U.S. beats Canada to win Nations League as Balogun opens account


Folarin Balogun scores first goal as USMNT beats Canada

Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens speak on Folarin Balogun scoring his first goal for USMNT against Canada.

Folarin Balogun scored his first goal for the United States in its 2-0 win over Canada on Sunday in the Concacaf Nations League final at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

First-half goals from Chris Richards and Balogun put the U.S. on its way to a team record third-consecutive title in Concacaf competitions following wins in the 2021 Nations League and Gold Cup.

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"I've only here a short amount of time, but already I feel a part of it and I feel a part of something bigger," Balogun said after the match.

The U.S. was without Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie, both of whom were out for the match after picking up red cards in a fiery semifinal win over Mexico on Thursday. Interim coach B.J. Callaghan, still overseeing the team after Gregg Berhalter was rehired Friday, started Joe Scally and Brenden Aaronson in place of his two suspended players.

"We're looking beyond to the 2026 World Cup, and we need to perform in high-intensity knockout games," Callaghan said. "That's something that we learned from the World Cup."

Richards kept the momentum from Thursday going for the U.S. with an early goal, powering a header from Giovanni Reyna's corner kick past Milan Borjan in the Canada goal in the 12th minute.

The U.S. doubled its lead later in the first half with a classy finish from Balogun, who picked up a through ball from Reyna after a giveaway from Canada and fired past Borjan from a tight angle to notch his first goal for the Americans since committing his international future to the team.

The Brooklyn-born Balogun, 21, scored 22 goals in 39 games in all competitions for French League 1 club Reims last season, the most ever for an American in a top-five European league.

Folarin Balogun celebrates after scoring a goal for the United States against Canada in the Concacaf Nations League.
Folarin Balogun celebrates after scoring a goal for the United States against Canada in the Concacaf Nations League.
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Reyna, who was stellar for Callaghan in the first half, came off at the break after being on the receiving end of a hard foul from Canada's Richie Laryea and was replaced by Luca de la Torre

Canada looked dangerous at times in the second half, but a resolute U.S. defense and more solid play in goal from Matt Turner, who had four saves, kept John Herdman's team off the scoresheet as the U.S. was able to win the trophy for the second time.

"It's another step in the right direction," said U.S. captain Christian Pulisic, who scored twice in the semifinal win over Mexico. "It's just going to be about these knockout games. Come those big tournaments, Copa America, World Cup, it's time to get tough.

"We got to step up and score the goals when it counts and keep them out of our goal."

The result means the U.S. extended its home unbeaten streak against Canada to 22 games dating back to 1957, while Canada remained without a title since the 2000 Gold Cup.

"We're just not in that killer area of the pitch," Canada coach Herdman said. "We've talked about this post-World Cup. It's in the boxes where Canada's suffering. You don't get time to work with the players. There's no time. But we need this September window.

"We need the resources where we can actually put a camp together, where I can work for six days on the things that make the biggest difference moving forward."

In the consolation match earlier Sunday, Mexico held on to beat Panama 1-0 to take third place in the four-team final.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this story.