Looking at new Toronto signing Maximiliano Urruti and considering some old mistakes


After a prolonged contract saga that even Wayne Rooney could be proud of, Argentine striker Maximiliano Urruti is officially a Toronto FC man. The club officially announced it so on Friday.

Good for Toronto FC, in desperate need of goal scorers … ranking behind only its desperate need for defenders and midfielders on the shopping list around BMO Field. The problem is that this young man is already being set up for failure. I understand that the concept of “under-promise and over-deliver” is a tricky concept in pro sports, because you want fans to be excited about new signings. There are tickets to sell and all … even at TFC, where tickets where once much harder to find.

But teams can certainly go too far in selling their fresh faces.

Toronto FC blogging site Walking Red did a wonderful job of laying out the appropriate level of expectation for the striker who made his bones at Newell’s Old Boys.  The numbers are a bit of a mixed bag. Urruti is certainly someone worth tuning in to watch, but whether he’s the right piece of a puzzle around TFC that refuses to be solved is unknown. (TFC, now it its seventh season a league with such a forgiving playoff structure remains powerfully thirsty for its first cooling gulp of post-season soccer.)

There are a couple of real areas of concern here:

First, he’s a young man about to make the adjustment of a lifetime. Argentina to Canada … yep. We never know how young players – any players, really – will take to the changes.

In this case, he’s not only adjusting to a new culture, he’ll need to adapt to a new soccer culture, one run with a British leaning under Kiwi coach Ryan Nelsen. (Nelson spent the best years of his pro career in England.)

The MLS past player log is littered with talented types who just could not make the adjustment for one reason or another. That’s not to say Urruti cannot; we just never know.

What’s more, we are seeing a team now under Kevin Payne’s direction make some of the same mistakes made back when D.C. United was under Kevin Payne’s direction. That is, every player that comes in gets over-sold. Yes, that makes management look good in the short-term, trumpeting the splashy new signing and all.

But the results eventually speak for themselves, and United’s results in the last eight years were frequently awful, a lot down to poor player signings, the drag of inflated expectations and poor choices for manager.

Good luck to Urruti, but the club has already put him in something of a bind, big expectations being what they are and all.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

[ MORE: MLS All Stars vs. Juventus ]

The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.