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Toronto's de Guzman rules himself out vs. Chivas

TORONTO — Toronto FC Designated Player Julian de Guzman has ruled himself out of Saturday’s game against Chivas USA (1 pm ET on TSN, Direct Kick and Matchday Live). However, the midfielder says he hopes to be back in the mix in early April.

De Guzman nursed a knee injury through the latter parts of 2010 and tore his meniscus during the club’s last competitive game of the season. He had surgery in late December to repair the tear and started training with the Reds about a month ago.

“It’s coming along,” de Guzman said of the injury. “I need about a week or so of intense training with the team and I can reasonably see myself in game shape.”

It typically takes about 12 to 14 weeks for an athlete who has torn his meniscus to regain full muscle strength.

The Reds have struggled to find a holding midfielder of de Guzman’s ability to fill his role while he’s been out. Head coach Aron Winter’s 4-3-3 system demands a player with above average passing skills to anchor the midfield and de Guzman would seem to have that skill set.

The player says he likes the direction the club is headed under Winter.

“The guys are slowly picking up the concept of the system,” said de Guzman. “I think the new system has helped the guys with structure and understanding of certain rules and certain ways to win games in attractive ways.”

So long as the club doesn’t fall too far down the table during the learning process, de Guzman says the Reds will be greatly improved in 2011.

“Another couple months of this and we’ll see a much different team than we had last season.”