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.”