ST. PAUL -- Rob Tuttle sported the white jersey of U.S. women’s national soccer team star Megan Rapinoe, and he even dyed his hair to resemble the look of the iconoclastic midfielder.
But the St. Paul man and his family had not heard the pregame news: Rapinoe, along with fellow U.S. standouts Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle, were injured and wouldn’t play in their Victory Tour friendly match against Portugal at Allianz Field on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
“I’m going to wash my hair!” Tuttle shouted.
No, he wasn’t going to do that; it was a joke. Tuttle and his family went as far as France to see the USWNT win its second consecutive World Cup this summer, so a few less stars on the field weren’t going to keep him and an announced sellout crowd of 19,600 from seeing the champions.
Tuttle and all seven other fans interviewed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press pregame looked past any letdown in less voltage of star power on the field in St. Paul — even when they considered the three-figure ticket prices many of them paid.
(Online reaction to news Monday of those three primary absences, however, was sometimes less understanding.)
Amy Atkinson of St. Paul said she paid $125 apiece for her family’s seats. “We still want to see females in this stadium,” she said. “We want to see a women’s team” based in Minnesota in the National Women’s Soccer League.
During pregame introductions, the biggest cheers were for those three sidelined players still on hand for the pageantry of glaring red rockets, firework bombs bursting and highlight reels of the Americans’ four World Cup wins.
The U.S. started eight players that saw the field in the women’s World Cup final in July and went on to beat Portugal 3-0 before an announced sellout of 19,600.
It was outgoing coach Jill Ellis’ 105th win, which tied 1999 World Cup-winning coach Tony DiCicco for the record among U.S. women’s coaches.
U.S. forward Carli Lloyd -- the star of the 2015 World Cup title -- had two first half goals. With the captain’s armband, she scored on a rebound in the 22nd minute and added her second on a penalty kick in the 32nd.
Lindsey Horan scored the lone second-half goal off a header in the 83rd minute.
Wearing a blue Morgan shirt, 8-year-old Addi Hillisheim or Prior Lake, Minn., called it “sad” that her favorite player wasn’t able to play. Her grandmother, Deb Schiesl, of Eden Prairie, Minn., declined to share how much she paid for her family’s tickets, but hoped it was primarily directed to what she saw as a good cause.
“We have to celebrate girls,” Schiesl said. “We hope the money goes to the women’s team.”
Christine Bjornstal of River Falls, Wis., said she was fortunate to get $80 tickets by being on Minnesota United’s season-ticket waiting list, but wished the game was held at U.S. Bank Stadium like the Americans’ appearance in 2016, so more fans could attend at a better bargain.
About 90 minutes before kickoff, the Allianz Field box office had single tickets on sale for $85, but a pair or more together started at $150. Available tickets on resale apps were available for about half that. It came from from the pre-sale event in late July, where some sites had ticket prices listed north of $500.
Mike and Sue Flynn traveled from Sioux Falls, S.D. for the game and shelled out $300 per ticket. Although Sue shouted “Oh, shoot!” when she heard Lavelle wouldn’t play, this was their 40th wedding anniversary and the trip was worth it, they said.
“There are plenty of other good ones to see,” Mike added.