Houston ‘perfect’ to host 2026 World Cup games

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Houston is one of 17 cities across the United States of America who are currently bidding to host games at the 2026 World Cup, and they’re bullish about their chances.

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10 of those 17 U.S. cities will succeed and Houston, the fourth largest city in the USA, believes it has plenty of advantages over its rivals.

USMNT legend DaMarcus Beasley is on the board of directors for Houston’s 2026 bid and he told ProSoccerTalk that Houston is the ‘perfect’ place to host World Cup games.

“The city is vibrant, it is diverse and the culture, well, it bleeds football,” Beasley said. “If you look at any of the international matches that have been played here they are always a sell out, the crowd is electric… The hospitality of everyone here is incredible.

“As I said, the vibrancy of the stadium, that culture, we bleed football here in Houston. Anybody who comes here will see that and everyone will walk away from World Cup matches in Houston thinking ‘this was the best atmosphere I’ve ever been in.'”

From a stadium with a roof to keep out the summer storms, plus having facilities close together downtown and a long history of hosting the biggest events in the sporting world, the biggest city in Texas is going all-in on hosting 2026 World Cup games.

[ MORE: Latest in World Cup qualifying ]

Ahead of the official site visit from FIFA to Houston in late October, ProSoccerTalk spoke to Chris Canetti, the president of Houston’s 2026 World Cup bid.


What gives Houston an edge?

Canetti is one of the leading soccer executives in the country and was president of the Houston Dynamo from 2010 to 2019, before taking this unique role to lead Houston’s World Cup bid.

That means that Canetti wakes up every single day with one goal: to bring 2026 World Cup games to Houston.

Asked about what gives Houston the edge over other U.S. cities to host games, Canetti highlighted its international feel and innovative heart as being integral to the ‘Spirit of Houston’ they want to showcase to the world.

“Houston is the fourth-largest city in the USA and the largest in Texas, so we are a big city of 7 million people and also considered to be the most diverse city in all of North America,” Canetti explained. “That is something very important when you’re bringing the world’s game into a city. You want to have an internationally diverse culture that exists, and that is something very strong here in Houston.”

“As a result of being an international and diverse city, it is a football loving city,” Canetti continued. “The passion for the game is incredible and so is the passion to bring a World Cup here. I feel like I have the full weight of community behind me in this effort…

“With our bid, everything is in our city. Everything takes place in Houston. From the airports, to the stadium, to the hotels, to the training sites. It is all under one jurisdiction and there is a united front and everyone is working in sync. We’ve got the key officials all behind this. Everybody is aligned.

“And if you look at history, over the last decade or slightly longer, any time promoters are bringing major football events to this country, Houston has been a designated stop. It is because this city rises to the occasion.”

From NASA and the huge energy companies that call Houston home, innovation is at its core and that’s also true with this 2026 World Cup bid.


How will Houston stand out from its competitors?

As Canetti said, Houston is no stranger to these big games, as it has hosted more major sporting events than any other U.S. city since 2004.

Be it Super Bowl’s, NCAA Final Four’s, All Star Game’s, Gold Cup’s and Copa America Centenario games, Houston has been there, done it and got the t-shirt.

But the jewel in Houston’s crown for this bid is NRG Stadium.

It sits at the heart of NRG Park, a campus which has training facilities, a convention center and an indoor arena all connected, and there are also five separate training facilities for teams within 15 minutes of the stadium, which act perfectly as a base.

As for the stadium itself, NRG has a 70,000 capacity and a fully retractable roof.

Why is that fact about the roof so important?

Houston
Getty Images

Well, that gives Houston a huge advantage over its competitors as it can guarantee games will take place regardless of summer storms which are commonplace across the USA in June and July when World Cup games will take place.

Of the 17 host venues in the running in the USA, Houston is one of just three (Atlanta and Dallas the others) to have a retractable roof.

Having games in Houston will give FIFA certainty that no issues will arise when it comes to planning and logistics. Don’t underestimate that.

“I think the retractable roof is a unique feature and brings huge value to the event,” Canetti said. “190 million people worldwide watch these games on average. To be able to protect the integrity of that broadcast window and stay on time via a retractable roof, I think that is very valuable in this country with the climate being the way it is… It is fantastic to have climate controlled protection and only a small number of us that have that and it provides value.”

Beasley also pointed to the huge Hispanic population in Houston and hoped that the USMNT could face Mexico, in Houston, during the World Cup. Think about how incredible that would be?


What will the legacy be?

Every single World Cup city wants the tournament to leave behind a legacy.

Houston is no different and Canetti believes the impact this World Cup will have is going to be off the charts, across the USA, Canada and Mexico.

