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Cristian Arrieta Called Up To Puerto Rican National Team

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SANDY, UT-MAY 8: Cristian Arrieta #26 of Philadelphia Union passes the ball during a game against Real Salt lake during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Rio Tinto Stadium May 8, 2010 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SANDY, UT-MAY 8: Cristian Arrieta #26 of Philadelphia Union passes the ball during a game against Real Salt lake during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Rio Tinto Stadium May 8, 2010 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
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Puerto Rico's call up of Christian Arrieta is a first for the Union player.  In the grand scheme of things, this call up is but a blip on the radar of international soccer.  Not much of a power house in a relatively weak CONCACAF qualifying region, Puerto Rico does not have much of a chance to qualify for any major tournament or the World Cup.  It is not a soccer country and does not have a wealth of talent to pick and choose from.  For that reason and many others, Arrieta's call up is of very small importance.  However, it does raise a couple of questions for the Union and its supporters...

Wait, isn't this the guy who was supposed to be a defensive starter for the Union (at fullback)?

Yes, Arrieta was made out to be a pivotal part of the Union's defensive four.  He has yet to live up to that billing.  Even when the Union had not yet signed Sheanon Williams, Arrieta rode the pine for much of the second half of the season after Piotr Nowak lost faith in his formerly starting fullback.  In his place, Michael Orozco-Fiscal played average soccer and has now himself been replaced (by Williams).  

Then why has Arrieta been called up to play for his country?

Let it not be forgotten that Arrieta was a two-time Defender of the Year for USL-I, when he was part of the Puerto Rico Islanders.  To top off his acolades, Arrieta was named the 2009 MVP of USL-I.  While his play has not been great since moving to the MLS, Arrieta's history of production clearly led to his inclusion in the Puerto Rican squad.  

Does it really matter?  Puerto Rico isn't a world beater!

If Arrieta gains confidence from his call up it only helps the Union.  Puerto Rico is on the rise in CONCACAF after playing both Trinidad and Tobago and World Cup nation Honduras to draws.  The country also recorded its first win since 1994 when it defeated the Dominican Republic.  Perhaps his inclusion will result in a rise in his play with the Union.  That's the potential of a call up.

What is Arrieta's appeal to the Union at this stage?

If Arrieta's defensive play comes back to form he would be an important piece in rebuilding the Union defense.  The back four has given up an absurd amount of goals, putting the union in a -13 hole in goal differential.  Arrieta is the best Union defender on the ball other than Williams.  With Williams' rise Arrieta will surely be relegated to the bench but he could be used as an important sub for offensive-defender purposes or as a quality back up for either Williams or Jordan Harvey.