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“Defense has been a big work-on,” Magleby told after his team won the Plate and injected life into their season. “Sometimes it seems like it magically happens, but it’s been something we’ve been working on the whole time, and we’ve been improving incrementally.”

Executing tackles and better position was important (the USA players adjusted to switch plays on the perimeter quite well during this weekend’s tournament), there’s nothing like just flat making tackles and not giving up.

“The commitment to the tackles and the urgency, that was an important part of it,” said Magleby. “The guys protected each other, so even when we let ourselves down, we picked each other up.”

Several players showed improvement, especially on defense. One of those was Andrew Durutalo, who is just starting to realize how he can physically dominate a game.

The defensive success for everyone comes down to everyone doing his job, said the coach. “We needed players to make their tackles. There’s a psychology to it all. If I miss a tackle, your next tackle is a lot harder to make. When you see three missed tackles on the game report, they generally all happen at once. We talked about that, and we had a good week of training and worked on our defense. This weekend we had to play defense for long periods of time and that typically breaks a team. In the past we might have broken, but the guys didn’t break this time.”

The USA flies home Monday, arriving earlier than when they left, thanks to them crossing the International Date Line. That extra day will be most welcome, as Magleby will give his players the next three days off to recover before they start training again.

Carlin Isles is not badly hurt after his concussion suffered against New Zealand and is expected to train soon. Matt Hawkins is also expected to be able to train soon.

The Eagles will also have Blaine Scully in camp. Magleby said the injury that kept Scully home was a minor one, and had it been the World Cup, Scully would have played. No recent word on Maka Unufe’s road back to fitness, but it looks as though Mike Palefau will be available for the remainder of the season.