The hosts of the 2026 World Cup are getting better and better

The organizers of the 2026 World Cup in Qatar have all already been eliminated. In terms of sport, however, the North and Central Americans have made astonishing developments – especially the USA and Canada.

He symbolizes the progress of North American football: the Canadian international Alphonso Davies.

Ibraheem Al Omari / Reuters

For the first time in history, all three North American states, the USA, Canada and Mexico, took part in a football World Cup. This is mainly due to the fact that, unlike the almost always qualified Mexicans, enthusiasm for the game in the USA and Canada had long been limited.

In the two countries, football is less known as “football” than as “soccer”, with the different terms denoting different types of sport. While the performances of the Americans and Canadians may at times have had little to do with football to sneering Europeans, solid performances by both nations in Qatar showed that this is likely to change in the future. Especially with regard to the 2026 World Cup, which will take place in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

There was one shortcoming: the efficiency in the exploitation of goal chances

Although the World Football Association (Fifa) has not yet definitively confirmed the automatic qualification of the hosts for the major event in three and a half years, which is usually associated with the organization of a tournament, it can be assumed that all three countries will take part.

Especially since the number of participants will be increased from 32 to 48 countries, which means that the continental association Concacaf, under whose umbrella the qualifiers in North and Central America and the Caribbean will be held, are guaranteed six starting places. This circumstance is likely to further accelerate developments in the USA and Canada. Both nations are now a long way from catching up with the Mexicans, who hurried earlier and are now weakening after the first preliminary round out since the 1978 World Cup – if this has not already happened in Qatar.

The approach and identity of the Americans and Canadians seem very similar. It starts with the nomination of the players, who are almost always young and talented. Some of them are already under contract with top clubs in Europe. For example, Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic scored the winning goal for the USA to reach the round of 16, in which the Netherlands proved too strong on Saturday with a 3-1 draw. And Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich’s well-loved left-back, is the best and most well-known player Canada has ever produced. He scored his country’s historic first goal at a World Cup finals in the preliminary round.

The Mexican team does not have professionals of this quality. Many players play in the domestic league, also because the clubs have recently made it difficult to move overseas with sometimes excessive transfer demands.

Compared to the spirited appearance of the Mexicans, the style of play of the American and Canadian national teams is significantly more powerful and runs more intensively. This is what North Americans are generally known for. The good athleticism was shown at this World Championship in a well-coordinated forechecking, which made it difficult for the opponents to combine forwards.

Both the USA and Canada have made significant additions to ball possession. With a respectable combination of football, the North Americans at times pushed rivals such as England and Belgium behind and created opportunities. However, this showed one of the deficits that still existed: the efficiency in the exploitation of scoring chances. Both countries lack an internationally respected goalgetter who would have made staying in the tournament longer more likely. The Mexicans also scored just two goals in Qatar – from a corner kick and a free kick.

Berhalter as the first American as a player and coach at a World Cup – but can he stay?

In terms of penetration, the lack of international experience of most of the players was most noticeable. Because the USA missed the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Canada qualified for only the second time since 1986, it was the debut at a world tournament for all players except for American defender DeAndre Yedlin.

The same goes for the coaches. Gregg Berhalter was the first American to take part in a World Cup as a player and coach. His colleague in Canada, John Herdman, had already qualified for a tournament of this category with women’s teams. What they have in common is the game philosophy and the ability to lead and motivate a team.

Gregg Berhalter (left), USA coach.

Gregg Berhalter (left), USA coach.

Annegret Hilse / Reuters

While Herdman continues to enjoy the FA’s confidence, a contract extension with Berhalter is uncertain. The Americans secretly hoped for more from their team. The Mexicans will even have to look for a successor to coach Gerardo Martino, whose contract will not be renewed.

The change in coaching position offers football-mad Mexico a chance to regroup ahead of their home World Cup. Because with the USA and Canada, the competition for supremacy in North America is greater than ever.

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