USA Men’s Sevens Finish Tenth at HSBC Sydney Sevens

Mike Lee - KLC Photos
Mike Lee - KLC Photos

The USA Men’s Sevens head home to regroup after a 10th place finish at HSBC Sydney Sevens. Heading into their home tournament next month in seventh in the series, the squad will look to climb back to the top four with sights set on early Olympic qualification. Only 2 points separate third and 7th place, so it’ll be a fight to the finish for the remainder of the series. 

It was a tough weekend for the USA Men’s Sevens, who finished pool play 1-2 to miss out on quarterfinals in Sydney. Fatigue from two weeks of game play set in early, and Perry Baker and Ben Broselle sat out day three due to injury. Uncharacteristic mistakes saw critical moments lost, but the Eagles will take their experience gained in Sydney to learn and train for the next round at home.

Head Coach Mike Friday’s comments on what the team is taking away from Sydney Sevens: “We have to realize that we need to make sure we’re on point every time all the time. This World Series is the most competitive that I’ve seen since it began in 1999. Every team is chasing those qualification spots. We have to make sure that we are first and foremost illustrating the character and the DNA that we associate with ourselves. On top of that, we have to layer in quality execution. Our strike execution wasn’t good enough, nor was our ability to put attacks under pressure from a defensive point. We have to stay resiliant and realize it’s going to be an arm wrestle. We’re only halfway through the series, still have five legs to go, and we’re very much still in it.”

Tournament Recap 

In the men’s first game against Spain, both teams were shaking off the rust from last weekend. Spain took the ball away early to gain some ground, but Perry Baker stopped them in their tracks with a steal and offload to Malacchi Esdale for the first try. Spain remained patient with the ball, though, and worked their way down the field to get their first score of the game. The outside was the place to be for the Eagles, where Esdale and Still found the ground to gain some points. 

The USA found their footing in the second half with some more brilliant plays. Steven Tomasin did a high cross kick over Spanish defense right into Joe Schroeder’s hands to go over the try line. Seconds later, the Eagles won their own restart and it was a kick and chase for Ben Broselle to score another. Spain held their own for another try, but it was the USA who finished with their first win of the weekend, 33-14. 

“Against Spain, we showed good invention, creativity, and accuracy in our attacking play to get a decent win,” Friday said. 

The fatigue and humidity set in early on this weekend for the Dawgs, which was evident in their second pool matchup. Samoa kept possession of the ball for the majority of the first half, using their strength in set pieces and chip and chase plays to get points on the board. Struggling to find their footing, the USA earned possession with just over a minute left in the first half but Samoa put the pressure on to get it back. With David Still sent to the sin bin with a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, Samoa headed into the second half with advantage. With ball in hand, the USA had some messy offloads, but Malacchi Esdale took the ball and ran with it to earn some points for the USA. With the clock ticking down, the USA tried to find opportunities to stretch the ball wide with some great plays to gain ground, but Samoa’s defense was too strong this time around, and they took the win 7-26.

Following the Samoa match, David Still was suspended for three games for a dangerous tackle. 

Friday on the match against Samoa, “Our physicality at the breakdown at times lacked the rigor and aggression needed if you wanted to play against Samoa. It allowed Samoan physicality and attack to take control, and as a consequence, we also took some heavy collateral in that game. We lost Ben Broselle and Perry Baker for the tournament.”

The final Pool C match was a decider between Ireland and the USA of who would take the quarter final spot, so both teams had one goal in mind heading in. Ireland held firm against USA threats with the ball and did well at the breakdowns to steal it back. The USA had some good plays of their own but some handling errors proved detrimental to offense play. The Dawgs did their best with defense, but Ireland was too quick and won the final pool match 0-26, sending the USA to the ninth place quarterfinals. 

Friday commented, “It was a do or die game, and unfortunately we didn’t play well enough on both sides of the ball. In attack, we didn’t work off the ball to get our depth or cause problems for the Irish defense. Defensively, we lacked energy and aggression to get off the line and make hits and get connected. Too many loose balls cost us dearly, and Ireland were the deserved winners. It was disappointing for us and we were not happy with how we performed and the character we showed.” 

It was a bright and early Sunday start for the squad in their ninth place quarterfinal matchup against Uruguay. Despite missing Perry Baker and Ben Broselle due to injury and Still suspended, the Eagle’s size and talent put the pressure on Uruguay. The USA earned the ball early after a knock on by the Teros. Rested and well-organized, the Dawgs recycled the ball well, and Marcus Tupuola offloaded to Tomasin, who ran the ball through the middle for the first try. Controlling the ball well early on, the Dawgs were patient and organized in their plays. The Dawgs lost some of their momentum in the second half, leaving way for mistakes that gave Uruguay some scoring opportunities. Uruguay found an opportunity to score off a line out, but a handling error called it back to the USA to end the game with a win, 14-12. 

“We knew how massively important day three was and we knew we had to maximize our points tally as best we can to stay in the mix and stay in the hunt for Olympic qualification. It was an ugly affair against Uruguay. Both teams struggled to get any sort of continuity. We had a little bit more grit, resilience, and resolve.” 

The Dawgs met Hamilton Sevens champions Argentina in the ninth place semifinal. The Dawgs were back in regular form in the first half, handling the ball well and turning plays into tries. Argentina did well on their defense, pushing the Dawgs back into their own territory, but patient phases made way for Tomasin to run down for the first try. The Dawgs pressured Argentina on the defensive side as well, even winning Argentina’s scrum, a rare sight in sevens. The USA was well in control of the ball and Gavan D’Amore and Kevon Williams earned more points for the USA, heading into the second half 17-0.

Argentina took off with momentum in the second half and scored their first try. They turned up their physicality, taking penalties but earning possession in critical moments to turn the game around. The USA wasn’t able to keep up in the end, losing 17-19 to complete their Sydney Sevens tournament. 

“We knew Argentina was going to be a tough game and we started so well. We showed great character, great attacking continuity, we were controlling the ball, and we were 17 up. We just ran out of steam, and that resilient Argentina team found a way to claw themselves back in and win that game. In terms of endeavor, effort, attitude, and character that I expect from the squad, it was there in bucket loads. If we approach challenges like that moving forward, we will be in a decent place.

“We have the home leg coming up in LA, and we’re excited for the opportunity to represent our home and do our supporters proud.” 

The Dawgs head home to Chula Vista to rest, regroup, and recover ahead of their home tournament at HSBC LA Sevens, which kicks off February 25-26. 

USA Men’s Sevens Roster | HSBC Sydney Sevens

Jersey Number & Name Position HSBC Tournaments
1. Aaron Cummings Forward 8
2. Ben Broselle Forward/Wing 16
3. David Still Forward/Wing 13
4. Maceo Brown Center/Forward 22
5. Joe Schroeder Forward 27
6. Kevon Williams (C) Halfback/Wing 41
7. Naima Fuala’au Halfback 19
8. Malacchi Esdale Center/Wing 12
9. Stephen Tomasin Utility 48
10. Faitala Talapusi Halfback 13
11. Perry Baker Wing/Center 61
14. Marcus Tupuola Halfback/Center 19
15. Gavan D'Amore Forward 14
16. Adam Channel Forward 8

USA Men's Sevens Traveling Staff

Head Coach | Mike Friday

Performance Analyst | Dave Gardner

Strength & Conditioning | Josh Schnell

Athletic Trainer | Bobby Gragston

Team Manager | Scott Novack

USA Men’s Sevens Sydney Fixtures and Results >>