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A Week’s A Long Time In Football

MLS: Knockout Round-Portland Timbers at FC Dallas
Swapping the red of Dallas for the Blue of Montreal, Max Urruti arrived in town last Wednesday.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The arrival in Montreal of Max Urruti (27) was the highlight of the week for Stade Saputo observers. The Argentinian striker finally made it to Montreal, Wednesday, putting pen to paper on a new three-year deal, with an option for 2022.

Targetted Allocation money and a first round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft was the trade struck to bring the striker in from FC Dallas.

Never prolific, but a steady source of goals, Urruti is looking forward to teaming up with fellow countryman Ignacio Piatti, and playing up top again, having spent the latter half of last season in a deeper role for his former club.

“When I learned of Montreal’s interest, I contacted Nacho right away,” said Urruti. “We went to eat, and Nacho had a lot of good things to say regarding Montreal. Everyone knows Nacho is a good player. He’s easy to play with. I don’t think we’ll have any issues being on the same page.”

Impact fans will be hoping that Argentinian telepathy works, and a potent strike force is formed in 2019.

“What I expect from myself is to score goals,” explained Urruti. “I have qualities that can be adapted depending on what the coach expects of me, but I love being in the box. Like any forward, I’m only content when I find the back of the net, and that’s what I’ll try to do here.”

Pre-Season

Urruti heads off into the southern sunset today with the rest of his new teammates, destination Bradenton, Fla. There they will remain until Feb. 7, returning briefly to Montreal, before jetting off again, this time to St Petersburg, Fla., a pre-season base for the fourth consecutive year. It will be from here the Impact will head to San Jose to play its season opener on March 2.

Five preseason games are currently on the schedule: FC Cincinnati (MLS) and Nashville SC (USL) at Bradenton, and Philadelphia Union, D.C. United and Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL) as part of the Rowdies’ Sun Coast Invitational tournament, the third year in succession Montreal has taken part.

Transfer Rumours

More transfer rumours begun circulating last week, connecting Nigerian 21-year-old striker Orji Okwonkwo, currently with Joey Saputo’s Bologna, to Montreal Impact. He’s made 8 Serie A appearances this season for the Rossoblu, mostly as a sub, although his most recent outing was as a starter on Boxing Day, in the 0-2 home defeat by Lazio.

Frosinone Calcio v Bologna FC - Serie A
Orji Okwonkwo - speculation.
Photo by Giorgio Perottino/Getty Images

Bologna is rumoured to be keen to loan the youngster out following the arrivals of more experienced reinforcements; Nicola Sansone (Villareal) and Roberto Soriano (Torino), as they desperately try to stave off relegation to Serie B. Given connections, IMFC would always be a likely destination under such circumstances. Sources here remain tight-lipped, however with Montreal still lacking attacking depth, it would not be the biggest surprise in the world should Okwonkwo end up in Quebec.

And speaking of Bologna …

... theirs is a season desperately in need of a kick-start. In yesterday’s local derby with SPAL they tied 1-1 at the 8,500 capacity Stadio Paolo Mazza, maintaining a gap of 4 pts and two places between the clubs. The visitors, thankful for a 2nd Half VAR decision going their way and disallowing a goal for SPAL, were without Blerim Dzemaili and mightily relieved to see a late Danilo goal-line clearance maintain parity.

US Sassuolo v Bologna FC - Serie A
Dzemaili’s all-action style missing from yesterday’s Bologna line-up
Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Bologna is 18th, in the relegation zone and a huge must-win game looms next weekend at home to Frosinone, a club in even deeper trouble than the Rossoblu.

Old Boys

Finally some news on a couple of players recently departed. Kyle Fisher (26 Impact games, 1 goal) on Thursday joined USL Championship expansion side, Birmingham Legion FC. Former New England Revolution coach, Jay Heaps is Legion’s President.

And former striker, Matteo Mancosu back in Italy’s Serie C, got off to a flier with his new club, promotion-chasing Virtus Entella, scoring two first half goals in a comfortable 4-1 road win over struggling Arzachena.

Toronto FC v Montreal Impact - Eastern Conference Finals - Leg 1
Smile back on the face of Matteo Mancosu with two debut goals for his new Italian club on Sunday.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images