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There was one overriding comment from everyone I talked to after the USA beat Uruguay 32-13 Saturday in Kennesaw, Ga., - it was just a matter of time.
All of the players, and the coaches, knew that the Eagles were, overall, better than Uruguay, and would show it when they a) stopped making mistakes, and b) stayed out of a scrum war.
Look at the second half. Uruguay basically got nowhere in the second half, and the USA scored four tries.
But more than that, there was a quiet confidence in these players. There were signs of relief, for sure, but there was no anger, no real frustration. They kept playing how they play.
Head Coach Mike Tolkin said in the post-match press conference that he will be experimenting a little bit with his lineup this coming spring. A lot of pro players will need time off – some have hardly had any since the summer of 2010. He wants to look at a few other players.
Captain Todd Clever seemed to endorse this approach, telling RUGBYMag.com "there are a lot of really good players who stayed home this time. We have a lot of talent coming up."
And there are some questions, still, to answer. Is there going to be an extended competition for hooker. With Zach Fenoglio still in the picture and other options lurking?
What role will Adam Siddall have once he is healthy?
Robbie Shaw would likely be understandably frustrated at not being in the game-day 23 for either Uruguay match. He is needed – there's no doubt about that – but scrumhalf bears watching.
Is there a place for Taku Ngwenya? (I don't think so.)
On Saturday Chris Wyles passed USA kicking coach Chris O'Brien and Grant Wells for 4th all-time in penalty kicks in an Eagles jersey. He now has 24. He also passed Nese Malifa with his 17th conversion to be 4th all-time. Despite not always being the first-choice kicker for the Eagles, Wyles is now 3rd all-time in scoring, behind Matt Alexander and Mike Hercus.
Todd Clever now has captained the USA 36 times, easily a record. He is also in prime shape to break Mike MacDonald's record for most caps by an Eagle. Clever has 56, and MacDonald has 67. Clever could well break the record for starts (Luke Gross, 61) this year. He has 55. He is also in good shape to break the record for most times on the winning side with the Eagles – the record is held by Alec Parker (23), and Clever has 19.
Trivia question – who holds the USA record for the most caps with all of them being starts? Answer below.
Mike Petri stands to break the record for most caps by a scrumhalf, as he has 41 and the record is 42 by Kevin Dalzell. Chris Wyles is the USA's most-capped fullback, and Clever the most-capped loose forward.
One of the moments in the Uruguay game that I missed was in the buildup to Andrew Suniula's try. That entire play was started when a USA player tackled a Uruguayan, stripping the ball free. Seamus Kelly picked up the ball, passed to Luke Hume, who passed to Suniula.
The player who made the turnover tackle? Mike Petri.
So that play was Petri of Xavier HS knocking the ball loose for Kelly of Xavier HS. We had a few other connections like that. Lou Stanfill of Jesuit HS continually slapping Eric Fry of Jesuit on the butt at scrum time.
"I had to hit somebody to get us going and Fry's right in front of me," Stanfill explained later.
And then there was Nick Wallace (Chuckanut) being replaced by Titi Lamositele (Chuckanut) at porp when Wallace was yellow-carded.
By the way, 14 of the 23 Eagles from Saturday played HS rugby in the US.
Trivia question answer: Dan Lyle, 45/45. Right behind him, Tom Billups 44/44.