Paul Arriola Settling In: Thoughts On New Teammates And Being A ‘Player That Changes Games’

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 13: D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola (13) controls the ball during a MLS match between DC United and Real Salt Lake on August 13, 2017, at RFK Stadium in Washington DC. Real Salt Lake defeated D.C United 1-0. (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Editorial (September 17, 2017)Paul Arriola is settling into Major League Soccer. Right before the transfer deadline, he was sold from Club Tijuana to D.C. United for a record transfer fee for the club. United are probably not making the playoffs this year, but Arriola is still making the rest of the season count for something.

Paul Arriola Settling In: Thoughts On New Teammates And Being A ‘Player That Changes Games’

Arriola sat down with Last Word on Soccer after a recent road game to talk about his arrival in the District and a few other story lines in his brief but much talked about return to America.

Build A Relationship With Luciano Acosta:

The moment he stepped in the field, Paul Arriola and Lucino Acosta had an understand. “Attacking wise, we have great moments and great understanding of the types of players that we are,” Arriola told Last Word on Soccer. “It’s good. It’s easier that I speak Spanish. We communicate on and off the field. He’s a great player.”

He and Acosta involve each other in the build up and have helped create chances for one another and their teammates. Arriola has yet to score or get an assist for the club, but they’ve had some good moments. D.C. is still reeling from a rough season overall. In many ways they’re building for 2018 at this point.

Arriola’s recognized the potential this offensive group has and a particular characteristic about them: “Anytime you get a couple great players who aren’t always selfish, it works out great for the team.”

Down The Stretch:

As previously stated, it’s going to take a miracle for United to make the playoffs. Right now they’re just taking it one game at a time: “My goal is to help the team win. As a team, we’re taking it one game at a time.

Head Coach Ben Olsen is still playing with the formation and with Arriola’s positive. The 22-year-old isn’t strictly a No. 10, underneath striker, etc. He doesn’t seem bothered by having his specific position (besides generally being offensively minded) up in the air.

“The team has always been first. In anyway that I can help the team, I’m going to do it 100%. Whether it’s defensively or being a play maker.”

He’s just going to keep rolling with the punches and do what is asked of him.

New Found Expectations:

Arriola was the biggest signing in club history, and it’s not even close. United paid almost $4 million total to get him there. With great investment comes great expectations. Arriola doesn’t feel pressure though. He’s excited and confident.

“It’s great the have the confidence of the club to go out and spend money like they did on me,” Arriola said, adding “that gives me great confidence to go out and be myself and work hard for the club, for my teammates, and for [Head Coach Ben Olsen].”

In many ways, this is an improvement for Arriola’s career long term. He was never the man at Club Tijuana. He’ll be expected to be a key piece now that he’s back in MLS. This will allow him to grow and make mistakes without immediately being benched.

“It’s a situation that’s perfect for myself where I’m in a new environment where I’m asked to be a player that changes games. That’s the only way I’m going to continue to grow and get better as a player. That’s why the move made sense in all aspects. I’m looking forward to it and all the challenges that await us.”

If his words are any indication of what’s to come, the kid is going to stay humble and hungry.

Improvement For Club And Country:

Arriola broke into the United States Men’s National Team this year on the back of having a good relationship with Head Coach Bruce Arena. The two know each other from Arriola’s brief time in the LA Galaxy Academy system. Arriola had a good performance in the 2017 Gold Cup (which the USMNT won) and he’s been on the roster ever since. This move of course begged the question of what it means for his National Team future.

Arena and Arriola discussed the move as it was in the works: “We had talked before the transfer. He was extremely happy and said it was a great move for me and it was an improvement, because the most important thing is for me to constantly play. The more I’m on the field, the better I’ll be.”

It is relieving to see a National Team coach support his players even when moving to a lesser league. This move will give Arriola more playing time and more responsibility. It will immediately give him the chance to achieve his potential. In turn, it will make him a better player at the international level.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Arriola playing for D.C. United in their new stadium, Audi Field, will be one of the top story lines to watch in 2018.

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