Saturday's 35-all draw with Argentina XV set a new standard for scoring against the South Americans, but extended a distressing habit of conceding late scores.
The old mark was set in a 2005 Churchill Cup game, when a Kort Schubert-led US ran Argentina XV 34-30 in Edmonton, losing in the final moments.
In tests, Chris Lippert's 1996 outfit dropped a 29-26 thriller during the Pan American Championship in Ottawa. America's best home result against the Pumas is a 28-22 loss by a Kevin Swords XV during a World Cup qualifier played in 1994 in Long Beach.
Upon his hiring last month, John Mitchell spoke of molding an Eagle offense with a 'higher probability' of scoring. Yet however encouraging the Houston offense, no coach willl look fondly on a shorthanded, game-tying touchdown with less than 3 minutes to go.
Argentina also was significantly younger and less experienced. For a general sense of the disparity, the 4 American tries were scored by players with 149 internationals to their name, while the 5 Argentine tallies came from players with just 26 caps. But the New Zealand-born head man made clear at the outset he wanted the European pros in camp so as to engage in the team's culture.
A more interesting question is whether the match reflects an immediate change of course -- including a debut captain in Blaine Scully -- or a recovery from last fall's winless World Cup. Last spring, Mike Tolkin's troops played an Argentine XV 29-23 in Salta before posting a solid Pacific Rim tournament. Might the veterans be coming back to life?
In the second week of the Americas Rugby Championship, with several having returned to their paycheck clubs, the squad's talking points regard the pressures of the Can-Am rivalry. After losing 11 of 12 games from 2006-2013, the US has captured the last 3 matches, including a record-high 41-23 win last August in Ottawa.