BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, March 18, 2011
When head coach Thomas Rongen released the U-20 World Cup qualifying roster, the most surprising pick was UCLA midfielder Eder Arreola who made the squad despite not playing once with the team this cycle.
Arreola, 19, found out that he was making the team this week when he received a call from Rongen. Arreola has spent time with other US youth national teams in the past but making the U-20 team was just as much of a surprise as it was for followers of the team.
"After hearing I had made the U-20 team I was in complete shock," Arreola told YA. "It was just so unexpected and it really surprised me, but I am extremely excited for this call up. I have definitely enjoyed my previous experiences with the younger national teams. It is always a huge honor to represent your country at any age level."
Arreola is not sure exactly what led to the call-up to the qualifying roster but he had seen Rongen recently around UCLA. He believes that it was a combination of Rongen watching him recently at UCLA along with his strong season at with the Bruins where he was the third leading scorer behind Victor Chavez and US U-20 teammate Kelyn Rowe.
"Not getting called up to any of the past camps made me think that he was not watching me much," Arreola discussed. "But he was down at UCLA watching one of our practices a couple weeks ago and I think I could have caught his eye there as well. I had not yet been called up to any of the past camps for this cycle but I think the hard work I had done at UCLA this past season definitely led me to getting called up."
While the 5'6 Arreola will arrive at the prequalification camp in Dallas a new player, he has been following the team closely and is confident that he will fit in with this team immediately.
Arreola spent significant time developing his game at Bradenton with many of the players on this team and from what he has seen, he feels this team can compete strongly in qualifying and at the World Cup.
"I was following their process through this cycle," Arreola said of the team. "[Many of them are] friends that I spent time with down in Bradenton. But I believe that we have a deep group of guys that can help the team do extremely well in the qualifiers and the World Cup."
Rongen is known for preferring to play the 4-3-3 formation and Arreola's game has a set role in that system.
"I describe myself as a crafty player that likes to dribble and take people on all the time," Arreola asserted. "I can play either as an outside midfielder or as a withdrawn forward. In Rongen's 4-3-3 I believe I would fit best as one of the outside wingers."
Regarding Arreola's future, he is currently planning on returning to UCLA next season for his senior year however if professional opportunity came up, he admits that he would discuss it with his parents and UCLA.
Whether it be before or after his senior season, the decision of where Arreola wants to turn professional is also uncertain. Like most young players, Arreola wants to play in Europe someday but he is also open to the idea of beginning his career in either MLS or in Mexico, where both of his parents were born.
"As a player you always dream in playing in Europe and that is where I would love to play someday," Arreola stated of his future. "But I would not mind at all playing in the MLS. It's growing so much and wouldn't be a bad place to start."
"My goals for the next three years are staying with the U-20 team till the end of the World Cup," he added. "Then finishing up my last season at UCLA and then going out hopefully getting the opportunity to play professionally in either MLS, Mexico, or Europe."
Arreola and the US U-20 team open camp next week in Dallas then the team will head to Guatemala for the World Cup qualifying tournament.