Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mixed Bag For Eagles As World Cup Schedule Is Announced

The Eagles will have one of the shortest stretches of pool play at the 2019 World Cup after the draw was reveled early today. The U.S. kicks off their tournament on Thursday, September 26th against England in Kobe. The tournament overall starts on Friday, September 19th with Japan playing Europe 1 (most likely Romania). The U.S. then continues their tournament on Wednesday, October 2nd against France in Fukouoka. That's a five day turnaround that will be followed with a six day rest turnaround before playing Argentina on Wednesday, October 7th in Kumugaya. They will then have their shortest turnaround of just three days rest before finishing pool play against Tonga on Sunday, October 13th in Hanazono.

All teams in the tournament will have short turnaround stretches of either three or four days. However, their opponents in those short turnaround matches are anything but equal. For example, in Pool B nearly all of the short turnaround matches are sandwiched with the Repechage winner on one end and Africa 1 (Namibia) on the other end. In Pool A Tier I teams get either Japan, Europe 1, or the Playoff winner on a short turnaround.

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Because the U.S. plays Tonga on just three days rest after playing Argentina it sets up another scenario just like the last three World Cups where the U.S. were in essence forced to rest their top players against a tough Tier I team in order to be their best in what is seen as their best chance to secure a victory when they play another Tier II team. Remember, the U.S. has never beaten a Tier I team and if bonuses and job security is based on winning a match at the World Cup it's much easier to justify resting your top players against Argentina than risking having them exhausted facing Tonga who will be coming off six days rest. It's quite possible that Gary Gold chooses not to rest any of his players.

The draw also reinforces that the Eagles will not be favorites in any of their pool matches. England will be a tough task although they will be coming off a short turnaround after facing Tonga and could rest their star players. France is always a difficult opponent as is Argentina although the U.S. has had some success against Argentina XV the last few years with a couple of draws.

For U.S. fans hoping to attend the tournament they can plan on spending nearly three weeks at the tournament.

England--September 26th (Kobe)
France--October 2nd (Fukuoka)
Argentina--October 7th (Kumugaya)
Tonga--October 13th (Hanazono)

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