9 Thoughts On The 2026 World Cup Schedule

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Slow Down – the 2026 World Cup Schedule is Out??

First things, first. The live stream announcement from FIFA for the 2026 World Cup Schedule Reveal occurred on FEB 04, 2024.

It was fine. As expected, FIFA dragged out the news for an hour and had awkward, scripted conversations, poor audio – and of course the schedule!

Side note – did anyone else get NoHo Hank vibes with FIFA President, Infantino, during that broadcast?

A Few Different Perspectives of the Schedule

If you haven’t already, you can view the entire schedule on FIFA’s website.

Additionally, you can view a timelapse visual that maps out each host city by date on either Instagram or TikTok.

Below (or in our X post and Instagram Reel) you will find our breakdown of the schedule where we provided perspectives on:

  • Matches by Host City
  • Host City by # of Matches
  • Dates of Each Stage
  • Host Cities in Knockout Stages
  • Schedule for the 3 Host Countries

Our 9 Thoughts on the Schedule

Aside from the perspectives above to quickly see the schedule in various lights, we had 9 thoughts that came to mind after digesting the reveal.

Reader’s Note: We were sent a message from a reader (thanks!) saying it may be worth encouraging those that are not familiar with the sheer size of US, Canada and Mexico to look up the driving and flight distances as we make a few references below that may sound like the cities are closer than they really are.

1. Regions & Following the Hosts

Given the vastness of this tournament across 3 separate countries, we knew that group matches would largely be regionalized. We still don’t know how much travel each team will do (aside from the host countries!) across the group stages since qualification is still going on and the draw hasn’t taken place, but at least the fans (and players) won’t be jet-setting through numerous time zones for each match.

Unsurprisingly, the hosts will compete within their own country throughout the group stages.

Mexico plays in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

Canada plays in Toronto, Vancouver, Vancouver. This means they also will break the region setup for 1 match to ensure there’s exposure across the only 2 Canadian host cities. With 6 days between matches, there’s ample opportunity to rest and adjust at least.

USA plays in Los Angeles, Seattle, Los Angeles. We’re a bit surprised the Bay Area (aka San Francisco) didn’t get included in group play especially since it is in between Los Angeles and Seattle, but that’s how it is.

If you prioritize seeing USA play every match during the groups, it means you’ll be spending a lot of time on the west coast.

You also have 2 opportunities to make the drive between Los Angeles and Seattle if you want to turn the tournament into an exploratory adventure across the US as well! Note: this drive requires multiple overnights but if you click into that link, you’ll see why.

2. Dallas Loses Out on Final but…

It was widely rumored and expected that Dallas would win the final for the 2026 World Cup BUT – it did not.

Mostly because the world seemed to consider the decision complete, it was a small surprise to many, except those in New York / New Jersey as they never lost confidence.

We’re a little surprised by the decision because Dallas was the newer stadium and as Texans say “bigger and better” as well as a controlled environment. However, it also makes sense that now both semifinals are in climate controlled stadiums and with NYC on the east coast, the time zones are more favorable to the rest of the world.

That said, Dallas will host NINE matches and the most of any host city, more than doubling what Guadalajara and Monterrey are hosting. It seems there was an obvious concession that whomever did not get the final would host the most matches. Congrats to those in Texas as Houston and Dallas is only a few hour drive and 16 total matches (though, they both host matches on the same day twice).

3. Atlanta / Boston / Houston – Group Stage Party

Our first impression when looking at the group stage is Atlanta, Houston and Boston have very favorable schedules for those that will base themselves (or already live) here!

  • Atlanta Group Stage: Jun 15, 18, 21, 24, 27
  • Boston Group Stage: June 13, 16, 19, 23, 26
  • Houston Group Stage: Jun 14, 17, 20, 23, 26

Each city will host 5 group matches in a 12 or 13 day span – incredible!

When friends ask us which cities to base themselves in, I would say one of these makes sense due to the schedule, with a personal preference to either Boston or Atlanta.

If pressed more, we would suggest Atlanta as a base given this schedule and below details:

  • It’s rather easy to travel to/from the stadium if you’re staying in midtown/downtown via public transit.
  • While Atlanta requires a car to fully explore what the city and surrounding areas have to offer, it is certainly not necessary to enjoy the city and experience the matches.
    • The MARTA transit, bike lines and electric options can be combined with services like Lyft or Uber to keep you moving easily.
  • It has an incredible foodie, bar and nightlife scene.
  • The airport, the busiest in the world, accesses every host city with direct flights from a variety of airlines.
    • This was one of many factors in the recent announcement that even USA Soccer is relocating its headquarters to the city limits.
  • The stadium is one of the nicest in the world and with its retractable roof, will protect fans from the intense summer heat and humidity – providing one of the more comfortable game day atmosphere’s in 2026.
  • The city is used to hosting major events and conferences and can easily accommodate the influx of fans with hotels, airbnbs, etc.
    • You can easily stay further north, south, east or west off the MARTA line for lower price and travel in and out of the city fun, if needed.

