I recently had to chance to interview the 2007 Gold Cup MVP, 2007 Voyageurs Player of the Year and 2008 Deportivo Player of the year Julian De Guzman. The Canadian midfielder talks about the last World Cup Qualifying Cycle, the MLS and more. Enjoy!
During Canada's most recent World Cup Qualifying campaign do you think a different coach would have led to a different end result?
I think the World Cup campaign would have had a different result if there was a different organization.The CSA, the OSA and the rest of the associations are the root of our problem and it will only become a cancer to the program across the nation. Anyone involved will fall behind in the world of football. It has an effect on talent and coaches which gives us a bad look.
Who's job do you think it is to put pressure on the CSA and demand these changes? The fans? Sponsors? Players? Youth Clubs?
Well from what I'm use to out here, if the team lacks results and bringing in poor performances, coaches and players get replaced. And if the problem is bigger than the team, then pressure from the media, fans, sponsors and government plays a role where it would lead to change of structure in the club. Fans out here get to actually vote for a president for the club. Imagine that for Canadian football? In Canada, I don't think the government looses sleep if we don't win games to qualify for a World Cup. Even the Associations can enjoy life if Canada don't bring back results. Culture and passion lacks heavily and the only love I see for football in Canada comes from the fans and players who play their hearts out every chance they get. More poor decisions are made than good changes for the team, association and country. So I think a lot more pressure would mean change for football in Canada.
As an immediate change what do you think needs to be different for 2014 qualifying? Where should the home games be played, should the preparation change?
I wouldn't be surprised if we get results and good performances again from now till the next WCQ 2014. What we need is a team who believes only in results and winning. A good performance and pretty names on a paper isn't enough when it comes to qualifying for a world cup. We seemed like we were on the right track when we had a good tournament at the Gold Cup and suddenly we weren't winning anymore. The closer it got to our first qualifier game, the more points we'd lose in friendlies. So I'm kind of not surprised with the end result of the whole campaign. We do need a comfort zone when it comes to playing at home. And during preparation, we struggled to find that. Us players fought for Montreal and CSA wanted BMO and Edmonton. If that's the case, maybe we should have more home friendlies. Perhaps it would be a lucrative way to promote the game at home and draw fans who we'd expect at every important home match. But at the end of day, if we can't win games, we won't get any type of ticket to any big stages.
There were a few rumours floating around about players partying the night before a match on several occasions with the national team, specifically the South Africa friendly and Honduras in Montreal. Is there any truth behind these rumours?
Night before a match? Never in a lifetime. That's ridiculous! But than again, rumours like that come within the area you work when things go bad. So for me to hear such foolishness is "whatever".
Thanks for clearing that up. I know you have stated that you are happy at Deportivo right now, and have said this several times before, but there are several English clubs that are supposedly interested in signing you. Do you have any ambitions of playing in England?
Never really imagined myself playing in England. Good fast football, excellent crowds and great pay so they say but I'm actually comfortable here in Spain. If I had the choice I would like to continue in La Liga if I couldn't stay at Deportivo. But most players don't really have the luxury in picking where they would like to play. I never imagined myself playing in the Bundesliga nor La Liga growing up in Canada. After almost 12 years of playing in Europe, I'm thankful for reaching those heights that made me the player I am today. We'll see what comes to the table in the next couple of months.
Obviously you are settled in Spain, but if you were ever to consider a move to Toronto FC what would need to change in the MLS (recognizing international dates, league system, etc.)?
I don't know the MLS too well to know what needs to improve. But just from following TFC grass would make a huge difference for both club and national teams. And more Canadians playing on TFC would be great. Seeing Dwayne sign with them brings some hope for young aspiring Canadians.
As a club what are Deportivo's ambitions for the second half of the season? Where in the table do you hope to finish?
Our next goal is to get forty points as fast as possible. After that we can start aiming towards other goals this season. And also remain in the other tournaments such as Copa del Rey and UEFA Cup. Having Deportivo in Europe is always a good thing for the club's name. It would be nice to finish in the top six. It would be a huge accomplishment for Deportivo and myself.
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