USA names World Cup bid cities

NEW YORK - Eighteen cities were named as part of a United States bid for the 2018 or 2022 soccer World Cup on Tuesday, but Chicago was notably absent from the list.

The 18 cities, including New York (pictured), Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas and Boston, have stadiums with average seating capacities of 78,000 for a World Cup.

Other cities named in the bid that will be presented to FIFA on May 14 were Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Nashville, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa and Washington D.C.

The United States hosted the World Cup in 1994.

Asked about Chicago failing to make the cut, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, whose organisation is headquartered in the city, said: "I think there's a little Olympic fatigue."

"They had a tough time wrestling with FIFA requirements and when we approached them they were still in the middle of their (failed 2016) Olympic bid," Gulati said.

"And in this group, Soldier Field was one of the smallest stadiums."

Chicago, unlike many of the cities selected, also has a Major League Soccer team.

Chicago, Detroit, Orlando and San Francisco - all hosts during the 1994 World Cup - were among nine cities eliminated during the U.S. bid committee's final evaluation.

Gulati said he considered Australia and Qatar as the stiffest competition for the United States when FIFA picks World Cup hosts for 2018 and 2022 on December 2.

"A lot of people are of the mind that 2018 will go to Europe," Gulati told Reuters. "We'd be happy with 2022.

"If one World Cup is going to Europe ... then I think Australia has certainly been very aggressive in their bidding and Qatar has done some interesting things. So I think those two.

"One of the advantages we have is that in our region we're the only bidder. There are five bidders in Asia," he said, listing Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, along with Australia and Qatar as seeking to host a World Cup.