Paul Arriola joined D.C. United in 2017 as a young and promising midfielder with a wealth of USMNT experience. After showing flashes of brilliance in 2017, United's Young Designated Player entered the 2018 season with the weight of expectations from the fans. He showed the Black-and-Red faithful that he's the gift that keeps on giving as he entered the new season with the same energy he showed them the previous year. He became an important cog in the United attack with his energy and versatility on the field. He delivered seven goals and eight assists for United in 2018 and endeared himself to the fans with his selfless attitude as he played in both the midfield (centrally and wide) and as a make-shift right back. No matter where he was on the field, one thing was always undeniable... he gave everything he had for his team and the fans whenever he put on the D.C. United jersey.
Arriola didn't take long to prove his worth to fans when he notched his first assist of the season against Houston in mid-March. It was a cold and snowy contest that went down to the wire as United fought for critical points at a "home away from home" game at the Maryland SoccerPlex. In the 97th minute, Arriola headed the ball back into the box and Luciano Acosta pounced on the opportunity to equalize at 2-2. After enduring a snowy afternoon, fans were warmed by Arriola's impact on the team as they escaped Boyds, Md., with a point.
Fans have been waiting patiently in front of their Christmas tree for a new home ever since Major League Soccer's inaugural year in 1996. Fans' wait came to an end in July 2018 when the supporters were finally given Audi Field and a new and gleaming stadium to rock.
Arriola understood the magnitude of the occasion when he stepped foot on Audi Field for the inaugural match on July 14. He rewarded fans for their patience and support by bagging a brace, including the game-winner, against the Vancouver Whitecaps in a historic night for the District.
The USMNT player has a knack for rising to the occasion. The Black-and-Red made a late run at the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs and were in a vicious fight with the Montreal Impact for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The match against Montreal landed on Sept. 29 and everyone understood that this would be a defining game in the Black-and-Red season.
United had entered the match against the Impact only five points behind them in the standings, with two games in hand as they vied for that last playoff spot. In the biggest game of the season, Arriola delivered once again. The tenacious midfielder gifted fans with a brace as the team steam rolled their rivals in the standings 5-0 to make a statement to the rest of the league that D.C. United were on the upward trend.
In another breathtaking game at Audi Field, Arriola and the rest of the squad, gave fans the ultimate gift... belief and hope in our team.