The USA Men’s Sevens squad is set to compete in front of a home crowd for the second time in seven months as they head north for Los Angeles and the HSBC LA Sevens this weekend. Head Coach Mike Friday has announced the traveling squad of 13 names heading up the coast from Chula Vista, with a familiar name in Maka Unufe returning to the sevens pitch and making his 2023 debut. Los Angeles is the sixth stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Halfway through the series season, the team will leverage the home field advantage to improve on a 10th place finish in Sydney, with eyes continuing to remain fixed on early Olympic qualification. With the motivation of friends, family and fans filling the seats of Dignity Health Sports Park, this mid-season tournament will prove to be a clear opportunity for the USA to jump back into the mix for Paris qualification. Los Angeles Sevens kicks off Saturday, February 25, LIVE on Peacock.
Pool A features some tough matchups, with the Dawgs kicking off first against Samoa. A 7-26 loss against the South Pacific nation who have been enjoying a strong and improved season in 2023, and won gold in Hamilton, is motivation for the USA to reverse the score and start off their LA Sevens tour with a win. Facing Samoa, the Dawg’s first game on home soil will be a physical one.
Next, the USA face New Zealand, who head into the second half of the series with four medals. The All Black Sevens have been a tough team to crack all year, so the Dawgs will head to the pitch on the attack. In their final pool match, the USA meets Chile, a matchup not seen since the Vancouver Sevens in 2021. This will be Chile’s first tournament of the 2023 Sevens Series, and an opportunity for them to prove themselves among the pack.
Comments from Head Coach Mike Friday ahead of Los Angeles Sevens:
“We are very much looking forward and excited to be representing on home soil in LA and then onto Vancouver.
It was a rollercoaster in New Zealand and Australia with the performances, where and circumstances created such a mixture of emotions. We played well in New Zealand for the majority of most games, although at times we made unnecessary errors. We fought our way into the semifinal and but for a couple of ball presentations and dropped ball, could have found ourselves in the final. In Australia, it was certainly a rough performance and whilst in part this may be due to the injuries we experienced which stretched our depth but most importantly the mistakes we were making at critical times which the opposition in the group of Samoa and Ireland capitalized on, gaining momentum and ultimately winning these group games. We have to accept the brutality that, in this series, making those mistakes condemns you to the bowl.
We enter LA sitting in a disappointing 7th. The points spread differential between third and seventh being two points, nine teams are furiously chasing the four automatic Olympic qualification places with the other six teams in the series frantically seeking to avoid the four relegation spots. I have never known a World Series like this in the 20 odd years it has been operating. It is nothing short of cutthroat!
We enter LA in a group of with New Zealand (currently first) and Samoa (currently third) being our opening pool games. We are very much in a ‘spicy’ straight knockout pool where we will need to start fast, start physically and play accurately. The boys are excited for the challenge and see this as very much as an opportunity and whilst may optically look as a group where we find two of the top three in our group, these teams are sitting there realizing that they have USA in their group, making it very much an uneasy group of uncertainty for them. Our focus has been very much about game and skill execution in the moment and the boys are determined to improve in both these areas.
The Dawgs are very excited for the opportunity to represent and the challenge of LA.”
USA Men’s Sevens Roster | HSBC Los Angeles Sevens
|Jersey Number & Name||Position||HSBC Tournaments|
|1. Aaron Cummings||Forward||8|
|3. David Still||Forward/Wing||13|
|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||6|
|18. Maka Unufe||Wing||44|
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 Los Angeles Schedule
Saturday, Feb. 25
vs Samoa | 12:59 p.m. ET
vs New Zealand | 4:34 p.m. ET
vs Chile | 7:08 p.m. ET
Sunday, Feb. 26
Knockouts begin 11:55 a.m. ET
LIVE on Peacock