Prior to joining the Crew in the summer of 2012, Costa Rican forward Jairo Arrieta had earned just three caps for his national team while playing for Deportivo Saprissa and Brujas in his home country's first division.
But after enjoying a breakout 2012 in which he netted nine goals and four assists in just 18 MLS matches for the Black & Gold, Arrieta saw his fortunes with La Sele change dramatically. The striker would become a regular call-up for Costa Rica in 2013, helping his nation to the Copa Centroamericana crown and winning the Golden Boot for the tournament with two goals last January. In total, Arrieta has earned 12 caps and scored four goals for his country during his season and a half in Columbus.
Ahead of featuring in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup for Los Ticos in July, Arrieta credited his time with the Crew as a platform for National Team success.
"My thought is always perform here, do my best here and have good games with the Crew," he said through a translator in July. "If I do that, I will have the chance with the National Team. But always, my focus is performing with the Crew first."
Though Arrieta's production slowed in 2013, netting three goals and contributing four assists in 26 matches, the Costa Rican continued to be a handful for MLS backlines last season to create space for his fellow attackers. With his sights set on making Costa Rica's 23-man roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the Crew's decision to re-sign Arrieta on Wednesday will be mutually beneficial for club and player.
Arrieta adds experience and depth to a young frontline that currently consists of Aaron Schoenfeld and Ryan Finley ahead of playmaker Federico Higuaín. Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has yet to commit to playing last year's leading scorer Dominic Oduro to playing up front or on the wing, where he split his time in 2013.
Berhalter hopes Arrieta can find his 2012 form in 2014, which would help the 30-year-old forward's dream of playing the World Cup come to fruition.
“[Arrieta] has the talent to score goals and we believe he can recapture his best form from two seasons ago," Berhalter said. "The idea is to have depth at every position, and that’s what were trying to establish right now across the board. Re-signing Jairo is a step in that direction for the forward position.”
As it has shown previously, Arrieta's chances of getting called-up to La Sele are much greater playing in MLS. Arrieta knows MLS has helped him realize his goal of representing his country; now it's up to the forward to perform.
"I'm very happy to be here in [the United States], especially with the call-up to the national team," Arrieta said in an interview after a call-up last season.
"Being a part of MLS helped me get the call-up."