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Philadelphia could be host city when World Cup comes to North America in 2026

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Philadelphia could be host city when World Cup comes to North America in 2026

MOSCOW — North America will host the 2026 World Cup and Philadelphia could potentially be a host city after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over a risky Moroccan proposal for the first 48-team tournament.

The venues for the 2026 World Cup will be picked from 23 stadiums that either already exist or are under construction, and 16 of the U.S. venues are NFL stadiums.

Philadelphia joins Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington as potential U.S. host cities.

The soccer showpiece will return to the U.S. for the first time since 1994 after gaining 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.

The vote by football federations was public, in contrast to secrecy surrounding the ballot by FIFA's elected board members for the 2018 and 2022 hosts, Russia and Qatar, in 2010.

The U.S. proposed staging 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, when 16 teams will be added to the finals, leaving Canada and Mexico with ten fixtures each.

An optimistic promise of delivering $14 billion in revenue helped sway voters, along with the lack of major construction work required on the 16 planned stadiums, all of which already exist.

By contrast, Morocco appeared too hazardous as a potential host when all 14 venues had to be built or renovated as part of a $16 billion investment in new infrastructure. The vote leaves Morocco reeling from a fifth failure in a World Cup hosting vote, with the continent's sole tournament coming in 2010 in South Africa.

While Morocco's combined tickets and hospitality revenue would be $1.07 billion, according to FIFA analysis, North America would generate $2 billion additional income.

Canada will host men's World Cup matches for the first time, while Mexico gets its first taste of the event since staging the entire event in 1986.

President Donald Trump tweeted his approval: "The U.S., together with Mexico and Canada, just got the World Cup. Congratulations - a great deal of hard work!"

While Trump has been feuding with Canadian leaders over tariffs and Mexico about his proposed border wall, the political leaders are not heavily involved in the World Cup bid. Even if Trump wins re-election, his presidency will end before the 2026 World Cup.

The 87,000-capacity MetLife Stadium outside New York is proposed for the final. It's just miles from where federal prosecutors spearheaded an ongoing investigation into FIFA corruption. More than 40 soccer officials and businesses indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty.

The bribery scandal put the governing body on the brink, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the congress ahead of Wednesday's vote.

"FIFA was clinically dead as an organization," Infantino said, reflecting on his election in 2016. "Two years later, FIFA is alive and well, full of joy and passion and with a vision for its future."

The North American victory suggests football officials are ready to gather for a World Cup in a country whose government has demonstrated its willingness to jail corrupt sports leaders through undercover investigations.

The North America bid also had to overcome concerns about the impact of policies from the Trump administration, including attempts to implement a ban on travel by residents of six majority-Muslim countries.

The main intervention by President Donald Trump was a warning in a White House news conference, discussing the FIFA vote, that he would be "watching very closely." It was a veiled threat to withhold U.S. support from countries opposing the bid.

FIFA now has the final say on which cities are selected to host games and whether all three countries are guaranteed a place at the tournament. Victor Montagliani, the Canadian who leads CONCACAF, wants them to take three of the six qualification slots reserved for the region.

There is also a chance to send a seventh team via an inter-continental playoff. North America will host the six-team playoff tournament in November 2025 to decide the last two places in the 48-team lineup.

'Unlucky' Union not panicking over punchless defeat

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'Unlucky' Union not panicking over punchless defeat

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. — Fafa Picault had the ball at his feet.

Shielding himself from two Toronto FC defenders at the top of the box, Picault, looking for the equalizer, took a touch, stepped inside and launched a right-footed rocket that beat Alex Bono before carving in and ricocheting off the crossbar. 

“That’s a shot I’m pretty good for — cut in and bend it back post,” said Picault, who has one goal on the year but has been one of the Union's most active attacking players. “It goes in a lot, sometimes it doesn’t go in. Today, it didn’t go in. It’s unlucky honestly.”

It summed up a difficult night for the Union, who were blanked by Bono and Toronto FC, 2-0, on Friday at Talen Energy Stadium (see observations). They outshot the visitors, 14-12, took the 6-2 advantage in corners and went 16-7 in crosses. It didn’t matter.

