HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. women's soccer team abruptly canceled a victory tour exhibition game Sunday against Trinidad and Tobago because of poor field conditions at Aloha Stadium.
U.S. Soccer said in a statement less than 24 hours before the game that "the artificial turf surface is not suitable to hold an international soccer match." The game was part of a 10-city tour following the team's victory in the Women's World Cup this past summer.
The Aloha Stadium surface was tested during training Saturday, "and after all possible options available were considered to get the field in a playable condition, the decision was made by U.S. Soccer to cancel the match." All tickets will be refunded, U.S. Soccer said.
The move comes two days after U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe tore a ligament in her right knee during training in Honolulu. The non-contact injury occurred on a grass training field.
The 30-year-old Rapinoe, who plays for the NWSL's Seattle Reign, will need surgery. She twice tore the ACL in her left knee twice during her college career at the University of Portland.
A timeline for her return is not known. The next day, teammate Alex Morgan slammed both the grass training field and the turf at Aloha Stadium, FOXSports.com reported.
"I think the training grounds that we were given and the playing surface of the stadium were horrible. I think it's hard because no one's really going to protect us but ourselves. So we're put in a very hard position because obviously we want to play in front of these fans and we want to train before the game but injuries happen when you don't protect yourself and when you're not protected from those higher up from you," Morgan said.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis also called into question the quality of the field the day before the scheduled match.
"For me, what I hope for, is that we play on regulation fields in terms of size and quality. That's my expectation from U.S. Soccer," Ellis told FOXSports.com.
A group of players, including Morgan and U.S. forward Abby Wambach, filed legal action last year in Canada over the artificial turf fields that were to be used in the World Cup. The players claimed that putting the women's tournament on what they considered an inferior surface amounted to gender discrimination, because the men's tournament has always been held on real grass.
The players later dropped the claim to focus on preparation for the World Cup, but their protest generated widespread support. Even Kobe Bryant and Tom Hanks were critical.
Rapinoe, who was among those who objected to the artificial turf in Canada, scored two goals in the 3-1 tournament-opening win against Australia on June 8 in Winnipeg. She has 113 appearances with the national team and 31 career goals for the Americans.
Although upset about the setback, she issued a statement asking fans for advice on good television shows to "binge watch" and restaurants in Seattle that deliver.
"I want to thank my teammates and the staff for the amazing support I've received so far," Rapinoe said. "I know I'll be in the best of hands moving forward and I'll be doing everything I can to get healthy as soon as possible. This is obviously a very difficult time, but I do feel super confident in my recovery as I've gone through this before and I know what the process will be like."