USMNT, United Bid receive major lift with 2026 World Cup approval

3 Comments

Hosting a World Cup is a spectacle unlike any other, and in two cycles, the world’s biggest competition will return to North America following Wednesday’s vote.

[ MORE: Spain fires Lopetegul two days before first WC match ]

With the decision to hand the United Bid — comprised of the Canada, Mexico and United States football federations — the rights to the 2026 edition of the World Cup, it gives those in the western quadrant of the world something significant to look forward to for the future.

Mexico will once again enjoy itself this summer, as the 2018 tournament prepares to kick off on Thursday, but there has been a bitter taste in many Americans’ mouths since the U.S. Men’s National Team’s failure in the build up to Russia.

By no means does the award of 2026 take away that grief, nor should it, but what the positive vote does offer the U.S. and its North American mates is an exciting beginning to a new era.

And it’s one that the three CONCACAF nations can say they historically took part in.

2026 ushers in the start of the 48-team World Cup, which gives teams from North America an enhanced opportunity of qualifying for the competition.

Instead of three automatic places in the tournament, six will be given by that time. Meanwhile, it is expected that another spot will be up for grabs in the form of a playoff.

While the U.S. and Mexico have become World Cup mainstays throughout the tournament’s past, this is particularly pertinent for Canada — who has appeared in just one World Cup (1986).

For years, North America has looked at avenues to grow its game, and while some may argue that a 48-team competition will dilute the World Cup field, for CONCACAF and the rest of the World Cup it opens up a brand-new opportunity for teams that have previously been left at the alter.

From an American perspective, it’s selfish but after the struggles in the lead up to 2018 it’s nice knowing that the USMNT will be guaranteed a spot in its own tournament.

Joking aside though, the U.S. has a track record of putting on quality events, whether that be the 1994 World Cup, the Olympic Games and beyond.

Not to mention the 2026 World Cup will coincide with the 250-year anniversary of the U.S.’ independence.

As nice as it is to travel and experience new countries, having the tournament come to our own backyard is a chance that simply cannot be missed, especially considering it will be held in three separate countries for the first time in the history of the World Cup.

The wounds of 2018 may still sting for the U.S., but for today at least, the Yanks, El Tri and The Canucks have won in the biggest way possible.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Leave a comment

Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
Leave a comment

West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

Leave a comment

In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.