The World Cup, a quadrennial celebration that bares great meaning to roughly 99% of humanity, usually registers with a few sighs here in the United States. But that's at least primed to change a bit, considering a triple bid lobbied by the United States, Canada, and Mexico carried enough votes to bring the tournament back to the North America in 2026.
With the tournament destined for the US for the first time since 1994, the seedlings of soccer euphoria should be blooming across the nation. But what American cities are primed to play host to the world's premier cup in 2026, when graceful flourishes on the ball suddenly share significant airtime with NASCAR and bass fishing events?
Here are some of the notable American cities and stadiums hoping to host World Cup matches in eight years time.
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Who picks World Cup host cities?
That decision falls to Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body that presides over pretty much all international soccer matters like an iron-fisted cartel. Turning a blind-eye to FIFA's well-documented corruption would be ignoring glaring truths and highly-publicized scandals, but it's the necessary evil that American cities will have to impress come selection time.
Sort of like how the Olympic Committee plucks cities in an Olympic nation, FIFA will survey the United States (and Mexico and Canada) for its most capable hosts.
2026 World Cup Cities
The World Cup is going to happen where the majority of American soccer fans live, so don't expect to watch Neymar nutmeg his way through a wall of defenders somewhere in Dubuque, Iowa. Though relatively fledgling compared to the big money leagues in Europe, America's MLS has fans scattered throughout the country. In total, FIFA will select 10 American cities that ultimately make the cut, while Mexico and Canada will each have three.
Here are some notable centers of stateside soccer fervor where the World Cup could take place:
Los Angeles, California
Bay Area, California
New York, New York
Kansas City, Kansas
World Cup 2026 Stadiums
Cities with the best stadiums are likely to stand out amid the clutter, and therefore bigger markets have better chances of landing a bid. Here's some notable stadiums that might play host to a tantalizing final and all of the high-drama and emotion that comes with it:
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough: The home of perennial blowhards the New England Patriots, the 66,829 capacity arena could very well host some games, owing to its proximity to both Boston and Providence, Rhode Island.
CenturyLink Field, Seattle: With a gorgeous vista overlooking the Seattle skyline, CenturyLink is probably the coolest stadium any MLS team can call home.
Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles: It's new, much like it's home team LAFC, and with all the celebrity hype surrounding the new team -- Will Farrell is a part owner and unofficial spokesperson -- World Cup cache could soon follow.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta: Atlanta is a southern city that loves its MLS team, Atlanta United FC, and nothing better reflects that devotion that the team's 72,035 capacity stadium. It's also where the Atlanta Falcons play football, so it should offer some familiarity to people watching the tournament on TV.
MetLife Stadium, New Jersey: A contender to host a hypothetical World Cup final, MetLife is a behemoth, boasting 83,000-seats and direct proximity to the country's biggest market in NYC.
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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.