Toronto FC finally lures Argentine Maximiliano Urriti to club
Striker officially introduced to media Friday after months-long pursuit by MLS club
Maximiliano Urruti is the latest prospective saviour for Toronto FC.
The 22-year-old striker was officially introduced to the media Friday, ending a months-long quest to lure the talented Argentine from Newell's Old Boys in his native country to Major League Soccer.
"Finally, it all came together. The news is great news for everyone," Urruti told reporters before leaving with his new teammates for a flight to Columbus and a game against the Crew on Saturday night.
"Now it's time to get to work."
While terms of the deal between Toronto and the Argentine club were not disclosed, and neither the player nor TFC management would discuss details of what broke the logjam between the two sides, team president Kevin Payne said the youngster is signed through 2015 with club options after that.
"We hope that he's a player that can be an important player here for years to come and part of the young group that we're really trying to build around and make the nucleus of Toronto FC," Payne said of Urruti, who he and chief scout Pat Onstad first became aware of while still working for D.C. United.
Urruti will not be the club's third designated player alongside Dutch striker Danny Koevermans and fellow Argentine Matias Laba, a midfielder signed earlier this season.
Payne called Urruti "a very clean and sharp forward" who moves well, has decent size, is good on the ball and can take people on whether he plays up top of the formation or underneath.
"He's shown, when he has the opportunities, that he knows where the net is," Payne said of Urruti, who scored 14 goals in 56 matches for Newell's Old Boys. "It'll take Maxi a little bit of time to get accustomed to the league and get fully fit but we're excited about it."
Urruti began training with TFC on Wednesday and pronounced himself fit and ready to go if called upon Saturday in Columbus. But head coach Ryan Nelsen suggested that role, if any, would be small early on.
"He hasn't done much in quite a bit of time so we're going to ease him in," Nelsen said. "But, you never know."
Urruti joins a club that has had revolving door in the locker-room over its seven-year history. The tremendous turnover has seen most of those expected to have a huge impact and a long stay at TFC sent packing, including Dwayne DeRosario, Julian de Guzman, Pablo Vitti and Luis Silva.
Urruti, who said a phone conversation with Laba made him feel very comfortable about signing with Toronto, is "well aware" of TFC's past and current struggles but is excited to play and have an impact.
"I'm ready and willing to go, score goals and do what I've got to do to get the team ahead," he said.
Both Nelsen and Payne went out of their way to temper expectations on Urruti coming in and filling nets around MLS, noting achieving game fitness and adjusting to the league will take some time.
But it's clear the Reds (4-11-8) can use some scoring touch. With 21 goals in 23 matches, Toronto has the third fewest in the 19-team league, ahead of only D.C. United at 13 and the 20 scored by Chivas USA. A goalless drought of 423 minutes snapped last month is the league's second-longest in 2013.
"We've been defending well but we need to be finishing," said midfielder Bobby Convey.
Columbus (7-11-5) comes in off a 2-0 home win over the New York Red Bulls last week, which snapped a three-game losing streak. The Crew will be looking to avenge a 2-1 loss at BMO Field last month in which Toronto scored two late goals to capture its first win at their home stadium in more than a year.
Last week's 2-1 home loss to the Seattle Sounders typified the season in many respects. The Reds carried the play against one of the league's better teams but two sloppy plays defensively and an inability to capitalize on chances created at the offensive end spelled the difference in the match.
Despite the defeat, Toronto has played its best soccer of the season in recent weeks. The Reds have earned seven points from their past four matches, including the first two-game win streak in more than a year. Along the way they have looked stronger at the back and posted a pair of shutouts.
"We're improving all the time and it's about keeping on doing that," said Robert Earnshaw, TFC's leading scorer with six goals.
Earnshaw came on last week as a second-half substitute after missing three games with a hamstring injury and hit the post with what would have been the equalizing goal.