Balogun or Pepi for the USMNT? Gregg Berhalter has a tough decision
With both strikers in fine form this season, the question must be flying around Berhalter’s mind of which forward to choose.
The fight for the right to the number 9 shirt in the USMNT is hotting up as the weeks go on. Folarin Balogun and Ricardo Pepi are both in blistering form, meaning that manager Gregg Berhalter has a tough decision to make.
In his iteration of the USMNT, only one striker is deployed up front, meaning that one of Pepi or Balogun are always going to have to miss out, save for an overhaul in the system to accommodate them both, something that seems unlikely.
Balogun got off the mark for Monaco against Lorient
Pepi (controversially) scored once again for PSV as they thrashed NEC 4-0 in the Eredivisie, while Balogun bagged his first for Monaco after making the move in the final days of the European transfer market. The 22-year-old ex-Middlesborough forward latched onto a pass from Aleksandr Golovin to fire across goal and past the Lorient goalkeeper. It would have been the winning goal for the side, had it not been for a 98th minute equaliser.
Berhalter described Balogun’s decision to stay in Ligue 1 after a year with Reims a “fabulous step”, given that the striker is already fully familiarised with the league and how things work in France.
Balogun is not a starter for Monaco... just yet
However, despite how comfortable he may be, the task ahead is not an easy one for the forward: veteran finisher Wissam Ben Yedder is still ahead of the youngster in the pecking order, meaning that his minutes in a red and white shirt may be limited, something which could work in Pepi’s favour when it comes to picking an in-form finisher for the USMNT.
Ben Yedder scored 19 goals last season and is one of the first names on the team sheet in Monaco. However, Balogun scored 21 times for Reims, behind only Kylian Mbappé, Alexandre Lacazette and Jonathan David. The debate is there to be had, and it will come down to, as happens so much in football, how many times they stick the ball in the back of the net.