In a short of period of time, Paul Arriola (pictured) has made important contributions for Mexico's Club Tijuana. (Photo: Salvador Melendez)
By Ivan Orozco
TIJUANA, Mexico -– Paul Arriola sprinted to the sideline with arms spread, hands above his head pointing at the sky. The Club Tijuana striker was then corralled and swallowed by a swarm of teammates in celebration.
Just minutes after entering the game as a second-half substitute, the 18-year-old scored his first goal in a competitive match as a professional footballer. It came against Monterrey, winner of the last three CONCACAF club titles, in a LIGA MX match on August 17.
The Chula Vista, California, native took to Twitter to reflect on the scoring play.
“A night I will never forget. Scored my official first professional goal. Hard work pays off and never stop dreaming. Thank you everyone.”
The Xoloitzcuintles newest star might want to go back and add a new post.
He scored again in his next game. This time, during a 3-2 win over CD Victoria in the CONCACAF Champions League, his first international outing. Arriola gave Club Tijuana a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, simply tapping in an Emmanuel Cerda pass beyond goalkeeper John Boddy.
It was a move teammate and former childhood coach Herculez Gomez had discussed with the young Arriola. Gomez, who coached at a youth club in California several years ago, joked about it on Twitter.
“Remember what I told you, if in the game you ever don’t know what to do, just kick it in the net,” Gomez’ Tweet said.
The United States youth player has become a game-changer since making his debut for the club in a July 6 friendly against current LIGA MX champion Club America at San Diego’s Petco Park. He netted after coming on as a 54th minute substitute.
Arriola has played 63 minutes in the 2013 Apertura, with one goal and two assists. His impact, though, is almost always immediately positive. Three minutes after being subbed in to a match against visiting Atlas on July 19, he assisted on Dario Benedetto goal.
The speedy striker did it again against Morelia on Aug. 3. He came on for U.S. international Edgar Castillo in the 65th minute and set up a Fidel Martinez for a goal seconds later.
Three days later, in his first professional start, Arriola had a few shots at goal in a CONCACAF Champions League against El Salvador’s Luis Angel Firpo
Club Tijuana, of course, hopes Arriola has more reasons for which Tweet. It might just give him another opportunity when the side returns to Champions League play, hosting Firpo on August 28 at the Estadio Caliente.