TEST: JDG Answers His Critics

TORONTO — BACK IN TESTING  Julian de Guzman came into Sunday’s match against Seattle following a critical mistake that cost his team points against the Colorado Rapids on April 18.

In a sequence that was replayed and scrutinized all of last week, the Canadian international committed the error of jumping while in a defensive wall, allowing the Rapids to score their game-winning goal. But he wasn’t supposed to be in the wall in the first place.
Others would have talked about making amends or pointing out what they’d do differently.

Instead, Toronto’s designated player decided to let his game do the talking as he always has.

In likely his best game as a Red, de Guzman had a complete performance in helping Toronto beat Seattle 2-0 on Sunday.

“I felt a lot more confident this game,” de Guzman said. “In total, everyone played with a lot more confidence coming off an unfortunate result against Colorado. Apart from the little mistakes, everyone did a good job.”

A lot was expected of the Toronto native after Director of Soccer Mo Johnston pursued him for months and signed him as the club’s first DP late last season.

So, when de Guzman got off to a slow start this season, punctuated by the performance against Colorado, some fans started wondering whether Johnston had made a mistake.

Preki, for one, couldn’t understand the criticism starting to surface from media and fans.

“You guys have been critical of Julian, I don’t know what the problem is with Julian,” TFC coach Preki told the media after Sunday’s game. “Julian worked really hard in Colorado, he worked extremely hard today [vs. Seattle]. I put him on the right, he never complained, he worked hard. I put him in the middle it’s the same. He moved the ball for us. When Julian comes and plays like that, he’s as good as anybody.”

The Toronto native is starting to round into the form that made him a standout for Spain’s Deportivo La Coruña, the only Canadian ever to play in La Liga. Against Seattle, he made his presence felt in the midfield organizing his teammates and effectively moving the ball.

As he gets more comfortable in his role and with his teammates, he’ll likely become more offensive-minded with the ball, exhibiting the passing and occasional goal scoring that made him a CONCACAF Gold Cup All-Star in 2007 and 2009.

That will be some welcome tonic for TFC’s struggling offense.

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