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U.S. women’s soccer team surprises fans, trains at Waipio

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    USA goalkeeper Hope Solo high fived Kacey Wong who held a large poster board that read, “Hope Solo You’re my #1 Idol,” with her mom, Cheryl Tanaka, at right.

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    After U.S. Soccer canceled today’s match against Trinidad & Tobago at Aloha Stadium due to field conditions, the Women’s National Team took to the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex for a round of practice today. About a thousand fans also showed up to cheer the team and collect autographs from their favorite players.

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Soccer fans Evan Minami, left, and Matt Uemoto get a selfie with USA goalkeeper Hope Solo after the soccer practice.

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team held a somewhat impromptu training session at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium today in lieu of their canceled victory tour game against Trinidad and Tobago that was supposed to be held at Aloha Stadium.

Team USA stunned and disappointed local soccer fans late Saturday night when they informed stadium officials that they would not play today’s 3 p.m. game because of subpar artificial turf conditions.

But about 1,000 screaming soccer fans, who were either already present on the Waipio Peninsula for youth or club games, or arrived through word of mouth, watched the 1 1/2-hour session intently and received autographs afterward.

“Our players are incredibly disappointed (not to play the game),” coach Jill Ellis said after the practice. “In fact I’m so happy there’s people here today; our players get a chance to connect with these fans, because they are very much America’s team.”

Other fans who did not hear or arrive by the time the team departed Waipio expressed frustration on social media. The training session was not announced in advance to the public or media.

“We did discuss the possibility of doing an event in the stadium for fans,” U.S. Soccer communications director Neil Buethe said in a phone interview with the Star-Advertiser today. “Due to the short turnaround we were not able to work out a plan with the stadium that we all felt we would be able to properly execute and be worthwhile to the fans.”

The team is scheduled to continue its World Cup victory tour by playing Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Ellis and veteran Abby Wambach expressed hope that the Alamodome turf would be up to standards — or be improved in time — to make the game happen.

Hawaii’s tour game was to be the first game in the islands for the USWNT program.

“We’re sad. It’s our first time here in Hawaii,” Wambach said. “We wanted to give the fans something to cheer about and make them feel like they are a part of our world and our culture. So it’s a bummer. But we will come back — we’ve just got to get a better pitch to play on.”

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  • sure were a lot of stories covering the u.s. women’s fifa soccer team ahead of the scheduled game today that was canceled.

    thing that interests me is where are the stories of the opponents, the team that was to play against the u.s.? were they even in the islands or did they know beforehand that the u.s. women’s fifa team was going to stage this protest?

  • Wambach said, “But we will come back – we’ve just to get a better pitch to play on.” I thought you’re retiring this year. Besides, Aloha Stadium will have the same turf. You folks got your free vacation. Hope you all enjoyed it. I feel sorry for the disappointed fans.

  • No lines of communication between those who inspected the field and the team, who actually has to play on the field. This has made national, and worldwide headlines. At the end of the day, it will reflect upon Hawaii, like it or not. Do nothing and be willing to accept the consequences, whatever it might end up being. It won’t be good. It won’t be an issue of right or wrong when all is said and done. It will be about our facilities, our support for soccer or lack thereof. So, let’s do something about it.

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