PASADENA, Calif. — Just as Julian de Guzman was starting his playing career in Spain, newly appointed Canadian head coach Benito Floro was wrapping up his coaching career there.
De Guzman joined Deportivo La Coruña in 2005 while Floro finished with his one year with Mallorca in 2004. And while their paths never crossed in the league, de Guzman had heard of the man who now becomes his coach at the national level.
“I don’t think I ever played against him or anything but I definitely heard about him,” de Guzman told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “From his background, I think this could be a very interesting thing. I think a game-changer for the association itself, so I’m looking forward to meeting him.”
De Guzman, who is in LA with Canada ahead of their Gold Cup opener against Martinique on Sunday (5:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer, Sportsnet World in Canada), professed his love for the Spanish game and the players he’s played with and against. He is anxious to see what the new boss will bring to a national team that’s been stuck in neutral since their disastrous elimination from World Cup qualifying last year.
The Canadians will actually get a double-dose of the Spanish influence, as Floro’s son Antonio will join him on the coaching staff. While it may seem a bit unorthodox for a new coach to insist on bringing his son over to coach, de Guzman sees how it could be a good thing.
“Well, at least you can say they have a good relationship,” the former Toronto FC and FC Dallas man said with a laugh. “That always helps when you bring in your staff and people to any club or situation They’ll definitely both be on the same page.”
Meanwhile, on the club front, de Guzman is still in limbo. His time with SSV Jahn Regensburg in Germany came to an end this summer, and he told MLSsoccer.com that his representation is currently in negotiations with Polish club Wisla Krakow, which is coached by former Regensburg manager Franciszek Smuda.
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De Guzman said a deal could happen anytime, but admitted there are a few other options.
"Right now my main focus is the national team," he said. "I definitely hope we can prove a lot of people wrong and do well in the tournament.”