PHOENIX RISING FC

US men to play 3 West Coast games in 2026 World Cup group play

Feb 4, 2024, 2:57 PM

An exterior view of SoFi Stadium prior to a game between the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams a...

An exterior view of SoFi Stadium prior to a game between the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The 2026 World Cup final will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on July 19.

FIFA made the announcement Sunday at a Miami television studio, allocating the opener of the 39-day tournament to Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on June 11.

The U.S. team will play its opener at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on June 12, then play seven days later at Seattle’s Lumen Field and finish the group stage at SoFi on June 25.

The third-place game will be at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which had hoped to host the final, has the most matches of any venue with nine, and officials there said one of the games is a semifinal. Officials at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta said the other semifinal was being played there.

FIFA officials did not publicly explain their site-decision process.

FIFA expanded the World Cup from 32 to 48 nations and increased matches from 64 to 104. The 2026 tournament will be co-hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada, with all games from the quarterfinals on being played in the U.S. FIFA announced the 16 sites in 2022.

Canada will play its opening first-round match in Toronto on June 12, then its following two games in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A nation will need to play eight matches to win the title, up from seven since 1982.

Other U.S. sites are Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts; NRG Stadium in Houston; Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri; Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Matches in Mexico also will be played at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey and Estadio Akron in Guadalajara.

All 11 of the U.S. stadiums are home to NFL teams. Hard Rock Stadium will host this year’s Copa América final on July 14, while MetLife was the site of the 2016 Copa América final.

Both the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals were at Azteca.

When the U.S. hosted the 24-nation, 52-game tournament in 1994, the final was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and the opener at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

With the additional teams, the length of the tournament will grow from 29 days in the shortened 2022 schedule in Qatar and 32 days for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Only one match will involve a team that has not had at least three off days. FIFA divided the group stage into East, Central and West regions and intended to make travel shorter for group winners.

The stadiums in Arlington, Atlanta and Houston have retractable roofs that are expected to be closed because of summer heat, and Inglewood and Vancouver have fixed roofs.

Artificial turf will be replaced by grass in Arlington, Atlanta, East Rutherford, Foxborough, Houston, Inglewood and Vancouver.

Several of the venues are expected to widen their surfaces to accommodate a 75-by-115 yard (68-by-105 meter) playing field, including AT&T and MetLife.

FIFA did not announce kickoff times. The 1994 championship started at 12:30 p.m. PDT (3:30 p.m. EDT and 9:30 p.m. in Central Europe) but the start has been moved up in recent years as Asia’s television market become more significant to FIFA. The 2022 final in Qatar started at 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EDT, 4 p.m. in Central Europe and 10 p.m. in Beijing).

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