U.S. U-18 midfielder Paul Arriola has left the LA Galaxy Academy to sign with Club Tijuana, the 18-year-old announced via Twitter on Thursday evening.
Arriola made his Galaxy Developmental Academy debut in October and made 11 starts for the Galaxy Under-18 side this season, scoring five goals while also appearing in all three games during LA's participation at Dallas Cup, where he scored twice more. The 18-year-old also played in a single Reserve League match for LA in 2013, coming on in the 84th minute of LA's 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC on April 15. Arriola had been a regular during the club's preseason preparations appearing in all five of the club's preseason matches.
Following the news, Galaxy Technical Director Jovan Kirovski sounded off on Arriola's departure.
"He came through our youth academy and our program, we offered him a contract, but he obviously felt that it was better, he got more money or a better team and went on to Tijuana. That's the gap that we have in our system now where we have a lot of these players that are coming through our academy, we can't secure them and anybody outside of MLS or outside the country can sweep them up and take them," Kirovski told LA Galaxy Insider. "That's something that we really have to look into. We spend a lot of resources and a lot time in developing these players and that's one thing that we as a league need to look into and see how we can fix that. That will be even more of a problem going down the road from here as our academy gets better and our players get better"
As for how the Galaxy and MLS as a whole correct this issue, Kirovski states that the league is hard at work in their search for a remedy.
"There's different ways of doing it and one of the things that we've thought of is a USL team and we have a feeder team or an Under-23 team where we have players play that would be something that would fix that," Kirovski said. "We're in the process, but we need to figure that out and have something done for these kids because there's going to be a lot more kids coming through our system."
Arriola is the latest in a line of players, who have played for the Galaxy Academy only to head to foreign shores, joining the likes of Mario Rodriguez, a U.S. U-20 regular, who is currently with German second division club 1. FC Kaiserslautern and Jeffrey Payeras, who is currently with C.S.D. Municipal in Guatemala. Although LA may have lost out on Arriola, Kirovski admitted that he is confident that the Galaxy's academy ranks can continue to produce talent.
"It's another reminder that we have kids coming through our system. We're going to have more kids coming along and we need to secure these players. That's just the way of doing it. We have more players coming through our system, staying in our system and playing with our first team," said Kirovski. "Look at the players that we've developed like Jose Villarreal, Jack McBean and other players like those coming from college, when they come to us, Bruce [Arena] develops players. That's what we do."
And in light of what occured with Arriola, Kirovski intends to continue to lean on LA's record of developing players
"Of course, we are and we've proved it. We'll see down the road. We're going to produce players, we're going to sign players, maybe we're going to make mistakes on certain players, all of that is going to happen," said Kirovski. "Overall, we're going to have players coming through our system and we've already proven that. This is a great place for somebody to develop and learn how to play the game."