NWSL Game of the Week: Chicago Red Stars at Portland Thorns FC


Week 8 of the NWSL is a light one – one which coincides with what will likely be the most anticipated game on North America’s 2013 women’s soccer calendar. Yet much like its brother league, Major League Soccer, “the N” has elected to push through the international schedule and stage matches, with a pair games seeing the league’s top three teams in action.

While Saturday’s evening affair will see the league’s leaders, Sky Blue FC, host third place Boston, out game of the week is in Portland, where a hamstrung Thorns FC welcome winless but reloading Chicago Red Stars.

The game kicks off at 5:00 p.m Eastern in Portland, with streaming available on the league’s YouTube channel.


1. What they’ve lost

During a typical pregame at JELD-WEN Field, you’ll a youth team from the greater Portland area brought onto the pitch, split up into sides, and stage a small game in front of the supporter’s north end, laying across the width of the pitch. With one quarter-sized goal on each side of the penalty area, disorganized fleets of anonymous children give fans a chance to stretch their vocal cords. For the kids, they get a chance to be part of game day – stepping on the field, hearing the small roars of the venue’s legendary crowd. For the fans, however, it’s just the opening act.

NWSL Standings

Pos. PST
Team GP Pts. +/-
1 5 Sky Blue 8 19 +8
2 4 Portland 8 19 +8
3 3 Boston 6 11 +5
4 2 W. New York 6 10 +1
5 1 Kansas City 6 10 +3
6 6 Washington 8 6 -5
7 7 Chicago 6 2 -8
8 8 Seattle 8 1 -12

This weekend, NWSL plays the part opening, relatively anonymous opening act. With most of the league’s best talent in Toronto, the N’s two Saturday games will be played in the shadow of that main event – the burgeoning rivalry-like thing we’ve been told is Creed-Balboa II (if Apollo and Rocky’s bout was purely an exhibition, though we know how those go).

Chicago’s visit to Portland? Sky Blue welcoming Boston? On the surface, they carry little appeal, with the absences of Alex Morgan, Christie Rampone, and Heather O’Reilly, Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt and Karina LeBlanc depriving the weekend set of its drawing cards.

For Saturday’s match at JELD-WEN, one team will be vastly more hamstrung than the other. Chicago rolls into town without left back Rachel Quon, goalkeeper Erin McLeod, and defender Camelina Moscato – notable loses, but absences for which Rory Dames can adjust. Cindy Parlow Cone, on the other hand, loses two her only two goalscorers (Morgan and Sinclair), her leader in defense (Rachel Buehler), and the team’s only goalkeeper with professional experience (LeBlanc).

Beyond prompting the question of why the games are being played at all, the weekend’s matches look set to test the depth of squads that were never designed to be more than paper-thin. The league has a minimal salary cap (around $200,000) and limited international slots. Players brought up this week to fill-in for international call-ups are on amateur contracts; unpaid replacements in what is ostensibly a professional league.

2. What they look like, now
Calling Chicago’s a second choice team is a bit of an exaggeration. Because they were dealt a poor hand in allocation, they haven’t been dependent on U.S. and Canadian talents. Almost none of their U.S. allocations have contributed (Amy Lepeilbet, Shannon Boxx, and the traded Keelin Winters), while their Canadian internationals have been role players (Quon and Moscato) or inconsistent (McLeod). Their best player to this point, Lori Chalupny, offers international talent without the risk of being called up. Leaning on neither U.S. or Canadian internationals, it’s unclear the Red Stars will be in any worse shape Saturday than they’ve been for previous games, particularly considering their high-profile addition.

source:  Along with another fellow ex-German international (34-year-old defender Sonja Fuss), Inka Grings will be with the Red Stars in Portland, each former Duisburg standout joining Chicago this month from FC Zurich. While Fuss is bound to bring some needed experience to the defense, it’s Grings’ addition that’s been most anticipated, the women who has 64 international goals to her credit expected to bring some much-needed punch to the Red Stars’ attack.

The big question is whether the 34-year-old attacker still has it. When she left the Frauen Bundesliga at the end of the 2010-11 season, she was still a prodigious scorer, posting more than one goal per game. After two seasons in Switzerland – playing fewer games, against lesser competition, and no longer having a part of the German national team – how much (if anything) has Grings lost?

