In the past I have been accused by some of being a Julian de Guzman “hater” during his time in Toronto. I have heard other supporters defend his performances with Toronto FC (poor, indifferent or otherwise) in the face of criticism from many of us with blanket statements like “…well you don’t understand the sport…” if you chose to criticize him in any way. And that kind of statement has been directly in my direction more than once.

For the record I was never a “hater”.

I was simply disappointed.

And “disappointing” I think sums up Julian de Guzman’s tenure with Toronto FC.

Now some of the subtleties of the sport are probably lost on those of us who have never played it at a high level, however I truly believe this is still at its core a simple game. Exceptional talent (which JdG has in abundance) partnered with effort will allow players whatever the circumstances they find themselves playing in to make a difference. A player of the talent of a Julian de Guzman was brought into the Toronto setup in 2009 with the assumption that he would be a game changer, not in the goals he scored (never a part of his game) but in his ability to boss the midfield and to help the players around him improve. A Canadian International and a hometown boy, Julian was to be the engine in the midfield that would feed the ball from the back to the scorers up top. A player that has played the game at its highest levels overseas could not be anything less than a star in this league and be an anchor with which to build the side around could he not?

“Subtleties” aside I do not think that Julian de Guzman ever performed near to his true ability on a consistent basis here in Toronto, or at least for long enough periods to make the kind of difference a Designated Player is supposed to make in this league. And if he did Torsten Frings would not be playing in Toronto. If Julian de Guzman was doing the job he was brought in to do Torsten Frings would have ended up elsewhere… he would not have been needed.

Ironically his last two months in TFC red were arguably Julian`s best where in my eyes at least he started to reach a level of consistency that was starting to have an impact on the results. And now he has left, traded for the proverbial prospect in young Generation Adidas prospect Andrew Wiedeman. Julian will now ply his trade at FC Dallas. And Toronto FC now has some cap relief and a chance to sign yet another Designated Player if reports are to be believed. So we all wait to see what the departure of de Guzman means as far as reinforcements are concerned.

My good friend Ben Knight at Canadian Soccer News did a wonderful job I think on Friday putting the Julian de Guzman era into some historical context in the piece below. I urge you to read it:

With all affection to Ben what I think he did not really get at in his piece was that say what you will about Dwayne De Rosario (good, bad or otherwise off the field and in the dressing room) he never looked uninterested or aloof on the field during his time in Toronto. You always felt that with him in the starting eleven you were getting your money’s worth as a paying customer and his very presence always gave you hope as a supporter that the Reds had a chance to win on any given day. Until very recently I never felt that the real game in game out effort that DeRo to his credit has always shown as a professional player in MLS was ever consistently matched in any way by Julian de Guzman.

Perhaps now in retrospect the ginger Glaswegian got it all wrong and made the wrong player the DP in the first place eh? (Definitely a topic for the 2012 post mortem)

And the cynic in me wonders if JdG’s recent on field consistency could have been due to perhaps him being told in the spring that the team was going to ship him out and that he had better make himself look attractive enough to other MLS suitors be rescued from Exhibition Place Purgatory. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt but still it does make you wonder.

Disappointed indeed.

I took a look at the TFC schedule for the rest of the year looking to see if Dallas was going to visit Toronto this season and unfortunately they are not. However those of us who also choose to support the Canadian National Team along with TFC will be able to cheer for Julian De Guzman the International and not let the baggage of what is going on at TFC get in the way anymore of enjoying his performances when he appears later this summer/fall at BMO Field in Canadian Red in games versus Panama and Cuba. 

Every time I met him he was a a gracious gentleman and I wish him well in his professional career as he puts his time back home in Toronto behind him. All the criticism was probably hard on him personally and I hope he finds peace and success in Frisco Texas. 


  1. Jean-Paul

    This article definitely sums up my view of Julian DeGuzman’s tenure here in Toronto. I could not have said it better myself. Let’s hope TFC can get someone better than JDG as a DP next year. The team and fans certainly deserve it!

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