USMNT takes on Jamaica Friday night at 7pm on FS1. The friendly is crucial for USA, but Union fans will find it fun to watch teammates play each other! This game is Bedoya and Pontius vs Blake! The two Union attacking americans square off against MLS’ goal keeper of the year Andre Blake. This should be an interesting match up for all three players, and both teams. The victor, if there is one, will gain bragging right over loser to take with them to Union preseason. Let’s look at how all three players will fare in this fun friendly.
Alejandro will likely get the start again for USA. If they keep their 4-1-4-1 shape like they did last game, Bedoya will likely be out on the wing again. Jamaica’s defense, especially on the wings, has been lack luster in past games. If Bedoya can do what he did in the last match, get on the ball and create possession for the US moving forward, there should be room for him to get into dangerous areas. When Jamaica counters the US, and plays the ball down Bedoya’s side, he’ll do well to recover and break up plays.
He did very well with that against Serbia last Sunday, this game should be more of the same. I’d expect Bedoya to somewhere between 50-65 minutes played again. However, if Bruce wants to get other players opportunities on the field to see how they can play against a good international opponent, then Bedoya may be limited to a half.
Chris Pontius did very well during his first ever cap for the USMNT. He was so close to getting a goal that would have won it for USA against Serbia. This week he got a shout out and a game ball from the coaching staff for earning his first cap.
Something to commemorate a moment they'll never forget.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) January 30, 2017
Pontius will have a field day running at the Jamaican defenders. His skill to get on the ball and cut inside to create chances should give him some opportunities to shoot, or find the open man to get a goal. Arena has seen that he can make a difference coming off the bench, in a short amount of time, maybe he can do that again versus Jamaica. Pontius’ minutes could go up in this game if Bruce wants to take a longer look at what he offers as a winger. I’d say that Pontius will get around 25-35 minutes in this game to show the USA boss what he can do against a CONCACAF opponent.
Jamaica has had some good results and some bad ones the past two summers, and in net for all of those results was Andre Blake. Jamaica had a magical run in the 2015 Gold Cup. Getting through their group, only allowing two goals in three games. They shut out Haiti in the quarter-final, and beat USA on their home soil to get to the final. They lost the final to Mexico, but hopes were high for Blake and his teammates. After getting knocked out of World Cup qualifying, Jamaica played in the 2016 Copa America. They lost all three of their group games, and failed to score a goal in doing so. So how will Jamaica, and Blake do against USA in this friendly?
Jamaica’s defense has let them down in the past few times they have played. the one bright spot is Blake who is super human at times, as Union fans know. I’d say, the only chance Jamaica has in this match is if Blake has a game where he plays out of his mind and makes some huge saves. If he does these things, Jamaica has a chance!
All of these three players will be trying to push their teams to victory. For the USMNT this game is crucial. It give head coach, Bruce Arena, more information to factor in when he has to pick his world cup qualifying squad for the March games. This US side will look to make a good impression, and also get their first win of 2017. However Andre Blake may have something to say about that!
Come back to Philly Sports Network later to get a recap of how the Union players and the teams fared in this matchup. Also, be on the lookout for previews of the first Union preseason games! Until then Union fans, peace out.
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports