Arnold calls out artificial turf after 2-2 draw with Mexico in the US

Noah Strang
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Noah Strang
12/09/2023
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Arnold calls for ban on artificial turf

Australia national team manager has loudly criticized the state of the artificial pitch following the Socceroos’ 2-2 draw against Mexico. 

News Insights

  • Australia drew 2-2 against Mexico on turf in Dallas, TX on Sunday
  • Jackson Irvine was stretchered off after suffering an ankle injury
  • Arnold says “no” to whether artificial turf should be allowed in international matches
  • Arnold says turf should not be an “excuse” for his side’s performance

The Socceroos flew all the way to the United States to play against the Yanks’ archrivals Mexico in Dallas, Texas at AT&T Stadium. 

AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, uses artificial turf. This surface was widely criticised following the Socceroos’ 2-2 draw against Mexico by Australian players, Graham Arnold, and fans. 

Turf at AT&T Stadium appeared especially bad

In the US, turf soccer and football fields are very common. Even by US standards, the AT&T Stadium pitch looked poor. Seams and gaps between segments of turf were very visible on TV. At times, those gaps widened and dangerous holes appeared that looked like they  should have been filled. 

Former Socceroo Luke Wilkshire said on the Channel 10 broadcast that players “shouldn’t be playing on it in this day and age,” referring to the quality of the pitch in Dallas. “I’m not having it at international level,” said the former Bristol City and Wollongong Wolves man. 

Wilkshire’s sentiment was repeated by many fans online as both Mexico and Australia fans watched their sides on Sunday. 

AT&T Stadium turf blamed for Irvine injury

The majority of fans who watched on and criticised the turf were just hoping their side would come out without any major injuries from playing on such a surface. Unfortunately for the Socceroos, this was not to be as Jackson Irvine went down with an ankle injury late in the match. The newly appointed Professional Footballers Australia President left the match on a stretcher in the 88th minute.

There is no concrete way to blame the turf directly for Irivine’s injury, but when you look at the state of the pitch, it is hard not to. Whatever the cause, it appears Irvine will be okay and not out for too long. 

Because of the unbelievable facility that we're in, we've already had an x-ray and he's OK,” said Graham Arnold to the media after the game. Arnold clarified that Irvine just has “a rolled ankle.”Irvine will be “injured for a couple of weeks but he's fine.

While Irivine was the only player to suffer a major injury, Arnold said of his players that “They're used to playing on grass, long grass and softer. They will struggle to probably walk for five days after this, I think, after playing on the artificial.

Arnold calls for international ban on turf fields, says it contributed to poor performance

Before the match against Mexico, Graham Arnold spoke about the opportunity to play on turf. The 60-year-old Australian said “It’ll be different, but some of the boys play on that at clubs in Europe so we remove that as an excuse.” Despite that initial statement, Arnold said that he believes international matches should not be played on turf. He later stressed the importance of the pitch in his post-match comments. 

Arnold believes both Mexico’s goals would not have been scored if this match were played on grass. “Honestly, I've already looked at the goals we conceded. If it was on normal grass, both of those balls would have gone through to Maty Ryan or out,” said the Socceroos manager before going into further detail on how the pitch affected his team on Mexico’s goal scoring plays. 

On this type of surface if you kick the ball and backspin it, normally with backspin on grass, it skips through. With this grass and rubber, it bounces up and it holds up.” According to Arnold, the ball stopping when it should have kept rolling explains the mistakes of both Maty Ryan and Harry Souttar. 

Arnold ended his comments ultimately conceding that his team needs to perform better under adverse conditions. “I don't want to use that as an excuse because at the end of the day we can play on some terrible pitches in the Middle East areas sometimes and East Asia and it's the same for both teams and we've just got to do better,” said Arnold. 

Graham Arnold’s side experienced a tough challenge in the US against Mexico last weekend. This occasion was surely good preparation for the 2026 World Cup in Mexico, the US, and Canada. Thankfully for Arnold and the Aussies, all stadiums will have grass pitches.