Chula Vista native Paul Arriola got the opportunity he’s been waiting for Sunday when U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann put him not only on the roster but in the starting XI for a friendly in Puerto Rico.
In the 34th minute the 21-year old midfielder/forward for the Club Tijuana Xolos fed Bobby Wood on the break. Wood made it 2-0 with his fifth goal in 18 national team games and Arriola earned his first assist on the senior squad.
But the local guy wasn’t done yet.
After Puerto Rico scored to cut the USMNT lead to 2-1, Arriola tapped an Alejandro Bedoya cross in in the 56th to put the U.S. up 3-1 and record his first goal.
USMNT won 3-1.
This isn’t the first time Arriola wore the U.S. crest on his chest. He made three starts for the U.S. in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico and in 2013 joined the U18 team for friendlies against France and Uruguay. Arriola was also a member of the U-20 squad at the 2014 Dallas Cup and NTC Invitational along with the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Earlier this year he was a part of the U-23 Olympic Qualifying team.
Arriola isn’t on Klinsmann’s Copa America roster but got the opportunity against Puerto Rico while USMNT regulars were playing for their Major League Soccer clubs. But after getting an assist and goal in his first cap he’s shown he can rise to the occasion.
The USMNT has friendlies Wednesday against Ecuador in Frisco, Texas and Saturday against Bolivia in Kansas City, Kansas before starting Copa play June 3rd.