Arriola, who started for the USA in the 1-1 tie with Mexico in World Cup 2018 qualifying in June and the 2-1 win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup final in July, confirmed he had left Xolos in a
thank-you letter to their fans on Wednesday night.
Paul Arriola at Tijuana:
GP/G LEAGUE (YEAR)
17/1 Liga MX (2013-14)
5/0 Liga MX (2014-15)
27/1 Liga MX (2015-16)
31/2 Liga MX (2016-17)
1/0 Liga MX (2017-18)
D.C. United has not announced the agreement but confirmed plans for a press conference Thursday at 10 a.m. ET at RFK Stadium to discuss "marquee signings." In the last day, United confirmed the signings of Hungarian international Zoltan Stieber and American Russell Canouse from German clubs.
There are three money parts to the deal, as outlined by ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle:
MLS Rights: The LA Galaxy in whose academy Arriola played in his senior year in high school held his MLS rights, so United has to pay around $500,000 of allocation money.
Arriola turned down an offer to sign with the Galaxy to sign with Tijuana out of high school, but the Galaxy's offer allowed it to retain his MLS rights even if he never qualified for HG status.
Transfer Fee: D.C. United will pay Tijuana in excess of $3 million for Arriola.
Most of the Americans for whom MLS has paid transfer fees (estimates here) are national team veterans:
-- Michael Bradley ($10 million to Roma from Toronto FC in 2014),
-- Clint Dempsey ($9 million to Fulham from Seattle in 2013),
-- Jozy Altidore (Jermain Defoe plus cash to Sunderland from Toronto FC in 2015),
-- Alejandro Bedoya ($1 million to Nantes from Philadelphia in 2016); and
-- Tim Howard ($600,000 to Everton from Colorado in 2016).
Salary: D.C. United will pay Arriola more than $1 million per year.
Only five Americans -- Bradley ($6.5M), Altidore ($4.9M), Dempsey ($3.9M), Howard ($2.5M) and Bedoya ($1.2M) -- were among the 28 MLS players listed as making more than $1 million by the MLS Players Union.
Context: Arriola enjoyed his best season at Tijuana in 2016-17 when Xolos won the first phase of both halves to the Liga MX season, but Tijuana is off to a horrible start this summer, having lost all three games, two at home, by shutouts.
There was no guarantee that Arriola would keep his starting job in a league heavy on imports, so a move to MLS with a very nice contract might be his best bet to remain in the national team picture with a possible trip to the World Cup on the line next year.
The move will not be without pressure. Arriola will be one of the cornerstones of a D.C. United team being rebuilt as it prepares for a move into its new Audi Field in 2018.