With Baker Out, USA 7s Team Focusing On Execution Problems, Ruck Penalties

USA sevens star Perry Baker is back stateside after failing his head injury assessment following the Eagles' opening game in the Dubai Sevens last Friday.

Baker looked as if he had suffered a concussion after making a tackle in the Eagles' 22-14 loss to Argentina and appeared very wobbly on the sideline. He did not take any further part in the tournament. Now, USA coach Mike Friday has confirmed that Baker won't play in the HSBC World Series' upcoming stop in Cape Town, South Africa, this weekend, and former New Mexico Highlands University and current Denver Barbarians star Kevon Williams will replace him.

That increased the USA squad back to 13, with 12 players getting named for the actual tournament roster for the Cape Town Sevens. Williams, who played for the USA in the Silicon Valley Sevens warmup tournament, will likely be vying for playing time with Life West's Maanaima Fuala'au, who was the 13th player in Dubai and entered the game when Baker went down.

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Friday said that losing Baker was tough, but it wasn't the reason for his team's 0-5 showing in Dubai.

"There were a number of things not within our control," the coach said. 

Among Friday's chief complaints in the tournament were the penalties called in the breakdown in the USA's 26-14 loss Samoa on Friday, for which he eventually received an apology (which doesn't change the score).

"We all fully recognize and take responsibility that we will did not perform to our standards, and paid the price for our lack of accuracy, especially in attack," Friday said. "The game of sevens is ruthless, and if you are slightly off in this World Series you get nothing and that is how it was."

Friday said he struggled also with some of the breakdown interpretations in Saturday's game against Canada (a 10-5 overtime loss) but acknowledged that the team's final effort, a 31021 loss to Wales, was just flat poor.

"The Wales first half was as bad as I have seen us play," he said. "We do have to see it for what is is and we are hugely determined as group to right the wrongs this week and will use last week's adversity as the fuel to drive us through this week and the weekend."

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