One Last Prediction for Thursday's U.S. World Cup 2026 Host Cities Reveal
Some late changes to my predicted U.S. host cities after a call with one of my sources
PAROS, Greece — Greetings from Greece! I’m on vacation, so this will be a short post, but I wanted to check in one last time before Thursday’s big announcement on the host cities for World Cup 2026.
My past week has been pretty straightforward: Attending the gorgeous wedding of our friends, consuming lots of Greek salads and Greek wines and reading good books by the pool. I can already give you a thumbs-up on soon-to-be-released soccer books by Briana Scurry (her terrific memoir comes out next week) and ESPN’s Ryan O’Hanlon.
But I did also have a call on Wednesday with one of my better sources on the bid process for World Cup 2026. And what I learned was this:
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It has become likely that more than the previously expected 10—and maybe even 12—U.S. cities could be chosen to host World Cup ‘26 games when FIFA makes its announcement in a show beginning at 5 pm ET on Thursday (on FS1 and Telemundo).
Part of that higher U.S. number is connected to the expectation that Canada will have two host cities (Toronto and Vancouver) instead of the originally planed three if Edmonton is indeed out of the picture. We mentioned this possibility in one of our previous columns on the topic.
What does that mean for the likely chosen ones? Well, we’re feeling even more confident about the 10 U.S. host cities we had put on our original list back on April 22: Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.
What if the number of U.S. cities gets expanded to 12? I think Baltimore/Washington D.C. would almost be certain to get one of the added two, since that bid city has been on my bubble for the entire time.
But if it’s 12, the final U.S. city—taken from Boston, Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville and Orlando—becomes anybody’s guess. As I reported not long ago, even someone connected to Boston’s own bid group told me that they’re “on the outside looking in” due to financial considerations (read: not full support from local governments) and other factors like Foxboro’s distance from Boston. I also think if 12 cities get chosen it would be surprising to see every bid city from the Northeast be awarded games.
Of the remaining bid cities, I’d go with Nashville. Yes, there’s uncertainty about a new NFL stadium being built there that would be set to open in 2026 (leaving little margin for delays). But early on in the bid process, before the new stadium came up, Nashville was viewed positively by World Cup organizers.
So here’s my final prediction based on what I’ve heard:
If it’s 12: Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington D.C., Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.
If it’s 11: No Nashville.
If it’s 10: No Baltimore/Washington D.C.
What’s your sense on all this?
Glad to see you think Houston is getting in. People here seem to be either cautiously optimistic or defeatist because of the “proximity” to Dallas and the idea that it’s one or the other. I’ve always felt good about Houston’s chances and think people here that don’t kind of search for reasons to justify their negative views.
Seeing some of these cities makes me really concerned regarding the temperatures at game times. USA 94 had an abundance of games played in ridiculously hot conditions under scorching sun in order to accommodate a European television schedule. Is there any sense of the television scheduling yet? Just curious if they’re taking player welfare into consideration this time around or if this is just about dollars… maybe i just answered my own question.