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USA Rolling To Dubai As Double-Favorites

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USA Rolling To Dubai As Double-Favorites

Mike Lee KLC fotos for World Rugby

Officially the Sevens World Series 2019-20 season has started with the USA women's team's thrilling victory in Glendale, but with a two-month break between that tournament and Dubai, really it feels like it all starts in earnest in a few weeks.

The USA women have won two tournaments in a row now, and coming off a 2nd-place finish in the entire World Series in 2018-19, have to be considered a favorite going into Dubai December 5-7. 

Tickets For The LA 7s Feb 29 to March 1 are on sale now

Why? Simply put, the Eagles are playing better. Key in that is the USA tackling is more exact and more ferocious. Add to that some better work on support running and better use of the team's varied athletic skills—Abby Gustaitis and Cheta Emba in the air, Naya Tapper and Kristi Kirshe on the outside, Nicole Heavirland and Alev Kelter opening things up in the middle, and Ilona Maher and Lauren Doyle breaking tackles—and you've got the makings of a championship team.

The USA men aren't too far behind, and possibly just as good. The Eagle men won one tournament in 2018-19, the stop in the USA, and five appearances in the final. If you're looking for reasons not to be so optimistic is that the Eagles didn't make the final in any of the last five tournaments last season. They made the semis—the only team in the World Series to make the top four every tournament—but winning those semis proved elusive.

Will the Eagles find success on US soil? It's very possible. The USA won the USA 7s in each of the last two years, finished 3rd in 2017, and 4th in 2016. Home cooking tastes good for both USA teams, and playing at Dignity Health Sports Park in the LA area in Southern California will be like playing in their back yard.

In warmup tournaments this fall the Eagles have been iffy, but in an interview with Goff Rugby Report last week, Carlin Isles said that was mostly because they were trying out some things and experimenting a little bit. See the interview here>>

 

But, at their best, the Eagles have three of the best forwards in the sevens game in Stephen Tomasin (World 7s Player of the Year nominee), Ben Pinkelman, and Danny Barrett. They have two of the most devastating long-range finishers in the game in Isles (last year's top try-scorer) and Perry Baker (World 7s Player of the Year two years running). They have superb playmakers in Folau Niua (World 7s Player of the Year Nominee) and Madison Hughes. They have the imposing Martin Iosefo and Matai Leuta. And they have players such as Kevon Williams, Marcus Tupuola, and Maceo Brown who have emerged as true weapons.

It's a nice combination, and Head Coach Mike Friday could have more adding to that depth. 

This is a special team, and in the LA 7s fans will be able to see this team up close. 

But it all begins in Dubai.

 

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