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Isles en route to pat dirt against New Zealand. Martin Seras Lima photo

All things considered, the Eagles have as smooth a road to the Cup in Las Vegas as can be asked for. They have a winning record so far this season against everyone in their pool except Canada, who they haven’t played. And in Pool A, which the USA’s pool crosses over against in the knockout rounds, only Kenya has beaten the USA more times than not this year.

The USA has dominated Wales so far this season, most recently with a 42-0 shutout in Sydney, Australia. That game, at early evening Las Vegas time Friday March 4th, should be a win. The North American rivalry match later that evening will most likely give the Eagles a chance to clinch a Cup quarterfinal berth on day one.

Saturday afternoon they will meet South Africa in the pool finale. The Eagles have only tussled with the Blitzbokke once this season, claiming a 21-19 victory in the Dubai Cup Quarterfinals.

The favorites in Pool A are the All Blacks, who the USA is 3-1 against this season. The next-most-likely to win the pool is Kenya, who the Eagles are 0-2 against so far. However, New Zealand has been on a roll of late, so the USA would probably prefer roll the dice against Kenya, who was lucky to pull out a 24-21 win over the Eagles in Sydney.

No matter how you slice it, a sixth-straight Cup appearance should be the minimum expectation on home soil. And the team will know it's capable of beating anyone it may run up against in the quarterfinals. Should the Eagles get to the top eight at their home tournament, it will mark only the fourth time history, the second in a row and the third in four years. 

Pool APool BPool CPool D
New ZealandAustraliaFijiSouth Africa