(Berkeley, California) 6 August 1998 -- Flanker Dan Lyle and another starter, center Tom Takau, will miss the USA's upcoming trip to Argentina for the final round of World Cup qualification matches, US general manager and head coach Jack Clark announced today.
Jon Holtzman and Steve Hiatt will be called up as replacements, as the Eagles opt for completely healthy players to face defending Americas champion Argentina, Uruguay, and archrival Canada for a place in next year's finals. The round-robin tournament begins on August 15.
Lyle, who injured his knee during a February match with his Bath (England) club side, narrowly lost his race to recover in time. The 27-year-old is currently in the last phases of rehabilitation, working daily with Bath's medical staff. He is running but not jumping and not at full strength.
Lyle underwent surgery on his right knee's ACL a little over five months ago, in an operation performed by US National Team physician Dr. Warren King. Lyle's first four months of rehab were then supervised by Dr. King and his staff, who also hold National Football League and National Hockey League postings.
"The unfortunate part is that Dan is probably not too many weeks away from playing again, but with a player of his ability, erring on the side of caution is undoubtedly the correct course," Clark said in making the announcement. "Naturally, we'll miss his ability."
Hooker Tom Billups will continue as captain, a posting he has held since Lyle missed the USA's season-opening trip to Portugal and Spain.
"Tom has done an excellent job as captain," Clark said. "He appears to be one of those rare players who can accept additional responsibilities without his own game going to pieces."
Takau pulls out of the USA's 30-man qualifying squad because of a pulled groin, the same reason that kept him from last month's 18-9 test loss in Fiji. The 19-cap veteran enjoyed a fine Pacific Rim season, but now joins a double-digit list of Eagle veterans who have missed multiple tests this year.
Holtzman, Lyle's replacement, has three caps to his credit, the last coming during the 1997 Pacific Rim season. Hiatt has one 15s cap, but is an international 7s veteran.
The complete US squad will be released tomorrow.