Year of Maxi Urruti

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Óscar Pareja and FC Dallas are off to an impressive start to their 2017 campaign. Kellyn Acosta is receiving many of the plaudits, to the point where some are calling 2017 the “Year of Kellyn Acosta.” The 21 year old homegrown has been outstanding indeed, but some are overlooking the contributions of one Maximilliano Urruti. The Argentine is red hot and having the best start to a season of his professional career.

Year of Maxi Urruti

How Urruti Steered His Way to Dallas

Urruti is playing his second season for FC Dallas after spending 2014 and 2015 with the Portland Timbers. Portland acquired him from Toronto FC shortly after he arrived in MLS from Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina. Urruti made plenty of appearances for Portland, but featured more off the bench than as a starter. He scored 15 goals in the 67 games he played there. Urruti was also a late substitute in the Timbers 2015 MLS Cup win over Columbus Crew SC.

He landed in Dallas in 2016 and found the starting role he desired. Maxi played the lead striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, where he could attack directly or, more often, try to combine with Dallas’ talented midfielders. Last season he managed nine goals and four assists in 29 starts. He also bagged a brace in FC Dallas’ U.S. Open Cup victory over the New England Revolution.

His performance last year was decent, but not good enough for FC Dallas to pin their hopes on his goalscoring. He went through a 15 game goalscoring drought in 2016 that left some of the Dallas faithful concerned. Pareja went out on the transfer market in the offseason, and inked striker Cristian Colmán as a third DP with a traditional number 9 presence.

Maxi’s On Fire in 2017

So what’s Maxi Urruti done in 2017 that’s so special? He’s netted three goals in just two games of the MLS regular season. He opened the scoring in FC Dallas’ first game of the season in LA, a match they won 2-1. He also scored twice against New England last Saturday to cap their come from behind win. Maxi’s performance against New England was enough to earn him MLS Player of the Week honors. Urruti should have completed a hat trick in the New England match, but was denied by a stoppage time finger-tip save from Cody Cropper.

Urruti missed the second MLS game of the season because most of the FC Dallas starters were rested against Sporting Kansas City. A Champions League showdown with Pachuca loomed four days later.

Maxi Urruti has also played a pivotal role in FC Dallas’ exploits in the CONCACAF Champions League. FC Dallas recently defeated powerhouse Pachuca of Liga MX 2-1 in the first leg of the semifinal. Kellyn Acosta scored the winner in that match, but Urruti provided a vital equalizer just before halftime. He also earned the free kick that Acosta converted to win the match.

What’s Changed?

More than one thing has changed and is contributing to Urruti’s 2017 success. He has spent an entire season in Dallas, is settled, and understands what Pareja expects. FC Dallas is also now playing in a formation with two bona fide strikers. Urruti is no longer the point at the top of the formation, trying to bring more players into the attack. Instead, he plays alongside Colmán, who takes the defensive focus off of Urruti, and allows him space to operate. Although the two interchange, Urruti is most often playing underneath Colmán, who tries to stretch the defense.

In Maxi’s goal against LA, Colmán made a run that pulled defenders, allowing Urruti space to get his shot off. In goals against Pachuca and New England, Urruti trailed attacks led by Colmán and Barrios respectively. He collected the change after their attempts, and finished the opportunities.

Maxi Urruti is undoubtedly flying out of the gates in 2017. No golden boots are awarded after three regular season games though. Maxi Urruti will continue to get space and service in the current FC Dallas setup. If he can continue to capitalize, he will make 2017 his signature season.