“If you look at how much the game has grown in this country from 1994 to 2026, it is massive,” Canetti continued. “Now there’s more attention to it. More acceptance to it. More connection and involvement. What the impact will be, well, it almost seems immeasurable at this point. It is going to be so grand.”

It is estimated that Houston will benefit economically by over $1 billion from hosting World Cup games, but Canetti is also focused on how local youngsters will benefit, long-term, from seeing the best national teams in the world heading to Texas.

The host bid have set up the Houston Soccer Innovation Institute, which is already helping youngsters in underserved communities get access to the Houston Dynamo in MLS and the Houston Dash in the NWSL, among other initiatives.

Columbus Crew v Houston Dynamo
Getty Images

“Legacy has been at the forefront of everything we’ve been doing since day one,” Canetti said. “We’ve launched the Houston Soccer Innovation Institute and it is a truly one of a kind program which our host committee will manage. This institute will handle the legacy portion of this bid. Our legacy is based around growing the game, fan experience and social and environmental responsibility. And we will focus on how all of those things can make the community better.

“Houston is an innovative place. We have NASA here, we have the largest medical center in the world here and we are the energy capital of the world. We are using these innovative pieces of our community and resources to help the growth and impact of the game.”

What does that mean?

Well, if FIFA wants help in how to reduce head injuries in the game, create more energy efficient stadiums, help with ideas on how to improved human rights globally and wants anything from NASA, this institute will get leaders from across Houston together in one place to come up with answers.


Where does Houston rank among potential host cities?

Houston wants to host knockout games as well as group stage games, and they know they can host clashes up to the quarterfinal stage with the size of their stadium.

How does Canetti rank their chances of being successful in bringing the World Cup to Texas’ biggest city?

“That is the magical question,” Canetti said. “I know rationally and in my heart that Houston is among the top 10. Does that mean we are guaranteed a spot? No. I don’t approach it that way whatsoever. I know there are lots of things that go into this. Lots of moving parts.”

With the likes of New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington D.C. all expected as locks to be six of the 10 host cities in the USA for the 2026 World Cup, it looks like Houston is in a straight battle with the likes of Denver, Philadelphia, Boston, Orlando and Kansas City to host games.

Canetti is up for the battle to bring the world’s game to Houston.

“It is hard for me to predict where we stand. Lots of people like to ask me ‘who is your competition?’ but it is hard to state that. We know we have a strong package and the experience of what it takes to do this but we aren’t going to take anything for granted. We’ve been working hard since day one to create points of differentiation from the competition and we are going to fight for this and put everything we have behind it.”

Premier League transfer news, live! Complete list of January transfers so far

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The January transfer window is again seeing big-name imports into the Premier League, and the final hours of the window are seeing a flurry of deals take place.

Chelsea’s signed Benoit Badiashile and Andrey Santos, Newcastle’s formally welcomed Garang Kuol, and Liverpool’s reinforced its forward ranks with Cody Gakpo joining the Anfield set.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United | Arsenal ]

There’s plenty of discussion about Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur making additions to deepen their squads’ top-four pushes, but nothing complete yet for either big name side.

The same is true for title-fighters Arsenal and Manchester City, though their top-end footing is a lot more stable.


Latest transfer deals developing – January 30

Weston McKennie to Leeds United is a done deal as the American midfielder has joined on loan until the end of the season, with Leeds having an option to buy him for $36 million.

Arsenal are pushing hard to sign Moises Caicedo, with the Ecuadorian midfielder not playing for Brighton in the FA Cup against Liverpool amid a reported new $86 million bid from the Gunners. Anthony Gordon has signed for Newcastle from Everton for a fee believed to be around $60 million.


AFC Bournemouth

In
Dango Ouattara (Lorient)
Darren Randolph (West Ham)
Antoine Semenyo (Bristol City)

Out
Ferdinand Okoh (Dorchester) Loan
James Hill (Hearts) Loan
Will Dennis (Slough) Loan
Noa Boutin (Gosport) Loan


Arsenal

In
Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
Jakub Kiwior (Spezia Calcio)

Out
Brooke Norton-Cuffy (Coventry) Loan
Miguel Azeez (Wigan) Loan
Arthur Okonkwo (Sturm Graz) Loan
Ovie Ejeheri (SJK Seinajoki) Loan
Harry Clarke (Ipswich Town)


Aston Villa

In
Aaron Ramsey (loan recall)
Tyreik Wright (loan recall)
Alex Moreno (Real Betis)
Jhon Duran (Chicago Fire)

Out
Cameron Archer (Middlesbrough) Loan
Tyreik Wright (Plymouth Argyle)
Frederic Guilbert (RC Strasbourg)
Indiana Vassilev (St. Louis City SC)
Danny Ings (West Ham)
Jan Bednarek (loan recall)
Morgan Sanson (Strasbourg) Loan