“I think we definitely played better soccer,” Union left back Ray Gaddis said. “We had some good performances on the field, we hit the crossbar, we had more shots than they did. It didn’t fall our way.”

Lack of finish has been a running theme for the 2018 Union. The club began the season with six goals in its first nine games, but saw an uptick with nine goals in its next four. But after Friday, the bad-luck Union seem to have returned. 

“It’s a matter of putting it in the back of the net,” Gaddis said, whose club also flubbed a pair of breakaways in the first half. “We created a lot of chances. To see the team go forward and create, it’s good. We have to translate them into goals. It was a good evening.”

While the Union were without Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, which forced Union manager Jim Curtin into moving offensive catalyst Borek Dockal back into more of a free-range midfield position, their producers weren’t able to produce. 

C.J. Sapong, who has one goal in his last 11 starts, was kept without a shot attempt. Same with Dockal and Marcus Epps on the right wing. But Curtin didn’t see an issue with the effort. 

“Soccer can be a cruel game at times,” Curtin said. “You look at missing your top two players, starting the way we did, creating a ton of chances in the first half, being aggressive. We put a very attack-minded lineup on the field and the guys did everything to create chances in the first half. We just weren’t clinical.”

The good news for the Union is they’ll have time to reset. Thanks to the World Cup break, they get over two weeks away from MLS action before facing the Vancouver Whitecaps at home on June 23. 

It’s exactly what they need to jump-start their attack once again.

“We’ve had a lot of games, a lot traveling,” Picault said. “Now’s a chance for us to regroup, recharge and get ready to come back.”

Mistakes, missed opportunities sink Union in shutout loss to Toronto FC

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Mistakes, missed opportunities sink Union in shutout loss to Toronto FC

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. — With impact players missing on both sides, Friday’s match at Talen Energy Stadium came down to efficiency in the offensive end. 

Toronto FC won that battle. Pouncing on two defensive-zone mistakes, Jonathan Osorio scored twice as the Union fell, 2-0.

It was the Union’s second consecutive defeat as they fell to 5-7-3. Toronto FC claimed its fourth win of the season, moving its record to 4-7-2. Including the playoffs, the Union haven't defeated Toronto in 10 straight games.

• Without Jozy Altidore and Drew Moor, Toronto FC entered Friday’s match with one win in its last five games and appeared ripe for defeat. But despite the club’s struggles, it forced the Union into playing from behind for nearly the entire contest.

• In the 13th minute, the Union received two chances to take control. First, Fafa Picault was sprung loose into Toronto territory but was stuffed on his breakaway shot that was placed into Alex Bono’s body. Bono finished with the four-save shutout.

• Immediately following that play, as the ball went back down the field, Ilsinho stripped Michael Bradley for a partial breakaway of his own. His shot trickled well wide.

• Those misses would cost the Union (see story), as five minutes later Toronto would capitalize. Osorio slipped between to defenders to accept a sneaky pass from Victor Vazquez. Unlike the Union’s breakaways, Osorio didn’t miss the net to grab the 1-0 Toronto lead.

• It should be noted Ray Gaddis had an impressive game. While also frustrating Sebastian Giovinco, the left back had two shots, one on goal. He was active on the offensive end despite lacking finish.

• The Union were without midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin as a result of red-card suspensions. In their place, Borek Dockal, normally the center attacking midfielder, moved back to the No. 8 spot for Bedoya, while Warren Creavalle was activated at the No. 6 spot for Medunjanin. Ilsinho moved into the No. 10 spot.

• The Union nearly found an opening in the 58th minute, when Picault cut inside and ripped a right-footed shot from the top of the box. The strong attempt curled in but found the crossbar and ejected out. It’s the closest the Union would come to tying the game in the second half.

• But an egregious Union error would ultimately doom them in the 79th. Keegan Rosenberry’s own-zone throw-in was intercepted by Giovinco at the top of the box. The Italian played it forward to a streaking Osorio for the easy 2-0 Toronto lead. 

• In a surprise move down one, Union manager Jim Curtin tapped Derrick Jones for Marcus Epps in the 69th minute. It was Jones’ first minutes since March 3, when he played five minutes against the New England Revolution. It was just his third appearance in almost a calendar year.

• The Union will have time to think about Friday’s loss. They don’t return to MLS action until June 23, when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.