On Tuesday, May 16, striker Folarin Balogun officially committed to representing the United States Men’s National Team. With his one-time change of association request approved by FIFA, Balogun is now eligible to play for the USMNT, beginning with this summer’s Concacaf Nations League Finals in Las Vegas.
ussoccer.com caught up with the 21-year-old striker for more insight on his decision and excitement to begin playing for the USMNT.
ussoccer.com: What led you to decide to represent the United States?
Folarin Balogun: "My decision to represent the United States, it came together with my family. We decided it would be the right thing for me, to represent the country I was born in. In the end it became a no-brainer, but for sure, it’s just something I wanted to do and it feels like I’m at home here.”
ussoccer.com: What was your family’s response when you told them of your decision.
FB: "When I broke the news to my family they were all just over the moon, especially my mom. She said, ‘What took you so long?’, so for sure we were all on the same page. Then after that conversation, I just sent the message across to my agent and said ‘Let’s make it happen.’
ussoccer.com: What does it mean personally to you to represent the country where you were born?
FB: “To represent the United States means a lot, more than people would know. I’m very proud and honored to have this opportunity, and I want to give everything I have to make our team successful.”
ussoccer.com: What’s your impression of the current U.S. Men’s National Team squad?
FB: “I think we all saw them at the World Cup. It’s a really young, energetic squad and for sure the potential of the squad is amazing, so definitely with me coming into it I think I can add my qualities and it will really come through in the next few years.”
ussoccer.com: What were your conversations like with USMNT coaching staff during this process?
FB: “The conversations I had with the coach were very brief. We spoke numerous times, but he was just obviously telling me about the plan and how much he wants me to join the team. Of course, I just told him that I was keen and I understood the project. It was just a matter of when.”
ussoccer.com: Looking forward to your first camp with the USMNT, what are you hoping to accomplish?
FB: “Luckily for me, my first time is going to be in a competitive tournament so of course the ambition is to win and there’s not really much more to it. I’m going to have the opportunity to get in and train with the boys, but for sure it’s just straight down to business when we head to Vegas.”
ussoccer.com: Your first international match could come against Mexico in the Nations League semifinal. What would it mean to have your debut come against the USMNT’s biggest rival?FB: “It’s amazing. I like to play big games and it’s something that every young player should be aspiring to do. Having the opportunity to play against Mexico in a rivalry match would be amazing and hopefully I can make a difference.”
ussoccer.com: The 2026 FIFA World Cup is coming to North America. What will it be like to play for the host country in a World Cup?
FB: “It’s almost too good to be true. To have the World Cup in America is just crazy and then to be the host nation and my first World Cup, it’s all come together nicely. Some things are just meant to be.”
ussoccer.com: What have you seen regarding the support that U.S. fans bring and what message do you have for them?
FB: “I think that’s when I really saw the full force of the U.S. fans. I was there and I just posted a photo with my friends thinking that it was just a holiday picture. Before I knew it, I just saw loads of comments and people knew I was in America, and I just really felt the love from there. There’s been a lot of build up, so I’ve obviously seen people saying that I should choose to represent the U.S. and it’s just something I’m really happy that I’ve decided to do.”
To be honest I was a bit overwhelmed. I knew the U.S. was obviously a big country, but I didn’t realize how many people were involved in soccer, especially every time I went on social media I was seeing loads of comments with people saying I should choose to represent the U.S. It’s nice to feel that appreciation for sure.”
ussoccer.com: What would your message be to all U.S. supporters?
FB: “My message to USMNT supporters is to believe, trust the process and for sure I have a lot of faith in this current squad that we’ll win a lot.”