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AS Monaco star Balogun eager to propel the USMNT to great heights at the Copa America

Folarin Balogun looks to be a man on a mission at the Copa America, where he’s eager to spearhead the USMNT’s attack with gusto in their pursuit of success on home soil.

Speaking ahead of the tournament how he’s ready for the challenge ahead and that he wants to be a real game-changer for his team, it was terrific to see him kick off the showpiece in style by scoring in the USA’s opening win over Bolivia, especially given he’s just come off a mixed first season with AS Monaco.

USA’s average position map

While he scored eight goals and supplied seven assists in his maiden crusade with Monaco following a €30 million move from Arsenal, this didn’t meet his expectations, for he knew he could achieve much more than he did.


Enduring some rough patches, many moments of adversity and struggling to find his consistency while he adapted to the demands of Adi Hutter’s system and life in Monaco, the 22-year-old was honest in his assessment of the campaign when speaking to Goal. “It’s taught me resilience. I’ve felt I’ve always had resilience and that’s what’s brought me here, but, for sure, being in Monaco, especially playing in the league before then going into Monaco with expectations, it has taught me resilience. It’s taught me that things take time and I have to believe in myself,” he reflected.

“I think these are lessons that will help me coming into this tournament and, for sure, as a team, we’re going to need to be resilient if we want to achieve things. We’re not always going to dominate.”

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Related Reading: Adi Hutter: Everything you need to know about the AS Monaco manager

Clearly taking on the board the aforementioned teachings, many positives could be extracted from his showing vs. Bolivia.

Although he was by no means at his best, he grew into the game nicely to lead the line effectively for Gregg Berhalter’s men. Bagging a crucial goal just prior to half-time, the way he shrewdly timed his run before applying a sublimely placed finish, which was his first USMNT goal since October, underlined just what an asset he is.

Nicely timed run in behind before his goal
Masterful finish

“I think it was at a good moment. We wanted to create some security after Pulisic’s early goal. We knew that if we could get a second then it would put us in a more comfortable position,” Balogun insisted.

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“It allows me to build momentum. I won’t shy away – as a striker, when you’re in a tournament of this magnitude you just want to get that goal and build confidence. I feel I was able to do that today. It puts me in a good position mentally going forward.”

Posing a huge threat with his pace and movement, plus offering a handy reference point for teammates and physical presence, his body of work certainly served as a massive confidence booster for him and highlighted why a player with his incredible skill set can be so valuable.

Balogun’s heat map vs. Bolivia
USA’s pass connections map

Seeing as there’s plentiful talk surrounding if he should be starting or not, Balogun vindicated his coach’s decision to give him the nod, as he came up clutch in a key moment to stamp his mark.

“Gregg (Berhalter) has always given me that confidence to just do what I naturally do,” Balogun explained. “He’s telling the boys to find me.. Jedi (Antonee Robinson) hit a good ball. Gio (Reyna), naturally, he looks for passes in behind. I have a good relationship with a lot of the boys and I feel like it’s just a matter of time, this is a perfect opportunity to showcase that.”

Beginning the Copa America with a bang and showing what an integral member of the squad he is, carrying on his form as the tournament progresses will be his next challenge.

Knowing he has what it takes to flex his muscles on the big stage and aware there’s heavy competition for places in his position, the time is now for him to keep rising to the occasion – just like he did in the opener.

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