Game two infrequently says much about a new coach, yet tomorrow's Can-Am carries some suspense.
On the heels of a 35-all draw with Argentina XV, a recast US team may bring out John Mitchell's pursuit of a more accurate offense. Ten of the Eagle XV win their first caps, while six make their initial Americas Rugby Championship start.
Simultaneously, the New Zealander has restored Todd Clever to the captaincy, seven months after the USA's most-capped flanker was controversially dropped. And there's a three-game Canadian winning streak on the line, perhaps Mike Tolkin's signature achievement.
'We're not in a position where we know what our number-one team is,' Mitchell said in a prepared statement. 'It's a matter of developing the depth and making sure we get to see everyone under pressure'.
Clever's return surmounts clashing personalities. Although no one has skippered the Eagles more often, he's struggled to gain traction with referees. If the US is to be a more precise team, it will require a go-between who can adapt team tactics to match-day officiating and vice versa.
Despite the Newcastle man's presence, the back five is inexperienced, as is the halfback pairing. Generally speaking, positions four through ten determine whether a team gets the ball and how it's used.
Canada, coming of a 33-17 home over Uruguay, have made only one change to their Austin, Texas, lineup. Like the US, the Maple Leafs are essentially a domestic group, the back five rookies, and there is a bit more experience in the backline.
A Can-Am win would all but qualify the ARC as successful. Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay don't compare with America's first two opponents and should be handled.
Jake Anderson (Olympic Club); Luke Hume (Old Blue), Chad London (Glendale Raptors), Lemoto Filikitonga (Metropolis), Kingsley McGowan (Trinity College); James Bird (Old Blue), Mike Te'o (USA 7s); Eric Fry (Newcastle), Mike Sosene-Feagai (Belmont Shore), Chris Baumann (Austin), Brodie Orth (Kansas City Blues), Ben Landry (Seattle Saracens), Nate Brakeley (undeclared), Todd Clever (captain, Newcastle), David Tameilau (Life West)
Reserves: Joseph Taufete'e (Belmont Shore), Olive Kilifi (Seattle Saracens), James Hilterbrand (undeclared), Patrick Blair (USA 7s), Alec Gletzer (Olympic Club); Niku Kruger (Glendale Raptors), JP Eloff (Chicago Lions), Mike Garrity (Seattle Saracens)