FC Dallas working to sign forward Maxi Urruti to a new deal

Maximiliano Urruti, Cristian Colman - FC Dallas - all smiles after taking lead vs. LA Galaxy

PHILADELPHIA – FC Dallas are talking with forward Maxi Urruti about a contract extension, club technical director Fernando Clavijo told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday.

Urruti led Dallas with 12 goals in 32 regular season games last year, but his production fell off after the club denied a summer offer for him from Argentine club San Lorenzo. The 26-year-old striker scored just one goal after July 22, and went public with his displeasure about how he thought the team handled his transfer saga towards the end of the season.

Despite last year’s drama, Clavijo said that Dallas see Urruti as a valuable member of their squad and want to lock him up to a longer-term deal. His current contract runs through 2018; if he doesn’t sign a new deal, he’ll be able to sign a pre-contract in the summer with a foreign club that would allow him to leave Dallas for free next January. He was reportedly targeted by Red Star Belgrade and America de Cali earlier this offseason.

“We are pleased with him,” Clavijo told MLSsoccer.com ahead of Friday’s SuperDraft in Philadelphia. “I thought that he did extremely well and hopefully we can extend his contract, that’s pretty much what we’re trying to do.”

Clavijo also said that the recent reports claiming Colombian club Atletico Junior were interested in winger Michael Barrios are unfounded. Barrios, 26, had three goals and 14 assists in 34 games last year and was included with Urruti in San Lorenzo’s joint bid that FCD denied.

“Absolutely not true whatsoever, amazing that people keep doing this man, but zero interest,” he said. “No offers, no contact, zero.”

FCD plan on getting Barrios and Urruti some extra attacking help before the season begins. Clavijo said the club are targeting a winger to lessen the risk of the type of attacking dry patch that played a large role in their second half slide last year.

The club are hoping for a greater contribution striker Cristian Colman, who signed a Designated Player contract last season but only scored two goals in 26 league appearances.

They’re also looking for more from their sizable Homegrown contingent, which has grown by three this winter with the signings of academy products Brandon Servania, Kris Reaves and Jordan Cano. Dallas have always had among the highest number of Homegrowns in MLS, but have only gotten major contributions from Kellyn Acosta, Jesse Gonzalez and Victor Ulloa in their history. FCD owner and president Dan Hunt told MLSsoccer.com last year that the team would play more of their Homegrowns in 2018, a position Clavijo backed on Thursday.

“I think that we can never forget who we are and what we are trying to do with our Homegrown players,” said Clavijo, who named Servania, Reggie Cannon and Paxton Pomykal as Homegrowns who could see more time in 2018. “We need to play them and we need to provide a place for them to develop. At the same time, they need to perform when they play. It’s not just playing Homegrowns to play them, hopefully we are playing them because they are doing well.”

Clavijo noted that it looks like Acosta will be staying in Dallas for the foreseeable future, saying that transfer talk about the 22-year-old midfielder, who said last summer that he’d eventually like to move to Europe, has quieted down.

He also addressed the report that Rubio Rubin is close to signing with MLS. If the US international does join the league, he’d have to go through the allocation process. Dallas hold the No. 1 spot in the allocation order, meaning they’d have first crack at Rubin if he signs an MLS deal. According to Clavijo, however, the club might be aiming for a bigger name with their spot in the order, which they acquired when they traded Walker Zimmerman to LAFC in December.

“We are looking to take advantage of the No. 1, hopefully for an impact player,” he said. “We are not just willing to let it go yet, so we are looking who’s been signed and then we will make that decision when we have those players signed and ready to go. Until then, is he of interest? Ye. Are we willing to pick him up right now? No. So, we’re just waiting a little bit.”