2026 World Cup annoucement is like "rocket fuel" for soccer's popularity in America

Impact of 2026 World Cup on U.S. soccer

Just one day before the 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia without a U.S. team in play, American soccer fans still had a reason to rejoice. FIFA, world soccer's governing body, announced Wednesday morning that a combined bid from the U.S., Canada and Mexico had won the hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup

For TV host, podcaster and one-half of the soccer-obsessed "Men In Blazers," Roger Bennett, the news means soccer may finally become of America's favorite sports. He could not be happier about it.

"Think of the World Cup like a giant bar mitzvah which is soccer-themed, to which the whole world is invited and it's coming to these shores. We had it last in 1994 when soccer was like space for Captain Kirk – a final frontier of the game of soccer," Bennett told "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday. "The 2026 World Cup will cement soccer up there with the NBA probably in eight years' time as America's favorite sport."

Bennett co-wrote the new book "Encyclopedia Blazertannica: A Suboptimal Guide to Soccer, America's 'Sport of the Future' Since 1972" and hosts the podcast "American Fiasco," which traces the rise and fall of the U.S. national team in the 1990s. It currently sits at No.1 on Apple's sports podcast chart.

"A huge amount of money pours into the sport which allows U.S. Soccer to transform itself at every level from the youth level to the coaching to the U.S. men's national team…The amount of money that's coming in will be utterly game-changing, it will be like rocket fuel," Bennett said.  

The British-born Bennett, who says he loves soccer as much as he does America, offered a preview of what to watch out for during this year's month-long tournament.

The favorites

"There's Germany, who are like a Teutonic New England Patriots, the defending champions, even deeper now that they won the whole enchilada last time around. Brazil, wounded by their inability to win at home, are probably all the more deadly because they feel mortal and vulnerable and will be a joy to watch," Bennett said.  

That Viking spirit

"Tiny Iceland, 325,000 population, as big as Corpus Christi, Texas. The smallest nation to ever take to World Cup play. Those players, they believe Viking blood flows through their veins. That manager there was a part-time dentist until last year. Twelve years ago he was coaching his under 12 team in his local village. In a couple days' time, he will lead his nation onto the field against Argentina and Lionel Messi and they fancy their chances to win. There's something about their spirit that America could learn from," Bennett  said. 

The archnemeses: Messi v. Ronaldo

Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Christiano Ronaldo are two of the world's top players. Should one of their teams win the tournament, Bennett said it will cement one of them as the "G.O.A.T." – or greatest of all time. But Bennett also had some less kind words about the two megastars.

"Lionel Messi looks like he just wandered out of a local Supercuts. He looks like kind of a Blockbuster's video clerk," he said.

On Ronaldo, who's prone to shedding his shirt on the field, he said, "This man loves to score goals and win games purely so he can free the nipple. That's not a six-pack, that's an eight-pack." 

The World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14 and concludes on Sunday, July 15.