Join MLSsoccer.com’s Jackie Pickering and Nick Firchau as they travel from LA to Vancouver, checking in on all the West Coast teams, meeting with fans, and stopping into adidas HQ in Portland to pick up the game ball for First Kick on March 15 at Qwest Field.
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Toronto FC midfielder Julian de Guzman is almost certain to be out for the Reds’ season opening game in Vancouver against the Whitecaps.
“Julian is recovering well,” head coach Aron Winter told MLSsoccer.com from Charleston, S.C., “but he’s three to four weeks away from being ready to play.”
The Canadian international had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in December and started running for the first time in February while on a preseason trip to Turkey with TFC.
In Charleston, de Guzman has started to participate in some drills. However, his recovery is slightly slower than was originally thought.
“It could be three, four [weeks],” Winter said. "Maybe quicker, maybe longer."
Winter stressed that he will not rush de Guzman back into the line up so as to not risk aggravating his player's injury. Though he explained that he would take that view with any player, he is particularly cautious with de Guzman, who is likely to play a key role for the Reds in 2011.
After watching tapes of TFC games in the 2010, Winter says he has developed some ideas on how to get more out of his midfielder and said he expects a the former La Liga standout to bounce back this upcoming season.
“It was very difficult for him [last year],” Winter said. “Every time he was asking for the ball, all he was getting were these long balls.”
Obviously, at just 5-foot-6, de Guzman is not an ideal target man. Winter said the system he is implementing will be a much better fit for the Canadian international.
“In our system, he will be one of our key players,” Winter said. “He will get the ball at his feet and forward in attacking positions.”