DAILY MAIL 🔵 Copa America fields are a ‘wake up call’ for World Cup, says Twellman – Shango Media
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DAILY MAIL 🔵 Copa America fields are a ‘wake up call’ for World Cup, says Twellman

Ex-USA striker Taylor Twellman has branded the Copa America field conditions a ‘wake up call’ for the 2026 World Cup following numerous complaints from players and coaches.

The likes of Weston McKennie and Emi Martinez have bashed the conditions at the tournament, with the Argentina goalkeeper calling the grass at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium a ‘disaster’ after his team’s 2-0 win vs. Canada.

And Twellman, who made 30 caps for the US men’s national team, has urged organizers to take players’ gripes seriously.

‘When I played on these fields, I was your best source,’ he told Mail Sport in an exclusive interview. ‘So Argentina voicing their [concerns], Weston McKennie – they’re your best source. They’re literally telling the fans, they’re telling the organizers, ‘Guys, this isn’t safe. It’s not good enough.’ 

‘I think in a weird way, thankfully it’s not the World Cup, and they’re gonna figure this out,’ he continued. ‘But I just listen to the players. The players are walking on the fields. They’re playing on the fields.   

Taylor Twellman believes the playing conditions at the Copa America should be a 'wake up call'

Argentina keeper Emi Martinez branded the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium a 'disaster'

‘I think it’s definitely a wake up call. And I think, the powers that be will fix it. It’s unfortunate.’

The grass surface in Atlanta was laid on top of the stadium’s usual artificial turf just five days before Argentina’s tournament opener, according to The Athletic, with McKennie complaining to the outlet that converted American football fields are ‘patchy’ surfaces that ‘break[s] up every step you take’ (the USA will play in Atlanta this week).

Martinez also complained of a ‘trampoline effect’ after the Canada game, and Twellman – who noted he frequently played on laid grass – echoed their frustrations.

‘What happens is, you’re unsure of everything,’ the former New England Revolution star said. ‘You’re unsure of every step you take, you’re unsure of the ball bouncing. And I don’t know what other profession to compare it to. But if you’re ever unsure of what you’re doing, that doesn’t make it…’

The conditions have not just led to sloppy passages of play, but potentially contributed to injuries as well.

Mexico’s Edson Alvarez went down with a non-contact hamstring injury at Houston’s NRG Stadium, while Peru’s Luis Advincula left his team’s matchup vs. Chile at AT&T Stadium in Arlington with Achilles pain. 

Twellman, who noted he frequently played on laid grass, appeared 30 times for the USMNT

Mexico's Edson Alvarez was stretchered off vs. Jamaica after suffering a non-contact injury

Both of those stadiums typically use turf, and Peru manager Jorge Fossati opined after a 0-0 draw that the ‘not normal grass’ may have caused his player’s discomfort.

‘I’m also gonna look at it based on evidence,’ Twellman added of the field conditions. ‘I mean, how many injuries has there been? So it’s not just Atlanta.’

On Tuesday, Lionel Messi’s Argentina will travel to another usually-turf field as they face Chile in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium.

Twellman isn’t overly concerned about the reigning world champions’ form after an up-and-down performance vs. Canada that still ended in a win.

‘My thought is they will grow into tournaments. I’ve seen Messi grow into games,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen Messi do nothing and then in the blink of an eye, leaves the game with two goals, one assists.’

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