The 2026 World Cup schedule was released over the weekend, but not every city will be all the way pleased with the results.
After months of speculation, the 2026 World Cup schedule has finally arrived. The massively sprawling tournament will start in Mexico City and end in New Jersey, and for the most part it’s a pretty even spread of matches across all of the host cities.
However, some particularly ambitious destinations might feel like they got the short end of the stick. Not everyone is going to go home happy after this, so let’s take a look at the winners and the losers of the World Cup 2026 scheduling.
Anytime you can host the world’s biggest sporting event, it’s a massive win. And for New Jersey, who seemingly snatched this match from the hands of Dallas, it’s a particularly big one.
MetLife Stadium’s proximity to New York City is the big draw here, but many had thought that since it’s in a different state, that it would hurt its chances at hosting. Now that it has the big game in its hands, perhaps we’ll see some efforts to make getting to the stadium a bit easier for fans traveling across the world.
For a minute, it seemed like Los Angeles wasn’t going to have any World Cup matches at all. Disputes between Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, owner of SoFi Stadium, and FIFA threatened to remove LA’s status as a host city, but a renewed push to resolve the issues has it back in the mix.
While it won’t be getting a final or semifinal, LA will see the United States men’s national team for two of its group stage matches, which is guaranteed to have SoFi rocking with some incredibly loud, if not questionable fan chants. To go from potentially nothing to a premium slate of group stage games and three knockout round matches is pretty solid.
There’s a massive bias towards U.S.-based host cities in the 2026 World Cup, as three-quarters of the 104-match tournament will be on American soil. However, all eyes will be on Mexico City and the Estadio Azteca to kick things off with a bang.
While it’s not like hosting the final, hosting the opening match is still a massive deal, as the anticipation for the tournament to get started is nearly as high as it is for it to conclude. 2022’s opening match between Qatar and Ecuador drew in over a half-billion viewers worldwide, and we can expect that number to increase come 2026.
While it would’ve been nice to see Mexico City receive more knockout stage matches, it’s still a big honor to be the city where everything gets started.
While the nine matches scheduled at AT&T Stadium, including four in the knockout round, are the most out of any other venue, you have to think there is a bitter taste in the city’s mouth because it won’t be hosting the most important match.
Dallas was a surprise favorite to play host to the 2026 World Cup Final, but it will instead have to settle for a semifinal, round of 16, two round of 32, and five group stage matches. Not a bad consolation, but not the city’s ultimate goal.
Even with its planned expansion, BMO Field doesn’t have the capacity to host any matches past the round of 16 per FIFA’s requirements, which is a real shame. Canada’s largest city will only receive six total matches, which isn’t a paltry number by any means, especially when considering Mexico City’s only receiving five, but just one knockout match in The Six is a tough break.
Tied with Monterrey for the least amount of total matches with four, Guadalajara is the only host city that won’t have a knockout stage match. Having the second-smallest stadium capacity doesn’t help, but to not even receive one game with guaranteed win-or-go-home implications is a pretty raw deal for the Estadio Akron.