As the 2022 World Cup draws to a close, anticipation is already building for the next tournament, that is, if you’re in North America. The 2026 edition of football’s biggest international competition will see the USA, Canada and Mexico host, hoping to match the excitement we’ve seen in Qatar throughout the first-ever winter World Cup.
The next tournament will feature 48 teams, making it the biggest World Cup in history. While making World Cup bets was already a challenging task this year, the hosts will have their work cut out for them if they want to improve on their own campaigns in Qatar. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how each of the three host nations for 2026 performed at this year’s World Cup.
It is certainly a period for optimism as far as football in the USA is concerned. Having made it out of a tough group alongside England, Wales and Iran, despite many believing Rob Page’s dragons would actually snatch that second place, the United States national team showed fight and courage, but ultimately the Netherlands had too much quality for them in the round of 16.
Nevertheless, this is a young side, with the average age around 25, so there is plenty to get excited about with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie approaching their prime years by the time the next tournament rolls around. With the final on American soil, and plenty of talent emerging through, the USA can dream big as it always does, but there’s every reason to suggest they could go a step further in 2026.
Canadians will have felt encouraged by their spirited defeat to Belgium in the opening game of the World Cup. This was just their second ever time on the world’s biggest stage and had Alphonso Davies, the country’s star player, converted his first half penalty, perhaps things would have been different. The campaign is one full of missed opportunity. At first, they looked as if they were there to compete and not just fill up the numbers, but after manager John Herdman’s comments going into Croatia, it’s the North Americans left with egg on their face after they failed to record a point in the group. But with the likes of Davies and Lille’s Jonathan David still some way off their peak, and with qualification already guaranteed, Canada will be hoping for a better turnout next time round.
Mexico have developed a reputation as World Cup stalwarts, and after a couple of solid campaigns they had reason to be optimistic for Qatar. While Brazil looked destined to win the World Cup on home soil in 2014, and we all know how their story ended with a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany, they found themselves equally frustrated in their group game with the Mexicans. That was down to a superb performance from Guillermo Ochoa, who made a whopping nine saves to keep the likes of Oscar, Neymar and Hulk at bay to earn his side a goalless draw.
Ochoa has become something of a cult figure in modern World Cups for his heroics, and after a good 2018 campaign he began in Qatar by saving Robert Lewandowski’s penalty for a 0-0 with Poland. However, that’s about as far as Mexico’s good fortunes go. Defeat to Argentina meant that going into their final game, qualification for the round of 16 was out of their control. Despite beating Saudi Arabia 2-1, they finished third in the group and will have to wait four years to try and better their position.