Even at 34, Grings should be a significant upgrade for a team that’s scored only four times in six games. And against a Thorns side that will be missing their goalkeeper as well as their best defender, Grings will get a nice ramp up to NWSL play, one which gives a relatively strong Red Star team a chance to take advantage of Portland misfortune.

The Thorns, however, have the virtue of having their midfield largely in place. Becky Edwards, one of the league’s better defensive midfielders, will anchor a unit that retains Allie Long and Nikki Washington. Angie Kerr, a regular for the team, will likely slide into Christine Sinclair’s spot at the top of midfield, giving Cone a unit capable of controlling to Saturday’s game.

On the surface, Portland’s team looks set to produce a typical Thorns performance, one that should see the team control a bulk of possession without generating a proportional number of chances. But whereas the Thorns usually have Morgan and Sinclair to bail out a team that’s failed to produce their expected attacking fireworks, on Saturday they’ll be relying on magic from Kerr and Danielle Foxhoven.

While there is a school of thought that holds getting Morgan’s vertical runs out of the team – swapping in somebody whose movement meshes pretty with the midfield — might provide a spark, Portland will most likely miss the finishing of one of the world’s elite goalscorers.

3. About that shadow

Around the league, coaches are saying all the right things, declining to criticize the timing of June’s friendlies. They flash their diplomatic sides, choosing to note every team is facing the same challenges. There’s a tacit acknowledgment that the club versus country debate takes on a new dynamic with federations are sponsoring the leagues, so although nobody likes the integrity of the regular season compromised (even in small amounts), there’s little coaches can do but shrug their shoulders and put on a good face. They have no recourse.

Behind the scenes, however, there are small hints of indignation – questions as to why the best talent of a nascent league is going to be away from their teams for the better part of a month. One game here or there – it’s fine, but with U.S. players playing three internationals, Canadian players reporting twice over the course of three weeks, the small, 22-match season could be disproportionately affected by international commitments.

When the federations are footing much of the bill, you have to play by their rules. That means you’ll get weekends like this, where partially second choice teams are expected to give first team performances. But in a five-month season where order of finish determines not only homes for first round playoff games but also the site of the league championship match, little road bumps could prove decisive.

Beyond that, there’s a perception issue, though until we see June’s attendance figures, this is mostly hypothetical. If the league is staging games without its best talents, is it offering a product commensurate with its mission – first division soccer? Instead of pausing the league while its key players are away, is the NWSL electing to stage what some could see as high quality W-League games? And will that have an effect at the turnstiles?

As with most things in a league that’s two months old, ideas need to be tried before we know if they’re viable. And in all likelihood, scheduling concerns forced the league to play matches this weekend. Come Saturday night, if the crowds are good and the product is strong, the absence of U.S. and Canadian internationals may prove no big deal. Else, the league will have to reconsider playing scheduling against the international calendar.


Portland Thorns FC Chicago Red Stars
Star to Watch Becky Edwards – Thorns FC’s holders has steadily improved throughout the season, providing Portland with one of their few bright spots last Saturday in Seattle. As she continues to get used to her new system and teammates, Edwards will be able to start having a greater influence going forward. With PTFC’s stars gone on Saturday, she may need to speed up that process.
Lori Chalupny – If the Red Stars are going to take advantage of Grings, Lori Chalupny is going to have to be on her game. Through six matches, she has been arguably been Chicago’s only above-average player. Whether she’s deployed through the middle or wide, she’s the one most likely to take advantage of Chicago’s new gaol-scoring talent.
Still Important Kathryn Williamson – “Kat” is one of a handful college draftees getting regular time with her team, but although you often see some of her inexperience come through, she has arguably been the league’s most influential “rookie.” Increasingly decisive from her right-center half position, the University of Florida product will have to step up on Grings in the absence of Buehler. Taylor Vancil – A third round pick out of Florida State, Vancil made her professional debut last Friday in Rochester, putting in a strong performance in a 2-1 loss to the Western New York Flash. The rookie’s showing was so strong, coach Rory Dames took to Twitter post-match to sing the praises of Erin McLeod’s stand-in. Set to get her second start, Vancil will need to be aggressive off her line against a Portland attack that likes playing through balls.
Win if … … the midfield can take advantage of Foxhoven’s movement while Grings experiences a period of adjustment to the NWSL. … Grings is just too good or they’re able to contain a tepid Thorns attack long enough to take advantage of a mistake.


