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Folarin Balogun switches to USMNT

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Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards react to Folarin Balogun's decision to switch his international allegiance to the United States and discuss the 21-year-old striker's potential impact on the USMNT.

A report from The Athletic said that FIFA have approved Folarin Balogun’s one-time switch from England to the USA as the Arsenal forward will represent the USMNT.

Now it has been confirmed.

Balogun, 21, held talks with U.S. Soccer in March as he visited Orlando, Florida during the March international break and the USMNT eligible striker was interested in committing his international future to the USA.

He now has, as the England youth international has made his decision to represent the USMNT at the international level and he could make his debut against Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinal in Las Vegas in June.

Interim USMNT head coach Anthony Hudson said: “We are delighted that Folarin has chosen to represent the United States. Not only is he an extremely talented player, he’s also a good man who is going to add value to our team both on and off the field at a time when the team is continuing to improve. It’s clear that he values his U.S. roots and we can’t wait for him to come in and be a part of the team.”

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That noise you can hear everywhere is USMNT fans celebrating that they have gained one of the top young forwards in Europe as the focal point of their attack.


How did we get to this point?

The England U21 forward missed their March camp due to a small injury and he then posted a photo on social media which showed he was near to the USMNT’s training camp in Florida and he has was around Orlando for the USMNT’s 1-0 win against El Salvador there.

England U21 boss Lee Carsley then revealed that the Three Lions setup planned talks with Balogun about his future, as they planned to travel to Reims in France where he is currently on loan from Arsenal.

“He’s going to have to make a decision, so all we can do is tell him how much we rate him. The rest is down to him,” Carsley said via the London Evening Standard. Balogun has scored seven goals in 13 U21 games for England.

However, back in March the USMNT interim head coach Anthony Hudson confirmed that Balogun and U.S. Soccer had held talks over his future.

“We’ve had a dialogue. He is out here [in Orlando] having a bit of a break and training. We’ve had some discussions. It’s now just about him enjoying the rest of his trip... It has been an opportunity for us to share about our program, and that’s it. I hope we speak again,” Hudson said.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Balogun was a man in demand as England, the USMNT and Nigeria all pushed for him to represent them.


What were the chances he selected USMNT?

Balogun, 21, has scored 19 goals in France’s top-flight for Reims this season as his loan spell from Arsenal has gone incredibly well.

Internationally he was eligible to play for the USA, England and Nigeria and he has represented England’s youth teams in recent years and had previously played for the USA at U18 level too.

Balogun was expected to play for the Three Lions during the March international break as he was England’s main goalscoring threat at U21 level and Carsley wanted him to represent them this summer at the U21 European Championships.

But in March in talented striker used an unexpected window of opportunity to fly to Orlando to meet with U.S. Soccer reps to discuss his potential future with the USMNT. Now he has switched his international allegiance.

Arsenal teammate and USMNT’s starting goalkeeper Matt Turner had this to say when asked about Balogun.

“Yeah, he’d be a great addition to our national team. I think he’s done really well, obviously, for his club on loan, and we’ll see. The decision has to come from the heart, because it’s not necessarily an easy task always, to come and play in these CONCACAF games, and it’s a tough region at times. So for us, we’d be really grateful to have him, but his heart needs to be in it,” Turner said.


What does he think?

Balogun has spoken about this topic before as Pro Soccer Talk asked him about his international future in an interview at the start of last season, way back in August 2021.

We asked Balogun if other Arsenal academy graduates like Yunus Musah and Bukayo Saka being in similar situations has led to them discussing how they made their decision on which country to represent and if that would help him to decide who he plays for internationally.

“I haven’t spoken to any of them about the nationality situation,” Balogun said. “Even from just the way I’ve known them, it is not something they have put a lot of pressure on themselves about. I think it is a decision that comes naturally to them.

“I think I’m going to do the same and hopefully something will just come to me and then I will make a decision... I don’t want to put too much pressure on the situation. It is just something that will just come to me.”

It looks like that feeling came to him in March while he was in the Orlando area with the USMNT.

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