DENVER — The home of Denver's football team hopes to be the host of international football's biggest tournament. North America will play host to the 2026 Men's FIFA World Cup. 10 American cities, three Canadian cities, and three Mexican cities will win bids by the end of 2021.
At the moment, Denver is one of 17 American finalists, and Empower Field at Mile High Stadium is proposed to be transformed into a soccer pitch.
"If we are granted the opportunity, this place will be packed with people as far as the eye can see -- and then some outside," former US Men's National Team and Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard said.
FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani said they're looking for a specific place to build dreams.
"At the end of the day, all we're really doing is setting the theatre for the best players in the world to inspire a 15-year-old Tim Howard somewhere," he said.
And what better place than the one that hosted the original Tim Howard for four years? Howard said he was always impressed by the Colorado Rapids' unyielding passion and football IQ.
"You can't fool the Denver football fans, they understand, and they want good soccer," Howard said. "They expect it. And that's where when things go really well, they come out in droves."
Howard had the opportunity to dress for the United States in three separate World Cups, and start for two-consecutive in 2010 and 2014. He still holds the record for most saves in a World Cup game with 16 over 120 minutes in a losing effort in 2014.
Wearing the stars and stripes was an honor that Howard never took for granted, and he hopes the Denver fans get the chance to experience the moment alongside their greatest heroes.
"Playing for your country, representing your country, hearing the National Anthem in a World Cup is the pinnacle. There's nothing beyond that, there's nothing higher than that, and any footballer will tell you that," he said. "For fans, it's the same. You see your heroes on tv, here you are 10 feet away, they're walking out of the tunnel, hearing the FIFA anthem, hearing the National Anthem, and it gives you chills. It's a dream that gets realized for both fans and players."
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