The Deplorable Pitches at Copa America

Poor conditions on Copa America fields frustrate players
Trinidad & Tobago v United States: Quarterfinal - Leg One - CONCACAF Nations League
Trinidad & Tobago v United States: Quarterfinal - Leg One - CONCACAF Nations League / Elizabeth Kreutz/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages

Weston McKenney, midfielder for the United States national team, didn't hold back in criticizing the state of the fields where the stars of the Americas face off in pursuit of the continental title.

McKenney, known for his solid and frank performances on the field, didn't hesitate to label the pitches as "frustrating" and "semi-solid." His critique stems from personal experience, having faced the challenges of a pitch that more closely resembles a clay court than the standard expected at an elite tournament like Copa America.

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The focal point of criticism is Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, where the mix of natural grass over an artificial base has caused serious issues for fluid and technical gameplay. It's not just an aesthetic concern; the pitch quality directly impacts athletes' performance and, consequently, the spectator experience.

Comparing with the European Championship, where immaculate pitches are the norm, McKenney doesn't hide his preference. He points out that in Europe, players can rely on the pitch for precise passes and skillful dribbles, whereas in Copa America, uncertainty about how the ball will behave after touching the ground becomes an additional obstacle to overcome.

In addition to McKenney's criticisms, other prominent figures in soccer such as Lionel Messi and Argentina's coach Lionel Scaloni have also spoken out, describing the pitch as "deplorable" and "not up to expected standards."

As the United States prepares to host the 2026 World Cup, McKenney emphasizes the urgent need for infrastructure investments. Better pitches are not just a luxury but a necessity for the development and growth of soccer in the country.