FRISCO - Maxi Urruti has been the leading face of FC Dallas’ offense for almost three years, but it’s a recent change in roles that has the Argentine playing at possibly his best form since joining the club.
With the addition of Dominique Badji to the attacking corps in July, and the re-emergence of Cristian Colman last weekend in Vancouver, Urruti has shifted to the creator role in the middle when Dallas has the ball while maintaining his persistent pessimist role when it doesn’t.
Over his last four games, he’s scored a goal, yes, but more importantly, Urruti has assists on five of the team’s eight other goals. Coming into 2018, his career high for a single season was five - a number he's equaled in his last 358 minutes.
Relieving the pressure to be the pure target man up front has allowed the full breadth of Urruti's talents to shine - both on and off the ball.
“We have played him underneath the forward in which we can use that mobility and the instinct that he has from that part just to be a company for the other forward as the second forward, or as a false forward if you want,” Oscar Pareja said of the striker’s evolving role. “I think it is a natural role for Maxi, also because he helps us with his generosity in the game, the way he shapes the team up when we don't have the ball.”
Something we also saw in Vancouver was a trait FCD has been desperately in search of for nearly two years: a consistent set piece man. Of the 12 the team had on Sunday, Urruti took 10, as well as three free kicks from outside the penalty area. His two assists each came from set plays, as well as another two scoring chances created.
“We went through a period where we didn’t score with set pieces, and to win the game the way we did [was important too],” Urruti said. “We know that whoever is doing set pieces has to be at 100 percent because it’s a long season and we have to be together.”
As FCD get set to head to Portland - Urruti’s first real MLS home - they’ll lean heavily on the former Timber’s evolving role both in open play and from set pieces, but facing a vastly different team in terms of make-up and style of play.
“Normally it is a challenge against a team in their place. They’re a good side,” Pareja said. “We’re preparing different characteristics - certainly that Vancouver has different challenges - so trying to see how can we take advantage of our strengths and make sure that we can get the points.”