Around this time last year, FC Dallas was falling short of reaching their goal of MLS Cup. Even before our clothes had dried from the rainy walk to our cars, the fanbase had decided that the team needed a true striker. We had figured out that if we had a better striker, then we would be able to win MLS Cup. Apparently, the front office felt somewhat the same way. With the first pick in the Re-Entry Draft, FC Dallas picked up Maxi Urruti. Knowing that the fanbase wanted a bigger splash, the front office followed up the signing with an announcement saying that they are still looking for “dominate,” number 9.
We are now a year later and the majority of the fanbase is still waiting for that other striker to show up. We have used Maxi Urruti this season as a crutch anytime something went wrong. We put the blame at his feet. We told ourselves the reason we didn’t progress any further in the MLS playoffs was because we didn’t have a ‘true striker’.
While we were insulting Maxi with our backhanded complaints, he was putting together a really strong season. He ended the year with 13 goals and four assists across all competitions. The stats might not jump off the page, but the goals he scored seemed to come in the biggest games. He scored against Philadelphia on opening day to more or less seal the match. He sent all of us home with the belief that we could build off of last year’s team.
It was Maxi who was responsible for us getting our first win in Portland, ever. He created two turnovers early in the match that directly lead to an early 2-0 lead. Once we had the lead, he was the one tracking back and doing the hard work of pressuring the ball.
He scored the winning goal against Colorado in extra time of the US Open Cup Round of 16. If you remember, that was a match, FC Dallas had no business winning, but a brilliant play by Fabian Castillo and then a moment of brilliance by Maxi ensured that Dallas would continue onto the next round.
He scored the tying goal against the Revolution in the US Open Cup final. A goal that was badly needed to settle the nerves of the team. If that wasn’t good enough, he slammed the door shut on New England with his second of the night.
Lastly, Maxi was the one who got the scrappy goal against Seattle that more or less allowed Dallas the opportunity to clinch the Supporters Shield. It was ability to be make something out of nothing that eventually lead to FCD getting their second trophy in 19 years as well as on the season.
Aside from his ability to score goals in the biggest games, Maxi was also one of the emotional leaders on team. He was the one who would run over to the stands when he scored. He was the one who was doing the viking chant with the beer garden after the US Open Cup victory and Maxi was the one urging the crowd on when FC Dallas was chasing the match against Seattle. He was asking more from us, the fans, begging us to keep yelling and chanting.
I get that we all want to put our players and rosters into a neat little box. We want everything to fit perfectly and look nice. However, on a real sports roster, that doesn’t always work. Add a salary cap, and that pretty little box get’s blown up. Maxi Urruti complemented this team perfectly and helped to build off of what was already here. He was able to fill in the gaps left behind by a player who transferred midseason. He was able to toe the line, consistently, week in and week out. Most importantly, he was able to to lead us to some of the best moments this franchise has ever seen.
So as we go into this offseason and continue to offer our back handed insults to one of our best players, remember what he gave us this year. In a lot of ways, we don’t deserve the player we got. We don’t deserve a striker who ran his heart out, tracked back on defense and scored big goal after big goal. He gave us, the fans, everything he had, week in and week out, and we gave him a little pat on his head and told him to run along. We don’t deserve Maxi Urruti or better yet, he deserves better than what we gave him. Hopefully, this year can be better fans.