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New-Look USA Men Impressive at Vancouver 7s Day One

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New-Look USA Men Impressive at Vancouver 7s Day One

Kevon Williams finds some room against Chile. Photo USA Rugby.

The HSBC Sevens World Series has started in a slightly different form, and a new-look USA men's team is looking fairly good.

With various countries able or not able to travel due to COVID fears, the tournament this weekend in Vancouver has 12 men's teams, including Great Britain (usually represented by three separate national teams) Germany, Chile, Hong Kong, Jamaica, and Mexico.

The Eagles team has a number of uncapped players, including Colorado XO David Still, who played football at Saginaw Valley State, former USA U20 Adam Channel, Scholz Award finalist Jack Wendling and Santa Rosa standout Jerome Nale.

What was good about this performance on Day One in the Vancouver 7s is that they played teams they should normally beat, and this group of mostly newer players (along with veterans Kevon Williams, Martin Iosefo, Matai Leuta, Cody Melphy, Naima Fuata'au, and Joe Schroeder) took care of business. It would be very easy to play as if you expected teams to roll over. Instead, the Eagles struck quickly and with authority.

Gazan D'Amore Morrison, who is new to the team but an experienced campaigner in American domestic 7s, was the first USA player to score and he kept showing up in the right places throughout the day. D'Amore Morrison, Williams, Malachi Esdale, Still, and Wendling all scored, with Melphy convering four in a 33-5 pasting of Chile that set the tone.

Next up was Germany, another team you'd expect the USA to beat but a team that could surprise if taken lightly. This time it was Esdale who was over two minutes in, and he added another just after halftime. Germany had equalized at 7-7 midway through the first half, which is exactly when you'd get worried about the Eagles' composure. But they took care of that. Joe Schroeder scored after the hooter in the first half  and then Esdale's try early in the second half put it away. Williams iced it at 26-7.

Canada was a more difficult nut to crack but in fact the USA cracked that nut early, once again, scoring within the first minutes. This time it was Iosefo scoring almost immediately. Channel added two, and then Iosefo and Leuta were over in the second half. By the time Canada got any ball at all it was 26-7. They scored twice late but the game was done. USA 26 Canada 19.

Sunday it gets a little more difficult as the USA plays Kenya in the quarterfinals. But it was an encouraging day nonetheless.