2026 World Cup schedule reveal: FIFA picks New York for final, Mexico for opener, west coast for USMNT

The 2026 World Cup will open in Mexico City and conclude at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The U.S. men’s national team will play in Los Angeles, twice, and in Seattle. The semifinals will be staged in Dallas and CITY. And overall, 78 of 104 games will be in the United States.

Those were the top-line takeaways Sunday as FIFA revealed foundational pieces of the most complex World Cup schedule ever.

The 16 North American cities selected — 11 in the U.S., three in Mexico and two in Canada — learned the dates and magnitude of the games they'll get to host.

And New York celebrated. The final is the crown jewel, the planet’s most-watched sporting event, an unparalleled showpiece, and a big reason Sunday’s announcement was so eagerly anticipated. After months of lobbying, MetLife Stadium beat AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to the grand prize.

FIFA announces 2026 World Cup final location

Years ago, when FIFA's members entrusted the U.S., Canada and Mexico with the 2026 World Cup, New York was the presumed final favorite. But throughout 2022 and 2023, insider predictions wavered. Dallas emerged as another leading contender. Los Angeles also entered what became a three-horse race.

Ultimately, though, FIFA fell back on the natural choice, the cultural capital of the Western world, a global city for a truly global sporting event. New York officials offered to light up prominent landmarks and host viewing parties in Central Park.

Their adjacent stadium, in nearby New Jersey, was less appealing. MetLife pales in size and grandeur to JerryWorld in Texas. It struggled with its biggest event to date, the 2014 Super Bowl. It was the only of three candidates incapable of climate control, and therefore susceptible to suffocating temperatures or extreme weather.

But it is the most experienced soccer venue of the three, and likely the most capable of maintaining well-manicured grass. All 11 U.S. venues will install specialized natural surfaces for the World Cup. But for an indoor arena like AT&T Stadium, crafting a field that will “survive the duration of the tournament … is a huge challenge,” Heimo Shrigi, the World Cup’s chief operating officer, told reporters this past fall.

SoFi Stadium in Southern California was also attractive. It boasts a retractable roof and ultra-modern amenities in the entertainment industry’s backyard. But the $5.5 billion building had one fatal flaw: it is too narrow. FIFA regulations for the width and length of playing fields will force SoFi to make significant alterations. Those alterations will trim its capacity for World Cup matches to well below the 80,000 that FIFA requires for the final.

And they'll also cost money. Throughout 2023, SoFi officials and the L.A. organizing committee, led by Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, bickered over who would foot the World Cup bill. Tensions have since eased, multiple people familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports, but the months-long standoff — along with insufficient capacity and the nine-hour time difference between the west coast and Europe — effectively removed L.A. from consideration.

So FIFA chose New York and New Jersey for the showpiece.

This is a developing story and will be updated with more detail.