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The next five months will be pretty dizzying for the Eagles and their fans. From July 18 through Oct. 11, the men's 15s teams will play 11 matches in a span of about 12 weeks. Don't forget the 7s team will be busy with the Olympic Qualifier in June and the Pan-Am Games in July.
This is obviously a very postitive thing. The team will have an unprecedented amount of assembly time leading into a World Cup, giving players ample opportunity to make their case for roster spots and for the team as a whole to jell. But the jampacked summer will also test the player pool and fanbase in ways they've never been before.
The Eagles will carry only 31 for the Pacific Nations Cup. A player on the 31-man roster can only be replaced in case of injury. The pool becomes fluid for the Canada, Harlequins and Australia friendlies, and then head coach Mike Tolkin will have to name his 31-man squad for the World Cup.
Another consideration is the availability of the team's Premiership pros. They're not required to be made available until August, but USA Rugby is in negotiations to try and spring them free for the Pacific Nations Cup. If USAR is successful, the roster for the PNC could look an awful lot like the list for the World Cup.
With so many games on offer, the risk for injury increases. Currently, Adam Siddall, Ben Tarr and Angus MacLellan are the only two guys crossed off the list of potentials due to injury. Siddall is sidelined by a chronic concussion issue, and both young props are recovering from torn ACLs. Todd Clever and Toby L'Estrange are on the mend, but they're on schedule to be available soon. So the Eagles are relatively healthy right now, and hopefully that doesn't change this summer.
The fan base will be challenged by four domestic matches in quick succession. It wasn't that long ago the Eagles were playing international matches at small venues like Infinity Park, and this summer they've got four stadiums holding 10,000 or more each. In total, there are 109,000 seats to be filled for 15s matches. That's not including the 10,000 to be filled for the Olympic Qualifier in Cary, N.C. on back-to-back days.
|July 18||USA vs. Samoa||Pacific Nations Cup||Avaya Stadium||San Jose, CA||18,000|
|July 24||USA vs. Japan||Pacific Nations Cup||Bonney Field||Sacramento, CA||11,000|
|July 29||USA vs. Tonga||Pacific Nations Cup||BMO Field||Toronto, ON||20,195|
|Aug. 3||USA vs. TBD||Pacific Nations Cup||Swangard Stadium||Burnaby, BC||5,288|
|Aug. 22||USA vs. Canada||Friendly||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Aug. 30||USA vs. Harlequins||Friendly||PPL Park||Philadelphia, PA||18,500|
|Sep. 5||USA vs. Australia||Friendly||Soldier Field||Chicago, IL||61,500|
|Sep. 20||USA vs. Samoa||Rugby World Cup||Brighton Community Stadium||Brighton, UK||30,278|
|Sep. 27||USA vs. Scotland||Rugby World Cup||Elland Road||Leeds, UK||39,460|
|Oct. 7||USA vs. South Africa||Rugby World Cup||Olympic Stadium||London, UK||80,000|
|Oct. 11||USA vs. Japan||Rugby World Cup||Kingsholm||Gloucester, UK||16,500|