Both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts will be announced Thursday morning at 7 a.m. local time. The announcement will take place in Zurich, Switzerland, where the final arguments from bidding countries have been taking place today. The United States pulled out of the 2018 bidding to focus solely on the 2022 effort, of which Seattle is a part of.
The U.S. sent the big guns to Zurich on Wednesday, looking to wow the decision makers and leave a lasting impression. Among those in attendance: former President Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman and US Men's National Team member Landon Donovan. The passion for soccer demonstrated by Americans during the 2010 World Cup became a selling point, with the infrastructure already in place an added bonus for the US bid.
United States - Considered the favorite by many for 2022. The U.S. would not need to build any new stadiums; it can offer one of the world's most enormous economies; it's home to a now more-respected MLS; and there's the fact that Americans bought more tickets to the 2010 World Cup than any other country (besides the South African hosts). Its relatively recent hosting job in 1994 may hurt its case, however.
One of the cores of the United States' bid is the continued progression of Major League Soccer in the country. The MLS has seen remarkable success in the city of Seattle, with sold out games and a fan-base as passionate as any since the Seattle Sounders joined the league in 2009. Soccer is alive and well in the Northwest, with Portland and Vancouver, our enemies to the north, joining the MLS in 2011.
Both Qwest Field and Husky Stadium were listed in the initial bidding and are viable sites should the 2022 World Cup be award to the U.S. Of those, Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders, appears to be the best option for a host site in the Northwest.
What are the chances the USA is awarded the bid tomorrow? It looks like a three-horse race, with the U.S., Qatar and Australia neck-and-neck just hours ahead of the decision.
While some bookies have made Qatar the favorite, other bookies have slotted the U.S. as the favorite. That puts them in the same group as many writers and analysts who have pegged the U.S. as the clear favorite following two years of the bid process that will come down to 22 votes on Thursday morning.
The announcement takes place at 7 a.m. Pacific Time and will be aired live on ESPN. For those that won't be around a TV, the FIFA website will be streaming the event live. Players, coaches and supporters are gathering at FC McRory's, in the shadow of Qwest Field, tomorrow morning to watch the event life, as well.
Stay tuned to our StoryStream for the latest leading up to the decision and for reaction following the announcement.