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The USA Falcons went 2-4 in Mar del Plata, Argentina over the weekend, finishing fourth out of six. They got impressive wins over the full Uruguayan National Team and the Canadian developmental side, crushing their northern counterparts 33-0. They lost narrowly to three Argentine club sides and 29-12 to Argentina.
“Overall, we were really pleased with the way the boys approached the week leading in and at game time how they applied themselves to the structures we tried to put in place. It’s nothing different from what we’re trying to do with the boys on the Series. We’re trying to mimic that as much as possible, and the guys responded really well,” said assistant coach Paul Golding.
“A couple of the results didn’t go our way, but me and [head coach Nese Malifa] have talked, and for us we want to see progress every game. Yes, winning’s one thing, but a lot of these guys haven’t played competitive matches for a while. A lot of these guys at the OTC don’t always make the tours, and it’s game time and they need to knock the rust off a bit, and some of the guys that come in and weren’t in the OTC, not there full time, actually we were really happy with. The team culture’s actually been really good.”
One of those non-OTC guys who played especially well was Jack Tracy. He’s been at Life for a while now, and before that he won a 7s National Championship with Belmont Shore and played for the U20s and Back Bay.
“He’s gone really well this time. We expected him to do good things, especially his ball carrying and his contact skills were all apparent to see,” said Golding of Tracy. “We’re really happy with him. There’s still a lot to work on with Jack. We still think he’s quite raw and needs some more coaching, but that’s what we’re here for and we’ve worked closely with him.”
Two main objectives for the tour are getting more Series-like game experience for players within the greater player pool and seeing if there’s anyone who needs to be considered for the upcoming tournaments in Wellington and Las Vegas.
Two guys making their case in Mar del Plata were Chris Turori and Pat Blair. Turori is a San Diego based player who’s spent a lot of time at the OTC the last couple of years and Blair is a former OTC resident who’s been in and out of the Series. Will Holder went down with an injury on day one, and Blair took over the captain duties the rest of the tournament.
“Chris Turori. He’s come a long way since first joining us. His contact skills were up there. We were really, really happy with his mongrelness. We asked him to bring intent and sort of a bit more aggression toward the contact piece of his game and he brought it,” said Golding.
“Pat Blair, he wanted to come on this tour. He felt like he needed more game time…He sort of took [the captaincy] on quite well. He was sort of the focal point of the team – he was making a lot of breaks and doing some really positive stuff.”
Up next for the Falcons is the Vina del Mar, Chile stretch of the tour. The team will arrive in Chile Tuesday, and take some time to recover and regroup. As with any team that comes together quickly, cohesion and playing a unified game plan will be key on the weekend.
“We tended to go off script a little bit, but I think they see the gap and at this level the gap closes pretty quickly, and sometimes the right decisions weren’t made,” said Golding. “We’re just trying to work on our guys making the right decisions, following the pattern, hitting onto the ball really hard and engaging defenses, not being passive in attack. That was a big thing for us.”