When Was The Last Time The US Hosted A FIFA World Cup Match?

The United States, Canada, and Mexico are slated to jointly host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The month-long event will take place across the continent, with 16 to 19 cities playing host to matches throughout the tournament. According to NBC Sports, the United States cities in the running for a hosting spot are Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC/Baltimore. Even before the June 16 announcement, Yahoo Sports reported that several cities and stadiums were almost certainly going to make the cut, including the New York City-area's MetLife Stadium, L.A.'s Rose Bowl, Dallas' AT&T Stadium, and Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Canadian cities vying for spots are Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver, while in Mexico, possible host cities include Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.

When the 2026 FIFA World Cup gets underway, it won't be the first time a World Cup match is played in the United States, but it will be the first time in more than three decades.

The United States last hosted the World Cup in 1994

While in 2026, the U.S. will share hosting duties with its neighbors to the north and south, in 1994, the country took on one of the world's biggest sporting events alone. According to FIFA, the first match of the tournament took place on June 17, 1994, at Chicago's Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. That match pitted Germany and Bolivia, with the Germans taking a 1-0 victory. That same day — considerably further south — Spain and South Korea played to a 2-2 draw at the Cotton Bowl near Dallas, Texas.

Other stadiums that hosted matches in '94 were Detroit's Pontiac Silverdome, New Jersey's Giants Stadium, the Rose Bowl, Orlando's Citrus Bowl, Washington D.C.'s RFK Stadium, Stanford Stadium near San Francisco, and Foxboro Stadium near Boston. The World Cup championship game was held at the Rose Bowl on July 17 and pitted Brazil against Italy. After going scoreless in regulation, Brazil took home the World Cup by winning 3-2 on penalty kicks.

How did the United States fare as a host city?

So, has hosting FIFA's marquee event been kind to the United States? The only time the U.S. hosted the event was in 1994. Traditionally, host countries receive an automatic bid and can forego the qualifying stages — something expected to continue in 2026, despite the controversy surrounding all three host nations getting automatic bids, per The Washington Post — so the U.S. was in the World Cup field.

In 1994, the United States entered the group stage as part of Group A with Romania, Switzerland, and Colombia. The U.S. just managed to eek its way into the knockout rounds after posting a 1-1-1 record and an even goal differential. The hosts didn't last much longer than that, though, as they were defeated by Brazil — the eventual champions — in the Round of Sixteen by a score of 1-0 (via FIFA).

On the women's side, the United States has hosted the World Cup twice, once in 1999 and again four years later in 2003. The team managed to become the only women's team to win on home soil by winning the 1999 World Cup, per U.S. Soccer.