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The USMNT needs to make friends with Folarin Balogun

And maybe friends with someone else

Stade de Reims v Stade Rennais - Ligue 1 Uber Eats Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

It’s been only a few months since the end of the World Cup, but certainly a lot has happened with the USMNT in that time. Most of the focus has been off the field with the fallout of the Reyna-Berhalter fiasco and departure of anyone who can make a head coaching decisions for the USMNT from Soccer Mansion.

So far there has only been speculation about who could be the next USMNT manager. With nobody in place to make a hire for the role, that discussion is a moot point. However, there is an important quality that the next manager will need to have: recruiting skills.

Gregg Berhalther was pretty solid in this department. He got commitments from dual-national players like Jordan Pefok, Sergino Dest, Jedi Robinson, and Yunus Musah to represent the Stars and Stripes. Another dual-national is tearing it up in a top five league and, at least when it comes to a long-term manager, there isn’t a voice from the USMNT for him to be in touch with.

This season, Folarin Balogun is the leading scorer in Ligue 1 with 15 goals in 23 matches for Reims. Not Mbappe, not Messi, not Neymar, not Jonathan David, Folarin Balogun. At 21 years-old he looks to have a bright future as Arsenal have loaned him out for the season. His scoring rate in France should have him back with his club next season fighting for a starting role with Jesus and Eddie Nketiah.

Balogun representing the USA might be something of a long-shot. He’s been a part of a top club in London his entire youth career and has represented England at the U-21 level. At the same time, Dest was starting at the top Dutch club when he decided to represent the USA and there was significant interest from England for Musah to play for the Three Lions.

Aside from being a quality player, Balogun plays in a role that the USA has not been able to reliably fill since Jozy Altidore was leading the line for the team. Josh Sargent, Jesus Ferreira, Haji Wright, Ricardo Pepi, and Jordan Pefok have had chances to claim the starting striker spot but not been able to nail down the role. Brandon Vazquez recently got a shot with the senior squad and was impressive, but that was in January camp where the competition is watered down.

The door is certainly open to Balogun, but it’s not clear who is holding it for him to walk through. Perhaps this photo could be the solution to two problems the USMNT currently faces.

Thierry Henry has managing experience with CF Montreal and the Belgium National Team. In addition, his stature as an Arsenal legend would presumably carry some weight with Balogun. This is still out there as far as an idea that might only happen in a parallel universe, but bringing in a top striker along with a brilliant former player