World Cup fever is here again with Group Stage matches getting underway last week. However, since the United States did not make the field this time around, there is more focus stateside on last week's announcement that the U.S.'s combined bid with Mexico and Canada to host the 2026 World Cup was approved.
There will be 48 teams that compete that year and 80 matches will be held in the three countries. Mexico (Guadalajara, Monterrey, Mexico City) and Canada (Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto) have already chosen their host cities, but there is a list of 17 U.S. host cities that will be cut to the ten in the next couple of years.
The question is: Will Miami make the cut as a host town?
There are absolute strengths that favor The Magic City. Certainly, Miami's status as a global hub means that big crowds should turn out for whatever World Cup participants they decide to send to the city.
Although Miami was not home to matches when the World Cup was on U.S. soil in 1994, they have subsequently had success hosting major international matchups. The metro area regularly does well when it comes to soccer television ratings too.
While Hard Rock Stadium is one of the smaller venues on the list, it should be suitable enough for World Cup action. The recent improvements that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross orchestrated are certainly a boon to their candidacy.
Most of the cities on the preliminary list are currently home to a Major League Soccer franchise. While Miami currently does not hold that designation, David Beckham is bringing a club to town and they should be firmly entrenched into South Florida's soccer fabric by 2026.
Miami does have stiff competition for World Cup hosting duties in its own region. Orlando and Atlanta have both proven through their experiences in the MLS to have passionate soccer fans and each are easily-accessible destinations with global airports.
There are other major cities that will also take precedence over Miami for various reasons. New York is an absolute lock to host and many have said that the World Cup Final will likely be contested at MetLife Stadium.
Los Angeles' Rose Bowl may not be the most luxurious stadium on this list, but its historical significance and 92,000 seat capacity make it a shoe-in as well. Another city certain to get the World Cup is Dallas, with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones having built his palace, AT&T Stadium, specifically for major events like this.
That leaves room for seven more U.S. hosts. The other cities listed in contention are Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.
Evaluating that list, I cannot see any way that Miami does not make the cut. Get ready fans of The Beautiful Game in the 305 because World Cup action is coming your way!
My World Cup U.S. host predictions: New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, Seattle, Washington D.C., Boston, Houston.
Cover photo from Unsplash