U.S. under-18s call up promising Arsenal prospect Folarin Balogun
Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun will play for the United States' under-18 team in a friendly tournament this week, though the the striker has not officially switched allegiances from England.
This is the first U.S. call-up for the 17-year-old Balogun, who was born in the U.S. but grew up in London and played for England at the European Under-17 Championship in May.
However, U.S. Soccer emphasized that this week's Vaclav Jezek Youth Tournament in Czech Republic is not an official FIFA competition, meaning Balogun has not had to apply for a switch of associations.
"Since Folarin has represented England in an official competition at the youth level, in order to represent the United States in official competition he would have to apply for a one-time change of association," the federation said in a statement to ESPN FC. "He has not done so at this point, but this does not prevent him from playing in friendly matches such as this tournament."
An Arsenal club source said it was still unclear whether the striker plans to continue playing for the U.S.
Balogun is viewed as one of the most promising young strikers in the Arsenal academy and took part in the team's run to the FA Youth Cup final last season, scoring a goal in the semifinal.
He has already made several appearances for the club's under-23 team and has drawn comparisons to fellow teenage striker Eddie Nketiah, who made a first-team breakthrough last season.
"Flo Balogun is like a young Eddie Nketiah up front because he gets into good positions and always scores goals," Reiss Nelson, another academy product who earned a first-team spot last year, told the Arsenal website in March.
The U.S. squad, coached by Tab Ramos as he prepares for the 2021 U-20 World Cup, also includes three players from last year's U-17 World Cup squad: forward Bryan Reynolds and midfielders Indiana Vassilev and Taylor Booth, the last of whom has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich when he turns 18.
The Americans, which won the event in 2014 and 2016, will face United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria and Czech Republic in the group stage. The tournament also includes Japan, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine.
Goalkeepers: David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Kristopher Shakes (Bethlehem Steel)
Defenders: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Nico Benalcazar (New York City FC); Nathan Harriel (Chargers Soccer Club), Julian Hinojosa (FC Dallas), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Stuart Ritchie (FC Groningen), Leonardo Sepulveda (LA Galaxy)
Midfielders: Taylor Booth (Unattached, Real Salt Lake academy), Justin Haak (New York City FC), Aidan Morris (Crew SC academy); Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo); Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas), Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa)
Forwards: Roberto Hategan (Sacramento Republic), Ulysses Llanez (LA Galaxy), Axel Picaxo (Philadelphia Union), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas), Gabe Segal (Bethesda SC), Folarin Balogun (Arsenal)