TORONTO – The deal to bring Maximiliano Urruti to Toronto FC is dead, but that doesn’t mean the Reds won’t soon be without an Argentine presence on its roster.
Team management had been working for several weeks to bring the 22-year-old forward to TFC from Newell’s Old Boys, and coach Ryan Nelsen even said a few times that a deal was “virtually done.”
Then last week Nelsen admitted that the move had hit a snag after Newell’s Old Boys manager Gerardo Martino put his foot down and made it known to the club’s owners that he did not want to release Urruti. At the time, Nelsen admitted that TFC was losing patience and might have to soon move on.
Finally, Nelsen confirmed Tuesday that the deal had been quashed.
“Urruti is not coming. That’s finished now,” Nelsen told a small group of reporters after Tuesday’s practice.
But Nelsen also confirmed that the team is very close to signing Matias Laba, a 21-year old Argentine midfielder who currently plays for Buenos Aires based side Argentinos Juniors. TFC is expected to make an official announcement sometime over the next few days, and possibly as early as Wednesday.
Despite losing valuable time in chasing Urruti, Nelsen doesn’t regret the decision to try to land the young Argentine forward.
"It is lost time but there's always lost time when you chase targets," Nelsen said. "You have to chase 10 to get potentially just one. Sometimes it's even more. These things happen in football. It's infuriating, it's frustrating, of course. But to grab the one you want, you've got to go after 10, 15, 20."
Nelsen also on Tuesday confirmed his interest in veteran Bolton Wanderers forward Kevin Davies.
Recent reports in a number of English newspapers have linked the 36-year-old Davies to TFC. Although Nelsen declined to say whether the team has had formal contract talks with Davies, he did say he has spoken with him and that any MLS coach would be happy to have the veteran on their roster.
Squad rotation vs. Impact
Nelsen maintains that his players have put Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw against Houston behind them, a game that saw the Reds concede the equalizer deep into injury time.
TFC must now regroup ahead of their home game against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday in the first leg of the Canadian club championship semifinals.
The game will be the second of six for the Reds during an 18-day period, so you can expect Nelsen to rotate players into the starting lineup on Wednesday.
"We know we have a heavy fixture list coming up," Nelsen said after practice Tuesday. "So yes, of course, the squad's going to be used to its capacity."
Nelsen confirmed that Stefan Frei will start in goal against the Impact ahead of No. 1 goalkeeper Joe Bendik. Defender and team captain Darren O'Dea, midfielders Reggie Lambe and Jeremy Hall, and striker Robert Earnshaw are expected to be given a rest.
Defenders Logan Emory (ankle) and Darrel Russell and Richard Eckersley (both hamstring) have been ruled out. Emory told sportsnet.ca that he could be ready to play in Saturday’s home MLS game against New York.
Canadian midfielder Terry Dunfield remains sidelined with a knee injury. On Monday, he told sportsnet.ca that he is two weeks away from returning.