As with so many trades, the swap that sent Designated Player Julian de Guzman to FC Dallas raises as many questions than it answers.
On its face, it looks like a reasonable move for both teams.
De Guzman was going nowhere with Toronto FC. I’ve always said that he’s clearly a highly skilled sort. But I could never shake the feeling we were getting 70 cents on the dollar, so to speak, with the Canadian international. I always felt he could deliver more.
The de Guzman bottom line in Toronto is this: if a technical sort like himself wasn’t going to flourish under Dutch coach Aron Winter (and de Guzman didn’t, really), then what could he possibly do for Englishman Paul Mariner, who is now in charge at BMO? Not much, apparently, since the veteran midfielder had lost his starting spot to Terry Dunfield. Dunfield is far less technically proficient but apparently blessed with greater stockpiles of “want-do” and fight, something Mariner values above all.
The question now careening around BMO: What can Toronto do with the money and an available DP slot? As far as marquee men, the Reds are set at forward (Danny Koevermans) and in midfield (Torten Frings) but clearly need a defensive centerpiece. In fact, here’s what Mariner told me just last week: “We are thin at the back, no two ways about it. We got some injuries there. …It’s pretty obvious we need that sort of [defensive] kingpin back there.”
For Dallas, the trade makes some sense, but questions do persist.
For instance, if a Canadian international wasn’t really willing to “leave it all on the field,” as they say, in Toronto, will his heart be in it for Dallas? And if not, could Dallas have done more with the cap money?
But that’s the rub, isn’t it? How much of de Guzman’s salary will Toronto continue to absorb? I would suspect quite a lot.
And where, exactly, does de Guzman fit at FC Dallas Stadium?
He’s not a true defensive midfielder but could be used there as a replacement, now or next year, for Daniel Hernandez, whose 35-year-old knees surely can’t hold out much longer. Or, will de Guzman be a link between the defensive midfielder (Hernandez or Andrew Jacobson) and attacking midfielder David Ferreira?
That’s the role in which Dax McCarty excelled previously in Dallas.