Arena to start Zimmerman in defense, Robles in goal against Jamaica

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Bruce Arena will make a host of changes to the lineup that started Sunday's goalless draw against Serbia in San Diego, the U.S. coach said on the eve of the national team's friendly here against Jamaica.

Arena was always going to make two switches to his team after veteran midfielders Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan were returned to their MLS clubs on Monday.

But speaking Thursday at his prematch press conference inside Finley Stadium, the former LA Galaxy boss -- now in his second stint at the U.S. helm after leading the program from 1998-2006 -- said there will be changes in goal and to his back line, too.

"We'll look at some new players," Arena said. "We're going to look at a few more faces and have a couple more evaluations that will allow us to prepare for March."

The Americans face Honduras on March 24 in San Jose, California, in what Arena has called a "must-win" World Cup qualifier. Four days later they play another critical qualifier against Panama in Panama City.

Arena's team is in desperate need of points; he was hired in November after former coach Jurgen Klinsmann lost the first two matches of the final Hexagonal round of qualifying, leaving them at the bottom of the CONCACAF standings and putting their participation in next year's World Cup in Russia in jeopardy.

One area of concern is in goal, as usual starters Brad Guzan and Tim Howard have been idle. Howard is coming off groin surgery and Guzan has barely played for English club Middlesbrough this season, meaning Arena needs depth in the net.

Against the Reggae Boyz, New York Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles will start in place of 37-year-old U.S. vet Nick Rimando, who went the distance against Serbia.

"We wanted to look at a couple of goalies out of this camp," Arena said. "Rimando played well last game and Nick has demonstrated that his experience and his ability is still there. That was encouraging, and we'll see how Luis does tomorrow night."

Arena also said 23-year-old FC Dallas center back Walker Zimmerman will make his international debut on Friday, and that Santos Laguna left back Jorge Villafana -- the lone non-MLS player remaining on the 21-man roster -- will man the spot Greg Garza occupied on Sunday.

Sebastian Lletget, who impressed in 45 minutes of action off the bench against the Serbs, could get a longer look. But if he does, it won't be in the box-to-box midfield role he filled in the last match.

"We'll have a different look in the midfield, with a number of different players," Arena said.

With the games that matter still almost two months away, the coach isn't worried about continuity in a team that will look much different when the U.S.'s European and Mexican-based regulars return to the squad next month.

"The continuity is not that important right now because of the time of year," he said, noting that his players, with the exception of Villafana, are still in their preseason. "I don't think anything we do tomorrow night will impact our coordination."

Yet it's not a throwaway game either, even if no points are at stake.

"I'd like to see everything just a little bit better," Arena said. "Our speed of play, our defending rock solid -- I thought it was pretty good the other day -- a little bit more balance in the attack and obviously creating a few good chances. A victory would be nice, too.

"Having not won our last game, this one will be important to try to win. I think you'll see on the field [Friday] night that the players have a lot of energy as well."