FRISCO, Texas – The addition of U.S. international Paul Arriola isn’t just a shrewd signing for FC Dallas. It’s a statement of ambition.
The $2 million in guaranteed General Allocation Money (GAM) that FC Dallas paid D.C. United for the 26-year-old winger is an MLS domestic record that nearly doubled the previous high mark of $1.2 million set last month.
But it’s not just about the money. Arriola is an established U.S Men’s National Team player with 42 caps and eight goals to his name. He’s also a proven winner. The California native has lifted two Concacaf Gold Cup trophies with the USMNT and captained the side for its semifinal victory over Jamaica in 2021. At the club level, Arriola played 116 games for Club Tijuana of Liga MX before moving on to MLS and D.C. United where he made 89 appearances as a Designated Player and registered 20 goals and 16 assists.
“Paul is an experienced player in the league. He’s a high-level, consistent player,” said Dallas head coach Nico Estévez. “He’s played a lot of international games. He brings consistency, hard work, and leadership on and off the field. And then he brings quality in the final third. Good runs, good movements, goals, assists. He’s a hard worker and I think he’s a great fit for the style we want to play. He’s a great fit for FC Dallas as a club. This is a player I think the fans will love.”
Estévez and Arriola already know each other well. As USMNT assistant coach under Gregg Berhalter, Estévez worked with Arriola off-and-on for three years and helped the player become a mainstay in national team lineups over that time (Arriola featured in 25 of the U.S.’s 44 games while Estévez was on the coaching staff).
This connection proved vital to Dallas’ successful pursuit of the winger—especially with a World Cup on the horizon.
“I’m super excited to bring a guy with Paul’s pedigree to the club,” said André Zanotta, FCD’s Technical Director. “He brings many things on and off the field. Nico (Estévez) knows him well from the national team and he’s experienced in the league. He brings leadership and inspiration to all of us. And on the field, he has qualities that are hard to find and will take us to the next level.
“With any player of Paul’s caliber, we’re always interested. We spoke to D.C. last year, but they weren’t open to trading him, so we’ve always been interested. But we knew it wasn’t going to be easy to bring him here. But when Nico came, that was also a factor. It made Paul more interested in coming here because he knows Nico and his goal is to be in the World Cup this year. So, Nico pushed me again and everyone else here wanted Paul, so when we saw that they were open to discuss a trade, we put in all the effort to make the deal happen.”
This record-breaking trade didn’t appear out of thin air. It comes off the back of another record deal that saw FC Dallas send Homegrown prodigy Ricardo Pepi to Bundesliga side FC Augsburg for a club-record sum. That windfall allowed Dallas to raise the stakes in this January transfer window and beyond.
“Once we accepted a deal with Augsburg, we had to change the strategy in the market,” Zanotta revealed. “We want to be more aggressive and send a message to the league that we’re going to compete and going to be strong this season for the different objectives that we have. And bringing in a guy like Paul helps. We’re really pushing hard to have a strong roster and very competitive roster for our competitions this year.”
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