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

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 are known, with 16 host cities spread across the United States, Canada and Mexico. And now it has been confirmed that the three host nations will automatically qualify for the tournament. This marks the first instance in which three host teams have been set aside from qualifying.

How many teams in World Cup 2026?

The tournament is scheduled to grow from 32 teams to 48, with an additional three berths awarded to CONCACAF nations through the typical qualification process. On Tuesday, FIFA issued a statement regarding these developments.

“In addition, the FIFA Council confirmed that, in line with the long-standing tradition of having all hosts competing at the FIFA World Cup, as well as sporting and operational considerations, the hosts of the FIFA World Cup 2026, namely Canada, Mexico and the USA, will qualify automatically for the final round of the competition, with their slots therefore being deducted from the overall allocation of six assigned to CONCACAF.”

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.

Your #FIFAWorldCup 2026 Host Cities:

🇺🇸Kansas City
🇺🇸Los Angeles
🇲🇽Mexico City
🇺🇸New York / New Jersey
🇺🇸San Francisco Bay Area

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2022

What is the 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.

Who qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

The announcement of the host cities for 2026 came shortly before December’s World Cup in Qatar. That followed a 32-team format, with an opening stage involving eight groups of four teams. The top two then went into a 16-team single-elimination bracket-style knockout stage, culminating in Lionel Messi’s Argentina beating Kylian Mbappé’s France in the showpiece final.

How many of the teams that played in Qatar will make it to the 2026 World Cup. Here’s who was there…

The 32 teams in Qatar 2022

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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