Archives for June 2014

6/21/14 USA Escapes 8 Game Losing Streak

The USA’s come from behind  victory (38-35) over Canada in Sacramento on June 21st saved the squad from the ignominy of setting the record of 8 consecutive losses against the Canadians. Prior to the match the recent  Eagles were tied at 7 consecutive losses with the previous  record set between June 13, 1992 and June 19, 1999. In large measure the credit for the second half determination to come out on top goes to team captain Todd Clever. His drive and will to win lifted the entire team to a 20 to 7 point second half effort.

The Eagles’ handling and offloading was much improved since I last saw the team play in Montevideo. Articles on the USA’s near loss to Japan the week before  indicated that the team is possibly turning a corner in terms of developing  an offensive backline  threat. The success of  sevens’ players Blaine Scully and Brett Thompson on the wings makes one wonder what help Zach Test could bring.

Danny Barrett received some blame in post-match articles  for a knock-on that led to a Canada  try. Others who should share some blame for allowing Canada back in the match after the USA jumped out to an 18-10 lead  are Shalom Suniula (#10) and Mike Petri (#9). Both players kicked away good possession that  soon led to Canadian tries.  All 3 players had strong matches otherwise and perhaps the blame should go to the coach. Generally the backs and scrum members feeding into the backline were  flat and at times appeared  very disorganized. It is hard to imagine a player is going to kick away possession if the coach has made it clear we don’t kick from good field position going forward. There was a 3 try margin of victory in these sloppy habits.

When the match began I immediately had some concerns that the ref would call the USA for leaving their feet in loose play, but this was never called. The Canadians soon joined in the flying chaos of ruck pile-ons. (See photos of the match.) Hopefully this was a planned strategy based on knowing the ref and not another sloppy habit that will cost the squad next year when World Cup play begins. Accolades should go to Chris Wyles for a great kicking day.

It is still difficult to feel confident that the Eagles will win a match in the World Cup. The best hope of a win was Japan, and they seem to be sprinting toward a possible spot in the quarterfinals.  Our World Cup pool consists of Scotland, Samoa, and Japan currently ranked 8th, 9th, and 10th in the world respectively and South Africa (2nd) .  The USA ranked 18th is looking at battling Japan in their last pool match on Oct. 11, 2015, in lovely Gloucester (rhymes back water), England,  to avoid  getting shut out in the 2015 World Cup  unless we can find a way to fix the sloppy mistakes. There was a 3 try margin in the sloppy mistakes against Canada in Sacramento. The Eagles only lost 24-6 against Scotland 3 weeks ago (June 7) in Houston.  How long does it take a coach to fix sloppy mistakes? If the Eagles can fix the mistakes in a year, they could be facing Japan on a chilly rainy night  in a  town on the edge of the Cotswold’s  for a spot in the quarterfinals.

6-14-14 Predictions: USA v Japan to the World Cup Final

I booked a ticket to San Francisco yesterday.  I’m going out to watch the U.S.  Eagles play Canada in Sacramento on June 21, 2014. What are my expectations?

I watched Canada destroy the Eagles in the World Cup qualifying match in Charleston last summer and followed the next loss in Canada on Twitter and have since read about the matches.  Moonlight and company generally prove too much for us in  7s  and they bring that superiority when they join the 15 man squad. I’m not expecting an Eagle win.

Canada’s recent loss to  Japan doesn’t bode well for us . Japan is in our World Cup pool and was  our best shot at a win in next year’s tournament.  I’m writing this the day before Japan & USA clash in California.  Planet Rugby is predicting Japan by 8. Fellow Tulane rugby alum John, of “The Jack & Dougie Show” – rugby & Scotch whiskey specialists who is usually far more pessimistic about Eagle success than I, predicts Japan by 4, and sadly I’m predicting Japan by 12. Go Eagles! Prove us all wrong.

In an earlier article I wrote hopefully we were in a pool where we could potentially win 2 games. That was based on having once witnessed  the Eagles almost beat Samoa in a 2007 World Cup match in France  and the belief that we could beat Japan. Yikes!! Could the Eagles be winless in the World Cup?

I’m trying to put together what World Cup tickets to buy.  The knock-out round  will cost  2 quarterfinals @ 95 lbs (Can’t find the pound sign on the keyboard), 2 semifinals @ 125 lbs, bronze final @ 50 lbs (A Bargain!), and final @150 = 640 lbs ($1090). I don’t think the USA matches will sell out. Australia v Wales on Oct. 10th will be the match of the pool stages.  Right before the knock-out round begins, this match will decide who goes through for 2 teams that are currently on form to make the final. (I’m ignoring the possibility that they both beat England) . This could be the 3rd World Cup  in a row where the teams in the final come from the same pool.

The French have a way of spoiling the Kiwis’  fun when they come north.