4. Altitude Advantage for Mexico

All of Mexico’s matches for the Group Stage are at an altitude level that’s vastly different than any of the other host cities.

Mexico City is above 2,200m / 7,000 ft and Guadalajara is above 1,500m / 5,000ft. With the heat and humidity factors as well, Mexico will have a clear advantage – especially if members of its groups are navigating back and forth between the lower elevations.

It only made sense that Mexico City and its Azteca Stadium host the Opening Match if USA was hosting the final and it was somewhat of a relief to see FIFA not mess this up.

Looking further, it is also possible FIFA set this schedule up so Mexico plays in the confines of its host country and altitude through the Round of 32 and Round of 16 as well. If you check the dates of the matches, you wonder if the Group Stages will see the 1st or 2nd place team from Mexico’s group playing in that June 30 and July 05 timeframe.

With Mexico infamously failing to get past the Round of 16 for many years in a row, if this holds true (and we are purely speculating at this point), they could have a very favorable path to the Quarterfinals!

5. SIX Matches a Day Jun 24 to Jun 27

Given the infamous history of previous World Cup editions where the last group matches did not take place simultaneously, the recent editions have seen the last group match kick off at the same time for all 4 teams.

This tradition continues for 2026, but because of the increase in matches (side note, tournaments with 32 teams featured 64 matches – in 2026, there will be 72 matches in the group stage alone!) – we’ll see a fan’s dream from June 24 to June 27.

During those 4 days, there will be SIX matches per day with 3 groups each day finishing their initial stage.

Intense sunrise to sundown World Cup action – we’re already giddy.

6. Guadalajara Is Only City Without Knockout

There’s not much to say here other than we found it interesting that only one host city misses out on a knockout round and that city is Guadalajara, Mexico.

Correction Made: Originally, we stated that Monterrey was the city missing out on a knockout round with the comment “Given the viral nature of its stadium backdrop when the host cities were announced, and its proud culture around its local team, it is somewhat surprising.” Well… the majestic backdrop won’t be excluded – and Monterrey does indeed host a knockout round!

7. July 04 in Houston / Philadelphia – the 250th birthday of USA

When traveling to recent World Cups, it was always a point of interest to identify with local culture. To our pleasant surprise, we were in Saint Petersburg for the White Nights Festival in 2018. It will remain a special memory forever.

Well, for international visitors, you have the opportunity to celebrate America’s independence day on July 04 with a World Cup Round of 16 Match in two cities, Houston and Philadelphia. We can promise you, the 4th of July is a unique holiday in the States and honestly, being in a city that hosts a match that day isn’t a necessity – but it could add some flavor to your visit.

Given that July 04, 2026 is also the 250th birthday of America, it’s going to be a special celebration.

Between the two, Philadelphia would be a special city to visit during the 4th as it is where the Declaration of Independence was signed – and again, July 04, 2026 will mark the 250th anniversary of this special moment in America’s history. Jumping over to Philly for a Round of 16 match on this edition of the 4th will absolutely be a visit you’ll remember for a lifetime.

The only thing that could make it more special is if the match is between USA and England. 👀

8. Round of 16 to Finals, Who Hosts Multiple Matches

Once the schedule hits the Round of 16, which was previously the first round of knockouts, only 3 cities host multiple matches.

  • Atlanta: July 07 (Rd of 16), July 16 (Semifinal)
  • Dallas: July 06 (Rd of 16), July 15 (Semifinal)
  • Miami: July 11 (Quarterfinal), July 18 (3rd Place)

Does it mean anything? Not really – only pointing it out as there’s a long time between matches here. All of these cities are short flights to one another and you can, in theory, bounce around via plane (it’d get expensive, fast).

NYC also hosts a Round of 16 on July 05 before the Final on July 19 – but it’s also a further flight than this “cluster” (stretching the use of that word!) of host cities with multiple knockouts and a 2 week gap between matches.

9. NYC / NJ For the Final

The tournament and all its glory will end in New York City, where the stadium is actually in the state of New Jersey. The distance is not far and has similar commutes from city centre to stadium as some other hosts, but it may surprise some that you will be crossing state lines.

As we mention above, it was slightly surprising given that Dallas is the new, shiny object with a more comfortable spectator appeal; however, it also makes complete sense. New York City is synonymous with USA and an integral part of global culture. How could the final NOT be here?

Fans can easily experience the “Big Apple” city (can’t wait to see the headlines of price gouging for a World Cup Final!) and attend the match. It will be expensive, full of unnecessary glitz and glamour and magical all at the same time.

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