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Ian Muir photo

Hong Kong was a mixed bag for Team USA. The Eagles had their worst day-one of the season, losing to Wales and England, getting a lone pool win over Spain. However, they won the three-way via superior point differential, advancing them to the quarterfinals. An uplifting comeback win over South Africa in the semifinals was followed by a loss to second-place Fiji, which was followed by a bronze medal win over Samoa. 

Perhaps the brightest spot from the third-place match was that the USA did it without the world's leading scorer, Madison Hughes, and the quarterback, Folau Niua. Kevon Williams was forced into starting lineup, Joe Schroeder scored, and meaningful on-the-job training was logged. 

We had to absorb some more injuries in Hong Kong which further tested the depth of our squad and also provided opportunities and valuable big game experience for some of the boys," said head coach Mike Friday. 

"It’s these types of times where young men learn at the coal face and all players have to have those ‘get it wrong to get it right’ moments in big games. This way they have the battle scars to make them better come the next big game, which are coming thick and fast at we hit the end of season business.”

The weekend was ultimately a success, though it resulted in the team's second-worst finish this season, because it kept the Eagles in first place in the overall standings. With three tournaments to go, they're seven points clear of Fiji, winners of three gold medals. A tough pool awaits them in Singapore, as they open up against Wales and finish against England, both of whom beat them last week. Friday's old team and a tough out, Kenya, is sandwiched in between. 

“It’s another very tricky pool as Hong Kong was and proved to be. Wales hurt us with their guilt and determination and they are fighting for their lives right now in a relegation dog fight," said Friday.

"Kenya are also sucked into that dog fight and we saw signs of the power and physicality we associate with Kenya in full flow in Hong Kong. This is a team who raise their game when they face the USA and we will need to match them physically. As for England, we lost narrowly in that game in Hong Kong having giftwrapped a 21 point start so accuracy and possession are crucial against them as they have their talisman captain Tom Mitchell back this weekend.”

Hughes and Niua are healthy and back in the lineup. Perry Baker announced on social media he's cleared to play again, and there's reason to believe Danny Barrett could boot up for the final stretch in Paris and London, so the cavalry is coming. But first, the USA has points to pick up in Singapore.