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Paul Arriola is making the most of his first USMNT camp

Paul Arriola USMNT 15

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. — Paul Arriola is looking at the bigger picture.

After enjoying a strong Clausura campaign in Liga MX, Arriola was brought into his first camp with the U.S. Men’s National Team this week. Arriola impressed in recent months with his string of solid performances for Club Tijuana, and the call-up had him buzzing even though he was not named to the U.S.’s preliminary squad for the Copa America Centenario.

Some players would have been disappointed with that, but not Arriola because he saw a chance to make an impression that could lead to more looks down the road.

“I can’t really explain. I was just so excited,” Arriola told SBI. “I heard that I had a chance of making it into camp and obviously I would have loved to be on the 40-man roster, but at the same time I couldn’t be bummed out that I wasn’t on it because this was my first camp.

“That’s what I have to take out of it: First camp. I need to make my statement and prove that I can stay on the team and hopefully after Copa America I’m one of those guys that can slowly get into the whole process.”

The 21-year-old winger could become more of a fixture with the U.S. in the coming months should he return to Tijuana from his summer break and pick up where he left off. Arriola appeared in 16 of Xolos’ 17 games in the Clausura campaign, and caught the attention of plenty of stateside observers with his contributions.

Arriola is now hoping to bring his crafty dribbling runs and the other qualities that allowed him to thrive for club over to country. He wants to make a good first impression week while he trains with the U.S. and potentially earns his first cap in Sunday’s road friendly against Puerto Rico.

“I think the biggest part for me is just to show my personality, show who I really am on the field,” said Arriola. “I don’t think that there’s many players that have the same characteristics that I do, and that’s just my opinion. I’m one that stays out wide, that likes to take on players, just get in quick little movements and enough space to get a cross off or a shot off or anything like that.

“Even in Mexico, I don’t see a lot of players that like to take their man on completely and go down the line and a get a cross. It’s more like an early cross. For me, it’s showing what I can give to the team and how I can help change the dynamic when the team needs it.”

Arriola has already shown a bit of that in his initial training sessions.

“I think Paul has a great attitude and a lot of quality,” Perry Kitchen told SBI. “He’s very quick and he’s good on the ball and he’s got a nose for goal. From what I’ve seen in the past few days, I’ve been very impressed. I think he has a very bright future and I’ll definitely be pulling for him.”

Like most young players, the challenge for Arriola is to now go from squad player to every-game starter on the club level. Arriola earned the nod in each of the Xolos last eight league matches, and will likely need to continue to be a lineup regular next season if he wishes to become a U.S. fixture when the Americans resume their World Cup Qualifying odyssey in the fall.

Being consistent and making the most of opportunities will be key in avoiding seeing less minutes next season, and Arriola knows that full well after having a a down year follow his successful debut campaign in 2013-14. He is also aware that there is plenty more to accomplish, but is still pleased to have made some real strides in his development these last few months.

“For me it was another stepping stone towards where I want to be,” said Arriola. “Now obviously I need to continue to be a starter as the next season comes. We know that there’s going to be a lot of players that are coming into our team. But it’s the most minutes I’ve played, the most action, I felt the most confident, whether it was right wing back, right back, right mid, right center attacking mid.

“I’m excited, I’m excited for what’s to come, but obviously I need to continue to work harder. This is just another chance for me to show how I work.”


  1. One of the biggest issues lately for the USMNT has been their lack of quality wide players. Players who can draw defenders out, beat them on the dribble, and get crosses off. There appears to be a number of prospects emerging who could become viable options as either Starters or Super-Subs that could provide a new dynamic to our attack.
    Between Pulisic, Finlay, Manneh, Arriola, Lleget, Green, Gyau, & Kiessewetter we are hopefully close to finding quality options for wide midfielders/forwards that can contribute at the international level.

    • While I am in the minority here, I really think you can add Zardes to this mix. His crossing is often good and he is good at beating defenders to the end line and then passing back to teammates in the box.

  2. Ive never seen him BUT we do need to upgrade at his position. The biggest problem is getting by Klinsmann’s bias for the same ole, same ole that produce little, no matter how many times he rolls them out

  3. I’ve been a Xolos season ticket holder the past few years and have the opportunity to watch a lot of Arriola. The fact that he got so much playing time under Herrera this past season tells you that at least El Piojo thinks Arriola can contribute to a Liga MX side. The guy has a lot of energy, he runs his butt off every minute of every game and doesn’t seem to ever tire. Before this last Closura he was used mostly off the bench as a sub where he could be a real terror with his speed and energy on tired defenders. I think that may be his role for the USMNT someday.

    I’m obviously a fan of his as he plays for a team I follow and he’s a local San Diego area high school product, but he also sometimes seems to run around a bit aimlessly and his technical skills sometimes leave something to be desired, especially in the Mexican League where we get to see a lot of talented technical players. But he’s young, works really hard, and I think there’s room for him to be given a shot.

  4. He’s fast amd willing to chase and his technique is adequate but not spectacular enough to make up for his size and lack of raw physicality on the ball. Average doesn’t always mean useless. He’s good enough to be there but I haven’t been impressed. One look at him against a player like Pulisic who is 4 years younger than he is makes the difference clear.

      • Higher for me. He has more creativity and aggressiveness on the offensive side if the ball. He will go right at a player and take a shot from distance. Bedoya doesn’t really have that.

      • I don’t think they’re comparable, really. I would say that Bedoya has more flexibility which allows him to play centrally and drift to wide positions. He can chase down the ball but also keep spacing and help dictate the game, moreso than Arriola who is almost exclusively a right side in/out player who is better at chasing stretching the width than controlling the tempo. Judging their ceilings relative to one another would depend heavily on what our go-to formation is, who we put around them, etc., and that’s really hard to do with players at different positions.

        I would be excited if he could take that RW/RAM role that Klinsmann most often puts Yedlin at and allow Yedlin to push back to the traditional RB and overlap. Personally, I think even if Arriola does take that spot he’s got Kiesewetter behind him, whose ceiling is considerably higher.

      • Here’s a radical idea–it’s too early to tell. At Arriola’s age Bedoya had just signed with a Swedish Club, did okay for 3 seasons, then an undistinguished stint at Rangers, followed by a couple of more years in Sweden before the move to France. If you look at his stats, he’s done as well or better in France than he did previously, so he was a bit of a late bloomer.

  5. He’s so average. The kind of guy who would never get a sniff for a country not trying to look under every rock for a gem. I hope he contributes, but I don’t see much of a future with him.

    • I beg to differ, he is quality on the ball and has a good eye for passes and reads the defense well. Better yet, he is only 21 and is far and away better that most of the players his age on the USMNT. He is good and will only get better. He is after all under 21!

    • He’s got some interesting qualities. He’s got a great work rate both sides of the ball, he’s confident taking people on, and he has a strong shot with a desire to score; always nice to have midfielders with a nose for goal. Also, his willingness to shoot from range is something the national team has been lacking. He’ll definitely have to step it up with the senior team but he could develop into a nice right sided option IMO.

    • When he played for the U-20’s he was often one of our better players and showed well internationally. If he continues to develop he could be a solid contributor. Starting in Liga MX at such a young age is a good sign, whatever country you are from.


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