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Eagles Name Lineup to Face Portugal

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Eagles Name Lineup to Face Portugal

Greg Peterson and Cam Dolan return at second row. Martin Dokoupil, World Rugby via Getty Images.

USA Men's 15s Hed Coach Gary Gold has made a couple of changes for his lineup as the Eagles face Portugal Friday in Dubai for the final spot in Rugby World Cup 2023.

It's winner take all as both Portugal and the USA are 2-0 in the Final Qualifier Tournament.

Games so far:

USA 68
Tries: Fawsitt 3, Fa'anana-Schultz, Dyer 3, Augspurger, Sosene Feagai, Wilson
Convs: Carty 4, MacGinty 5

Kenya 14
Tries: Juma, Weru
Convs: Mukidza 2

Portugal 42
Tries: Madeira, Storti 2, Morais, Marta, Lima
Convs: Marques 6

Hong Kong 14
Tries: Port, Neville
Convs: McNeish 2

Portugal 85
Tries:Tadjer 3, Cardoso Pinto, Lima, V Pinto 2, Appleton 2, Rebelo Andrade, Belo, Campergue
Convs: Marques 7, Portela, Sousa Guedes

Kenya 0

USA 49
Tries: Fa'anana-Schultz, Pifeleti, Augspurger 2, Dolan, Wilson Tonga'uiha
Convs: MacGinty 6, Carty

Hong Kong 7
Tries: Worley
Convs: Cumming

Bryce Campbell comes in at outside center for Marcel Brache after Brache picked up a calf injury in training.

"Bryce is a season campaigner and has performed well for us in the past and it's really just next man up," Gold told GRR. While acknowledging that injuries can be frustrating, Gold also accepted that the Eagles have been fairly fortunate during this Final Qualifier Tournament when it comes to injuries.

"Injuries are part of the game," said Gold. "[But] after the game on Sunday morning we evaluated where we are and it was pretty miraculous, to go through such a series o games and have our frontline players fairly healthy is definitely good." 

CC Mahoni also sits out with an injury, and those two knocks open up a space for Tavite Lopeti on the bench and Benjamin Borasso on the bench among the forwards, also.

Now it all comes to getting the job done. Asked about the large ramifications of winning or losing this game, Gold shrugged those off saying "it's an important game because it's the next game. Right now we're focused on short-term goals and our short-term goal is to win a game on Friday night."

USA Rugby CEO Ross Young does acknowledge the importance of qualifying for RWC 2023 and touted the organization's ability to keep USA-based the players in assembly for several weeks to accomplish the task. 

“Assembly time and suitable preparation is always an important factor in the success of a team over 80 short minutes, so we’re grateful to have a support system in MLR during this all-important series," said Young in a USA Rugby release. "We collectively understand the significance of competing in France next year, so working in partnership these last few months has been abundant on the performance so far. MLR and USA Rugby together are enthusiastic to support Gary and the players this weekend in Dubai as we know they’ll represent the rugby community well.”

USA Kicks off vs Portugal on The Rugby Network Friday, Nov. 18 at 10:30AM ET

With his start Friday Cam Dolan will pass Luke Gross for sole possession of 3rd all-time in USA caps. Gross, when he retired, was the most-capped USA player ever but has since been passed by Mike MacDonald and Todd Clever. 

Three of the starters plus two players on the bench made their debuts in this Final Qualifier Series.

USA Roster vs Portugal
1. David Ainu'u Toulouse (FRA) 19
2. Kapeli Pifeleti Saracens (ENG) 9
3. Paul Mullen Utah Warriors 29
4. Greg Peterson Newcastle Falcons (ENG) 38
5. Cam Dolan NOLA Gold 62
6. Viliami Helu Rugby ATL 2
7. Cory Daniel Old Glory DC 2
8. Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz Old Glory DC 8
9. Ruben De Haas Saracens (ENG) 27
10. AJ MacGinty (C) Bristol Bears 34
11. Nate Augspurger San Diego Legion 35
12. Paul Lasike Utah Warriors 21
13. Bryce Campbell MLR 43
14. Christian Dyer Houston SaberCats 10
15. Mitch Wilson New England Free Jacks 2
16. Mikey Sosene-Feagai Agen (FRA) 8
17. Jack Iscaro Old Glory DC 1
18. Nate Sylvia San Diego Legion 2
19. Benjamin Bonasso Rugby New York 4
20. Tesimoni Tonga'uiha NOLA Gold 5
21. Chirs Mattina MLR Yet to debut
22. Luke Carty MLR 10
23. Tavite Lopeti Seattle Seawolves 7