Although the United States Men’s National Team won’t partake in the 2018 World Cup, American soccer fans have something to be excited about — the United States (along with Canada and Mexico) was just awarded the bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
— United 2026 (@united2026) June 13, 2018
This will be the second time that the world’s most popular sporting event takes place in the United States, with the other time coming back in 1994, where matches were played in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, and Orlando. The precise locations of where the 2026 matches will take place are currently unknown.
However, we at least know the finalists. Currently, there are 17 cities in the running — Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/NJ, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, and the one and only, Nashville.
At some point, the list of 17 will be narrowed down to 10, and there’s no question that Music City is deserving of the honor to host World Cup matches.
Clearly, the two largest cities — New York City and Los Angeles — will make the final cut. There’s no getting around that. Atlanta is also deserving of a spot, as it is the international travel capital of the world.
That leaves six slots. While each one of the remaining 11 cities is truly fantastic in its own way, here are a few reasons why Nashville will have undoubtedly earned a final spot.
Nashville has two professional sports teams — the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators (more on them later). By the time the 2026 World Cup rolls around, Nashville will have added one more to the party for six years — an yet-to-be-named Major League Soccer franchise.
In the meantime, Music City has Nashville SC, a participant in the United Soccer League. Obviously, the buzz surrounding Nashville SC was sufficient enough to grant the city an MLS squad. While plenty of the finalist cities are home to MLS squads, Nashville will be an established soccer city by 2026, which only bolsters their case.
Great Sports City
As previously mentioned, two professional franchises reside in Nashville, the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and NHL’s Nashville Predators.
The Titans are fresh off a successful 2017 campaign that saw them win nine games, make their first postseason appearance since 2008, and earn their first playoff game since 2003. With a young quarterback in place, Nissan Stadium — where the World Cup matches would take place in 2026 — is sure to enhance its status as a desirable sports venue. On the other hand, the Preds and their fans need no introduction.
Over the last season seasons, Nashville has embarked on a Cinderella Stanley Cup Final run and remarkably captured last season’s President’s Trophy. Their fans are some of the loudest and most loyal in all of hockey. More importantly, the popularity of both franchises has the city accustomed to handling large crowds, a necessary component of any World Cup hosting city.
At the end of the day, people are traveling thousands of miles from around the world for two reasons — soccer and fun. They’ll get their soccer at Nissan Stadium, but they’ll engage in numerous activities classified as “fun” on the electric streets of nighttime Nashville.
Simply put, the combination of bars, country music, and passionate soccer fans from every corner of the Earth is a perfect blend. I’m pretty sure Cincinnati is a wonderful city, but they haven’t fired Marvin Lewis from the Bengals, and the Reds are an atrocity. Clearly, this is not a city you want a World Cup at. And while Orlando has Disney World, they had their chance in 1994.
It’s time for Nashville to get some international shine, and there’s no bigger platform imaginable than the World Cup.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press