Many American soccer fans woke up on Wednesday morning to the news that the United States-led united bid had defeated Morocco and been voted as host of the 2026 World Cup . Tyler Adams was already awake. Still re-adjusting to the time change after his recent week with the U.S. national team in Europe, the New York Red Bulls midfielder was up well before the vote was decided, anxiously awaiting word that would affect all Americans, but especially young players like him who could be on the field playing in a World Cup on home soil eight years from now.
“I was up and waiting to find out. I was well awake for that,” Adams said on Wednesday after the Red Bulls’ 2-1 win against Seattle. “It’s really, really exciting to have the World Cup come to your home country because you can have friends and family wherever the event may be, and I’m hoping to be a core guy for that world Cup. I just need to continue to establish myself now and gain experience like the France game, and they’ll make me be ready for that time.”
Adams, 19, was still four years away from even being born when the 1994 World Cup was played in the United States so he doesn’t have the first-hand experience of what a World Cup on home soil can do for the sport. One player who knows all too well what it can mean is Adams’ Red Bulls teammate, all-star goalkeeper Luis Robles. The 34-year-old record-setting goalkeeper was an impressionable 10-year-old in 1994 and he was one of the generation of American children who caught the soccer bug with the help of that year’s World Cup.
“It introduced me to the game, because I didn’t play soccer to that point,” Robles told Goal . “I played it on the school yard, I played rec one year, but I was a baseball player. But then all of a sudden there’s the World Cup and this game of soccer. The stadiums were full and it really was amazing and it introduced me to the beautiful game. After that I knew players like Alexi Lalas and Tony Meola, so when I was 11 and they asked me if I want to play goalie I thought ‘Hey, Tony Meola plays goalie so I’m going to do that.’ It was a pretty good introduction and it’s pretty exciting to see what that’s going to do for soccer in this country.”
Wednesday’s news not only helped generate excitement among American soccer fans still hurting from the U.S. national team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup , it also helped set a new goal for players who will aspire to be a part of the American team that takes the field in 2018.
“I’ll have a chance to play a World Cup on home soil. Even just going to a World Cup would be incredible, but being able to play in front of your family and friends would be even more incredible,” Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan told Goal. “I’m just stoked, not just individually, but for all the American players that will have a chance to play, and all the Americans who will have a chance to see a World Cup before their eyes.
“At that point I’ll be 31 years old, so it might be tough to make it,” Roldan said. “It’s tough right now, at 23, but it’ll be even tougher at 31. If I can continue to progress I’ll have a chance. I’ve already set some goals for myself, like the World Cup in Qatar, but the World Cup in the United States is definitely another one.”
By the time the 2026 World Cup kicks off, it will have been 32 years between the World Cups on American soil, a full generation, and the fans and aspiring players who were inspired in 1994 will turn into the parents preparing to see their own children experience the same feeling they enjoyed.
“My son will be 13 in 2026, and it’s going to be such a great experience for him,” Robles told Goal .”I know what it meant for me, and I’m just looking forward to being able to see him have that same experience.”