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‘No atmosphere and poor pitches’ – USMNT star McKennie questions why Copa is being staged in the States

The States open their Copa America campaign against Bolivia tomorrow

Weston McKennie

USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie has questioned the quality of the pitches at the Copa America and believes it is holding the tournament back when compared to its European equivalent.

The States open their campaign tomorrow against Bolivia at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. The normal artificial surface has had a grass top laid on it and there are fears it will cut up in a similar fashion to the one used for the tournament opener between Argentina and Canada in Atlanta.

McKennie believes it adds to an underwhelming experience when playing in the US.

He said: “It’s frustrating, especially as a player. You know, whenever you do come here to America you play in a stadium that can fit 70,000 people but 25,000 show up. You don’t really have an atmosphere. And then you’re playing on a football field, with laid grass that’s all patchy and it breaks up every step you take. It’s frustrating.”

McKennie, who plays his club football in Europe for Italian side Juventus, says the pitches at the European Championship, which is being played currently in Germany, are far superior.

He added: “If you look at the Euros, they’re all playing on great fields, great grass, football-specific stadiums, soccer-specific stadiums, and you see the quality of the football.

“You can play a one-two without wondering if the ball is gonna bounce up before you hit it. You can pass the ball back to the keeper not being afraid that it’s going to bounce over his foot. You see a different type of soccer.

“I was just watching Netherlands-France right now and I was joking around — the center back was dribbling and he played it into the midfield, the guy played it back to him and then he played it back again. I’m like ‘that can’t happen here, because that ball, the second one might end up at the head.’

“For these tournaments to even grow here and be a sought-after tournament to watch and follow, that’s one of the first steps that needs to be corrected for sure.

“Everyone knows that football is a big business, it’s all about the dollars and money in pockets but at the end of the day we need the best conditions to be able to do what we love and get the best out of us and the best results.”

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.