Balogun on US roster ahead of CONCACAF Nations League, could debut

Brentford's Christian Norgaard vies for the ball with Arsenal's Folarin Balogun, center, during the English Premier League soccer match between Brentford and Arsenal at the Brentford Community Stadium in London, England, Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (Ian Walton/AP)

CHICAGO — Striker Folarin Balogun was among 24 players picked by new U.S. interim coach B.J. Callaghan on Thursday for a training camp ahead of the CONCACAF Nations League semifinal and could make his national team debut against Mexico on June 15.

Wingers Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and Tim Weah also are on the roster along with goalkeeper Matt Turner and outside back Sergino Dest, among 13 veterans of last year’s World Cup squad. Pulisic, Reyna, Turner and Dest are coming off club seasons in which they sparingly started, and Weah was played mostly out of position.

Just four players were picked from Major League Soccer: defenders Mike Robinson and Walker Zimmerman, and goalkeepers Sean Johnson and Drake Callender.

Callaghan took over on Tuesday when Anthony Hudson quit as interim coach, a position Hudson was appointed to in January after Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired. A long-term coach isn’t likely to be hired until late summer.

Training starts Monday at Carson, California, the same day Callaghan must cut the roster to 23 ahead of the defending champion Americans’ matches at Las Vegas. The semifinal winner plays Canada or Panama in the final on June 18.

Balogun committed to the U.S. last month rather than England or Nigeria. He has 20 goals in 36 league matches for Reims heading into Saturday’s season finale, tied for fourth in Ligue 1.

Balogun joins a forward group that includes Ricardo Pepi, who scored 12 goals this season for relegated Groningen in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Pulisic didn’t score in 20 Chelsea matches after Oct. 8, including 16 in the Premier League. He made just two starts after Jan. 5.

Turner was limited to five Europa League and two FA Cup matches all season for Arsenal, playing just once since Jan. 27.

Reyna started just one match for Dortmund after the World Cup break, on March 27, though he finished the season with seven goals.

Weah has played primarily at right back and left back for Lille since the World Cup.

Dest didn’t even dress for AC Milan after Jan. 24.

Midfielder Tyler Adams is out following hamstring surgery, and defender Tim Ream will miss the matches because of a broken right arm. Defender Cameron Carter-Vickers (knee surgery) and midfielder Malik Tillman (hamstring) also are sidelined along with forwards Daryl Dike (right Achilles) and Josh Sargent, and goalkeepers Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath.

Timmy Tillman, Malik’s older brother, was bypassed. He switched affiliation to the U.S. from Germany last month.

Callender and Josh Cohen, another backup goalkeeper, join Balogun as players on the roster with no national team experience.

A different squad, primarily from MLS, will be used for the CONCACAF Gold Cup starting June 24.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Drake Callender (Miami), Josh Cohen (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Sean Johnson (Toronto), Matt Turner (Arsenal, England)

Defenders: Sergino Dest (AC Milan, Italy), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace, England), Antonee Robinson (Fulham, England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Germany), Auston Trusty (Birmingham, England), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

Midfielders: Johnny Cardoso (Internacional, Brazil), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo, Spain), Weston McKennie (Leeds, England), Yunus Musah (Valencia, Spain), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Alan Sonora (Juarez, Mexico)

Forwards: Brenden Aaronson (Leeds, England), Folarin Balogun (Reims, France), Taylor Booth (Utrecht, Netherlands), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen, Netherlands), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, England), Tim Weah (Lille, France), Alex Zendejas (America, Mexico)

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.