GUADALAJARA, Mexico — UCLA alum Eder Arreola has been busy making sure he is 100 percent ready for this week's MLS Combine by training south of the border at Club Tijuana. And after more than a week with the Xolos, he admits it would be a tough choice if he received offers from both MLS and Mexican teams.
The 20-year-old forward arrived in Tijuana last Tuesday after his agent arranged a temporary agreement, and Arreola was invited back this week.
“Training with Tijuana is going very well and it has been a great opportunity and experience for me,” Arreola told MLSsoccer.com. “I feel really good.”
Despite the success south of the border, the MLS Player Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from Jan. 6-10, is on Arreola's mind, and he says he cannot wait.
“To be honest, I'm not that nervous about the Combine, I'm really looking forward to it,” Arreola explained. “Being invited to the Combine is a huge honor and I accept the challenge.”
Arreola aims to show MLS teams that he is ready for the next stage in his soccer career, but, after training in the summer with Jaguares, Mexican clubs are also very aware of his talent.
If in the enviable position of having to pick between an MLS club and a Mexican club, Arreola says he would consult with his family and agent and make a decision based on what would be best in the long-term. Club Tijuana are clearly a draw due to their proximity to his home in Southern California and the fact that Americans Joe Corona, Greg Garza and Edgar Castillo are already playing there.
“It is always an advantage to be able to join a club that has other players that are in a similar situation as you, that can guide you and that know exactly what it is like to be in your shoes,” Arreola said. “We are all Mexican-American, we understand the language, the food and the culture, but even that doesn't guarantee that we will adapt.”
Arreola, a graduate of the Bradenton residency program, has been part of the US youth setup since the U-15 level and was part of the Under-20 squad that failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup. The next challenge of his career comes later this week at the Combine. Then he might have a decision to make.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.