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Soccer

Have the USMNT automatically qualified for the 2026 World Cup or do they have to play in qualifiers?

With 16 additional teams at the 2026 World Cup, one round of group stage games will be eliminated and replaced by an additional round in the knockout stage.

Update:
SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA - MARCH 30:  Player of United State line up before a match between Costa Rica and United States as part of the Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Estadio Nacional on March 30, 2022 in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo by Victor Baldizon/Getty Images)
Victor Baldizon GETTY IMAGESGetty Images

The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament featuring 48 teams split in 16 groups of three.

The venues for the 2026 World Cup were announced on Thursday, with 16 host cities spread across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

48 teams

It will be the first World Cup to feature 48 teams, with the USA, Canada and Mexico all automatically qualifying for the tournament as host countries.

The 11 US cities awarded hosting duties are Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.

Mexico and Canada

Mexican cities Mexico City and Guadalajara are set to host the World Cup for the third time (1970 and 1986), while Monterrey was chosen for the second time. In Canada, Toronto and Vancouver will host games in the 2026 edition of the tournament.

New format for 2026 World Cup

Each team will play two group stage games, with the 1st and 2nd-place finishers advancing to the round of 32.

With 16 additional teams, one round of group stage games will be eliminated and replaced by an additional round in the knockout rounds.

In the new format, the total number of matches in the World Cup will increase from 64 in 2022 to 80 in 2026.

2022 World Cup

The announcement of the host cities will have many thinking about the next World Cup but for the time being, most eyes will be on this winter’s edition in Qatar.

In the current 32-team format, there is a group stage involving eight groups of four teams each. The top two finishers in each group qualify for a 16-team single-elimination bracket-style knockout stage.

The 2022 World Cup gets underway on 21 November and ends on 18 December.

32 teams in Qatar

Group A

Qatar (hosts)

Ecuador

Senegal

Netherlands

Group B

England

Iran

United States

Wales

Group C

Argentina

Saudi Arabia

Mexico

Poland

Group D

France

Australia

Denmark

Tunisia

Group E

Spain

Costa Rica

Germany

Japan

Group F

Belgium

Canada

Morocco

Croatia

Group G

Brazil

Serbia

Switzerland

Cameroon

Group H

Portugal

Ghana

Uruguay

South Korea

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