The USA faces Japan for the 5th time in three tournaments Sunday in Adelaide, after not playing the Japanese more than two times in the last couple of years.
They do so after showing something of an improvement in their last two games. They had Australia near the ropes at least before letting the game slip away, and were fairly comfortable winners over Tonga 24-12.
The stats show an improvement, too.
USA Head Coach Al Caravelli said he wanted a tackle rate of over 80%, ideally 85%. They didn't make 85% on Saturday, but 84.1% was better than their 79.8% in Hong Kong.
Errors were down somewhat - 12 in the three games. But errors remained costly. Paul Emerick could be seen grumbling at himself after two straight uncharacteristic knock-ons that twice gave Australia possession.
Their set pieces were solid, but they faltered on the restarts, either not claiming kicks to them (as against Fiji) or committing two players to one ball and either knocking it on or taking themselves out of the player entirely (as in Australia's opening try).
USA Day One Stats:
Tries 13 7
Completed Passes 78 63
Tackle Completion Rate 84.1 82.5
Errors Made 12 15
Penalties conceded 10 11
Balls Given Away 30 33
Set Pieces won 24 17
Restarts retained 4 of 14 0 of 5
But stats don't tell the whole story, though, as the Eagles struggled to convert the possession into tries - once again those errors coming at inopportune times.
The USA is also struggling with referees of late, and the fault therein lies on both sides. They have been the victim of some curiously inconsistent calls, but they also have to be smarter.
The Eagles dominated field position and possession early against Tonga and did get a score thanks to Tonga gtetting into penalty trouble. But key for the Eagles in that game, was they finally put a game away.