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Eagle Men Grounded in Pool Play

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Eagle Men Grounded in Pool Play

Samoa celebrates and Joe Schroeder doesn't. Mike Lee KLC fotos for World Rugby.

The USA Men's 7s team faltered in pool play in Sydney, losing in rather extravagant fashion to Samoa and Ireland.

The team that had surprise so many in recent weeks seemed to hit a bit of a wall against both of those sides. Just a shade slower to the ball, and not as dominant in the tackle, they found themselves scrambling to get going.

They hardly touched the ball against Ireland, which dominated possession and, frankly, almost all facets of the game in the third matchup of the day.

Against Samoa, it was the Samoans who looked lighter in step and more dynamic.

They led 19-0 at halftime and really it should have been 26-0 but for the fourth try being called back.

The Eagles at least got enough ball to score a try—freeing up Malachi Esdale for a long run. (Scores were a 26-7 loss to Samoa and a 26-0 loss to Ireland.)

But really they looked tired, as much mentally as physically.

The World Series circuit is difficult, and sometimes the time zones can catch up with you on the second week—witness Argentina, winners in Hamilton, going 1-2 in pool play just as the USA did.

All of this has an effect on the World Series standings, but to mitigate the Eagles have to ramp it up for the final day of competition. A 9th-place quarterfinal against Uruguay is not a game to take for granted. Los Teros will take advantage of a team that doesn't embrace the contact point.

So there is still work to do.

LA Sevens February 25-26 Tickets on Sale Now—Cheer on Your Eagles on Home Soil>>

South Africa, 4th in the standings and right behind the USA and Argentina in points, is in a position to get to 2nd, and France, Samoa, Australia, and Fiji could also make ground. Sydney's quirky scheduling already has the Cup Quarterfinals done, with France vs New Zealand and South Africa vs Fiji. As a result, New Zealand will be 1st in the standings no matter what happens, and South Africa is assured of bypassing the USA. France and Fiji could, too.

As we said earlier in the week, the LA Sevens February 25-26 becomes perhaps the crucial tournament in the chase for those four automatic Olympic berths. The World Series has never been closer.

USA vs Uruguay at 5:54PM ET (on Peacock)
Then either 3:29AM ET Sunday if they lose to 4:26AM if they win.