After weeks of rumors, D.C. United has traded Paul Arriola to FC Dallas in a record-breaking move within MLS. The USMNT winger, after five seasons with United, is heading to Texas for a total of $2 million in General Allocation Money ($1.5 million in 2022, plus $500,000 in 2023). United will receive a further $300,000 in GAM if Arriola meets performance benchmarks, and will retain a 30% cut of any transfer fee Dallas gets from transferring Arriola out of MLS.
“We want to thank Paul for his commitment and service to the club since he arrived in 2017,” said United GM Lucy Rushton in a team press release announcing the deal. “He has been an integral player for our team and has been a model professional both on and off the field. We wish him luck in the next chapter of his career in Dallas.”
Arriola has been the subject of transfer rumors throughout the winter, with Dallas, expansion side Charlotte FC, and Mexican giants Club América all linked to serious interest in the last month. América was reported to have made numerous offers, while Charlotte has spent its initial allotment of allocation money aggressively. However, Dallas — who just made a bundle in selling Arriola’s international teammate Ricardo Pepi to FC Augsburg — ended up being the most serious bidder, leading to a record-breaking trade.
Arriola joined United in the summer of 2017, the biggest name in a blitz of big mid-season moves. He was at the time the club’s most expensive signing ever, requiring a reported $3 million transfer fee to Club Tijuana plus $500,000 in allocation money to the LA Galaxy to acquire his rights within MLS, due to his time spent as a Galaxy academy player. Since then, he’s played 89 regular season matches for the Black-and-Red, putting up 20 goals and 16 assists from a wide range of positions. He also captained the team at times, and started in each of United’s playoff games during his tenure with the club.
However, while he played well for United, injury problems and U.S. call-ups hampered his impact in his last three seasons with the club. Arriola missed nearly the entire 2020 season after a knee injury suffered near the end of preseason, and then missed more time after an injury suffered during an ill-fated loan to Swansea City.
Nonetheless, Arriola appeared to be an ideal fit for Hernán Losada’s high-press, to-the-point style of play, and Losada referred to Arriola as being United’s “best player” last year. While a trade brings flexibility and leaves United with the prospect of adding a Designated Player who has fewer international obligations (i.e. one that’s available all the time), there’s clearly a hole left in the attack with his departure.
That hole may or may not be more keenly felt as United has become engulfed in a wave of substantial transfer news. The club has reportedly signed Taxiarchis Fountas to a pre-contract, and is reportedly considering paying a fee to speed his arrival up to the current transfer window. Meanwhile, multiple outlets have said that DCU has agreed to a $7 million transfer fee to send homegrown wingback Kevin Paredes to VfL Wolfsburg of the German Bundesliga, which would mean losing another hugely important starter, but gaining a massive amount of money to work with going forward for both transfers and club infrastructure improvements.