Bruce Arena SAN DIEGO, CA – JANUARY 29: Head coach Bruce Arena of the United States looks on during pregame warm-ups prior to their match against Serbia at Qualcomm Stadium on January 29, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)

The 2026 World Cup is still nine years away, and before its played, there are two other World Cups in Russia and Qatar. But if you want to talk about the United States winning a World Cup with USMNT coach Bruce Arena, don’t start talking about a Cup before 2026.

This past Monday the United States, Canada, and Mexico announced a joint bid between the three countries to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. If their bid is chosen, some of the earlier round games would take place in Canada and Mexico, and the biggest games being played in the United States.

Well if that ends up happening, that might be the first time the US Men’s National Team could win the World Cup, according to Arena, who recently said he thinks the US can win the tournament in 2026 – especially if it hosts.

“In 1994, I think the U.S. was looked at as this emerging frontier in the game, and FIFA wanted to bring the U.S into the world’s game,” Arena said Thursday.

“In 2026 we’re going to be fully emerged into the game and a big player. I think 2026 will be the time where we’re going to start talking about winning a World Cup. It wasn’t going to be in 1994, it wasn’t going to be in 2010. But 2026 could be our time.”

The United States previously hosted in 1994 and lost 1-0 to Brazil in the Round of 16. That was also the last time North America hosted the World Cup.

North America has only hosted the tournament three times: 1970 (Mexico), 1986 (Mexico), and 1994 (United States). South America, meanwhile, has hosted five times: 1930 (Uruguay), 1950 (Brazil), 1962 (Chile), 1978 (Argentina), and the last World Cup in 2014 (Brazil).

Arena is hoping that he’ll be coaching the United States in his second World Cup next summer in Russia. He took the US to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, its best finish since the first tournament in 1930 when the US finished third (out of 13 teams).

The 2002 World Cup is still the only World Cup to take place in multiple countries when South Korea and Japan co-hosted it.

“[Being] one of the host countries is an advantage, and think about where we’re going to be in nine more years,” Arena said.

“Nine more years in our league, nine more years of players developing all over the world and then playing a World Cup in our country. I think that we’re going to be positioned to be a big player in 2026.”

The 65-year-old coach was rehired last year when Jurgen Klinsmann was fired after losing the first two qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.


About David Lauterbach

David is a writer for The Comeback. He enjoyed two Men's Basketball Final Four trips for Syracuse before graduating in 2016. If The Office or Game of Thrones is on TV, David will be watching.