Following a lengthy five-week layoff, the HSBC Sevens World Series resumes this weekend in Hamilton, New Zealand, with both the Men's and Women's Eagles competing.
For the Men's Eagles, it's an opportunity to bounce back after a slow start to the campaign. Whereas last year the Eagles progressed beyond the quarterfinals at every stop, this year they're 0 for 2. In Dubai, they lost in the quarters to New Zealand, and then the next week in Cape Town failed to get out of pool play.
The Eagles get a huge boost this weekend, with the return of Ben Pinkelman and Martin Iosefo to the lineup. The pair of stars missed the first two tournaments, as they were recovering from their trip to Japan with the XVs side for the World Cup.
Madison Hughes will make his milestone 50th tournament appearance for the Eagles, and 46th as captain. The 50 caps is not only a testament to his leadership and his playmaking, but also to his resilience; Hughes has fought through some tough injuries and still managed to come back each time as the same impact player he's always been.
With a more experienced side heading into Hamilton, the United States will be expecting a better performance than their most recent outings.
The boys kick off their tournament against Scotland, before taking on New Zealand and Wales to round out pool play.
USA vs Scotland | Friday - 8:09 PM (ET)
USA vs New Zealand | Saturday - 2:33 AM (ET)
USA vs Wales | Saturday - 7:19 PM (ET)
After winning the opening tournament of the year in Glendale, the Women's Eagles finished third in Dubai, and then bowed out in the quarterfinals to Canada in Cape Town.
Homerun hitters Alev Kelter, Kristi Kirshe, and Naya Tapper are all healthy and ready to go, while teenager Eti Haungatau makes another appearance on the World Series.
Abby Gustaitis and Kris Thomas will share the captainship for the weekend, as they've done in Dubai and in Cape Town this year.
The Eagles currently sit third in the standings behind first place New Zealand and second place Australia, whom they only trail by two points. With Olympic seeding at play during this build-up 2020 campaign, every tournament is important and a big performance this weekend could see the U.S. leapfrog the Aussies.
They will start off the tournament against Russia, then take on Brazil, before finishing off the group stage against Australia.
USA vs Russia | Friday - 4:14 PM (ET)
USA vs Brazil | Friday - 9:52 PM (ET)
USA vs Australia | Saturday - 3:51 PM (ET)