.
The best bet for this match is probably a United States victory, with Arena likely to name a strong side as the country prepares for key World Cup qualifying fixtures in a few weeks’ time. We expect there to be a few goals and believe the USA can win comfortably. So this preview’s USMNT vs Jamaica betting predictions and picks are: