Morning update

England to meet with Balogun, U-20 World Cup watch, Clark, Weah, Pefok's mom, & more

ASN's Brian Sciaretta starts off your Thursday with updates on Folarin Balogun, the U-20 World Cup, Tim Weah, Caden Clark, along with a great story on Jordan Pefok's mother. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
March 30, 2023
8:05 AM

HAPPY THURSDAY EVERYONE, we get closer and closer to the weekend and a full slate of club games. Here are some news items to kick off your morning – with some nice interviews coming today and tomorrow for American Soccer Now.

Let’s get right into it.


England to meet with Balogun


As everyone knows, Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun has been tearing it up in France on loan with Ligue 1’s Stade de Reims. He currently has 17 goals in 27 games. Born in New York but raised in London, Balogun has been representing England at the youth levels but is apparently unhappy with not being part of the full national team. Last week, he bailed on an England U-21 camp to meet with the U.S. team in Orlando.

Is a switch in the works? Maybe. But England apparently has not given up and will meet with Balogun next week. But it doesn’t appear to be a huge effort as it will be England U-21 manager Lee Carsley who will travel to France to hold the meeting with the striker.

"That is the plan," said Carsley about the meeting. "You're always going to miss a player with that knack of scoring. He's going to have to make a decision, so all we can do is tell him how much we rate him. The rest is down to him."

But is Carsley the right guy for England? Balogun’s problem with England is that he is one of the top scorers in a top-five league but is stuck with England’s U-21 team. Now it will be the U-21 manager trying to convince him to stay. If England was serious, full national team manager Gareth Southgate would be there or someone high in the FA.

It’s not like the U.S. team is in a position of strength to sell itself to Balogun. There is no head coach or sporting director. But this whole thing is about Balogun and England – specifically, whether Balogun feels he has a future in England. If no, then it’s the USA.

I still feel that he picks the USA in the end.


Weah returns to training


Good news for U.S. international Tim Weah today. Weah had to miss the U.S. team’s most recent camp due to a head injury he suffered in Lille’s 2-0 away over Toulouse just before break. He entered concussion protocol and withdrew from the U.S. camp.

On Thursday morning, Lille announced that Weah was back in training.


Caden Clark to go on loan


RB Leipzig manager Marco Rose on Wednesday discussed American midfielder Caden Clark who joined the club over the winter following the expiration of his loan to the New York Red Bulls. There were reports in January that Leipzig would send him on loan again but instead he remained with Leipzig. While he has yet to make his Bundesliga debut, he has regularly made the bench for first team over the past two months.

"We might think about giving him playing time at another club,” Rose said. “He's doing well, but we need patience. He's a great footballer with good basic technique who recognizes a lot of things. But we already have in decision-making There's still a lot of untapped potential, and we'll work on that with him."

Clark was not part of the most recent U.S. U-20 camp in Spain but posted pictures on Instagram of him back in the United States.


Argentina to host the U-20 World Cup?


More and more reports are surfacing out of Argentina that the AFA wants to host the U-20 World Cup. One report even mentions that there will be a meeting with Gianni Infantino this week to try to arrange the switch after Indonesia was removed as the host on Wednesday.

In one sense, Argentina makes a lot of sense. The country is still buzzing after winning the World Cup in December and that buzz would create enthusiasm for the U-20 World Cup. The country’s U-20 team failed to qualify for the World Cup in February but hosting it would allow them to participate.

On the other hand, the country is in terrible shape economically with it recently having hit 100% inflation. Is now the appropriate time for a country to worry about hosting an international tournament when it needs to focus on fixing its economic condition?


Pefok’s mom


The topic of soccer parents has been in the news given the ugly findings of Claudio and Danielle Reyna’s meddling in the full national team over their son, Gio.

Without rehashing this, it is great to look at ESPN’s recent story on Jordan Pefok who added this about what his mother said about him not making the World Cup team”

"I sat down, I was still cross, but she was right,” Pefok said. “She added: 'I know nothing about football but I know that you went with the national team and you only scored one goal. Even if I was the national team head coach, I would not have called you up! A goal scorer has to score goals, that's all.' She was brutal. The disappointment went away and I started working hard again to make sure that I play at the 2026 World Cup at home. I will prepare well and do everything I can with Union to make sure that I am there in 2026."

Wouldn’t it be something if all parents were like Mrs. Pefok?

Zambrano declines Ecuador U-20 call-up

U.S. U-19 forward Marcos Zambrano has declined a call-up from Ecuador's U-20 team. The striker recently left the Philadelphia Union academy to join Benfica's youth system.

Zambrano is a 2005-born player who is likely to feature heavily with the U.S. U-20 team next cycle.

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