Men’s Eagles Sevens: 2017 Cape Town Sevens Preview

USA arrives in Cape Town prepared to deliver a strong performance

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - Beginning this Saturday (Dec. 9), the Men's Eagles Sevens will have the opportunity to bounce back from their Dubai Sevens performance and prove their competitive abilities at Cape Town Sevens, the second stop of the 2017-18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, where the Eagles will face New Zealand , Australia and Spain in Pool B, LIVE on ESPN3.

The United States didn't start last weekend's Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens Tournament the way they'd hoped. Three tough pool play matches, a tight loss in overtime to rival Canada 7s in the Challenge Trophy Quarter Finals and an almost comeback against Wales 7s in the 13th place Semifinal saw Head Coach Mike Friday and his squad walk away with 1 point from the tournament, for an overall standing of 15th in the Series.

"We are all bruised from last week's experience where it was just not meant to be and with a number of things out of our control," said Coach Friday, taking into account the variety of challenges his team faced in the Series opener. "We all fully recognize that we did not perform to our standards and paid the price for lacking accuracy, especially in attack."

For almost all of last week's tournament, the Eagles were without World Rugby Player of the Year, Perry Baker, who was sidelined early in the first match (vs. Argentina) following HIA concussion protocol. Though Baker will not return to Cape Town as anticipated, his teammates have spent the week reflecting on their past performance, and evaluating the necessary steps to take in order to succeed.

Jumping into the lineup for Baker is Kevon Williams who made his HSBC Series debut last year, after impressive performances with the Denver Barbarians earned him national team attention. Just last month, Williams scored in four out of the six matches contested by the Eagles during the Silicon Valley Sevens Tournament, making him a valuable addition to the Cape Town roster.

Joining Williams and other returning Eagles from Dubai are Captain Madison Hughes, Speedster Carlin Isles and Veteran Maka Unufe who together scored over half of the Eagles' 66 points in Dubai.

With his Cape Town squad in place, Head Coach Mike Friday is confident in his team's ability to collaborate with one other, recognizing their earlier mistakes; and together, make the right adjustments to challenge their opposition.

"We are hugely determined as a group to 'right the wrongs' this week and will use last week's adversity as the fuel to drive us through the weekend," said Friday. "Our squad is eager for this next opportunity, and has already started working on where we need to focus. All of this is easily fixable and within our control if we apply ourselves as a collective group."

 Mike Lee

1. Carlin Isles
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Matai Leuta
5. Joe Schroeder
6. Malon Al Jiboori
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Madison Hughes (Captain)
11. Kevon Williams
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Naima Fuala'au 

Head Coach - Mike Friday
Assistant Coach - Chris Brown
Physio - Brian Green
Team Analyst - Paul Goulding
Team Manager - Scott Novack

Saturday, Dec. 9 | ESPN3
vs. New Zealand - 5:05 AM ET
vs. Australia - 8:04 AM ET
vs. Spain - 11:50 AM ET

The United States will face New Zealand, Australia, and Spain during pool play (Pool B) this Saturday at Cape Town Stadium. New Zealand returns from Dubai in 2nd place with 19 points in the overall Series standing following their Cup Final loss to South Africa, while Australia returns in 5th place with a total of 13 points and Spain in 10th place with a total of 7 points.

Viewers are able to watch all the Eagles' matches in Cape Town LIVE on ESPN3, with updates available by following @USARugby on Twitter. As for Head Coach Mike Friday and the Eagles, they head into Saturday's matchups focused, energized and prepared to compete.

"We are all totally determined to meet the next challenge head on, in what will once again be a tough group," says Friday.