Maxi Urruti has started both of Portland's first two matches in the number 9 spot, but it's been newcomer Gaston Fernandez who's scored the goals so far this season. Is it too soon to question whether Fernandez should get the nod up top?
There are multiple factors to consider: Urruti "wears down" the opposition's defense before Gaston moves to striker; winger Steve Zakuani is getting fitter by the day; and Fernandez is the only one to actually put the ball in the back of the net.
The numbers (aside from perhaps the most important, Goals Scored) don't really give any clear answers. In 73 minutes against Philadelphia, Urruti had 16 successful passes and 4 unsuccessful passes. He had 2 blocked shots and no key passes. Fernandez played the final 17 minutes in Urruti's place and collected 6 successful passes, 2 unsuccessful passes, 1 key pass, and 1 goal.
Those numbers may seem like a clear advantage for Fernandez, but against Chicago (with an increase to 29 minutes) La Gata didn't complete a single pass. He had 2 unsuccessful passes, 1 blocked shot, and 0 key passes. But... he did score the goal.
Like head coach Caleb Porter said in his most recent post-game press conference, the chemistry seems to work better with Fernandez up top, but it remains to be seen if it will continue that way long term.
What Urruti needs to worry about most is another Porter statement from the same presser:
"Hopefully Zakuani continues to progress to where he's able to start."
It's hard to imagine that there would be room on the field for Urruti if Zakuani grants Caleb Porter's wish.
What would you do in Porter's shoes? If Zakuani is fit, is he automatically on the field with Fernandez up top? Has Urruti earned more time to prove himself? Or does he even need to? Is he giving exactly what Porter is looking for?