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Balogun Presence in Orlando Teases USMNT Switch

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Prolific goalscorer Folarin Balogun appears headed for a switch to the USMNT, having arrived in Orlando, where the team is currently training ahead of their Nations League games, just days after withdrawing from the English U21 camp.

The New York-born triple-national Balogun has scored 17 goals in France’s Ligue 1, just two behind league leader Kylian Mbappé, after joining the northern club Stade de Reims on a season-long loan from Arsenal.

Long a dream of USMNT fans due to his pedigree and quality, the events of the past few days might have finally granted the American faithful their wish, and US Soccer their first major win in the long build-up to the 2026 World Cup.

Despite his scintillating form, Balogun was snubbed by the English FA for their Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Italy and Ukraine in this window, games which would have permanently tied him to the country which he has exclusively represented at the youth level since a short flirtation with the US U18 team in 2018.

Instead, he was platooned to their U21 squad for a pair of friendly matches against France and Croatia in their lead-up to the UEFA U-21 tournament in summer.

In a stunning turn of events, the 21 year-old striker withdrew from the England camp on Tuesday due to what his team in France claimed was an injury, and was subsequently pictured one day later in Orlando, Florida, where the USMNT is currently training in preparations for their games against Grenada and El Salvador.

Balogum himself made no efforts to hide his trip stateside, posting a photo to his own social media account verifying his location in Florida.

While no further details have been verified by the player, US Soccer or his potential American teammates, a flood of insider reporting has begun to paint a clearer, albeit unverified picture of his agenda.

Currently, it is suggested that Balogun will be meeting with the US Soccer officials, attending team training sessions as well as the Monday-night game versus El Salvador in Orlando’s Exploria Stadium, and will joining the team for informal social activities.

In recent interviews in the English media, he had been no-commital about his international future, further adding credence that he was reconsidering his long-term future in the Three Lions setup.

Should he complete the switch to the US, Balogun would immediately become the frontrunner for the starting center forward slot on the team, a position which has been a bit of a merry-go-round in recent years.

The schedule of upcoming games that would be likely for Balogun in either organization put some degree of finality on this saga in the coming months.

Apart from an April friendly against Mexico that falls outside of the FIFA calendar and will only include MLS players, the USMNT only has cap-tying games coming up during the next six months. This includes a likely appearance in the Nations League final stage in June, followed by the Gold Cup in June and through July.

On the England side, while the aforementioned U-21 European Championship would not permanently tie Balogun to the land of flat beer and fish & chips, it would further embed him within the system, and possibly open the door to senior appearances in their ongoing qualifying campaign for the 2024 Euro.

A relevant question is, of course, whether his withdrawal from their U21 team in the current window and very public flirtation with his birth country will have soured the Three Lions’ willingness to include him in any future activities.

This means that the next three months ahead of the summer activities will likely yield the final decision on his international future, although the winds certainly seem to be blowing westward over the Atlantic towards the US.


Yanks Abroad

Since 2004, Yanks Abroad has been providing coverage of the U.S. national team program and American players plying their trade around the world. We are committed to bringing you breaking news, interviews, and features that keep you in the loop with what's going with the United States in the soccer world.

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