FRISCO - In what has been an offseason of change so far for FC Dallas, Sunday’s half-day trade window took it another step further.
In two separate transactions, Dallas said goodbye to both Tesho Akindele and Maxi Urruti - starting new journeys in Orlando and Montreal, respectively. To understand why, we have to dig deeper than just what was picked up in return.
Drafted in 2014 as the first pick by Oscar Pareja just days after being named Dallas’ head coach, Akindele has been a consistent face for FCD over the last five seasons. Rookie of the Year after a breakout 2014 and remains the only player in MLS history to score in three consecutive postseasons.
But all good things eventually come to an end.
This past year, we saw Akindele fall further down the depth chart and play almost a third of the minutes he did in each of his first four campaigns. We still saw the Canadian international score impact goals, though, finding the net twice in three minutes to complete the late-game comeback over Atlanta on July 4. They were his only two goals of the season.
Out of contract this offseason and with numerous youthful options on the wings - a position we’ve seen him at more often than not in recent years - the time was seemingly right for both sides to bid adieu. Dallas will get allocation money in exchange for Akindele’s rights, and the former first-round pick will get the chance to start fresh in Orlando.
Over the last three seasons, no one has scored more goals for FC Dallas than Maxi Urruti. An immediate impact in 2016, the striker helped lead the club to the historic U.S. Open Cup-Supporters’ Shield double. Both on and off the field, few matched Urruti’s passion for the game.
The question of ‘Why now?’ lies not in the return FCD is getting for its archer, but in opportunity. Signed to a new, three-year contract earlier this year, Urruti stands to make just short of guaranteed Designated Player money next season. At his rate and impact over the first two seasons in Dallas, it’s a good investment in Maxi Urruti. Consider, though, that over the last half of 2018 he was playing his best in a role other than his primary spot. Urruti has not been the true target forward that Dallas has been in search of after consecutive seasons in the bottom half of MLS scoring. Having a player like him off the bench is an incredible weapon any team would be lucky to have, but it carries quite the price tag.
For someone between positions on the field and with young talent like Pablo Aranguiz, Paxton Pomykal and even a Thomas Roberts needing more time at that No. 10 role Urruti found himself in late in 2018, near-DP money just doesn’t add up in the salary-capped landscape of MLS. The freed cap space also positions Dallas to be able to make a big move either this winter or next summer, should the right opportunity arise.