A friend in the USA to open an account for you, even a joint account, no longer is possible. There is an online bank that will allow you to do this called US Bank, but there have been some complaints about it.
Oh, and as far as I understand, paper checks are no longer issued, only electronic, but that was an announcement a while back, and I don’t know if that policy is still valid. You need to check that. But if you don’t have an account in the US, it would be worthwhile to see if you can get the IRS to send the money sent to a friend’s account, since the IRS charges for overseas transfers. The IRS has made it more difficult to contact them by any other means than by phone; I used to write them emails but that seems to have been discontinued. I wrote a paper letter, but I haven’t got an answer, but that might be because I live in a country which has a rather poor postal service. But they have always been helpful, if not always knowledgeable, on the phone. The numbers are listed on their website.