The Montreal Impact acquired FC Dallas’ Maxi Urruti for $75,000 in Target Allocation Money and a first-round SuperDraft pick. His arrival provides the perfect attacking foil for Ignacio Piatti.
Diego Valeri has Sebastian Blanco. Miguel Almiron has Josef Martinez. Wayne Rooney has Luciano Acosta. All of the very top teams in MLS that boasted great individual attacking talent, of the likes of Rooney, Valeri etc., boasted a foil to those individuals.
Contrast that to the Montreal Impact, a team that missed out on the playoffs oh so narrowly.
The Impact almost exclusively relied on the rare and precocious talents of Ignacio Piatti. The attacking midfielder is a truly extraordinary player, capable of moments great skill and creativity. But he is largely isolated in his attacking exploits.
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The Impact scored 47 goals last season — of those that finished above the playoff line, only the Columbus Crew scored fewer. It is clear where Montreal’s problems lie. But little of the blame can be placed at the door of Piatti. He scored 16 of those 47 goals and assisted a further 13. He was directly involved in more than half of his team’s goals. No other player in MLS, per my calculations, was involved in a higher proportion.
The issue was not Piatti and his lack of ability; the problem was the lack of support around Piatti, the absence of another attacking option to bear some of the Argentinian’s weight. Only two other players in the squad scored five or more goals — Saphir Taider and Alejandro Silva — and only three assisted five or more goals — the aforementioned Tadir and Silva and Daniel Lovitz, a defender.
And so, Montreal, in preparation for the 2019 season, have wasted no time whatsoever in addressing the problem: On Monday, a trade for FC Dallas’ Maxi Urruti was announced in which Montreal would send $75,000 in Target Allocation Money and the number 10 pick in the 2019 SuperDraft to Texas in return for Urruti’s services. Given their attacking needs, it is a relatively small price to pay.
Urruti may not be the prolific, 20-plus goal-a-season striker that many elite MLS teams boast, but he does carry a unique value as a centre-forward that provides far more than just popping the ball in the back of the net. He actually provided more assists, 11, than goals, eight, for Dallas last season, and he has always been known for his clever movement away from the penalty area, creating space for his teammates to score, not just himself.
The previous two seasons, Urruti scored 12 and nine goals for Dallas, starting 31 and 29 games respectively. He is not an other-worldly striker with other-worldly goal tallies. But with the midfield that Montreal poses, led by Piatti, he does not need to be. Instead, he must be a space manipulator, a chance creator, a goal contributor and line leader. There is more to playing the striker position than goals, and that is what Montreal and Piatti need Urruti to illustrate.
He is the ideal foil for the Impact. Urruti can be the Blanco to the Valeri, the Acosta to the Rooney, the Diego Rossi to the Carlos Vela. He is not a star. He does not need to be a star. That is Piatti’s job. He simply needs to be the support, and he is the perfect player for that particular job.