Home MLS Toronto FC It’s a deal of convenience for Toronto FC; a fresh start for Julian de Guzman

It’s a deal of convenience for Toronto FC; a fresh start for Julian de Guzman

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One rule of thumb: If you have a Designated Player on your roster, and he’s healthy, he should never, ever be riding the bench. He should never be a depth player. Nothing looks worse on your organization than showing your fans that you don’t have confidence in a player that you broke the bank to acquire.

Julian de Guzman had become a squad player at Toronto FC. So, on Friday, his DP contract was shipped to FC Dallas for Andrew Wiedeman, a forward who has played all of 172 MLS minutes over the last two seasons. But Wiedeman does carry a Generation Adidas contract, so there’s no cap hit to TFC.

And that’s what the deal is about: Freeing up cap space for TFC and opening a DP slot. Because MLS doesn’t reveal the financials that go on with trades, the Twitterverse is rife with speculation that TFC will eat part of JDG’s contract, which expires at the end of the season. And really, if TFC wants to pay his salary, that’s fine — as long as the DP slot and that US$167,500 cap space (half a DP hit, as we are halfway through the season) frees up, MLSE is free to spend its millions as it sees fit.

“Losing someone like Julian is never easy but this deal gives us increased flexibility to address areas where we have more pressing needs and opens up a designated player spot for our club,” said Toronto FC Head Coach and Director of Soccer Operations, Paul Mariner, in a release. “On behalf of everyone at Toronto FC, I’d like to thank Julian for his contributions to the club and wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Think back to 2009, when de Guzman was brought in as a millionaire DP, and fans dreamed of a new golden age for Toronto FC, with hometown heroes Dwayne De Rosario and de Guzman leading the team into the promised land.

De Rosario was traded in 2011 under much stormier circumstances — after trials with Celtic, contract disputes and open disagreements with the front office. De Guzman, though, was always a controversial figure among fans, and received a massive amount of criticism.

De Guzman was always in a no-win situation in Toronto; it’s a sports city that eats its own like no other, a city where star athletes always have targets on their backs and journeymen become folk heroes. Add to that the fact the JDG plays the most misunderstood, most underrated position in the game — holding midfielder. He was never going to be a major goal scorer; his job was to be an anchor in the midfield, and it’s the kind of place where you can go unnoticed when you make 20 good passes in a row, but fans notice when you make the first bad one.

“He is a central midfielder, a holding midfielder and a very skillful player,” said FCD coach Schellas Hyndman of de Guzman in a statement issued by the club. “He also has a lot of experience playing with the Canadian National Team. He will give FC Dallas an additional veteran that can solidify our possession style of play. He also has a bit of toughness to him that will help us win 50-50 balls and control the central midfield.”

In Dallas, despite the DP tag, de Guzman won’t face that kind of pressure. Like TFC, FCD is struggling this season. But, with Brek Shea and the back-from-injury David Ferreira in the lineup, JDG won’t be a face of the franchise. He can give himself a decent audition for that next contract, whether it be in MLS or abroad.

 

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