The 2026 World Cup is coming to New Jersey and New York.
But will MetLife Stadium host the final? That remains to be seen.
The metropolitan area won the joint bid to host games Thursday when FIFA announced 15 host cities in Canada, Mexico and the United States for the 2026 event. But while the Meadowlands have been declared the frontrunner to host the actual World Cup final by many, FIFA did not make any announcement beyond the cities.
It will be the second time the region has hosted the World Cup; there were games played at Giants Stadium during the 1994 tournament.
The other 10 U.S. cities that will host games: Atlanta, Boston (Foxborough), Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.
The two Canadian cities are Toronto and Vancouver. Three cities in Mexico will also host — Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.
The most-surprising development of the reveal: The thrown-together Baltimore-Washington bid did not win. The decrepit FedEx Field was long ago decided to be a non-starter, but the belief was the allure of the national capitol would still be able to secure a bid when partnered with Baltimore’s venue. But Patriots owner Bob Kraft’s soccer connections appear to have swayed FIFA into giving the “Boston” bid games instead. Which makes sense; it wouldn’t be an international soccer event without some sort of presumed chicanery.
The 2018 World Cup started in mid-June and ended in mid-July. So it will take some finagling to have the U.S. Men’s National Team play in Philadelphia on July 4 the semiquincentennial. Not sure if they’d push the whole event back two weeks just for that. If not, perhaps the soccer gods can intervene and the USMNT will be in the knockout round on America’s 250th birthday. Stranger things have happened.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]