The last and only time the men's World Cup was played on American soil was in 1994. It was a seminal moment and that tournament played a pivotal part in accelerating the growth of the game in the U.S. It's hard to not look at 2026 as an even greater opportunity to advance the game.
These are five hopes I have for the American game in 2026.
A 26-year-old Christian Pulisic will be entering his prime
Let this wash over you a moment.
Pulisic will be playing in hopefully his third World Cup at just 26 years old. The incredible growth and development we've seen as he has exploded on a global scale will have another nine years of maturation. He also won't be alone. By 2026 other players, some whose names we haven't ever heard yet, will emerge to amaze and delight us.
MLS will be the “league of choice” they have envisioned
Think back to where MLS began, where it was in 2006, and where it will be after another decade of development. It's easy to forget how far this league has come in 20 years. With 22 clubs, and LAFC coming as a 23rd next year, MLS has stabilized its business, while the product on the field continues to get sharper – and more importantly, younger.
New soccer cities emerge
MLS has its eyes set on expanding the league to 28 teams, and with that comes the exciting prospect of new and diverse fan bases. Cities like Detroit, Nashville, Indianapolis, San Antonio, and Cincinnati will emerge, shape the game and reflect their city's style and sensibilities like we've seen happen in Portland, Orlando, and Atlanta over the past decade.
The unique American soccer culture born in 1994 comes to maturity and captures the world’s attention
The 1994 World Cup not only inspired a generation of American soccer players but a generation of American soccer supporters. There is a generation of fans that see themselves through the lens of soccer and in many ways the sport has come to define them. This soccer culture is no longer niche or underground. It is passionate, educated and uniquely American. The 2026 World Cup will provide a perfect platform to showcase this unique American soccer culture to the world and continue its growth.
College soccer adapts and evolves
The NCAA has never been a progressive organization. You can find examples of its obtuseness in any sport. Collegiate soccer has been hampered for decades with a truncated regular season and nonsensical offseason restrictions. With the promise of a 2026 World Cup on our shores, efforts from many in the sport to improve the developmental aspects of college soccer are finally realized, and potential pros between 18-22 will finally have a viable option to pursue their education and their career simultaneously.