The United States was set to play two games against Australia as part of its World Cup victory tour on September 17 and September 20. At least one of these games is in serious jeopardy as the Matildas have officially withdrawn from the tour, citing their ongoing labor dispute with Football Federation Australia.
A US Soccer spokesperson said that the September 17 game in Detroit is still on. Follow up calls with a USSF spokesperson confirmed that USSF is attempting to find a replacement team who can play both games. This team will likely be from CONCACAF.
A U.S. Soccer spokesperson says, as of right now, the Detroit game is still on. No more info on a new opponent, etc. #uswnt
— Freep Sports (@freepsports) September 9, 2015
USSF is talking to a CONCACAF team to play both games to replace Matildas in #USWNT victory tour. Not finalized yet.
— thrace (@thrace) September 9, 2015
FFA attempted to salvage the tour by offering the Matildas just enough to cover camp and the games as a stopgap while they negotiated the larger issue. The Matildas rejected the offer.
"The players are currently uncontracted and are under no obligation to participate in any Matildas related activities," said Professional Footballers Australia Chief Executive Adam Vivian.
"The players feel they have been left with no option other than to take this course of action. They were hopeful that FFA's position would alter following yesterday's breakdown in negotiations. However, the interim letter agreement offered to the players this afternoon, with a 6pm deadline, proved this had not been the case."
"The offer from FFA was simply unacceptable. The players stance will not change until a new agreement is reached," said Vivain.
A cancellation would have had serious financial repercussions for US Soccer. They reported more than 20,000 tickets sold for each game as of July 31 and considering neither city often gets to see the USWNT live, those numbers are almost certainly bigger by now. Ford Field in Detroit and Legion field in Birmingham both have capacities over 65,000 and based on the 44,000-plus who showed up in Pittsburgh for the WNT's game against Costa Rica, a tally of over 80,000 tickets could be at stake. Even with only 20,000 at each stadium, that would put potential revenue at well over a million dollars.
Fans may or may not accept a substitute, having bought tickets expecting a World-Cup caliber opponent. Additionally, head coach Jill Ellis has stated she wanted to start using the victory tour as a way to evaluate players for 2016 Olympic qualifying and beyond.