Four games into the Americas Rugby Championship, Canada only has one win. And things don't get any easier Friday night when the 21st-ranked Canadian men wrap up tournament play against the 15th-ranked Americans in Seattle.
But Canada coach Kingsley Jones has seen things to build on in a World Cup year, with the tournament showing depth in his squad.
"There's been a lot of growth in this competition ... There's lots and lots of positives," said the former Wales captain.
With most of his marquee players abroad with their pro clubs, others have been able to step up.
Opposing teams have found wingers Andrew Coe and Kainoa Lloyd hard to handle and young fullback Theo Sauder has produced some dazzling solo runs.
Lock Kyle Baille has been a physical force while Lucas Rumball has impressed as captain and flanker. Hard-nosed forwards Luke Campbell, Justin Blanchet, Conor Keys and Dustin Dobravsky have also made their mark.
Canada lost 20-17 at No. 16 Uruguay and 18-10 at No. 25 Brazil before blanking No. 29 Chile 56-0 in Langford, B.C. They dropped a 39-23 decision to visiting Argentina XV last week.
The Canadians gave a talent-rich Argentine developmental side a good run before conceding two late tries.
"Sometimes, not very often but sometimes, you've got to forget the scoreboard and look at the performance," Jones said. "And I thought it was a very good performance for most of the game against Argentina. They're a very good side that punished our mistakes. Simple as that. They were clinical.
"They didn't beat us really. Just (made) less errors. And when we made errors, they really capitalized. Fair play to them."
Canada will be facing a motivated U.S. team, which dropped two spots in the world rankings after losing 32-25 to Uruguay for the first time on American soil.
"They'll be up for Canada," said Jones. "I don't think they were up for that Uruguay game and they got caught out. They didn't play well. We'll expect a real tough challenge."
The U.S. (2-2-0) previously beat Chile and Brazil and lost to Argentina XV.
Jones has made two changes to the team that lost to Argentina XV last week.
Veteran scrum half Phil Mack, who plays for the Seattle Seawolves, makes his 2019 debut for Canada while Campbell returns from injury at No. 8.
New Zealand-based hooker Jordan Olsen, who qualifies for Canada through his Winnipeg-based family, could make his test debut off the bench. He saw action as a substitute last week but it was not considered a test match since Argentina was fielding a reserve side.
U.S. coach Gary Gold has made six changes to the starting 15 — and five to the bench — after the Uruguay loss.
David Ainuu, Ben Landry and John Quill come into the pack while Shaun Davies, Mike Te'o and Marcel Brache slot into the backs.
The match-day American 23 has a combined 402 caps.
"We have massive respect for Canada not only in the way they performed against Argentina XV last week but in how they themselves have evolved as a team," Gold said.
"They're a well-coached group with some very talented players whom we know will apply a lot of pressure on our guys this weekend, especially now that they've also qualified for the Rugby World Cup."
Friday’s match is the final game for Canada until this summer's Pacific Nations Cup,
Canada will open against the U.S. in Colorado on July 27 before playing in Fiji and Tonga on Aug. 3 and 9 respectively.
Hubert Buydens, NOLA Gold (MLR), Saskatoon; Benoit Piffero, Blagnac Sporting Club (France), Montreal; Cole Keith, Toronto Arrows (MLR), Sussex, N.B.; Conor Keys, Rotherham Titans (England), Stittsville, Ont.; Kyle Baillie, NOLA Gold (MLR), Summerside, P.E.I.; Justin Blanchet, Bedford Blues (England), Montreal; Lucas Rumball (capt.), Toronto Arrows (MLR), Toronto; Luke Campbell, James Bay AA; Victoria; Phil Mack, Seattle Seawolves (MLR), Victoria; Gordon McRorie, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Kainoa Lloyd, Toronto Arrows, Mississauga, Ont.; Ciaran Hearn, London Irish (England), Conception Bay South, N.L.; Nick Blevins, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Andrew Coe, Markham Irish, Toronto; Theo Sauder, Toronto Arrows (MLR), Vancouver.
Jordan Olsen, Northland (New Zealand), Whangarei, N.Z.; Noah Barker, Glendale Raptors (MLR), Courtenay, B.C.; Ryan Kotlewski, Westshore RFC, Calgary; Josh Larsen, Austin Elite (MLR), Parksville, B.C.; Dustin Dobravsky, Castaway Wanderers, Hanover, Germany; Jamie Mackenzie, Toronto Arrows (MLR), Oakville, Ont.; Pat Parfrey, unattached, St. John’s, N.L.; Doug Fraser, Austin Elite (MLR), Ladysmith, B.C.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press