It’s official. The 2026 FIFA World Cup joint bid was announced today by the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Now, with this bid expected to be the clear favorites to land the tournament, talk now begins on which cities and venues will be the ones to host matches. Under the proposed logistics agreed to by all 3 federations, there would be 60 of the 80 matches in the United States, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 matches each. All matches from the quarterfinals through the final would be hosted in the United States.
So, let’s play a little game called “Where do I think the 2026 World Cup matches should be played,” shall we? I expect that it would be set up where the USMNT will play all their matches in the United States, while Canada and Mexico will stay at home to play their matches up to the quarterfinals. With the new World Cup group stage format consisting of 16 groups of 3 with the top 2 making the knockout round of 32, there is an extra match in the knockout stage. Now, to my venues:
Canada: BMO Field, Toronto (30,000, expand to 40,000); BC Place, Vancouver (54,500); Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton (56,302)
Canada would have group stage matches in Toronto at an expanded BMO Field and then Vancouver at BC Place, which hosted the 2015 Women World Cup final. Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium has the capacity to host big-time matches.
Mexico: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City (87,000); Estadio Chivas, Guadalajara (45,364); Estadio BBVA Bancomer, Monterrey (53,500)
Mexico would have group stage matches in Guadalajara and Estadio Azteca, which has hosted World Cup finals in 1970 and 1986. Monterrey’s new dazzling Estadio BBVA Bancomer would also host matches.
United States: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey (82,500); Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (69,596); M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore (71,008); Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta (71,000); Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida (Miami) (65,326); AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas (Dallas) (80,000); NRG Stadium, Houston (72,220); City of Champions Stadium, Los Angeles (80,000); Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara (68,500); Soldier Field, Chicago (61,500); University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona (Phoenix) (63,400)
With the U.S. hosting 60 matches, there’s still a need for 10-12 venues. Here, we have 11, with the surprise being Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium beating out FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland to host group stage matches. I’ll put the USMNT in Philadelphia and Baltimore for their 2 first round matches to minimize travel and maximize support. And, the smallest stadium in this group of stadiums will be Soldier Field in Chicago. In short, that’s a ton of potential fans viewing these matches.
The knockout stages will have a 2nd round of 32 teams, a new Sweet 16, the quarterfinals, semifinals, a 3rd place match and the final. There are enough venues to split it up where every available venue hosts at least one knockout stage match.
2nd Round: Edmonton, Toronto, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Houston
Canada and Mexico will host 2 second round matches each, while the Mid-Atlantic, South and Southwest will also host matches. This will be the last time we see Edmonton, Toronto, Monterrey and Guadalajara host matches in the tournament.
Sweet 16: Mexico City, Vancouver, Houston, Santa Clara, Dallas, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Chicago
For the Sweet 16, we are down to 8 matches, and at this point we have enough capacity to host each match at different stadiums. Estadio Azteca and BC Place will be the venues for Mexico and Canada, and the Sweet 16 is where we then see the crown jewel venues for the U.S.: MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, City of Champions Stadium in Los Angeles and AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Quarterfinals: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Santa Clara, Phoenix
If the quarterfinals will all be held in the U.S., it’s simple enough to host two on the east coast and two in the west. Atlanta’s new stadium and Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field would be the favorites there, while Phoenix and Santa Clara are no stranger to hosting big-time soccer matches in the Gold Cup and last year’s Copa America Centenario.
Semifinals: New Jersey, Los Angeles
Semifinals on both coasts, in the two biggest cities in the United States, makes all the sense in the world. The quarterfinals will be set up so that winners won’t have to leave the coast where they played their quarterfinal match.
3rd Place: Houston
Since the semis are played on the coasts, the 3rd place match can be played in the middle. Houston is a city that’s easy for the teams to travel to from Jersey and Los Angeles, and it’s a big stadium that is used to hosting many important sporting events.
JerryWorld is the perfect setting for the final. Right in the middle, one of the best stadiums in the world, and fitting to crown a champion. The winners from New Jersey and L.A. will meet in the middle to determine who hoists the World Cup trophy.
With this power list of venues, you have games all across North America in some of the finest stadiums in each host country. There are some travel concerns but matches can be grouped into clusters, with the knockout stage set up to minimize travel from the quarterfinals through the final. Now, let’s hand you a clean slate. What is your dream list of venues for the 2026 World Cup?