Brentford

In
Byron Wilson (Coventry)
Conor McManus (Bray Wanderers)
Fin Stevens (loan recall)
Mads Bech (loan recall)
Beaux Booth (Dorking)
Kevin Schade (Freiburg) Loan
Paris Maghoma (loan recall)
Romeo Beckham (Inter Miami) Loan
Nathan Young-Coombes (loan recall)

Out
Myles Peart-Harris (Forest Green Rovers) Loan extension
Aaron Pressley (Accrington) Loan
Lachlan Brook (Crewe) Loan extension
Edon Pruti (Hartlepool)
Mads Bech (Groningen) Loan
Ellery Balcombe (Bristol Rovers) Loan
Tariqe Fosu (Rotherham) Loan
Paris Maghoma (MK Dons) Loan
Charlie Goode (Blackpool) Loan


Brighton & Hove Albion

In
Facundo Buonanotte (Rosario Central)
Jamie Mullins (Bohemians)
Mark O’Mahony (Cork)

Out
Aaron Connolly (Hull) Loan
Reda Khadra (Birmingham)
Ed Turns (Leyton Orient) Loan
James Beadle (Crewe Alexandra) Loan
Leandro Trossard (Arsenal)


Chelsea

In
David Datro Fofana (Molde)
Benoit Badiashile (Monaco)
Andrey Santos (Vasco da Gama)
Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid) Loan
Mykhailo Mudryk (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Noni Madueke (PSV Eindhoven)
Malo Gusto (Lyon)

Out
Bashir Humphreys (Paderborn) Loan
Malo Gusto (Lyon) Loan

Chelsea transfer news
Benoit Badiashile (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Crystal Palace

Out
Killian Phillips (Shrewsbury) Loan
Jack Butland (Man Utd) Loan
John-Kymani Gordon (Carlise) Loan
Malcolm Ebiowei (Hull) Loan
Ryan Bartley (Eastbourne Borough) Loan
David Boateng (Dover) Loan


Everton

In
Ellis Simms (loan recall)
Nathan Broadhead (loan recall)
Niels Nkounkou (loan recall)

Out
Salomon Rondon (released)
Nathan Broadhead (Ipswich)
Tom Cannon (Preston) Loan
Niels Nkounkou (Saint-Etienne) Loan
Sebastian Quirk (Accrington Stanley)
Tyler Onyango (Forest Green) Loan
Anthony Gordon (Newcastle)


Fulham

In
Anthony Knockaert (loan recall)

Out
Idris Odutayo (Maidenhead) Loan extension
Anthony Knockaert (Huddersfield) Loan
Ibane Bowat (Den Bosch) Loan


Leeds United

In
Max Wober (RB Salzburg)
Georginio Rutter (Hoffenheim)

Out
Mateusz Klich (MLS pending)
Alfie McCalmont (Carlisle) Loan
Leo Hjelde (Rotherham) Loan
Max Dean (MK Dons)
Cody Drameh (Luton) Loan
Joe Gelhardt (Sunderland) Loan


Leicester City

In
George Hirst (loan recall)
Victor Kristiansen (Copenhagen)
Tete (Lyon)

Out
George Hirst (Ipswich) Loan
Ben Nelson (Doncaster) Loan
Jakub Stolarczyk (Hartlepool) Loan


Liverpool

In
Cody Gakpo (PSV)
Billy Koumetio (Austria Vienna) Loan recall
Max Woltman (loan recall)
Jakub Ojrzynski (loan recall)
James Balagizi (loan recall)
Fidel O’Rourke (loan recall)
Rhys Williams (loan recall)

Out
Jake Cain (Swindon Town)
Jarell Quansah (Bristol Rovers) Loan

Liverpool transfer news
Cody Gakpo photo vis twitter.com/LFC

Manchester City

In
Liam Delap (loan recall)
Maximo Perrone (Velez Sarsfield)

Out
Josh Wilson-Esbrand (Coventry) Loan
Liam Delap (Preston) Loan
Kayky (Bahia) Loan


Manchester United

In
Jack Butland (Crystal Palace) Loan
Wout Weghorst (Burnley) Loan

Out
Martin Dubravka (loan recall)
Shola Shoretire Loan (Bolton Wanderers)
Charlie Savage (Forest Green) Loan


Newcastle United

In
Amadou Diallo (free) 
Garang Kuol (Central Coast Mariners)
Martin Dubravka (loan recall)
Anthony Gordon (Everton)

Out
Garang Kuol (Hearts) Loan
Chris Wood (Nott’m Forest) Loan
Dylan Stephenson (Hamilton) Loan


