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USA, Mexico, Canada announce joint bid for 2026 World Cup

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Three nations coming together sharing one dream: to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

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On Tuesday the heads of the national soccer federations of the U.S., Mexico and Canada came together to announce they’ve launched a joint bid to host the 2026 tournament across all three nations.

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani and Mexican Football Federation President Decio de Maria gathered on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center to make the announcement which hopes to see the tournament return to the CONCACAF region for the first time since the U.S. hosted its first-ever World Cup in 1994.

The U.S. previously bid to host the 2018 World Cup, but failed, and Mexico has hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never hosted the men’s edition but successfully hosted the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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Gulati announced that the three federations have signed a “memorandum of understanding” and they planned to unveil more details to FIFA as the bidding process becomes clearer.

FIFA will host an expanded 48-team tournament, up from 32 teams, from 2026 onwards but how that all works will be discussed further in Bahrain in the next FIFA congress on May 11.

The U.S. will take the bulk of the tournament, with 60 of the 80 games in the United States of America, and discussions have taken place to schedule group games in similar time zones which run through all three countries to minimize travel.

“There will be 80 games, three quarters of which would be played in the United States and 10 games in each of Canada and Mexico,” Gulati confirmed.

It was also confirmed by Gulati that any potential tournament would be hosted in the U.S. from the quarterfinal stage onwards, thus meaning the World Cup final would take place in the United States of America. It is still unclear as to whether all three nations would qualify automatically for the tournament as the FIFA council would have to discuss that factor and so to would CONCACAF as qualifying would be heavily impacted in the region.

In terms of economics the bid makes a lot of sense as between the three nations there are dozens of stadiums ready to use for the tournament, plus the infrastructure is mostly in place to host an event the size of the World Cup. This continental style hosting approach is on the rise. For example, EURO 2020 will be hosted in cities across Europe instead of in one host country to stop a single nation from having to handle the economic burden alone.

Gulati also allayed fears about potential immigration problems between the U.S. government and teams traveling to the USA for the tournament.

“We have the full support of this project from the U.S. government,” Gulati said. “The president of the United States encouraged us to make this bid and is especially pleased that Mexico is involved in this bid. We have a strong encouragement from President Trump.”

More details will be released by the three governing bodies in due course as they will discuss their bid at the FIFA congress in May in Bahrain.

The overriding emotion from this announcement was one of togetherness as Gulati acknowledged the U.S. could have easily bid to host this tournament on its own but cited the desire to grow the game across the CONCACAF region as well as bringing the three nations together.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE