No one knows exactly what soccer or the United States will look like eight years from now.

But the sport is destined to mix with U.S. society after FIFA voted Wednesday to award North America the right to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Fans in the United States, Canada and Mexico already are counting the days until the world’s biggest sporting event returns to the region for the first time since 1994. Now’s a great time to learn how it happened and what World Cup 2026 might mean for the sport and the United States.

Meanwhile, Russia kicked off the 2018 World Cup with a bang, trouncing Saudi Arabia 5-0 on Thursday in the most lopsided World Cup-opening game in generations.

Finally, Spain fired head coach head coach Julen Lopetegui two days before its first World Cup 2018 game, but our experts,’s Nick Goss, Marc DiBenedetto and Marcus Kwesi O’Mard, are divided over how the extraordinary move will affect La Roja’s chances of success.

Hear all this and more on a special World Cup episode of “The NESN Soccer Podcast,” which you can listen to here.

Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images