U.S. Soccer Is Acting Like Biff, Not Marty
That feeling when winning sort of feels like losing.
The United States, partnering with Canada and Mexico (United 2026), won the bid to officially host the 2026 World Cup. Beating Morocco, this victory is a long-distance–yet still unsatisfactory in the short-term–solace for missing this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
It’s great news on the surface, yet there are rumblings underneath that fuel discomfort.
The first discomfort is the reminder of no American team in the World Cup that kicks off tomorrow with host Russia vs. Saudi Arabia. The second and equally important discomfort stems from the list of cities submitted by United 2026. Of the 17 American cities, Columbus, Ohio is noticeably absent. Cincinnati made the list, which makes perfect sense since the city was awarded its MLS promotion, what, a week ago?
Plus, the rumored location for the 2026 World Cup final by United 2026 is the greatest soccer venue in the United States:
MetLife Stadium with an estimated capacity of 82,500. Remember this figure for later on in this article).
It is my analytical judgment that Columbus is The soccer capital of the United States of America. This is supported by extensive evidence both practical and philosophical. I don’t have time right now to dive into my dissertation on this subject, but it’s far beyond a mere opinion.
Anyways, the Columbus omission had to be due to lack of interest or just a failed bid.
The former seems implausible because of the 20+ year history of the Columbus Crew–including games and critical players to the USMNT–and its famous Dos-a-Cero matches, along with other USMNT friendlies and USWNT World Cup matches. I don’t have any information concerning the latter, but the fact nothing has come to light for that matter is not an encouraging sign for thinking Columbus simply failed to win a bid as one of the top 17 soccer cities in America.
Add in the 2016 friendly at the Horseshoe between European giants Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in front of more than 86,000 fans by comparing it to the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, which was attended by just shy of 75,000 people.
Just an FYI. History, fandom, and infrastructure (stadiums, hotels, restaurants, attractions, security, etc.) are all here and ready in Columbus.
Right now, I’m as happy about the U.S. winning the bid to be the primary host country for the 2026 World Cup (40 of 60 games in the U.S.) as I am about FC Cincinnati entering MLS next season. If one addition is at the expense of the other, which happens to carry with it unrivaled historical weight, then no, I’m not all that happy.
It’s a double-edged sword. If Columbus wasn’t being schemed against as an MLS team and as a leading soccer city nationally, then today would be one of much happier celebration. Sadly, that’s just not the reality. It seems, at least at this point, that Columbus is a primary target for removal by MLS and U.S. Soccer akin to Marty McFly’s family photograph in ‘Back to the Future.’
I thought the USMNT missing the 2018 World Cup was an embarrassing low-point.
I was wrong because this 2026 “win” feels like another massive loss for the identity of American soccer.