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.