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American teenager Arriola delivers assist in pro debut for Club Tijuana



For 18-year-old American forward Paul Arriola, simply making it onto the field in Club Tijuana’s season-opening match against Atlas would have been enough of an accomplishment to call his professional debut a success. The former Los Angeles Galaxy Academy star took it a step further though, flashing the skill that made him one of the best youth players in the United States.

Just four minutes into his pro debut, Arriola delivered a beautiful assist to set up Dario Benedetto’s third goal of the match, and help give Club Tijuana a 3-1 lead over Club Atlas. The Xolos were unable to hold the lead though, surrendering a pair of goals in a 3-3 draw on Friday night in Tijuana.

The Xolos were without U.S. Men’s National Team players Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo, who are currently with the U.S. GOld Cup team, while Herculez Gomez is sidelined after athroscopic surgery to clean out his right knee.

Here is Arriola’s assist:


One other American did factor into the match, as Greg Garza started and played 90 minutes at left back in the draw.

What did you think of Arriola’s pro debut? Looking forward to seeing the Xolos play once they have all their Americans on the field?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Lots of discussion about why he didn’t join LA. Pay was probably part of it, but if you were a young attacker would you want to go in and compete with McBean, Villereal, and Zardes at around your age? Those guys are fighting for one starting spot between the three of them already when Landon and Keane are there.

    • Most of the time players apply to Mexican citizenship so they don’t count as a foreigners for their club. Mexican clubs can only carry 5 foreigners so this saves them one spot.
      They keep dual citizenship and can still play for any country they choose.

      • Its this and nothing more, the guy below talking about crappy youth teams, youth teams don’t win world cups just ask Mexico

    • Can you blame him? He’s seen the crap we’ve put out their and all the goose eggs we have laid at the youth World cups and Olympics

      • Youth is youth. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter if you win a youth WC or bomb out at the group stage. In no way is there any correlation of winning youth WC’s to winning senior WC’s.

        Certain players that have the talent and ability get moved up to the senior level not entire youth teams. Go look at senior teams for all countries. You would be hard pressed to find youth players from their youth teams actually on their current Senior rosters.

        Look at the US. Form the 2007 Quaterfinal team you have Jozy and Bradley that’s it. From the round of 16 team in 2009 you have Diskerud and Shea. From the 2011 cycle the only players to see time is Agudelo and Gatt. Even though McInerney was a Gold cup call-up and Wood was a provisional squad player. Actually 2011 may turn out to be one of the better crops of youth players even though they didn’t make it to the U-20 WC. I.e. Agudelo, Wood, McInerney, Lletget, Gyau, Gatt, Kitchen, Okugo all of these guys may find themselves in the senior team at some time.

      • Youth is when some kids mature at a faster rate than others so what happens in 99% of the cases is that the players who have achieved adult stature early look better and win more games than players who develop more slowly. By 26 a very few players are still gaining strength and speed while most are either at their peak athletically or on the way down. Coaches are under pressure to win (which is measurable and immediate) and to develop players (which is much more fuzzy and hard to see the results of in less than a couple years). So youth teams that win are mostly made of players who mature early those players are not always the best prospects to become future stars. Eddie Johnson, for example is one many would say was among the very best U-17 players the US ever had, while he is still a very good player, I think it is fair to say few would call him one of the very best US players ever.

      • ehhh just because the US youth teams have not been able to transition more than two or three prospects (which is still a pretty good number) to the senior NT doesn’t mean it’s the way things are done elsewhere.

        Chile, Uruguay, Mexico are teams that have been slowly built on the success of their youth NTs with Mexico being the most recent example. Matter of fact, the spine of Mexico’s squad has been composed from players from their 2007 U20 squad and there is still no way to gauge their most recent success since it………just………….happened.

    • I’m pretty sure he’s already cap-tied to the US. He played in the U-17 WC before he had his Mexican passport, I believe

      • not exactly. he might have to file a one-time switch in order to play for Mexico, but playing for youth teams does not cap-tie you to a country.

        also, if he gets a passport, i don’t think he counts as an international player for Xolos.

      • Actually I think youth teams can cap tie you if you didn’t have citizenship to the other country yet…
        Like in the Nigel Reo Coker situation. He moved to MLS and applied for American citizenship but would be ineligible because he played for England’s youth teams.

      • I think Nigel Reo Coker could play for the US if he is a US citizen and makes the switch. He is eligible for Sierre Leone also.

