USMNT get their man! Striker Folarin Balogun’s switch to represent the United States APPROVED by FIFA… solving a big problem position for the World Cup hosts
- Balogun has chosen the United States after being spurned by Gareth Southgate
- He had the option to play for England, the United States or Nigeria
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
Stade de Reims striker Folarin Balogun has applied for, and received, a one-time-switch waiver from FIFA – allowing him to represent the United States. Balogun – the Brooklyn-born, London-raised forward – will be able to represent the nation of his birth at the international level.
In recent months, Balogun has been starring in France’s Ligue 1 – currently sitting fifth in the league’s scoring table with 19 goals and two assists in 34 matches.
But he failed to receive any callups from England manager Gareth Southgate to the senior team. He’s expressed his frustration through social media multiple times. The Arsenal loanee had the option to play for the United States, England or Nigeria – the nation of his parents’ birth – at the senior level.
Balogun’s addition to the United States men’s national team could immediately fill the void left behind by the likes of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore in a position that failed to perform well for the USMNT at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Back in March, Southgate addressed Balogun’s unease, saying, ‘It is up to the player to weigh up where his heart feels. Is he prepared to wait a little bit for an opportunity if he backs himself and feels he can push his way into our squad?
Stade Reims striker Folarin Balogun has gotten approval by FIFA to play for the United States
Balogun was also seen at an Orlando Magic game and a Yankees spring training game
Balogun had represented England at youth level multiple times through different levels
‘Because anybody who has followed us will know that we will give young players a chance.
‘So, we cannot go and give first-team call-ups to someone just because we don’t want them to go somewhere else.
‘I know there are going to be offers as 80 per cent of our players can play for more than one country now, and we are not arrogant expecting everybody to want to come to play for England. We have to make them feel wanted and feel part of that’
Balogun represented the United States at the U-18 level, but played for England youth teams at U-17, U-18, U-20, and U-21 levels. As of late, the striker has made 13 appearances for the England U-21s and bagged seven goals.
But this season, he began expressing his displeasure that Southgate had routinely passed him over despite his impressive form for ‘Les rouges et blancs’. He posted on his Instagram story back in March, saying, ‘In life, go where your [sic] appreciated’.
Balogun was then seen in and around Orlando, Florida – where the USMNT had held as a base camp for their March CONCACAF Nations League matches.
After going to Yankees spring training games and an NBA game with the Orlando Magic, Balogun was also seen at the USMNT’s training facilities.
Around that time, USMNT coach Anthony Hudson confirmed that they had held talks with the striker about joining their ranks.
The striker seemed hurt by the snub as he posted: ‘In life, go where [you’re] appreciated’
Arsenal and USMNT-eligible star Folarin Balogun was seen in Orlando, Florida this March
After yesterday’s surprise Instagram post, he was spotted training in the Florida heat Thursday
‘As I said before, we’ve had dialogue we’ve spoken,’ Hudson said. ‘He’s out here, having a bit of a break and some training, and we’ve had some discussions. So yeah, now it’s about him just enjoying the rest of his trip.’
Hudson followed up, saying: ‘It’s been good, because it’s been an opportunity for us just to share about our program and who we are and what we do.
‘And look, that’s it, I hope we get the chance to speak to him again. So it’s been good to meet him, and I know a few of the guys who have spoke to him as well.’
Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic also praised him at the time, saying, ‘I’ve seen that he’s in Florida. I haven’t really spoken to him personally.’
‘But I know some of the some of the guys that know him from previous teams have reached out to him and spoken to him.
‘So, obviously, from our side we’d love to have him. Yeah, I haven’t had any conversations with him personally. But hopefully, yeah, hopefully in the near future.’
This marks the first major coup for sporting director Matt Crocker, who was officially announced in the role towards the end of April.
Balogun’s arrival is a welcome sight for American soccer fans hoping for a permanent solution at the striker position.
USA’s interim head coach Anthony Hudson confirmed that they had opened talks with Balogun
Balogun is set to return to Arsenal this summer, with the Gunners possibly selling him
Ever since Clint Dempsey retired from soccer in 2018, the striker position has been in a transitory phase for the USMNT.
While Jozy Altidore is still available for selection, the 33-year-old New England Revolution striker hasn’t appeared for the USMNT in a competitive fixture since 2019.
Former manager Gregg Berhalter chose to deploy a number of strikers in recent years – including MLS talents like Jesus Ferreira and Brandon Vazquez as well as overseas players like Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargeant, Daryl Dike, Jordan Pefok, and Haji Wright.
At the World Cup, the United States scored just three goals: one from Wright and the other two from Pulisic and winger Tim Weah.
While they all may have room to contribute in this squad, Balogun could mark a massive step forward in this position that requires the most improvement for the Americans.
Had he stayed at England, Balogun would be fighting for playing time against the likes of established players like Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ollie Watkins and Callum Wilson. In the future, he’d compete against Eddie Nketiah, Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney.
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