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The USA 7s team is painfully aware of what they need to do Sunday.
First of all, they need to beat Scotland on Sunday morning (10:45pm/7:45pm Saturday night to the rest of us). Scotland is just a few points ahead of the Eagles in the World Series standings. With most of the other teams near the Eagles up in the top eight, the Americans need to keep pace by putting Scotland behind them.
Ideally this means winning the Bowl, a tall order since South Africa, a
team the USA has never beaten, is in the Bowl bracket, along with England,
France, and Argentina.
"We are very much aware of the standings, and we now points are really important," said USA Head Coach Alex Magleby. "Beating Scotland could be a huge points turnaround for us. So points are crucial, no doubt about it."
How they get those points may hinge greatly on the lineup card Magleby fills out today. He has changed his lineup somewhat from game to game, and the good news is he will have 12 healthy players to choose from on Sunday.
"Who we have starting and who we have coming off the bench is something
we're working on still," he said. "Some athletes take time to get into the
rhythm of the game, some don't. Some work better in a very structured game
environment, some do better in the chaos of the second half. And we've got
guys I'd like to play for 14 minutes, but who aren't there."
What Magleby has to do is maximize his talent pool so they can maximize possession. Saying Luke Hume or Mike Palefau perform well as impact subs doesn't make it so - especially if the team can't get them the ball.
"People get caught up in time of possession, but really it's maximizing the possession you have," he said. "We have to maximize our possession and our personnel. Losing these close games is enormously frustrating for everybody. It would be one thing if we're getting blown out. But we're not."
How frustrating is it? The USA is 5-23-1 this year in the World Series. Of
those 23 losses, five were convincing victories for the opposition. In the
other 18 losses, 12 were by a try or less. In the other six, the USA was
within a try and had an opportunity to win late in the game, but instead
gave up a try to the opposition.
So out of their 23 losses, they were in a position to win 18 of them.
One positive, Magleby said, is that captain Matt Hawkins has done an excellent job leading the team and keeping them on an even keel. That's not easy to do when you're feeling snakebit.