Paul Arriola has yet to play a single minute for D.C. United this MLS season, but could play a role for the club in its final stages of 2020.
Arriola has been recovering from a torn ACL suffered in a preseason match in February. The U.S. Men’s National Team winger has been a key player for the Black and Red over the past few seasons and looks ready to step back onto the pitch for Ben Olsen’s side at some point this season.
Arriola hasn’t set a date for his return just yet, but confirmed he is close to joining his teammates again.
“It’s extremely hard to really tell a specific date,” Arriola said in a club interview Wednesday. “There’s so many different factors that go into the day you actually play a game. For me, I hope it’s sometime this year in 2020. I obviously have a plan with the staff and it’s obviously a plan that I believe in and being able to train now day in and day out, I’m finally in the process of a return to play. For me, I think it’s just a matter of time.”
Arriola has been one of MLS’ top wingers since arriving from Liga MX side Club Tijuana back in 2017. In 65 combined league appearances, Arriola has scored 14 goals and added 12 assists while continuing to be a regular inclusion with the USMNT
The 25-year-old has earned 33 caps for the USMNT since making his debut back in 2016. He’s scored five goals while also representing the team in World Cup qualification, the Concacaf Nations League, and Concacaf Gold Cup.
His absence has been felt in the D.C. United, which has struggled for the majority of the 2020 season. The club has scored 11 goals in 14 matches this season, which is tied for the second-fewest among MLS clubs this season. Currently, D.C. United sits last in the Eastern Conference with 11 points and is riding a five-match winless run in league play.
With Olsen only receiving six league goals from his midfielders and forwards this campaign, Arriola’s return would be a needed boost for the Black and Red in the final stages of the MLS season.
“There’s gonna be multiple factors regarding how my knee continually reacts to the loads that I’m currently trying to increase,” Arriola said. “But if you asked me, I would love to play tomorrow. I’m just going to continue to do what I do. I have a lot of trust in our training staff and I know the coaching staff does have a lot of trust in them as well.”
“So as long as we’re on the same page, which we have been throughout the whole process, I think when I return to the field will be the right time. But hopefully it’s sometime this year.”
D.C. United has nine regular season matches remaining this season with four coming at Audi Field. Up first is a date with Atlanta United on Oct. 3rd before trips to both NYCFC and the Chicago Fire.