      • You have to be eligible for the team making the switch to even in youth. At the same time it only cap-ties you if you played for a nation even at the youth level and you weren’t eligible foranother national team at the time you played in said national team.So in other words if Paul played for the USA youth teams but he was still edible to play for say Mexico then he can still obtain whatever paperwork it is required for gun to make the switch.A good example of this is Mikkel Arteta.He wanted to play for England but couldn’t because despite only playing in friendlies or youth national team games, he want eligible for England

  2. I see that Darío Benedetto scored all three goals for Tijuana, and his goal in the video above is very well done. Am wondering what this might mean for Herc Gomez. Benedetto is only 23 and also newly transferred to Tijuana. Would Herc be competing with Bendetto for playing time? Am also wondering about Herc playing on artificial turf at home in Tijuana, after he sat the USMNT game in Portland, apparently because Klinsmann did not want him playing on artificial turf.

    • Gomez is out with injury 4 to 8 weeks. So Benedetto is the man right now, and really from what I have seen it’s going to be hard for Gomez to break into as a starter.

      • What does that say of out US forward pool that one of our top strikers is going to have a tough time breaking the starting 11 not for Man U, Chelsea. Not even Bolton …but for club Tijauna

      • It’s pretty much Altdiore, then a steep drop off, then Gomez, another big drop until Boyd then an abyss to the next guy

      • What the Galaxy gave him was technique and methodology to bring him to the next level, but more importantly they gave him exposure. By playing in the youth teams and the reserves, various scouts were able to evaluate his progress.
        The fact that he is from the San Diego area was not lost on the Xolos, who bring in lots of supporters (and money) from the fans there.

        The Galaxy now have lost four players to teams from other countries. The fact of the matter is that the Acadamy system at the Galaxy and other MLS teams are producing talent beyond the capability of teams to sign them all to pro contracts. This leaves foreign teams to step in and make offers.

        At the same time due to salary restrictions, the Galaxy cannot sign several of the promising young Americans playing in the Xolo’s youth teams. although they keep tabs on them. Age restrictions too, keep players from signing pro contracts to foreign teams until their 18th birthday.

        The Galaxy paid out 100K to sign Zardes to a homegrown contract, not only to keep him out of the Superdraft, but to keep the foreign scouts at bay. The whole competitiveness in just signing new talent outside the college ranks is getting more exciting each season.

      • Yeah the Galaxy aren’t “developing” these players though. They snatch them up from other area clubs that have had these players for years, let them play for a year and then b!tch when they don’t offer enough money and the players leave.

        Villareal and Sorto were on Patedores u-18 team before they joined LA for a year. Arriola and Mendiola played for the Arsenal academy in LA before they joined the Galaxy for a year. Both these players were consensus elite prospects before playing for LA. Mendiola had trials with Man City and Sevilla before he even played in one of LA’s 10 reserve games which if you have watched them are a joke. Zardes got to train with Liverpool because of his stellar play in college not because of the Galaxy.

        Its naive to think MLS academies are the only place players can get noticed. Pelosi had no problem impressing Liverpool without MLS. Same goes for Byiev, Zelalem, Gatt, Flores, Moore, and the hundred of other kids who get scouted by foreign teams.

        Every team in the world will have players poached.its the nature of the buisness

      • good points

        but you can’t deny that MLS is at a disadvantage when they are only allowed to have two academy players on their roster with Generation Adidas wages.

        They just won’t be able to compete when all they can offer a homegrown player is 35k.

      • There are hundreds of players in academies who go nowhere. They either do not have the talent that can translate to, in the opinion of the academy and MLS coaches, an ability to play in the 1st division of football. The plain fact is that there is no clear path to the MLS for players from other academies, when the other academies have to compete (in keeping their own players) from MLS academies.

        The more the MLS academies feed players to the MLS or in the case of Arriolla and others, to foreign leagues, the more the MLS academies are looked upon as the stepping stone to a pro career. Yea, the Pateadores and other private academies will continue to attract and develop great players, but the writing is on the wall, that if you want an MLS career or get exposure to foreign teams, the place to go are the MLS academies. And remember if you are selected to the MLS academies, your ride is free. For many families with teenage kids and bills to pay that is a deal clincher, even if the private academies offer “scholarships” to try and keep players, the modus operendi for many of them is still pay for play.

        There will be no shortage of foreign scouts at the private academies in the near future, but as the accomplishments of the MLS academy participants grow and the MLS academies get bigger and more important, so will the number of scouts from the top divisions all over the world who will look to the MLS academies as having the best players vetted from all the other local academies.

  3. “The former Los Angeles Galaxy Academy star”

    Did Bruce Arena not like him because of his dual-citizen potential (because he’s currently applying for Mexican citizenship)?

  4. the assist on that goal was sublime. the way he just absolutely BURNED past the Atlas defenders and then a fantastic through ball. the striker did well to round the keeper, but man, what a p@ss!

    Garza looked strong too, although i only saw the 2nd half. he wasn’t to blame on either Atlas’ 2nd or 3rd. in fact, he almost got a block on the 3rd goal despite running from the other side of the field.


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