2017 24 Under 24 - No. 9 - Paul Arriola
Rudy Calderon/MLSsoccer.com

Paul Arriola | 24 Under 24

#9

Paul Arriola

AGE: 22

COUNTRY: United States

POSITION: Midfielder

CLUB: D.C. United

YEARS PRO: 5

A late addition to the 24 Under 24 list following his August arrival at D.C. United, Arriola has one of the better resumes of anyone in the ranking. The San Diego native spent time in the LA Galaxy academy before choosing in 2013 to sign with Mexican side Tijuana, where he made 81 appearances in Liga MX. He broke through with the US national team while with Xolos and has played an important role in the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying campaign, tallying 13 caps since making his senior debut last year.

The centerpiece of D.C.’s active summer transfer window, Arriola has brought a much-needed jolt of life to what was a moribund United team. Capable of playing on the wing or as an outside defender, Arriola is a committed two-way player who is clean on the ball, good in possession and tactically savvy. He boasts solid pace and athleticism, too – if he can get a bit better at taking on defenders, he could be a force for years to come. 

What the technical staffers say:

“They overpaid and I think they established a dangerous precedent that Mexican teams can poach MLS academy players and then we’ll pay to bring them back, but setting the transaction aside, I think Paul’s done pretty well. He brings a lot of energy, he’s got a good engine and I think at this time in his career he’s a work in progress, but hopefully he can add some end product as he matures and have more goals and assists.”

“He’s someone that brings a spark of energy into the game whether he starts or comes off the bench. I think he can get down the line and get a cross in, but I think his energy is a big part of his game. His fitness levels are probably biggest assets that he brings to the table.”

“What we have to do as a country is we have to make players like Arriola not merely a wingback, but a true winger that is goal dangerous. That’s something as a country that we lack in terms of player development, to add that last piece of technical ability where you have the ability to take that guy off the dribble 1v1. We produce lots of fast, athletic players who are hardworking with a good mentality, but we don’t yet produce special players. And Arriola’s path over the next few years will be interesting to see the way that goes.”

“He’s a remarkably promising player that really does have the potential to continue to help reshape D.C. Along with another guy that’s on the list in Acosta, those are two guys that have the ability to change the complete scene for D.C. United soccer and take them back to a more promising outlook.”

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