Saturday, June 1
Sky Blue FC vs. Boston Breakers – Both teams have major absences, though Sky Blue’s loss of Christie Rampone will really show how crucial she is to a young defense’s organization, particularly against an attack that will still feature Lianne Sanderson and Kyah Simon.

Brazil turns on samba style, dances into World Cup quarterfinals


Five-time world champions Brazil turned in a five-star performance as they dismantled South Korea 4-1 in the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup on Monday.


Up next for Brazil is a quarterfinal clash with Croatia, who survived 120 minutes and penalty kicks to beat Japan earlier on Monday.

The goals came early, they came often, and they came in style.

Vinicius Junior opened the scoring in the 7th, with an exquisite, composed finish through a sea of bodies and Neymar, who returned from the ankle injury he suffered 11 days earlier, made it 2-0 from the penalty spot just six minutes later. That’s when the samba style came out, with the game effectively already in hand and 77 minutes of must-watch television entertainment left to deliver.

Richarlison, who already scored the probable goal of the tournament in Brazil’s opener, perhaps one-upped himself with a sensational piece of flair and skill (and a decent bit of passing from some equally brilliant teammates), making it 3-0 just before the half-hour mark and reminding the rest of the world that Brazil were pre-World Cup favorites for a reason.

Lucas Paqueta got goal no. 4 after another sensational, liquid counter-attack of yellow shirts washing forward in numbers. Vinicius lifted the final ball over a crowd and picked out the West Ham midfielder, who applied the perfect finish with the inside of his right foot.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Paik Seung-Ho scored a fantastic consolation goal with 15 minutes left in the second half, but that was the extent of South Korea’s joy, as they come up short of reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since co-hosting the World Cup in 2002, when they went to the semifinals.

Brazil vs South Korea
Photo: FotMob.com

[ MORE: World Cup schedule | World Cup odds ]

How to watch Brazil vs South Korea live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Monday Dec. 5
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

Well, first off: Neymar. One of Brazil’s all-time heroes is missing a World Cup from his resume and rightly or wrongly, that’s a marker as to whether the player will be considered one of the best Brazilians to ever do it. When healthy he’s among the five best attackers in the world. But how healthy is he? And how much can Richarlison, Vinicius Jr. and company take pressure off the oft-fouled Neymar?

South Korea will have hope that Heung-min Son’s slow tournament is on the upswing after the Tottenham star played well late in delivering the win over Portugal to seal a group stage place. Look out for 26-year-old Napoli center back Min-jae Kim, whose name is dancing through the Premier League transfer rumor mill with renewed vigor following strong performances in Qatar.

Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

South Korea quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 28
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC
Coach: Paulo Bento
Key players: Heung-min Son, Young-gwon Kim, In-beom Hwang, Woo-yeong Jeong

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Croatia eliminates Japan in 2022 World Cup’s first penalty shootout


Croatia is through to the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup after defeating Japan in the tournament’s first penalty shootout (1-1 AET, 3-1 PKs) on Monday.


After reaching the knockout rounds just once in their first five World Cup cycles as a nation, Croatia is through to the quarterfinals for the second straight tournament. Japan, meanwhile, will look to 2026 to achieve their first-ever knockout-round victory.

Scoring chances were at a premium in the first half, as each side managed just three shots, but the quality of chances was very high, evidenced by the xG numbers (0.74 for Japan and 0.61 for Croatia, again, on just three shots each). All three of Japan’s shots came from within seven yards of goal, as did two of Croatia’s three.

The breakthrough came, as so many goals have done at this World Cup, in the final moments just before the end of the first half. Japan won a free kick down the right side and though Croatia defended the initial ball in well enough, they didn’t manage to clear it and it fell to Maeda seven yards out.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Perisic made it 1-1 with a sensational, long-ranger header in the 55th minute. Dejan Lovren played a dipping cross from deep and it found Perisic near the penalty spot, leaving the Tottenham utilityman with so much still to do. The ball bounced once, just in front of the goalkeeper, beating with him both power and precision to the bottom corner.

