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Setting realistic expectations for Maximiliano Urruti

We have yet to see Urruti take to the field for Toronto FC but already the expectations for the forward are sky high after such a drawn out saga. Trying to set realistic expectations for the player is difficult but looking back on his time at NOB is a good place to start.

Maximiliano Urruti is now in Toronto but the problem is that fans have very little idea what to expect of the player.  In fact, many are going to have irrational expectations based on the fact that the likes of Kevin Payne and Ryan Nelsen have offered plenty of praise for the player over the months that it has taken to complete this signing.  If all you did was listen to that duo you would expect the young Argentine to come in and be one of the top forwards in the league as soon as he gets settled.

The problem is that the 22-year-old has yet to play in a role similar to what he will be thrown into with Toronto FC.  During his time with Newell's Old Boys he basically played two full seasons.  In 2011/12 he got the chance to be a starter for the club as he played 26 times in the league making 24 starts.  That dropped off drastically in 2012/13 though with NOB bringing in some talented attackers as Urruti only managed to start 7 games while coming off the bench 22 times in the league.

Urruti has 57 league appearances under his belt which is a good number for a 22-year-old but he has only played 2798 minutes in those games.  That works out to under 50 minutes per appearance that he has made which is a bit less impressive.  Add in 105 minutes in 2 Copa Argentina matches and 51 minutes in 6 Copa Libertadores and the numbers don't wind up looking any better.

When you look at his 2012/13 season in isolation he made 37 appearances across three different competitions for NOB.  Of those 37 matches only 8 of them saw Urruti included in the starting lineup with only 5 games seeing him play the full 90 minutes.  His average appearance was just over 26 minutes in length for the season which fits with the fact that most of the time he was used as a substitute in the final 20 minutes of matches.

So if you are expecting to see Urruti come in, start games, and play the full 90 minutes the moment he arrives in Toronto you may be asking too much of the player.  He has only started two games since May 26th and has only played more than 30 minutes on three occasions so he will likely need some time to build up to full match fitness before being able to go 90 minutes.

If his lack of playing time in Argentina is worrying the other side of the coin is his scoring record for NOB.  In his 65 career appearances in both league and cup play he has managed to collect 13 goals.  That is not an impressive mark as it works out to a goal every 5 matches.  In just 2012/13 the numbers become 37 appearances and just 6 goals which works out to over 6 appearances per goal.

The better mark to look at would be his strike rate per 90 minutes though which in 12/13 works out to 0.56 goals/90 minutes.  That is a decent number for a player who was primarily coming off the bench and if he were to hold that up for a complete season of MLS action (34 matches) it would work out to just north of 19 goals.  That would be a very good return for any forward in this league but it is not realistic to expect him to play every minute of MLS action which is what it would take for him to get to that 19 goal mark based on his 2012/13 strike rate.

If you take that 0.56 goals/90 mark and compare it to MLS scorers this season it is a similar rate to that of Blas Perez, Robbie Keane, Kenny Miller, and Jack McInerney.  That is good company in terms of MLS scorers as all four have notched 7 or more goals on the season despite missing time for international duty and injuries.  If Urruti could find himself in that sort of company on the scoring charts I think most fans would be happy with his return.

It really is hard to know what to expect from Urruti when he joins TFC.  He has a proven ability to score and make an impact when coming off the bench for NOB but the fact that he has barely played a full game over the past year should be reason to taper the expectations that will likely surround him.  He was a starter in 2011/12 but in that season he only managed to score 0.33 goals/90 which is not a very good rate.  There are plenty of good reasons to hold off making him the next big thing in Toronto sports.

The biggest reason that fans should not get carried away with their expectations for Urruti is that he is a 22-year-old player who is just coming off a drawn out transfer process and making the move to a completely new part of the world.  Even in the best case scenarios players making this kind of move take time to settle in and adapt to a new style of play.  The same will likely be the case for Urruti which could very well mean the rest of the season being used to help him settle in so he will hopefully be ready to play a bigger role come the start of next year.

With most fans having yet to see Urruti in action (I have only seen one brief sub appearance from him in the Copa Lib) the best thing we can do is give him a chance to show what he has to offer.  It would be a shame for fans to set the bar so high with their expectations that he never stands a chance of actually meeting them and is set up to fail right from the start.