Pan Am Championship Ends with Uruguay Match
(Toronto, Canada) 20 September 1996 -- Determined to finish the Pan American Championship on a high note, the US National Team today named a starting lineup for Saturday's contest with unheralded but dangerous Uruguay. Several players reach individual landmarks, but the team's final match in the four-team round-robin tournament is hardly a foregone conclusion.

Searching for a more efficient forward combination, the US shows three changes after Wednesday night's disappointing 23-18 loss to Canada. Two of them are in the pack. At prop, Joe Rissone comes in for Ray Lehner, while at flanker Jason Walker replaces Rob Randell.

Further, Kevin Dalzell starts instead of Andre Bachelet at halfback. As the US field general, the 22-year-old University of California student will also play a role in helping to improve the team's ballwinning and overall cohesion.

The backline remains the same, though the plan is to tackle more vigorously and feature high-scoring wing Vaea Anitoni more often. Matt Alexander, Mark Scharrenberg, and Maika Sika plus Anitoni have key responsibilities.

Halfback Dalzell's first international appearance coincides with two other highlights. Again the US captain, prop Chris Lippert earns his 25th cap, tying him with Gary Hein for fourth place all-time among American players. Meanwhile, hooker Tom Billups, Lippert's partner in the front row, runs onto the field for the 17th time, breaking his tie with Pat Johnson for most appearances at that position by an American.

Some have suggested the US-Uruguay contest is a mismatch, but because qualifying games for the 1999 World Cup loom on the Pan American horizon, taking third place in the Americas championship is significant and thus the game will be hard-fought.

Uruguay has lost both of its Pan American matches to date, but the margin of Wednesday night1s 54-20 defeat by Argentina is deceiving. Uruguay nearly upended Canada last Saturday, dropping a 24-18 decision in Ottawa.

"It1s more than a chance to salvage some pride," Lippert noted of tomorrow's 1:15 match. "While we're disappointed with two close losses, we look forward to winning this game and to future Pan Am series."

United States: Maika Sika; Vaea Anitoni, Juan Grobler, Mark Scharrenberg, Bobby Lockerem; Matt Alexander, Kevin Dalzell; Chris Lippert (captain), Tom Billups, Joe Rissone, Luke Gross, Alec Parker, Jason Walker, Jay Wilkerson, Rob Lumkong.