Major League Soccer

Nico Estevez brands Paul Arriola ‘best winger in the league’

Lizzy Becherano
FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez names Paul Arriola "best winger in the league."
FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez names Paul Arriola "best winger in the league." / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

FC Dallas triumphed 3-1 over Orlando City on Saturday at Exploria Stadium as Paul Arriola and Franco Jara led the Western Conference side to glory. 

Arriola kicked off the scoring, managing two goals in the second half to cement his place in the team after only arriving in the offseason. 

It was a blockbuster trade as Dallas brought Arriola over from D.C. United in January with a deal worth a league-record $2m in General Allocation Money up front, as well as a potential additional $300,000 GAM in performance-based incentives.

And he has not yet disappointed. Arriola has managed seven goals and two assists in 13 matches to earn the title of 'best winger in the league' from FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez.

"This is why he's here," Estevez said of Arriola. 

"This is why the club invested. We [were] clear [on] his potential and what he can do. He's the best winger in the league. And then he's showing up every weekend...we are really, really happy to have him on our team."

Arriola previously expressed his satisfaction at joining Jesus Ferreria on the attack, but reiterated he’s 'really just happy' to be a part of FC Dallas after the victory over Orlando. 

"I wanted to come to Dallas, I wanted to be a part of something special, and I'm really just happy to be a part of this club," said the 27-year-old. 

"I just try and be the best player that I can be for my team for my teammates. And obviously, I try and try and continue to play well and stay healthy for my team and for myself. I'm just really going through a good moment and trying to capitalize on that and continue and kind of keep my head down and just keep going because we haven't accomplished anything yet. I haven't really accomplished anything."

Though Arriola is seeing a successful start to the 2022 Major League Soccer campaign, it hasn’t always been easy. The player has previously suffered several season-altering injuries, seeing his time with D.C. United limited and stint with Swansea City cut short. 

Now, with the MLS season in full swing and the 2022 World Cup fast approaching, staying healthy is the priority. 

"It takes a lot of discipline, a lot of sacrifice," Arriola said of his aim to stay healthy for club and country. 

"Especially for a guy like myself, who's recently obviously come back from ACL [surgery], and all last year dealt with tons of muscular injuries. For me, I think I finally found a really good rhythm and understanding of my body and what's needed, communicating, and also having the staff here and the club that are looking out for my best interest is key. I think everyone wants me to be healthy. Everyone wants me to be on the field. And so we have to manage that."

Beyond weekly league action, Arriola will also join the USMNT during the June international window after being named to Gregg Berhalter’s coveted 27-player roster.