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Folarin Balogun on initial USMNT experience: 'Best month of my life'

Although Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game from the nation's capital will feature all the league's must-watch talent (minus Lionel Messi) and Arsenal's flourishing squad, the biggest cheer of the night might be reserved for a Gunners player who spent last season in France and who might not even be on the roster come September: instant USMNT hero Folarin Balogun.

The 22-year-old is back at Arsenal after a breakthrough loan spell with Reims in Ligue 1 — scoring 21 goals in 37 matches — and is set to feature heavily during the Gunners' preseason tour (even taking part in Tuesday night's All-Star Skills Challenge) as Mikel Arteta judges his skillset against the qualities of Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah. 

Balogun clearly wants to get his chance at the Emirates and is contracted through 2025, but there's no shortage of potential suitors with Inter Milan reportedly showing the most serious interest. His stock's never been higher after excelling in France before making his USMNT debut in June's Nations League finals, where he scored America's second against Canada in the championship match.  

Balogun had only just committed his future to the U.S. the month before, and the 22-year-old spoke to CBS Sports on Monday about what the whole experience meant to him. 

"Honestly the last two months, when I first linked up with the team and then we went to Vegas and we played the games, that was honestly the best month, two months of my life," he said. "It was such an amazing experience. I learned so much. I can't put it into words. Obviously winning my first professional trophy — I think a lot of people forget that was my first professional trophy.

"To do it with your national team, not many people get that opportunity. And of course for me to score my first goal in the final, it's just so many highs on highs on highs. I'm just trying to keep that going. I'm going to be back there in September. I'm always looking forward to it and I'm really happy I made that decision."

The USMNT returns to action under the direction of Gregg Berhalter on Sep. 9 against Uzbekistan before playing Oman on Sep 12. It's a FIFA international window so the squad will be full strength.

But first let's see how Balogun does in the MLS All-Star Crossbar Challenge presented by GilletteLabs.

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