Ahead of March Friendlies, Paul Arriola Says Gold Cup Is A 'Must-Win'

Paul Arriola on USMNT Call-Up

Fresh off his strong showing at the January camp for the US men's national team, Paul Arriola was called in for the March friendlies this week by head coach Gregg Berhalter. Arriola, a winger for D.C. United, in his third season with the club, capped off his time with the national team last month with a game-clinching goal against Costa Rica. Arriola then opened the scoring for United in their opening day 2-0 win over Atlanta United, earning himself another call-up for the March friendlies.

The US will face Ecuador and Chile later this month, as they gear up for this summer's Gold Cup, the first official games the team will play since they lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago back in October 2017 to miss the 2018 World Cup. Berhalter, tasked with righting the course for the men's team, called in Arriola as part of a squad also featuring many players from Europe, after calling in an MLS-exclusive group in January.

"It’s great to get called in once again under Gregg, where in the previous camp I was able to really excel in the second game against Costa Rica," Arriola said to Dave Johnson earlier this week, in an interview with FloFC.

The goal was Arriola's third for the Red, White, and Blue in his 19th senior cap. Arriola was part of the group that won the last Gold Cup, in the summer of 2017, shortly before his move to D.C. However, later on that year, the US failed to earn a spot in the World Cup. Dave Sarachan oversaw the team on an interim basis for 2018, before giving way to Berhalter. 

In June, the US will get a chance to defend their title. In addition, it's a chance for the national team to get back on track, after stagnating in 2018, following their World Cup disappointment. 

"We have a big international tournament in the Gold Cup, that’s a must win for us," Arriola said of what the focus is for the US team in March.

And Arriola is confident that Berhalter, most recently with the Columbus Crew in MLS, is the guy to lead the team back in the right direction. With over three years until the next World Cup, there is plenty of time to integrate his ideas, his tactical nuances into the team.

"Gregg came in and has done a great job with hit style, and implementing the way he wants us to play," said Arriola. "Not qualifying for the World Cup has set us back, and I think he’s the right guy to push us forward, and push us in the right direction."

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