Dominik Livakovic began the penalty shootout with two straight saves, first denying Takumi Minamino, and then Kaoru Mitoma. 2-0 to Japan after two rounds. Marko Livaja put Croatia’s third attempt off the post, but Livakovic followed that up with save no. 3 against Maya Yoshida. Mario Pasalic converted to make it 3-1 to Croatia after four rounds.

Runners-up in 2018, Croatia into the round of 8 in 2022.

Japan vs Croatia
Photo: FotMob.com

[ MORE: World Cup schedule | World Cup odds ]

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How to watch Japan vs Croatia live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Monday, December 5
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

Japan’s comeback wins against Germany and Spain have been a joy to watch and anybody who watched them before this tournament will not be that surprised. Moriyasu has created a squad which has a total ‘team first’ mentality and so many players are stepping up to deliver in midfield and attack. From Maya Yoshida captaining the side and dominating at center back to Mitoma, Doan, Endo and Tanaka dazzling in midfield and attack whenever they feature, this is a joy to watch. The energy Japan plays with is dizzying and they will create plenty of chances against Croatia. The big question: can they be more clinical?

As for Croatia, the likes of Dejan Lovren, Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic have been here before. They exude confidence and Josko Gvardiol is a fine young center back and the likes of Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic add extra class. This is a side which always seems to overdeliver and they will be thinking another deep run at the World Cup is on the cards. Surely they can’t get to the final again, right?

Japan quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 24
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 7
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC
Coach: Hajime Moriyasu
Key players: Maya Yoshida, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ritsu Doan
At the 2022 World Cup – Won Group E with 6 points (+1 GD)

Croatia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 12
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Zlatko Dalic
Key players: Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric, Mateo Kovacic
At the 2022 World Cup – Finished second in Group F with 5 points (+3 GD)

World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, last 16, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates


The World Cup 2022 schedule is locked in and this tournament in Qatar has been sensational as the knockout rounds will capture the imagination of the globe.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock ]

Japan, Australia and Morocco made the last 16 with so many huge shocks during the tournament, while Germany, Denmark and Belgium all crashed out in the group stage.

From the USMNT and England getting out of their group to Lionel Messi dragging Argentina through and Mexico just missing out on getting out of the group stages and amid upsets galore, there are plenty of intriguing games in the latter stages.

[ MORE: World Cup rosters for all 32 teams ]

We now have the small matter of the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and final to look forward to. Bring. It. On.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]  

Below is the schedule in full, details on how to watch the games and everything else you need..

[ MORE: World Cup odds ]

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Knockout round kick-off times: 10am, 2pm (both ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H | Full tables

Round of 16 schedule

Match 49 – Saturday, December 3: Netherlands 3-1 USA – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

Match 50 – Saturday, December 3: Argentina 2-1 Australia – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan

Match 52 – Sunday, December 4: France 3-1 Poland – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha

Match 51 – Sunday, December 4: England 3-0 Senegal – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

Match 53 – Monday, December 5: Japan 1-1 (AET, 1-3 PKs) – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Match 54 – Monday, December 5: Brazil 4-1 South Korea – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm

Match 55 – Tuesday, December 6: Morocco vs Spain (preview) – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 56 – Tuesday, December 6: Portugal vs Switzerland (preview) – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

Quarterfinal schedule

Match 58 – Friday, December 9: Winners Match 53 vs Winners Match 54 – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 57 – Friday, December 9: Netherlands vs Argentina – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am

Match 60 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 55 vs Winners Match 56 – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 59 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 51 vs France – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Semifinal schedule

Match 61 – Tuesday, December 13: Winners Match 57 vs Winners Match 58 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

Match 62 – Wednesday, December 14: Winners Match 59 vs Winners Match 60 – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Third-place play-off

Match 63 – Saturday, December 17: Losers Match 61 vs Losers Match 62 – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm


Match 64 – Sunday, December 18: Winners Match 61 vs Winners Match 62 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am

Group stage results

Group A

Recap/highlights: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands  – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Qatar 1-3 Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 2-0 Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Ecuador 1-2 Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

Group B

Recap/highlights: England 6-2 Iran – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: USA 1-1 Wales – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: England 0-0 USA – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-2 Iran – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-3 England – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Iran 0-1 USA – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor

