FIFA Announces 2026 World Cup Host Cities, MLS Well Represented

FIFA announced on Thursday evening the 16 cities that will be the host cities for the 2026 World Cup. As expected, MLS cities were well represented. In fact, 12 of the cities chosen are home to MLS franchises. Also, 10 of the 11 American cities chosen are home to MLS franchises (even if the stadiums being used might be slightly different, but more on that later).

The only cities chosen that are not home to MLS franchises were the 3 Mexican cities (Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara) and then San Francisco (which could technically be home to an MLS franchise by the time the 2026 World Cup happens if Expansion heads to the Bay area, but not at the moment).

The American cities chosen that have MLS teams are Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City/New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Toronto and Vancouver were the two Canadian cities chosen and they are also both home to MLS teams.

According to Yahoo Sports, every match in the US will be happening at the host city’s NFL stadium. This means that for the MLS teams who share their stadiums with their local NFL team then they will have World Cup matches happening in their home stadium. However, this means that for MLS teams with soccer-specific stadiums (or for those who use an MLB stadium), then their home stadiums will not host matches.

Currently, three American MLS stadiums will be having their home stadiums used for World Cup matches. The three stadiums which are shared with their local NFL teams and will now host World Cup matches are: Atlanta United’s Mercedes-Benz stadium, New England Revolution’s Gillette Stadium, and the Seattle Sounders’ Lumen Field.

Both Canadian hosts’ matches will be held in the city’s MLS stadium. Toronto FC’s BMO Field and the Vancouver Whitecaps’ BC Place will host these matches. There are no NFL teams in Canada, so these stadiums were chosen as the biggest in those two cities (even though they might need to be renovated in order to fit FIFA’s minimum stadium capacity rules).

The instances where the local NFL stadium instead of the MLS stadium will be used are:Dallas (AT&T Stadium instead of Toyota Field), Houston (NRG Stadium instead of PNC Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium instead of Children’s Mercy Park), Los Angeles/Inglewood (SoFi Stadium instead of LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium or LA Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park), Miami (Hard Rock Stadium instead of DRV PNK Stadium), New York/New Jersey (Metlife Stadium instead of NYRB’s Red Bull Stadium or NYCFC’s Yankee Stadium), and Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field instead of Subaru Park).

The matches in San Francisco will happen in Levi’s Stadium, but as I mentioned earlier the bay area does not currently have an MLS franchise.

It’s also worth mentioning that it is possible that a stadium situation could change within the next four years. Whether it be an MLS team moving into an NFL stadium as their home stadium, or an MLS team moving out of an NFL stadium and into a soccer specific stadium. So the numbers of franchises with their stadiums being used could change.

Even if the matches are not being played in the MLS team’s stadium, being a city host is a fantastic opportunity for these cities and franchises. For one, it will be a great opportunity to create revenue for the local area. Tens of thousands of fans from all over the globe will flock to these cities for the matches which will be huge for local restaurants, hotels, and businesses. Presumably with each stadium set to host multiple matches, this will happen multiple times in the summer of 2026. Some of the cities might also host fan-fares which will bring even more fans and money to the city. Also, the MLS facilities could be used as either training grounds or for pre-tournament friendlies.

Some cities will have to make investments into their soccer infrastructure in order to provide training grounds or housing areas for the teams. Some stadiums might also have to be renovated in order to meet any FIFA requirements. Even though this will cost the cities initial money up front, it should help the cities in the long run. Not only will local money be made, but the improvements made will help soccer grow in the town with new facilities now available for use not only for the MLS team. It will also help other local teams as well. Often when the Olympics come to an area, several new facilities are built or old ones are renovated. This leaves the community with better facilities for teams to use in years to come. The World Cup could serve a similar purpose.

This also serves as a fantastic chance for these local MLS fans to watch World Cup matches. It’s not often that fans get to see national team matches from nations all around the world. Soccer fans in these communities will be able to go see some of the best soccer in the world.  The World Cup is as big as it gets in soccer, and so this is an incredible opportunity for MLS fans to be engulfed in this worldwide event.

The World Cup also obviously provides a ton of exposure for these cities, stadiums, and soccer communities. There will be billions of eyes on these matches and thousands of fans will make their way into these stadiums and into the city’s soccer culture. This will be an opportunity for these communities to show off what they have to offer in terms of being a soccer city. They will be able to show off their sports bars, their watch party areas, their marching areas, etc.

With fans from all around the world mixing with local soccer fans, this gives MLS fans the ability to grow the MLS brand and the brand of these local communities. If a commentator mentions to a World Cup match audience of tens of millions of people that a match is being played in BC Place, home of the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS, then that provides ample advertising, exposure, and brand building for all parties involved (MLS, Vancouver as a city, and the Vancouver Whitecaps as a franchise).

There will also be MLS players playing in the World Cup. With MLS growing as a player on the International market, we will see more and more World Cup caliber players make their ways to MLS over the next four years. This adds even more to what local fans and teams will be able to experience with potentially one of their own players playing in World Cup matches inside the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.

It’s inarguable to say hosting the 2026 World Cup is a fantastic opportunity for the United States and North America as a whole. However, it’s not just a great chance for the nation as a whole. It’s a great opportunity for these 12 MLS cities.