Zack Test earned England 7s MVP honors as the US reached a third consecutive plate final, moving past Canada to claim 11th place on the final weekend of the 2012-13 World Series.
The late-season rally, featuring a pair of plate championships before Sunday's 14-5 loss to Fiji, has been good for 38 series points, better than half the USA's total over the 9-tournament season. Mid April, the US was tied for 13th, facing the prospect of having to re-qualify as a 'core' member of next year's world circuit and questions about the effectiveness of USARFU's Olympic Training Center program.
'If you look overall at the season, our goal was to build up as we went through the various tournaments', coach Alex Magleby said in a prepared statement prior to London. 'In the first four events we were ranked around 12th. [sic] The next four we were around 6th, and the last two we were in the top 3 behind New Zealand and South Africa in terms of points'.
England and Australia, which downed the US on the final play of their winner's bracket quarterfinal, surpassed the US in London, dropping the US to fifth over the final three tournaments -- still one of the USA's finer streaks on the 15-year-old world circuit.
The momentum could lift the Eagles to new highs at next month's 7s World Cup in Russia. The US, having drawn New Zealand, Canada, and Georgia in pool play of the 24-team tournament, has on 5 occasions finished no higher than tied for 13th.
More important, nosing ahead of the Maple Leafs is an encouraging sign for America's prospects of qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Only 11 teams (plus host Brazil) will reach the finals. Though the contentious process isn't to be declared until after the World Cup, it's likely the path to Rio de Janeiro will require the US to defeat Canada or perhaps Argentina, which finished 10th this year.
The Eagles finished 10th, 12th, and 11th, consecutively, in the 3 seasons prior to this one, meaning the just-concluded campaign is in line with recent performance. After the slow start, however, this year brought breakthrough wins against heavyweights Fiji and South Africa.
In London, the US bested France and the Blitzbokke, twice, the first time in series history the Eagles have topped this year's runnersup. But the Matt Hawkins-led side dropped a pair of winnable games to Australia, the latter shutting the US out of any semifinal berths for another season.
Nick Edwards scored 3 tries to finish the season tied for 18th on the world circuit, following a tournament-leading 8 tries a week earlier in Glasgow. Test, the team's runnerup, wound up 25th. Overall, the US finished 9th in team tries.
United States to England 7s
Andrew Durutalo, Nick Edwards, Matt Hawkins (captain), Colin Hawley, Luke Hume, Carlin Isles, Folau Niua, Blaine Scully, Shalom Suniula, Sione Pila Taufa, Zach Test, Brett Thompson
Staff: Alex Magleby (coach), Andy Katoa (manager), Brian Green (physiotherapist), Hamish Kerr (doctor)