Argentina, Canada criticize playing surface at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after Copa America opener

Argentina's Lionel Messi falls over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

After Argentina beat Canada 2-0 in Thursday night’s Copa America opener, the teams criticized the playing surface at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“The field was a disaster,” Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez said. “It seems like a springboard with the ball jumping. They need to improve this. If not, Copa America will always be at lower level than the Euro.”

Grass was installed after a Major League Soccer game Saturday was played on the usual artificial turf at the stadium.

“Thank goodness we won. Otherwise it would have been a cheap excuse,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said. “They knew seven months ago that we will be playing here and they changed the surface a few days ago. It’s not an excuse, but this wasn’t a good field. Sincerely, the field is not apt for these players.”

The stadium will host eight games during the 2026 World Cup, including a semifinal.

“It felt like walking on a stage, as if it was hollow,” Canadian defender Kamal Miller said.

A crowd of 70,564 attended the opener of the 32-game tournament. The United States plays Panama at the stadium on June 27.

At Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, a concert is scheduled for July 6, between the last group stage game and the July 14 final, and a new grass surface will be installed.

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