The United States Women’s National Team is scheduled to play a friendly in the Alamodome on Thursday. Right now, the game is slated to be played on a new turf surface that is about a year old. The last time the USWNT played at the Alamodome, Australian forward Kyah Simon tore her ACL. She lasted 27 seconds before suffering the injury. When the USMNT played a friendly in San Antonio in April, they got a fresh overlay of sod to play on.
This treatment is emblematic of where the USWNT sits in the U.S. Soccer pecking order. They were forced to play the 2015 World Cup on turf, and the fields they play on aren’t subject to the type of months-long vetting process that the men’s team conducts. So it’s not a surprise that they showed up to Aloha Stadium to play a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago and found a torn up field that was unsuitable to play on.
When star midfielder Megan Rapinoe tore her ACL yesterday, just eight short months before the Olympics, it was the final straw. Rapinoe is a vital chance creator for the USWNT, and her absence is a major blow. It was also probably preventable.
The USWNT will not play T&T today. They pulled out of the game, citing dangerous field conditions. Alex Morgan, the most visible star on the team, was pointedly vocal about the need for change (emphasis mine):
“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.”
That’s a pretty harsh and true barb to throw towards U.S. Soccer, but Morgan is ultimately correct. The USWNT had to make a public stink about their treatment to get their governing body to take notice, and, thankfully, it appears they have.
It’s understandable, if not just, that the Women’s National Team made far less money than the USMNT from their respective World Cups (although, the men’s World Cup’s superior TV numbers are slipping domestically). But forcing the USWNT to play in hazardous conditions is untenable, and, hopefully, a thing of the past.
Photo via AP