The World Cup could be coming back to the United States in 2026.
In an unprecedented three-country bid to host a World Cup, the U.S., Mexico and Canada are teaming up to try to host FIFA's marquee event. The three CONCACAF nations announced the bid Monday at One World Trade Center in New York City.
Only once has a World Cup been hosted by more than one country. That was in 2002 and Japan and South Korea co-hosted the tournament.
Three countries have never co-hosted a tournament. The tournament is set to expand from 32 countries to 48 for the 2026 edition. The final format for a 48-team World Cup is still being finalized, but that would require more matches to be played. The 32-team version currently involves 64 matches.
Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer, said the bid they are proposing to FIFA will be for an 80-team tournament with 60 games in the US and 10 each in Canada and Mexico. When asked which country would host the opening game and the final, Gulati said the U.S. would host all matches in the quarterfinals and beyond, but the opening game remains undecided.
"We could host the tournament I think on our own," Gulati said. "We think (the joint bid) makes our bid stronger. There's a pragmatic part of it."
Further details like the host cities and venues and how many venues would host games remains undecided.
The 2018 World Cup will be in Russia and 2022 is set for Qatar. That means both Europe and Asia will be out of the running for bidding in 2026 because the two most recent host continents are not eligible to bid. By bidding together, the U.S. and Mexico don't have to go against each other. The host for the 2026 World Cup won't be announced until 2020, but the North American bid is considered the favorite at this time.
While the U.S. and Mexico have made every World Cup since 1994, Canada hasn't qualified since 1986. The U.S. last hosted the World Cup in 1994 and Chicago's Soldier Field hosted five matches then. Mexico hosted in 1970 and 1986.
MLS announced on Tuesday that the Chicago Fire’s first game back after the season was suspended due to COVID-19 has been postponed.
The Fire were supposed to play Nashville SC on Wednesday in their opening Group A match of the MLS is Back tournament. But since arriving in Orlando for the tournament, five Nashville players tested positive for COVID-19 and four others received inclusive results, requiring more testing. As a result, MLS is now evaluating Nashville’s participation in the tournament.
The Fire will now return to play on July 14 against Inter Miami CF.
The Fire also announced that the Drive-In Matchday event that was scheduled for Wednesday’s game has been rescheduled for their July 19 game against New York City FC. Fans who registered for that event will have the opportunity to sign-up again for the new date.
This is the second Chicago pro sports match altered as leagues try to return to play. The Chicago Red Stars also had a game cancelled in late June due to Orlando Pride players testing positive for COVID-19.
As MLB, the NHL and the NBA gear up to return it remains to be seen how they will react in a similar situation.
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MLS soccer is coming back this summer.
The league announced a plan to have all 26 MLS clubs resume play on July 8 with a league-wide “MLS is Back Tournament.”
The games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, without fans in the stands.
Here’s how it will work:
Clubs can arrive in Orlando to begin training on June 24. Then a group stage will begin July 8 followed by a knockout stage, starting July 25.
There will be six groups, three for each the Western and Eastern Conferences. The group stage draw will occur on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Each team will play three group stage matches, and the results from those games will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings.
Then the top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage. That stage starts with a round-of-16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and then the championship game. The championship game will be played on August 11.
In case of a tie at the end of regulation in the knockout stage, games will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.
The winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.
At the conclusion of the tournament, MLS will resume its regular season followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.
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