February 18, 2024

The World Cup Comes to North America: What to Expect in 2026

For the first time in over 3 decades, the world's most-viewed sporting event is coming to North America in 2026. The last time the World Cup touched American soil was in 1994 when the United States was the sole host. In just two years, however, the United States, Mexico, and Canada will act as joint hosts with games to be played and influence to be spread all throughout North America. The 2026 World Cup will showcase soccer on some of the largest and most modern stages, with matches taking place in renowned venues like AT&T Stadium in Dallas and cutting edge, grandiose venues such as SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. For decades, soccer in the United States has been overshadowed by The Big 4 American sports, but hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup finally presents it at the forefront. This tournament has the potential to inspire a whole new generation of young athletes to pick up a soccer ball, further cementing the game in American sporting culture for years to come.

2026 world cup

The Host Cities

The 16 cities set to host matches represent the premier sports destinations across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Mexico brings iconic soccer capitals like Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey to the table, while Canada offers up Vancouver and Toronto. The U.S. cities showcase soccer's expansion into top-tier American sports markets, with massive stadiums in New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, and San Francisco on display. Emerging hotbeds like Seattle, with its 69,000-seat Lumen Field soccer stadium, Kansas City, home to the first soccer-specific stadium built in the U.S. in 2011, and Houston, whose MLS team draws over 15,000 fans per game, highlight soccer's grassroots growth in infrastructure and fan support across the country. Other key metro areas include Boston, Philadelphia, and Miami. This blend of established soccer cities and untapped markets offers the perfect mix to bring the spectacle of the World Cup to all of North America.

The Final Destination

Earlier this month, FIFA announced a historic decision: the 2026 World Cup Final will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, just outside the bright lights of New York City. This decision marked the first time the World Cup Final would be played in the New York metropolitan area. MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets, seats over 80,000 fans and is full of state-of-the-art amenities such as luxury suites, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a variety of food and beverage options. Moreover, to meet FIFA regulations, MetLife Stadium will have to change their infamous artificial turf to natural grass. FIFA cited the New York region's world-class facilities, transportation infrastructure, and experience hosting major sporting events as reasons for selecting MetLife Stadium. 

Hosting the final in New Jersey positions the World Cup finale in one of the biggest media markets in the world. For traveling fans, MetLife's proximity to New York City will combine attending the Final with visiting one of the most desired cities in the world, the Big Apple. The renowned sights and sounds of New York City will enhance the spectacle of the World Cup Final, leaving fans with memories of both the match and the electric atmosphere of the city. Traveling supporters can immerse themselves in New York City's vibrant culture by exploring the famed museums, bustling shops, Broadway shows, and iconic architecture during their trip.

2026 world cup

Future Impact 

Co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, The 2026 World Cup has the potential to greatly enhance the popularity and development of soccer in the United States. As the most-watched sporting event globally, hosting World Cup matches will introduce soccer to a vast American audience. With games held in large NFL stadiums across the U.S. filled with passionate fans and curious newcomers alike, the event promises an unparalleled experience of the world's favorite sport at its pinnacle. This surge in attention could inspire more Americans, both young and old, to engage with soccer, fostering its growth and prosperity in the country. Major sponsors such as Visa, Adidas, and Qatar Airways have extended their support, amplifying the World Cup's visibility in the coveted U.S. market.

Additionally, young American fans will have the chance to witness global superstars like Kylian Mbappe, Jude Bellingham, and Vinicius Jr. showcase their skills on American soil for the first time. Witnessing Mbappe's speed and clinical finishing, Bellingham's box-to-box dominance at midfield, and Vinicius' artistry and dance moves up close will hook the next generation of athletes. Beyond their on-field prowess, the marketability and social media presence of these stars could encourage more young athletes to embrace soccer over traditional American sports. The domestic league, Major League Soccer, will also benefit from heightened interest and engagement, leading to increased revenue opportunities. This surge in interest should bolster youth development programs and club teams across the U.S. as more aspiring athletes are drawn to the allure of the beautiful game. 

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Looking past 2026, the effects of a North American World Cup could sustain for years to come. Beyond record American engagement, the competitiveness of U.S. national soccer teams should increase as well. Notably, as the host nation, the U.S Men's National Team (USMNT) will receive an automatic bid to play in the 2026 World Cup. This gives the USMNT invaluable experience on the biggest global stage, as well as increased recognition and support from American fans. Whether you plan to watch from the stadium or from the couch, we can all look forward to an electric year for U.S. soccer in 2026. With world-class stadium infrastructure and elite competition on U.S. soil, there's no doubt the World Cup will serve as a pivotal moment for soccer in America, further elevating the sport's popularity and prominence.

Sources:

  1. https://theathletic.com/live-blogs/world-cup-2026-schedule-announcement-live-updates-final/r7oDr4oG9qK4/
  2. https://www.sportingnews.com/us/soccer/news/fifa-world-cup-2026-match-schedule-final-venue-host-city/fa82de358aeeff31bd30efdb
  3. https://www.business-standard.com/sports/football-news/new-york-to-host-fifa-world-cup-2026-in-victory-over-dallas-los-angeles-124020500064_1.html
  4. https://www.petcashpost.com/p/2026-world-cup-and-its-massive-looming https://www.sportspromedia.com/insights/opinions/2026-fifa-world-cup-sponsors-north-america-nielsen/?zephr_sso_ott=CCGpLo

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