Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister forced to play on 'disaster' pitch with Argentina

Alexis Mac Allister was forced to play on a bumpy pitch in Argentina's Copa America opener.
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister and his Argentina teammates were forced to endure a playing surface they viewed as unacceptable and potentially dangerous during Thursday's Copa America match against Canada.

Argentina's 2-0 win came at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which featured grass that was laid out days before. Usually, the venue uses artificial turf, and Argentina players believed the new grass wasn't set up properly.

Mac Allister avoided injury, though, and put in a strong effort, helping set up a goal for teammate Julian Alvarez that opened the scoring. He'll hope Argentina's next matches in the Copa America will have better playing surfaces.

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"The state of the pitch was a disaster," said Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. "Very bumpy. We must improve in this aspect; otherwise, Copa América will always appear at a lower level than the European Championship."

Meanwhile, Mac Allister's manager, Lionel Scaloni, criticized U.S. Soccer officials for their organization ahead of the tournament. He compared the pitch unfavorably to the ones at the World Cup in Qatar.

"The game was like that of Saudi Arabia in the World Cup, except that one had a good pitch," Scaloni said. "Better that we won, or else it would have appeared as an excuse, but they knew seven months ago that we'd play here and they changed the field two days ago. It's not an excuse, but this isn't a good field. Sincerely, the field is not apt for these players.

Alexis Mac Allister made positive contributions in Argentina's win over Canada.
Alexis Mac Allister made positive contributions in Argentina's win over Canada. -Credit:Getty Images

He added: "We gave not necessarily a good game, but a game according to the pitch and what the rival proposed. We couldn't do much more with the conditions of the pitch. Look at the speed of the passes that we did."

Argentina's own conduct was put into question by Canada manager Jesse Marsch, the former boss of Premier League side Leeds. Marsch claimed that Argentina should be "fined" for coming out from halftime too late.

"Let's see what happens with Argentina," he said. "I think they have to be fined. How late were they? You guys? 20 minutes? 30? I don't know. It was a long time. But they had that time to prepare how they wanted to play against us in the second half, which if we would have known ahead of time that we could have an extra 10 minutes then we could have prepared some things more. But in the end, I just made sure that the players knew that they were going to come out with a new plan and they basically rotated a little bit more to three, but we still dealt with it."

Mac Allister and Argentina will continue their group stage schedule with matches against Chile and Peru next week. Because of the Canada win, they're in a good position to progress to the knockout rounds.