Folarin Balogun is officially eligible for the U.S. men’s national team and after a sour ending to life in the England national team pool, the young forward is focused on giving his all in a new and exciting opportunity.
Balogun’s one-time international switch was approved by FIFA on Tuesday, giving the USMNT another talented forward to call on as early as this summer. Five years after his last appearance for the United States, Balogun is eligible to feature for the USMNT this June during the Concacaf Nations League Final Four, starting with a semifinal showdown against rivals Mexico.
The 21-year-old still has three final club matches with Stade Reims over the next three weeks, but already has one eye on what should be an exciting summer on the international stage.
“Luckily for me, my first time is going to be in a competitive tournament so of course the ambition is to win and there’s not really much more to it,” Balogun said in a Q&A session with U.S. Soccer. “I’m going to have the opportunity to get in and train with the boys, but for sure it’s just straight down to business when we head to Vegas.
“It’s amazing,” Balogun added when asked about the early opportunity to face Mexico in a knockout match. “I like to play big games and it’s something that every young player should be aspiring to do. Having the opportunity to play against Mexico in a rivalry match would be amazing and hopefully I can make a difference.”
Balogun was originally expected to play a large role for England’s Under-21 national team at the European U-21 Championship, but after switching to the USMNT, the Brooklyn-born forward should have an early opportunity for senior minutes. Balogun had yet to feature in the England senior team with Harry Kane, Marcus Rasford, Callum Wilson, Ivan Toney, and Ollie Watkins all in front of him in the pecking order.
Although Balogun didn’t have a chance to feature at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, he did monitor the USMNT’s run to the Round of 16 and could be a key piece when the Americans help host the 2026 edition on home soil. Balogun has continued excitement over the growth of the U.S. Soccer program and has high expectations over what’s to come with his long-term involvement.
“I think we all saw them at the World Cup,” Balogun said when asked about the USMNT’s World Cup run. “It’s a really young, energetic squad and for sure the potential of the squad is amazing, so definitely with me coming into it I think I can add my qualities and it will really come through in the next few years.”
“My message to USMNT supporters is to believe, trust the process and for sure I have a lot of faith in this current squad that we’ll win a lot,” he added.
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