EDMONTON, Alberta – On Tuesday night, Julian de Guzman played his first game back on North American soil since leaving MLS for Europe five months ago. But don’t expect him back anytime soon.
Though he’ll likely play a few more games for Canada in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, de Guzman (above right, with Dwayne De Rosario) said this week that his club aspirations still belong in Europe, even if he leaves SSV Jahn Regensburg of the German second division.
“I came back to Europe for a special reason and most importantly for my kids,” said de Guzman, now a free agent after Regensburg were relegated at the end of this past season. “I’m happy that I’m close to them and I’m continuing to play football at a good level.”
The Toronto native started and played 89 minutes in Canada’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in an international friendly on Tuesday here. The Canucks open the Gold Cup on July 7 against Martinique at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
After making the much-publicized move to Toronto from Spanish club Deportivo La Coruña in 2009 as Toronto FC’s first Designated Player, de Guzman failed to live up to the lofty expectations that were placed upon him.
He eventually was traded to Dallas last season by former TFC head coach Paul Mariner, and de Guzman appeared in 12 matches, notching a goal and two assists.
News leaked out quickly after the season ended, however, that de Guzman’s family obligations would lead him back to Europe, ending a four-year career in MLS.
“It was a last-moment decision and it was an opportunity to get myself back into Europe,” he admitted. “It did me well. I got 90 minutes in every game and I’m feeling really fit and happy playing in Germany again.”
Though he sounded certain this week that his immediate club career rests in Europe, de Guzman won’t fully close the door on a possible return to MLS at some point down the line. He’s also being courted by other clubs in the 2.Bundesliga as well as from suitors in Turkey and Poland.
“I would never exclude the opportunity of coming back to MLS as well, but for the moment, I’ve always wanted to go back to Europe and stay close to the kids and playing football,” he said. “It’s always been a dream, so it’s the best of both worlds.”