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Because the USA lost their series to Canada, they will face Uruguay in a two-game playoff in 2014 for the Americas 2 seed.
The winner of that series will be placed in the RWC Pool B with South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, and the Asian champions, who will almost certainly be Japan.
The Uruguay series is scheduled at a time that will be very difficult for the Eagles. The first game is slated for April 5, 2014 in Uruguay's capital of Montevideo. A week later, the two teams play on April 12 in the USA. The location is to be decided.
But it's not the location that's the problem, it's the timing. Uruguay's players are almost exclusively domestic, and play in a league centered around Montevideo. They can halt any competition they want for these games.
But it's not so easy for the USA. April 5 is the weekend of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup Quarterfinals in Europe. That could mean that Chris Wyles of Saracens, Samu Manoa of Northampton, Scott LaValla of Stade Francais, Taku Ngwenya of Biarritz, and potentially other players on pro contracts could find it very difficult to be released by their clubs.
The IRB requires the players to be released, but it's not always that cut-and-dry.
Meanwhile, those weekends are right in the middle of key club and college season. It's difficult to imagine that players in college would be able to get time off classes or their team's season to play in these games.
In the end, the USA team that plays in Montevideo could be a very different team than the one that played this August. And while the current USA team is on a seven-game losing streak, it's a team that has usually been able to beat Uruguay (since their first meeting in 1989, the USA has won 11 and lost only once, 10-9 in Montevideo in 2002).
But what if the overseas pros cannot get released from their clubs? It's highly likely that at least some of those professionals will be wanted by their clubs for the European quarterfinals.
When Uruguay played a USA team of mostly domestic players in the ARC last October, Uruguay won 26-8.