Group C

Recap/highlights: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Mexico 0-0 Poland – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Argentina 2-0 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Poland 0-2 Argentina – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

Group D

Recap/highlights: France 4-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Denmark 0-0 Tunisia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: France 2-1 Denmark – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 0-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 1-0 France –  Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Australia 1-0 Denmark – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Group E

Recap/highlights: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Germany 1-2 Japan – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Spain 1-1 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Japan 0-1 Costa Rica – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Japan 2-1 Spain – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Costa Rica 2-4 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

Group F

Recap/highlights: Belgium 1-0 Canada – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Morocco 0-0 Croatia – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Belgium 0-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Croatia 4-1 Canada – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Croatia 0-0 Belgium – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights Canada 1-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor

Group G

Recap/highlights: Brazil 2-0 Serbia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Brazil 1-0 Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha – 11am
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 3-3 Serbia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 1-0 Brazil – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Serbia 2-3 Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha

Group H

Recap/highlights: Portugal 3-2 Ghana – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Uruguay 0-0 South Korea – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Portugal 2-0 Uruguay – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-3 Ghana – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-1 Portugal – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Ghana 0-2 Uruguay – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

2026 World Cup venues selected: Which cities will host in USA, Canada, Mexico?


On Thursday, nearly four years to the day after it was announced that the men’s FIFA World Cup would be returning to the United States and Mexico (and coming to Canada for the first time) in 2026, 16 host cities were announced as venues for the first-ever 48-team tournament.

[ MORE: Ranking which U.S. cities should host 2026 World Cup games ]

11 American venues were selected, with five located in the eastern third (despite FIFA’s interpretation of Atlanta), three in the central part of the country and three more out west. Two Canadian cities (Toronto and Vancouver) will host World Cup games for the first time. A pair of Mexican cities (Mexico City and Guadalajara) are set to host the World Cup for the third time (1970 and 1986) while Monterrey was chosen for the second time.

[ MORE: 2022 World Cup schedule, how to watch, start time, dates ]

Below is the full list of cities selected as host venues for the 2026 World Cup in the Unites States, Canada and Mexico…

Which 16 venues were selected as host cities for the 2026 World Cup?

USA (11)

Atlanta – Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Boston – Gillette Stadium
Dallas – AT&T Stadium
Houston – NRG Stadium
Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium
Los Angeles – SoFi Stadium
Miami – Hard Rock Stadium
New York/New Jersey – MetLife Stadium
Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field
San Francisco – Levi’s Stadium
Seattle – Lumen Field

Canada (2)

Toronto – BMO Field
Vancouver – BC Place

Mexico (3)

Guadalajara – Estadio Akron
Mexico City – Estadio Azteca
Monterrey – Estadio BBVA

With 23 venues vying for 16 spots, a number of notable cities (and venues) were snubbed. Washington D.C., the nation’s capital (in a joint-bid with Baltimore, where games would have been played), was not chosen.

The Rose Bowl, where the 1994 World Cup final was played, was also not selected with Los Angeles presenting two stadiums as options; SoFi Stadium, home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers, was selected. Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville and Orlando were the other American cities to miss out as 2026 World Cup venues, alongside Canada’s Edmonton.

2026 World Cup format and qualification

Now that we know the host cities, stadiums and venues for the 2026 World Cup, let’s talk about the tournament itself…

First and foremost, as host nations, it is believed (but not confirmed) that the USA, Canada and Mexico will all automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

[ MORE: World Cup 2022 odds: Favorites, underdogs, group stage winners ]

The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament featuring 48 teams split in 16 groups of three. Each team will play two group stage games (down one from three), with the 1st- and 2nd-place finishers advancing to the round of 32. It will also be the first World Cup played across three different host nations.

The idea behind adding 16 teams is that one round of group stage games is eliminated and replaced by an additional round of win-or-go-home games in the knockout rounds.

Given that the final round of group games can carry very little, or even no, weight pending earlier results, the new format will guarantee that nearly every game at the 2026 World Cup is hugely consequential.

[ MORE: World Cup 2022 rankings: Who are the favorites? ]

Yes, FIFA will make a lot more money by changing the format, but fans will also be treated to a better quality product, from beginning to end, with even more global superstars from “lesser” national teams than ever before.

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