Although the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup is still in progress, planning for the next edition of the tournament is already well underway, as three countries will host together for the first time in the competition’s history.
USA, Canada and Mexico triumphed in their bid for the tournament which will see 48 teams competing as opposed to the standard 32.
It will be Canada’s first time as host, USA’s second and Mexico’s third.
As all three nations will secure automatic qualification, it eliminates them from the arduous process of fighting their way into the competition – with the North and Central America and Caribbean qualifying schedule deemed to be the most challenging.
USA were the only team of the three to come out of the group stage in Qatar, with Canada finishing bottom of their group and Mexico missing out by a marginal goal difference. The States then went on to suffer a 3-1 defeat by the Netherlands in the last 16.
The three teams now have almost four years to strengthen their squads and learn from their mistakes in order to progress further on their own soil.
Gregg Berhalter’s side had a relatively muted World Cup in Qatar after a mound of expectation was put on them to perform well in the tournament. One win against Iran and a draw against both England and Wales saw them finish second in Group B, with a strong Netherlands side defeating them in the knockout stage.
Despite the lacklustre performances, there were some key players that stood out as being of vital importance to the squad. The obvious name is Christian Pulisic. The Chelsea star scored the only goal in the win against Iran and was a consistent leader and creator on the pitch. Perhaps the only downfall was his lack of game time going into the tournament, starting only three Premier League games for the Blues this season. He is, however, on the radar of several other English clubs ahead of the January transfer window, so more game time will be of huge benefit to the midfielder, who will still only be 27-years-old at the next World Cup.
Antonee Robinson is another star performer who played impeccably during the tournament and will be one to watch over the coming years. The Fulham left-back starred in every minute of the four games and only conceded four goals without receiving a single yellow card. His Fulham teammate Tim Ream was also colossal in the heart of defence but, at 35, this will probably be his last major tournament.
Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna is sure to play a vital role in 2026 as the youngster was handed only 55 minutes of play during his time in Qatar. Reyna has since admitted that Berhalter advised the 20-year-old before the tournament that his game time will be limited, which in turn caused an alleged fall out in the camp.
It will be interesting to see how well they can progress, but their ambitions will be high given this squad has plenty of time to ripen.
El Tri had a rather disappointing end to their 2022 World Cup campaign after finishing third in their group behind Argentina and Poland. Despite a win against Saudi Arabia and a draw against Poland, it was the latter who finished in second with a better goal difference of just one.
The Mexican team are not known for their youth, with just four of the 26-man-squad being under the age of 25. They did, however, finish second in the CONCACAF qualifying group ahead of USA, before losing four friendlies since June. They are a difficult team to dissect, after failing to advance from the group stage since 1978.
Their star striker, Raul Jimenez, clocked only 59 minutes throughout the campaign after returning to the pitch following a groin injury. There is, however, a distinct lack of attacking power in the squad with only two goals scored across the three group games.
Feyenoord forward Santiago Giménez did not make the cut but will certainly be one to watch ahead of the next tournament, with five goals in five appearances for the Dutch club this season.
Mexico will now need to focus on developing their youth, with plenty of their recent call-ups donning potential. Most of these players are home based, but with the right coaching and international experience, they can remodel ahead of their home tournament in 2026.
Their coach, Tata Martino, has since left his post.
The Canadian team went into the World Cup in Qatar as underdogs but failed to live up to the small glimmers of expectation by failing to win any of their three group games. They did, however, have some tough competition in Morocco, Belgium and 2018 finalists Croatia.
Despite having an impressive qualification, finishing top of the CONCACAF table, their performance at the tournament was slightly marred by the fact they had to face such problematic opposition.
Their manager, John Herdman, has since spoken of how he wishes to face tougher rivals ahead of the 2026 edition in order to gain more experience and to strengthen their aptitude.
Players like striker Cyle Larin, who has bagged 25 goals in his 54 appearances for Les Rouges, will be prominent in the next few years. Alphonso Davies, too, with the 22-year-old four-time Bundesliga winner showcasing bags of potential during his time in Qatar – quick, defensive and a threat in front of goal.
There is huge potential in the youthful Canadian squad and the next four years will see them mature into the attacking force they can be.