Sunday, July 21, 2024

Folarin Balogun is set to represent the USMNT over England after FIFA approved the switch


Folarin Balogun was appointed to represent the United States after FIFA approved his transfer of allegiance from England.

The 21-year-old striker, who played for the United States at under-18 level before moving to England, can represent either country as he was born in Brooklyn, New York but moved to London when he was two years old. He is also eligible to represent Nigeria.

FIFA rules enable players to switch national eligibility before making a highly competitive appearance at international level.

Balogun spent the 2022-23 season on loan at Reims from Arsenal, scoring 19 times in 34 league matches.

“My decision to represent the United States came with my family,” he said. “We decided it would be the right thing for me, to represent the country of my birth.

“In the end it became a no-brainer, but for sure, it’s just something I wanted to do and feel at home here.

“Representing the United States means a lot, more than people know. I am so proud and honored to have this opportunity, and I want to give everything I have to make our team a success.”

USMNT head coach Anthony Hudson added, “We are thrilled that Folarin has been selected to represent the United States.

“Not only is he an extremely talented player, but he is also a good guy who will add value to our national team both on and off the field as the team continues to improve.

“He clearly values ​​his American roots and we can’t wait for him to come and be part of the team.”

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Balogun was called up by the England under-21s for the March matches against France and Germany but withdrew due to a hamstring injury.

He traveled to Orlando, where the USA was training, during the international window. Hudson admitted that “discussions” took place with the forward during the March international break, adding that it was “an opportunity to share about our programme”.

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Speaking after his squad for internationals was announced in March, England boss Gareth Southgate said Balogun would have to be patient with regards to being called up to the first team.

“It’s up to the player to know what his heart feels,” said Southgate. “Is he willing to wait a bit for an opportunity if he supports himself and feels he can force his way into our team? Because anyone who has followed us will know we are going to give young players a chance.

“So, we can’t go and give first-team call-ups to someone just because we don’t want them to go somewhere else.”

Balogun made four caps for the United States Under-18 National Team in 2018 alongside current USMNT senior players Taylor Booth, Aidan Morris, and Brian Reynolds, before going on to represent England at various youth levels.

The United States will be next in action on June 16 when they face Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League. The CONCACAF Gold Cup, hosted by the United States, takes place between June 24 and July 16.

(Photo: Getty Images)