Nottingham Forest

In
Gustavo Scarpa (Palmeiras)
Danilo (Palmeiras)
Alex Mighten (loan recall)
Chris Wood (Newcastle United) Loan

Out
Loic Bade (loan recall)
Dale Taylor (Burton Albion) Loan
Aaron Donnelly (Port Vale) Loan


Southampton

In
Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb)
Carlos Alcaraz (Racing Club)
Jan Bednarek (loan recall)
James Bree (Luton)

Out
Dynel Simeu (Morecambe) Loan
Dan Nlundulu (Bolton) Loan
Nico Lawrence (Torquay) Loan


Tottenham

In
Arnaut Danjuma (Villarreal) Loan


West Ham United

In
Luizao (Sao Paulo)
Armstrong Okoflex (loan recall)
Danny Ings (Aston Villa)

Out
Thierry Nevers (Bradford) Loan
Craig Dawson (Wolves)
Pierre Ekwah (Sunderland)
Darren Randolph (AFC Bournemouth)
Will Greenidge (Colchester) Loan


Wolverhampton Wanderers

In
Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid) Loan
Joe Young (loan recall)
Louie Moulden (loan recall)
Theo Corbeanu (loan recall)
Christian Marques (loan recall)
Lewis Richards (loan recall)
Mario Lemina (Nice)
Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain)
Craig Dawson (West Ham)
Dan Bentley (Bristol City)
Ki-Jana Hoever (loan recall)

Out
Leo Bonatini (released)
Joe Young (Telford) Loan
Goncalo Guedes (Benfica) Loan
Theo Corbeanu (Arminia Bielefeld) Loan
Leonardo Campana (Inter Miami)
Connor Ronan (Colorado Rapids)
Fabio Silva (PSV) Loan
Matija Sarkic (Stoke) Loan
Ki-Jana Hoever (Stoke) Loan
Jackson Smith (Walsall) Loan

Premier League transfers
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Matheus Cunha  (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

Transfer Deadline Day, live! Join our show, send questions, analysis

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Transfer deadline day is here for January 2023, as the winter window shuts at 6pm ET on Jan. 31 for Premier League clubs.

[ LIVE: Every Premier League transfer deal as it happens ]

The clock is ticking late in the window and we will have all angles covered for you here at Pro Soccer Talk.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United | Arsenal ]

From clicking on the links above to read the latest reports and analysis, having Sky Sports News live on Peacock all day long and to our own Pro Soccer Talk live deadline day show which starts at 5:30pm ET on Jan. 31, you won’t miss a thing.

WATCH: Sky Sports News live on Transfer deadline day on Peacock

Click on the video below to send in your questions for the PST crew for our deadline day chat where we will round up all of the deals happening late in the window, dish out grades to Premier League teams based on their business and give our analysis on the best signings of the January window.


Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy start.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – January 23

Premier League schedule
https://scoreboard.nbcsports.com/soccer/season/93741/standings


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Weston McKennie joins Leeds: Is this a good move for the USMNT star?

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USMNT star Weston McKennie has signed for Leeds United from Juventus.

“Leeds United States of America” continues to grow with McKennie to join fellow Americans Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson playing for Jesse Marsch and newly-appointed assistant Chris Armas.

Who will be next to turn up at Elland Road, Christian Pulisic?

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

Juventus boss Max Allegri confirmed that Juventus and Leeds have completed the deal and that the USMNT midfielder will not be available to play for the Italian giants against Monza on Sunday.

“There’s an agreement ready between clubs to sell McKennie. He won’t be available tomorrow,” Allegri said.


Would a move to Leeds be a good fit for Weston McKennie?

Stylistically the Premier League is a great fit for Weston McKennie and Leeds are probably one of the best teams he could move to.

He loves to fly into tackles and drive forward from midfield and playing just in front of Tyler Adams and Marc Roca or to the right of them would be a perfect spot for him at Leeds.

It would give Leeds more control of games and the Yorkshire club also play to his strengths. it’s a really good fit.

McKennie has struggled to have a big impact at Juve this season as injuries have taken their toll on him over the last few years. That would perhaps be the one concern about his move to the Premier League, as McKennie seems to pick up quite a few knocks.

However, looking at his stats below from this season at Juventus, the chances he creates per game and the shots per game will improve and his accurate passing will help Leeds become less susceptible on the counter.

McKennie is a player who rattles into tackles, feeds off the energy of his fans and his mentality is perfect for the aggressive side Jesse Marsch has created at Leeds.

The Texas born midfielder has always wanted to play in the Premier League and he’s got his wish at a club where he will play week in, week out and one which suits his style of play perfectly.

Weston McKennie
Graphic via FotMob.com