In the USA's last opportunity to bank a win during the Dubai 7s pool play, the Eagles fell a conversion short in the 12-10 loss to Portugal.
It appeared that USA 7s coach Al Caravelli was opting for more speed vs. power in his starting lineup, as Mark Bokhoven and Matt Hawkins waited on the sideline. The strategy didn't pay off, as Portugal's Aderito Esteves muscled through the USA defense, fending both Duncan Kelm and Shalom Suniula as they dove at Esteves' knees.
The USA wasn't starved for the ball as they had been in the previous games against South Africa and New Zealand, but they didn't necessarily make the most of their opportunities. On a few occasions, Nick Edwards and Folau Niua made some promising breaks, but support was much too slow and the ballcarriers were forced to ground without anyone to offload to.
Execution wasn't at its height either. Several long passes skipped along the ground, but Portugal produced its fair share errors.
On the last play of the half, Zack Test tapped through a penalty in Portugal's end. The ball ended up in Colin Hawley's hands, and the 24-year-old took on Esteves, cutting across the defensive line from 15 meters out.
The half-ending score tied it up 5-5, and although the USA had the momentum into the break, Portugal did well to negate that positive energy.
Less than 30 seconds into the second half, Duarte Moreira outraced Suniula coming across for the try in the corner. Diogo Miranda slotted the sideline conversion, leaving a seven-point gap for the Eagles to close.
It took the USA four minutes to even up the try count, and it came at the hands of Edwards, who didn't see as much ball as he should have this game.
Test got it started with a linebreak, and the team did well to keep the ball alive as they marched into Portugal territory. Bokhoven nearly dotted down but was dragged down at the line, but Hawkins was there to work the ball the opposite way. Mike Palefau sent a long pass that bounced into the arms of Edwards out wide, and the wing raced the final five meters into try zone, 12-10.
It was a difficult angle for the conversion, and Niua nearly split the posts, but the kick sailed wide.
Portugal held onto the ball for the remainder of the match, and the game ended on a penalty for Portugal.
With the loss, the USA has finished last in pool B and will play pool C's third place team.