Adios Paul Arriola: Club Tijuana’s Gold Cup winner has joined D.C. United

Adios Paul Arriola: Club Tijuana’s Gold Cup winner has joined D.C. United

After a four-year career with Xolos, Paul Arriola has now officially left Tijuana. On Wednesday night, the Chula Vista native confirmed on Twitter that he will join D.C. United.

The move to MLS is an exciting one for the 22-year-old who has recently become a crucial figure for the USMNT. Following a superb run in the 2017 Clausura with Tijuana, and an ensuing Gold Cup title last month, it’s no wonder that a club from north of the border was eager to bring him in.

According to The Washington Post, United will pay Xolos over $3 million for the American who is now set to make over $1 million a year through 2020.

Although the league might not be at the same level as Liga MX, MLS is undoubtedly growing and slowly closing the gap between itself and Mexico’s first division. Also worth noting is the fact that the Arriola still has plenty of time to continue developing his talents before potentially making a move abroad. Within a few years, it wouldn’t be surprising if he eventually made the leap to Europe.

However, while the selling of Arriola was a practical decision for Xolos ownership, the winger’s omission might prove to be a detrimental one for the struggling squad.

After three weeks in the regular season, Tijuana has remained at the bottom of the league table without a single point or goal in the 2017 Apertura. With plenty of problems already at hand, new manager Eduardo “Chacho” Coudet will now need to find a replacement for the agile and quick player.

At the moment, three candidates emerge as likely substitutes: Mauricio Cuero, Luis Angel Mendoza and Matias Pisano. Of these three, Pisano is the one that has a slight advantage over the other two. Despite the fact that the Argentine doesn’t have the same blistering pace as Arriola, Pisano’s energy and dribbling abilities make him a decent replacement for the American.

Another question worth bringing up is if Arriola’s exit will have an influence on Coudet’s strategy.

For the most part, the manager has favored a 4-4-2 formation that has yet to produce consistent positive results. Will Coudet now attempt to compensate for Arriola’s absence by going with a more attack-friendly 4-3-3? Will he perhaps take a chance by giving an opportunity to a more central-minded player like Joe Corona or Alejandro Guido in Arriola’s spot?

Either way, it will be fascinating to not only see how Coudet might change his system, but also how Arriola will continue to develop his career in the United States.

Since making his professional debut with Xolos in 2013, the winger gradually became an important member of Tijuana’s roster. Earlier this year, Arriola was also able to hold onto a starting role with a Xolos squad that finished in first place of the Clausura regular season.

More importantly, Tijuana will be losing a local kid from Chula Vista who embodied the spirit of Xolos’ “equipo sin fronteras” (team without borders) motto. Although it will be bittersweet to see him go, Arriola is the perfect representation of what a U.S.-born player can achieve with a professional team in Liga MX.

Best of luck to the promising winger who has yet to reach his full potential. No matter where he goes, the San Diego/Tijuana area will always be rooting for him.

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