The U.S. Women’s National Team “Victory Tour” heads to the Alamodome on Thursday, where the World Cup-winning soccer team will play the Trinidad and Tobago team at 8 p.m. The team took home the World Cup trophy for its third time in July after defeating Japan 5-2 in during a “record-breaking” match in Vancouver, B.C.
This marks the seventh game on the U.S. tour, which featured 10 games until Sunday’s match up with Trinidad and Tobago in Hawaii was canceled due to the sub-standard field conditions of the Aloha Stadium. The artificial turf installed in the stadium was “low-grade” and deteriorating with age, according to a team statement published by The Player’s Tribune.
“These simply weren’t acceptable conditions for an international match,” stated the team.
The U.S. Soccer Federation agreed and officially cancelled the game after a field inspection. The incident has reignited debates long-held beliefs of double standards when it comes to men and women having a level playing field.
“At the end of the day, we expect to be treated equally as our male counterparts,” stated the team. “And we hope that, in the future, our fields and our venues will be chosen and inspected at the standard of an international match — whether it’s men or women playing on the field.”
Former U.S. Women’s Captain and star player Julie Foudy’s tweet of the field’s poor condition has since been retweeted more than 1,000 times:
— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) December 6, 2015
“Our process is to normally review and expect the field in advance the game,” said U.S. Soccer Director of Communication Neil Buethe on Wednesday. “In Hawaii we didn’t do that enough in advance and that was a mistake.”
Buethe said U.S. Soccer has inspected the remaining stadiums on the victory tour, including the Alamodome.
The Alamodome had its own problems with turf during the U.S. Men’s team match with Mexico in April. The game started 35 minutes late because the freshly laid sod had to be soaked with water to keep it from being thrown into the air by cleats. “It was a social media black eye in two languages for the Alamodome. In the end, the game started 35 minutes late,” wrote Robert Rivard in our coverage of the event.
The U.S. Women’s team will be playing on artificial turf on Thursday, he said.
This will be the U.S. team’s second match at the Alamodome, they defeated Australia 4-0 when during the first game in 2013.
Given the rare opportunity to see the U.S. women’s team in San Antonio – Thursday will be only its third time, the fact that their last World Cup win was in 1999, and Bexar County/San Antonio’s recent $18-million investment to become a Major League Soccer city, many were expecting a large turnout Thursday’s match.
Buethe said that tickets sales are just under 10,000 as of Wednesday, which is lower than average for this Victory Tour that typically brings 30,000 fans.
“We obviously want to celebrate the World Cup with as any fans as we can across the country,” Buethe said. “The team is excited about getting to play in San Antonio.”
When the Alamodome hosted the men’s soccer U.S. vs. Mexico game in April, tickets were sold out two months beforehand. With less than two days left to purchase tickets, sales were not high enough to warrant a previously scheduled special bus route to the Alamodome on game night.
“As a result of lower than expected ticket sales for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer game taking place on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, special event park & ride service will not be provided,” stated a VIA Metropolitan Transit news release sent out on Tuesday. The threshold for VIA special service is 10,000 tickets sold.
The local trends reflect the international disparity between men and women’s soccer.
After the World Cup win, played on artificial turf, the U.S. Women’s team received $2 million. Germany’s 2014 U.S. Men’s World Cup win, played on natural turf, brought the team $35 million, according to a report by PBS.
The team will go on to Pheonix and then New Orleans after Thursday, but they’re short one midfielder as All Star Megan Rapinoe was seriously injured during training in Honolulu on Dec. 4. She will not play in San Antonio or any of the remaining Victory Tour matches. Many fear she won’t regain full mobility in time for the February qualifying matches for the August 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Rapinoe tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.
Fans can meet the team Wednesday night at the Alamodome during a free public training session at 5 p.m. The World Cup trophy will also be on display. Click here for details.
*Top image: An American flag at the U.S. vs Mexico friendly match at the Alamodome in April 2015. Photo by Scott Ball.