Folarin Balogun, 21-year-old NYC-born soccer star, switches national eligibility from England to USMNT

Folarin Balogun USMNT
Folarin Balogun (Wikimedia Commons)

FIFA has approved the US Soccer Federation’s request to transfer the national eligibility of Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun from England to the United States men’s national team (USMNT), per multiple reports.

“We are delighted that Folarin has chosen to represent the United States,” said USMNT head coach Anthony Hudson. “Not only is he an extremely talented player, he’s also a good man who is going to add value to our National 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.”

Balogun, a 21-year-old star-in-the-making who was born in Brooklyn and emigrated to England at two years old, had represented both the United States and England at the youth level. He scored seven goals in 13 games with America’s U-21 side.

“My decision to represent the United States came together with my family,” said Balogun. “In the end it became a no-brainer, but for sure it’s just something I wanted to do and it feels like I’m at home here. To represent the United States means a lot, more than people would know. I’m very proud and honored to have this opportunity, and I want to give everything I have to make our team successful.”

Considered one of the top young emergents of the 2022-23 season, the forward has scored nine goals in 34 games for Reims in France’s Ligue 1 after being loaned from the English giants, Arsenal, whose academy he graduated from after joining at eight years old. Speculation suggests that he will be sold permanently this summer.

He made two Premier League appearances with the Gunners and an additional five in the Europa League where he scored a pair of goals. He was loaned to Championship side Middlesbrough for the final four months of the 2021-22 season before being loaned out to Reims in August of 2022.

USMNT World Cup roster
FILE – United States Tyler Adams, left, and United States Joshua Sargent, right, playing during the international friendly soccer match between USA and Japan as part of the Kirin Challenge Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Balogun’s allegiance to USMNT is an enormous get for the program, which has been starving for legitimate top-level help at the striker position. It was none more obvious than in the World Cup when the Americans struggled to get much production from the likes of Josh Sargent and Haji Wright as they crashed out in the Round of 16 against the Netherlands. 

For more on USMNT and Folarin Balogun, visit AMNY.com