The new year is only 25 days old and we have already seen a United States international stake his claim for more playing time with the national team. Paul Arriola, who scored goals in his first two senior team caps in 2016, is looking like a great candidate to emerge as a true impact player for the Yanks in 2017.
So far, in just the opening three matches of the Liga MX Clausura season, the Chula Vista, California native has played a vital part in helping Club Tijuana back to the top of the table where they spent the majority of the previous season.
In Xolos first win of the season, a 6-2 thrashing of Puebla, Arriola scored a fantastic volley from the top of the box:
A week later, he followed that well-taken goal with a late match-winning assist against Chivas de Guadalajara away from home in a 1-0 triumph. Not only are the end results coming in the way of goals and assists, but his overall impact on matches is noticeable as well.
Just against Chivas he could be seen being a menace down the right flank, dribbling past defenders, getting crosses in, even ringing a shot off the crossbar.
Check out what @PaulArriola had to say about the 1-0 win vs. @Chivas on Saturday. #GoXolos #WeAreSoccer #USMNT #LigaMxeng pic.twitter.com/JNVSxNBkk0— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) January 24, 2017
While Arriola is a bit unlucky to miss out on a chance to impress Bruce Arena during the first USMNT camp of the year, his current form speaks for itself. If he can maintain this level of productivity and influence throughout the next month or so, he should not only be given a call-up, but he could force his way into the starting lineup conversation.
At just 21 years old, he has been a highly thought of prospect for years since his days in the LA Galaxy academy. After several years of developing in the Xolos system, he’s finally coming into his own under Miguel Herrera. A completely rational and natural course of career progression has led Arriola to becoming an important piece for a top club in Liga MX. The next step now has to be on the international stage. We’ll see what 2017 has in store for him on that front very soon.