Offensive problems resurfaced in the USA's 27-9 World Cup qualifying loss to Canada Saturday in Charleston, putting the Eagles at a 3-try disadvantage heading into this weekend's final leg.
Subpar kicking and a reported 17 turnovers constrained the hosts to 3 second-half penalty goals. Though Chris Wyles' first 3-pointer, moments after halftime, brought the hosts to within 10 points, the Maple Leafs commanded the whole of the affair through more nuanced tactics and superior execution.
The US has touched the ball down but 4 times in 2013, America's lowest 6-match total since tries became worth 5 points in 1993. With all of USARFU's overseas professionals at hand, the dismal outing implicates not only Toby L'Estrange's backline or Todd Clever's XV, but also the gameplan of attack coach Tony Smeeth and head coach Mike Tolkin. When players are obviously struggling, it falls to the coaching staff to reset the framework.
By result of the match, the 18th-ranked US fell another full point in the International Rugby Board rankings, to 64.91, down from 68.32 at the start of the year. 15th-ranked Japan, the next lowest Pacific Nations team, stands at 71.98.
In London, a pair of Eagle-infused American 7s teams finished in the middle of the 12-team World Club 7s: a New York all-star side won the plate competition, while San Francisco Golden Gate wound up 8th. Ironically, New York's showing was hindered by the unexplained absence of Pila Taufa, visa problems of Nick Edwards, and other late withdrawals that called into question USARFU's management of contracted players.
In Denver-area Glendale, Dartmouth's Madison Hughes led the College All-Americans to an unbeaten Serevi Rugbytown 7s championship. With a $10,000 purse; several Olympic Development Academy teams; and minor international sides in Mexico, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands, the tournament at least equals the domestic club 7s championship in notoreity.
Canada 27 United States 9 (halftime: Canada 13-0)
United States of America
Penalties: Chris Wyles (3)
Chris Wyles; Taku Ngwenya, Seamus Kelly (Roland Suniula), Andrew Suniula, Blaine Scully; Toby L'Estrange (Folau Niua), Mike Petri (Robbie Shaw); Shawn Pittman (Titi Lamositele), Chris Biller (Zach Fenoglio), Eric Fry (Phil Thiel), Lous Stanfill, Samu Manoa, Scott Lavalla, Peter Dahl (Brian Doyle), Todd Clever (captain)
Tries: Phil Mack, Harry Jones, DTH Van Der Merwe
Conversions: James Pritchard (3)
Penalties: James Pritchard (2)
James Pritchard; Matt Evans (Phil Mackenzie), Ciaran Hearn, Nick Blevins, DTH Van Der Merwe; Harry Jones (Nathan Hirayama), Phil Mack (Sean White); Andrew Tiedemann (Doug Wooldridge), Ryan Hamilton (Ray Barkwill), Jason Marshall, Jebb Sinclari, Jamie Cudmore (Tyler Hotson), Tyler Ardron, John Moonligh, Aaron Carpenter (Nanyak Dala)
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)