TORONTO — Toronto FC will need to do without the services of Designated Player Julian de Guzman for most of June, after the midfielder accepted the call for Canada to play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
However, the burden placed on TFC from international call-ups was far less pronounced today than in the past, when the club featured as many as 10 internationals. It’s likely de Guzman will be the only player from Toronto at the Gold Cup, although Joao Plata did receive a call-up from Ecuador to play in the June 1 friendly against Canada at BMO Field.
Adrian Cann and Nana Attakora may have reason to be disappointed by the lack of a call.
De Guzman was traveling back from Colorado when the announcement was made and was not immediately available for comment. However, Canadian national team head coach Stephen Hart admitted that he was cognizant of not putting too great a burden on a single team with his call-ups for the Gold Cup.
“I had to think carefully about the lineup,” Hart said via conference call. “We need to be aware of September [and the start of World Cup qualifying].”
There was some controversy in 2009 when several Toronto FC players turned down the call to represent Canada at the Gold Cup. Some people suggested TFC were un-cooperative with the national team, a claim the club strongly disputes.
Earlier this year, TFC director of team and player operations Earl Cochrane told MLSsoccer.com that the club is in “constant” contact with the Canadian national team and was committed to working with them to ensure their goals were met, while at the same time, respecting the need for Toronto to protect their interests.
Hart backed that assertion up and said that, as a former international himself, head coach Aron Winter appreciates the value of playing for your country.
“I talked to Aron Winter and he understands my position and I understand all the MLS team’s positions,” Hart said. “[Toronto] are fighting to build their team he understands it’s important to represent their country, but obviously this does not come at a good time for MLS.”
Hart said the two sides have an understanding as it relates to friendlies and the Gold Cup and that there have been compromises made.
“There was a lot of consideration for [the needs of] players in Scandinavia and MLS with World Cup qualifying in the fall,” he said.
However, Hart was clear that once the business of trying to get Canada back to the World Cup for the first time since 1986 begins in earnest that he cannot afford to consider anyone’s needs but his own.
“I made them all know that once it becomes World Cup qualification I’m picking the best squad,” he said.