The U.S. Men’s National Team will close out a near month-long January Camp when they take on regional rival Jamaica on Feb. 3 at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn. The friendly clash will come on the heels of the MNT’s opening 2017 fixture against Serbia on Jan. 29 in San Diego.
The month of preparation began on Jan. 5 when MNT head coach Bruce Arena called 32 players to camp in Carson, Calif., on Jan. 10. The all-time winningest coach in MNT history, Arena was tapped to return to the post he first held from 1998-2006 in November and will utilize the annual January Camp as his first opportunity to get a closer look at his player pool as the MNT prepares for crucial World Cup Qualifying matches against Honduras (March 24) and at Panama (March 28).
While there is plenty of history between the teams – the United States holds a 13-2-8 record in series dating back to 1988 - it’s been more than a decade since they met in a friendly on U.S. soil. In the USA’s last match before Bruce Arena named the roster for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a goal by D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen and the 100th appearance by goalkeeper Tony Meola highlighted the 1-1 draw. For his part, Arena racked up a 4-0-5 record against the Reggae Boyz during his first tenure with the MNT.
With its first trip to Eastern Tennessee, the MNT is heading into a thriving soccer market. NPSL side Chattanooga FC reached the championship in 2015, where a crowd of 18,277 set a record for attendance at an amateur game in the United States. A little more than a week later, the U.S. WNT played in front of a sold-out crowd on the artificial turf at Finley Stadium and won 7-2 against Costa Rica.
“It’s important that fans across the country have an opportunity to see the National Team, and we are always looking for places that have shown great support for the sport,’ Arena said about the upcoming friendly. “From what we have seen, everything that’s happened in Chattanooga is remarkable. We’re looking forward to a fantastic atmosphere.”
For their part, Chattanooga FC is targeting a sell-out of 20,000 for the match, which comes a week before the NPSL side takes on M.L.S. expansion club Atlanta United FC.