TORONTO – With Michael Bradley already gone at US national team camp, Toronto FC is set to lose another international player to World Cup preparations in Júlio César – although the Brazilian No. 1’s departure will likely be a permanent one.
Júlio César will leave Toronto midweek to join the Brazilian national team ahead of TFC’s match against Sporting Kansas City this Friday. And all indications are that Queens Park Rangers, the team that sent him out on loan this offseason, want him back after the World Cup.
When asked if a return to Toronto was an option, Júlio César was noncommittal.
“I don’t know,” he said through a translator, exhaling with a defeated laugh. “It depends on the World Cup. … Queens Park Rangers wants me in August. I don’t know what will happen.”
Júlio César’s loan is not scheduled to be up until December, but TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen told the media that there is a “gentlemen’s agreement” in place should QPR want him back sooner.
“I’m contracted still in England for a few more years,” Júlio César said. “I’m contracted to return there in August after the World Cup. I can’t really give you a clear answer as to what my fate is after the World Cup. I’ve always been a professional person. Even if I win the World Cup, I’m going to keep to my word, return to my [parent] club and help them win championships.”
Júlio César missed Toronto FC’s last game with the flu, and Joe Bendik minded the net in a 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls. Even if he does return, he will be away from the club for what will likely be two months, leaving Bendik the starting job.
“I’m very anxious,” Júlio César said of his feelings heading into the World Cup in his home country. “It’s getting close to the time to meet up with the team and start on this important journey. The whole country is obviously preoccupied [with protests and strikes] but we hope things get settled before the World Cup.
“… Every World Cup is a big opportunity; they all have their own flavor. This one being in Brazil is even more special for me; it’s my country, my family is there and I just have God to thank for the opportunity to play in this World Cup.”
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If Júlio César has indeed played his last match for Toronto FC, and Queens Park Rangers exercises the return-from-loan option after the World Cup ends, Toronto FC will free up some cap moves to possibly make further moves. Whatever happens, he leaves the city with no regrets.
“I’m surprised, coming here, with how well things are run here,” he said. “Being in Canada, I feel very prepared for the World Cup. I feel like I’m a better person here after three months and experiencing what the club has to offer me in getting me ready for the World Cup.”