Is Maximiliano Urruti set to be the first real victim of the post Kevin Payne era? It seems to be the case as the forward is heading to the Portland Timbers in a deal that will see Bright Dike coming to Toronto. It's not official yet, but Kurt Larson's on record confirming it, as is Duane Rollins, so pretty safe to say this is happening. Considering that Urruti only managed to make 2 substitute appearances for the club after they chased him for half a year this deal is certainly a head scratcher.
Urruti was clearly Payne's target and if the reports that he was to become a Designated Player in 2014 are true than it is possible that with Payne out of the way he is no longer a part of the club's plans. Leiweke clearly has his eyes squarely on a certain type of DP and Urruti does not seem to fit that model. So it looks like instead of letting him become a DP next season or giving him a long hard look the rest of this season TFC have decided to dump off Urruti the first chance they got.
This deal will certainly not go over well among fans when you consider how high the expectations were for Urruti when he finally arrived at the club. The reason the expectations were so high certainly had a lot to do with the amount of time that Payne spent chasing Urruti and the amount of praise he offered of the player even before the signing was done. He was clearly a guy that Payne valued highly but with Payne no longer at the club it seems no one else regarded the player in the same way.
It is impossible to say anything about Urruti and his time at Toronto FC since he only managed to make two short substitute appearances for the club and did not see a lot of action in either game. The only ones who could have formed any evaluation of him were those watching him day after day in training. It is possible that he was not impressing in training considering that he was not even starting games and in Portland he did not even feature while Andrew Wiedeman, Robert Earnshaw, and Justin Braun all got playing time.
So now Toronto have parted ways with one of the players who Kevin Payne staked his legacy on. His two biggest additions to the roster were Maxi Urruti and Matias Laba and now one of them is gone. Payne was unable to sign the kind of big name DP that his new boss was looking for but now that he is gone from the club the roster is back in a position to add two such players in the coming months.
Toronto is currently looking for a new General Manager and the good news for anyone considering the job opening is that they will now have a lot of room to work with. With more contracts coming off the books at the end of the season the cap is looking good and with Danny Koevermans leaving the club will have two open DP slots to work with.
That is the lone positive way to look at this trade. It once again puts Toronto in a position to make a major splash on the DP market and bring in a player who would be a better use of that slot that Urruti likely would have been. The trade will only ratchet up the pressure on Leiweke, Nelsen and whoever they bring in as the new GM as now fans will be looking for them to make a splash with at least two big name signings by the middle of next summer.
The optics of this deal are nothing but bad even if it could help put TFC in a better position heading into what is certainly going to be yet anther rebuild in the offseason. SImply put TFC have traded a player only weeks after his arrival despite pursuing him for months and convincing him to move from Argentina to join the club.
If you are a player who is considering a potential move to TFC, or even MLS, it is trades like this that could very well put you off making that move. In the end, it might work out for the best for all parties involved but it does not look good no matter how you spin it.
Toronto may be getting a serviceable piece in return for Urruti in the form of Bright Dike but this is yet another move that fans won't be able to fully judge until they see with the club does with the space that is created by this deal. Dike may prove to be a good player for TFC but at this point it looks like very little more than a salary dump with Portland being happy to help TFC out.
Fans who spent months waiting to see Urruti in action will now have to stay up a bit later at night to do so. He joins a Timbers attack that is already looking good and could be poised for a deep playoff run with a bit of luck. It will be interesting to see what kind of playing time he can get this season and if he will be another talent that Toronto gave up on too early.
So Urruti is leaving, Dike is coming in, and Kevin Payne is getting a giant middle finger from the club. This deal does not look good no matter how you spin it but TFC needs to forget about doing things that look good and focus on things that help them win. Hopefully, this deal proves to be a step down that road rather than just another one in a long line of bad trades.