A source told MLSsoccer.com early on Thursday afternoon and FC Dallas owner Dan Hunt confirmed in an interview later in the day that the club declined transfer offers totaling $5 million from Argentine club San Lorenzo for both of the 26-year-old South American attackers.
Though Argentina’s transfer window is open until the middle of September, Hunt said that FCD have ended negotiations with San Lorenzo and told both the Argentine Urruti and Colombian Barrios that they won’t be leaving Dallas this year. San Lorenzo’s interest in the players was first reported earlier in the week.
“On Wednesday they submitted an offer for the two players worth $5 million and we reviewed it, we talked with the players, we visited with both the players and the sentiment of the players were, ‘Hey, we don’t want to leave the club midseason and we don’t want to do that to our teammates,’” said Hunt, who added that the team were never close to accepting the offer.
“The message from them is they’re here for their teammates and the message to our fans is we're here to win a championship.”
Losing either player would’ve been a major blow for FCD, who are in the midst of a six-game winless streak that has seen them slip to seventh-place in the West. Urruti and Barrios have been the two biggest pieces of FC Dallas’ attack this year, with Urruti leading the club with 12 goals from his striker position and Barrios pacing the team and tied for second in MLS with 12 assists from his spot on the wing.
Both players showed well in one half of action in FCD’s 3-3 draw with San Lorenzo in a preseason friendly in Buenos Aires in February, with Barrios recording a goal before assisting on Urruti’s late equalizer. Hunt said that FCD believe San Lorenzo began scouting both Urruti and Barrios after their performances in the friendly.
According to Hunt, San Lorenzo made opening bids for both players on Tuesday. Dallas declined the initial offers, prompting the Copa Libertadores participants to come back with their $5 million total offer on Wednesday. Hunt declined to reveal on Thursday the amount San Lorenzo bid on each individual player, but did say that Urruti is under contract through 2018 and Barrios is signed through 2021.
Dallas haven’t been afraid to move influential players during past transfer windows. The team loaned Best XI winger Fabian Castillo to Turkish club Trabzonspor last August and made the move permanent in January. They also sold Brek Shea to English Premier League side Stoke City in January 2013 after several strong years with FCD.
Dallas were more prepared for those moves than they were for losing Urruti or Barrios, however. The team was playing well and had options behind Castillo when the Colombian forced his way out last summer, and they didn’t miss a beat after moving him until Mauro Diaz went down with a torn Achilles in October. The Shea deal, meanwhile, came in the winter window, allowing FCD time to find a replacement before the 2013 season began.
With MLS’ secondary transfer window already closed and FCD going through a late summer swoon, moving Urruti or Barrios now would’ve made much less sense. Hunt said that the club would’ve viewed the offers differently if they came after the season.
“I think I’ve been open about this, but my brother [Clark Hunt, FCD owner and chairman] and I are very much realists in the game of soccer,” he said. “We recognize it’s a global sport and players come and go. We like for players to move to quality situations and had we decided that we wanted to move a player and it was in the right window, [San Lorenzo] would be a club that we feel would be a great situation for our players. It’s a terrific club, and it’s great to have that association. So in a different window you might think about it. You might think about it if it’s the winter.”
Though they’re currently below the playoff line, Dallas are in sixth in the West in points per game and trail conference leaders Seattle by just six points. They hold multiple games in hand on the Sounders, second-place Portland and sixth-place San Jose and have one game in hand on fifth-place Houston. They’ll play one of those games on Saturday, when they’ll host the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Stadium (9 pm ET | UniMás, Facebook.com in the USA; MLS LIVE in Canada).
“I watched the guys train today and the guys looked really energized,” Hunt said. “It looked like a weight was off a lot of people’s shoulders with this transfer saga ending, and everybody’s prepared for New York.”