The United States is beginning to produce some seriously exciting young talent. Future tournaments could see the USMNT, once much-maligned, make significant progress on the global stage.
On Tuesday, the United States national team confirmed the incorporation of a player many are expecting to become a star-level striker. The US has convinced Folarin Balogun to spurn England and represent the country of his birth.
Balogun: Switching to the USMNT a “no-brainer”
Balogun was eligible to play for the Three Lions, as he emigrated to England with his parents as a two-year-old and was raised in London by his Nigerian parents. He joined Arsenal‘s academy in 2008 when he was seven years old, and he represented England at the under-17, under-18, under-20, and under-21 levels. He scored seven goals in 13 appearances for the U-21 side.
Balogun’s stock has risen significantly over the past year following a loan move to French side Reims. The 21-year-old is fifth in Ligue 1 in goals, and he scores one every 144 minutes on average. For the USMNT to convince “Flo” to reject England and Nigeria could be a major turning point for the star-crossed national setup.
“I came together with my family, and we decided (representing the US) would be the right thing for me, the country I was born in,” Balogun told US Soccer in a filmed interview published on Tuesday. “In the end, it became a no-brainer. It’s just something that I wanted to do.”
Where does Balogun fit with the USMNT?
Now that FIFA has approved Balogun‘s one-time switch to the United States, attention now turns to finding the best system for him to thrive.
Balogun is a fast, skilled, two-footed forward who might find a home at the tip of the United States attack. Interim coach Anthony Hudson — or his permanent replacement — could flank Balogun with speedy, industrious wingers like Timothy Weah and Christian Pulisic and wreak havoc on CONCACAF defenses.