Photo by Robert Mora/LA Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy Academy is loaded with a number of talented prospects, but this Developmental Academy season, the Galaxy have added another to their ranks-- established youth prospect Paul Arriola.
Formerly of Temecula-based youth club Arsenal (the club of players like Raul Mendiola, Hector Jimenez and U.S. national team defender Carlos Bocanegra), Arriola made his Development Academy debut for the Galaxy Under-18's in their 3-1 victory over Chivas USA in the SuperClasiquito on Sunday. Throughout the match, the 5-foot-7 forward was a thorn in the Rojiblancos' side, creating several scoring chances, but was ultimately unable to finish on his own.
Arriola brings an impressive pedigree to the Galaxy, having spent years at Arsenal while also appearing on the United States' squad for the 2011 Under-17 World Cup. With a player Arriola joining the squad, Under-18 coach Eddie Soto admitted that the Galaxy had become "the place to be" among the Academies in Southern California.
“It should be. LA Galaxy is the premier team. We obviously want to have the best players and create the best environment for future Galaxy players with the first team. We take a lot of pride with what we do here and from what we do on and off the field so hopefully, we can produce more players to join the first team."
Below Arriola discusses the SuperClasiquito and his integration into the Galaxy Academy...
ARRIOLA: “It’s a big game so it’s always interesting to play against good players as well as former national team players and current national team players as well. And being able to play to play with the pros and because this is a Clasico, you have to prepare well and be mentally good. You learn to play quick and play for your team.”
(On describing himself as a player...)
ARRIOLA: "I’m not the biggest man, but I’m very quick and I wouldn’t say that I’m the best technically, but I’m very technical. A lot of Americans are starting to be more technical and we’re starting to be more comfortable on the ball. I’m a wide forward, I like to use my speed and be able to whip crosses in and get behind the defense and get opportunities.”
(On his professional aspirations...)
ARRIOLA: "I’d love to go professional. That’s been my dream since I was little and that’s the thing that I want to push for whether it’s before college or after a year of college or four years of college. Eventually, that’s my goal and whether it happens before or after, I’m still going to push for it no matter what."
(On his relationship with the UCLA coaches...)
ARRIOLA: "There are always asking about me and asking if I need anything and I always call them up to tell how I’m doing. We have a great relationship."
(On his future with the U.S. set-up...)
ARRIOLA: "I’ve been in the national team since I first started. I was in the Under-14 at 13 years old and I’ve been to the Under-17 World Cup, I lived in Residency. I’m currently with the Under-18 national team and we have a camp in Carson in November so I’m currently with them. I’d love to keep going as far as I can, but I just have to push myself and get myself in the right environment."
(On returning to full fitness after suffering an injury during an Under-18 tournament in Holland...)
ARRIOLA: "I’m feeling close. This is my first game since coming back from Holland, it was a good one. Being able to finish my chances at the very end is very important. It’s very important to finish those. Obviously, I’m not there yet, but it’s more mental now."
(If the friendships that he has on the team were the reason that he joined the Galaxy Academy...)
ARRIOLA: "Yes. They’re really great guys and getting the chance to interact with the first team and the reserves is good. Obviously, the Galaxy are one of the best programs in the united states as far as MLS teams are concerned."