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Andrew Durutalo with ball. Martin Seras Lima photo

A 27-5 loss to Kenya opened the Eagles’ Tokyo 7s campaign Saturday at Prince Chichibu Stadium. The offensive theme of the match for the United States was apparent from the get-go, as a misfired offload from Maka Unufe to Zack Test resulted in a turnover and a Kenyan try. Bush Mwale was the benefactor. The USA would squander most of its own possession with similar mistakes throughout the match.  

The Eagles got a prime attacking platform off the kickoff following Mwale’s try when Kenya’s restart didn’t go 10. The free kick play worked, giving Zack Test some space, but he held onto the ball too long, and when he finally did demure to Danny Barrett, his pass was behind his teammate, resulting in another turnover. Kenya swung the ball wide and scored easily off the newfound possession.

The Eagles caught a huge break after Madison Hughes was isolated and Kenya took over possession in its own end. Andrew Omonde loaded up to make a pass and inexplicably dropped the ball. Danny Barrett picked it up and passed to Hughes on the wing. The captain stretched out for the corner and got the USA on the board. The conversion kicks to this point were all unsuccessful, so Kenya led 10-5.

Test, having a rare lemon of a first half, made another big mistake deep in the defensive end. Kenya kicked, Test scooped up the loose ball under pressure, and carried it about 10 meters into the try zone before being tackled immediately, giving Kenya an attacking five-meter scrum. The Africans didn’t capitalize immediately, but after an exhausting swap of runs, Humphrey Kayange caught a cross kick and beat a tired American defense to extend gap to 15-5 going into halftime.

The two foes swapped penalties to start the first half, the first diving over by Barrett and the second a breakdown infraction forced by Test. The latter allowed the USA to clear lines and take a lineout near midfield, but Hughes knocked on, giving the ball back to Kenya at its attacking 22. The Africans committed a penalty to give the ball back, and Test got held up in the tackle and dragged out of bounds.

The final five minutes of the game were hard to watch. The Eagles repeatedly made one desperate mistake in the breakdown after another, allowing time to be milked off the clock as the Kenyans went for lineouts. A defeated American side surrendered two late tries to move to 0-1 on the day.

If the USA is to move onto its fifth Cup Quarterfinal in a row, it’ll need to win out or hop to get through on point differential. Up next is rival Canada at 2:08 a.m. ET.