Richland Student Media

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Richland Student Media

Richland Student Media

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Richland Chronicle 5/07/24
Richland Chronicle 5/07/24

Dallas is America’s new soccer capital

AT&T stadium will see several matches in the upcoming World Cup games in Dallas in 2026, including a semifinal. (File Photo)

It is no secret that Texas teams are always in the conversation when it comes to championship contention. Whether it be in football, basketball, hockey or even baseball, you can never count teams out, especially Dallas. But what about soccer?
As we know, the current NJCAA Div III reigning soccer champs for the past six years are located in Dallas on the Richland campus of Dallas College (go Thunderducks!), as well as one of the NCAA Div I powerhouses located closer to downtown in SMU. In the MLS, FC Dallas tends to have a strong showing throughout the regular season, and Dallas is home to a huge amount of club teams throughout the Metroplex, arguably more than cities like Los Angeles.
Due to this, Dallas will be hosting nine out of 104 (yes, you read that right) games as a FIFA World Cup host city in 2026. Although it may seem like a small number, hosting nine games with one being a semifinal is a huge deal. This recognizes how important soccer culture is becoming in Dallas.
The increase of games has to do with a change in the tournament format. The last World Cup was the last one in which only 32 teams qualified. FIFA decided to change things up, increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48. Originally, there were plans to divide the nations participating into groups of three. However, FIFA then decided against it and chose to make 12 groups of four, adding a round of 32 to the tournament. In each group of four, the top two teams will advance to the round of 32, followed by the top eight teams that finish in their groups in third place. The teams that finish in third place will be separated by goal difference, followed by goals scored, then goals allowed, with the final tie-breaker being discipline (yellow/red cards received).
This World Cup is looking to be even more exciting than the one we had last year, with many countries looking to qualify for the first time. Moreover, there is no clear front-runner for this World Cup. Big teams such as Brazil, Belgium and Croatia are way past their prime. England looks to have a strong squad, but don’t be surprised if we have a winner from Asia or Africa winning soccer’s most prestigious tournament. If there is any prediction to be made of this upcoming World Cup, it is that this one will go down in history as one of the most fun to watch ever.

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