Sometimes in life you hear people note that the pursuit is better than the capture. When you are chasing something, often the object of your attraction, your mind can play tricks on you and make them seem more desirable than they are in reality. The act of pursuing can get to the point where you have already put in so much effort that it begins to seem foolish to just walk away and move on.
For me, that is what this whole adventure with Maximiliano Urruti feels like. At the start of this season he was nothing but another player on a team that I only had a passing knowledge of due to watching Copa Libertadores games when I got the chance. That all changed though when Kristian Jack, then with the Score, posted on his blog that the young DP being targeted by Toronto FC was none other than Maximiliano Urruti of Newell's Old Boys.
That first link hit the internet on March 6th, just over 6 months ago, and began a saga that had more twists and turns that the average roller coaster. That saga between Toronto FC and Maximiliano Urruti wound its way to its conclusion on September 9th when Urruti was traded to the Portland Timbers for Bright Dike, a draft pick, and some Garber dollars. So how in the space of six months did we go from that initial blog post to the player being shipped out of town after making just two substitute appearances.
It became clear back in the spring that TFC's interest in Urruti was serious and that he would likely be signed before the end of the primary transfer window. It seemed that his current club, Newell's Old Boys, were the problem though and were not willing to seal the deal since they did not want to give up the forward while they were still in the Copa Libertadores. So when their run went all the way to the semi-finals of the tournament it seemed that it would be enough to put the brakes on a deal that would see the player coming to Toronto.
On April 3rd it was reported by Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press that a deal for Urruti was done and he was expected to join the club the same week that Matias Laba did. Time moved on though and only Laba arrived at BMO Field to join the club. It was starting to look like the wheels had fallen off of the deal.
That fear was confirmed by Nelsen later in April as the club closed in on signing Laba. The coach told reporters at training that Urruti would not be joining the club because NOB were dragging their feet on the deal and the club felt that they needed to move on.
They seemed to move on from Urruti after that bad news with the team chasing a number of different targets and for the most part fans also moved, on filing Urruti along with all of the other missed targets that have been linked to the club in recent months.
Behind the scenes though at least one person at TFC, Kevin Payne, was not so eager to move on from his pursuit of the player and continued to monitor the situation in hopes of securing a summer move for the player. In late June, Payne did an interview with Kurt Larson of the Toronto Sun in which he brought the name Urruti up for the first time in months, suggesting the the deal was not dead after all and that the club would be looking to sign him under a new designation. With that one comment Urruti watch was back on in full force for the summer transfer window.
Up until that point it all seemed to be proceeding like a normal transfer process other than the fact that TFC kept talking about their interest in the player despite the fact that he remained under contract with Newell's Old Boys. It all took a turn for the crazy though in early August when Urruti packed up his locker, said goodbye to his teammates, and left the club.
His departure from NOB seemed to make him available on a free transfer as the reports indicated that he had opted out of the final year of his contract with the club since he was not happy with the amount he was being paid and would prefer to move to a new club at a better wage.
With his bags packed at NOB it began a new phase of the whole saga where Urruti seemed to be reportedly heading for Toronto every day but never seemed to make it on that plane. First it was a Monday arrival, then it was pushed back to Tuesday, and then it just became a day-by-day situation.
While TFC seemed confident that the player would be arriving in the coming days NOB remained bullish in their stance that Urruti was still under contract with their club even going as far as to issue a statement on their website that basically served as a hands off warning to any clubs that were interested in signing the player.
That was not enough to stop TFC though as they worked to get a deal done despite the summer transfer window closing without Urruti actually arriving in Toronto. It took until August 16th, over five months after he was first linked to the club, but Urruti finally arrived at the club and signed for the team.
That marked the end of the pursuit phase with Toronto FC finally landing the player they had stayed up late many nights thinking about and it was supposed to mark the beginning of the relationship phase which would certainly be glorious and successful.
The expectations for Urruti were sky high after all of the time and energy invested into chasing him and even if there were plenty of reasons to temper the optimism it would be hard to find a TFC fan that was not at least hopeful about the latest signing. After all, he was a fairly consistent goal scorer in Argentina despite primarily coming off the bench.
It was on August 17th that the age of Urruti finally dawned as the forward came on for the final 25 minutes of the 2-0 defeat against Columbus. His involvement in the game was limited but he showed some good skills when he did get on the ball and there were certainly no reasons for concern in that initial display.
Then on the 24th Urruti was initially left off the bench by TFC which left a lot of fans wondering what was going on. It was amended before the game started though as Urruti was quietly added to the bench in time for kickoff but he failed to play any part against D.C. United as the two teams drew 1-1. It was the first sign that maybe things were not working out quite right even if it was hard to see it at the time.
He was again on the bench against the New England Revolution and made his second appearance for TFC coming off the bench for the final 12 minutes of another 1-1 draw. That pushed his total minutes played up to 37 which is all it will ever be now as his second appearance for TFC proved to also be his final.
On Monday, it came out that TFC were set to acquire forward Bright Dike from the Portland Timbers but it was not until later in the morning that further details about just how big the deal was began to come out. When it became public that it would be Urruti heading in the other direction the reaction of fans seemed to range from head-scratching to anger as no one could really make sense of the move.
With that Urruti's time with Toronto FC was over. His stay only lasted 24 days and 37 minutes of playing time. It was a brief stay even by TFC's extremely low standards and will certainly leave a lot of fans wondering just what could have been and just what actually went on to cause the team to dump a player only weeks after finally signing him.
There have been plenty of confusing moments in Toronto FC's history and just as many crazy stories but the past six months will probably go down at the top of both of those lists. It is almost impressive that a club known for making poor moves still manages to surprise fans by setting the bar for perplexing deals even higher.
So after six months of pursuit the relationship could not even last a full month. At least we will always have the stories to look back on since we certainly don't have any highlights or fond memories from his all to brief stop in Toronto.
It was a fun ride, Maxi, but we hardly knew you.