Canadian content to fuel TFC

GARETH WHEELER

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

If patience is a virtue, Toronto FC is better off for it.

It was the middle of June, a time when TFC was among Major League Soccer's best clubs, when it was asked in this space what was needed to take the team to the next level.

Toronto native Dwayne De Rosario, who was starring for a Houston Dynamo team that likely was headed towards a rebuilding phase, was mentioned as the perfect addition.

Obviously, nothing transpired and the team paid the price for its inactivity.

But newfound optimism has come nearly six months later, and it didn't cost TFC its coveted allocation spot (which ended up fetching forward Chad Barrett) to get its man.

For a bargain-basement price, director of soccer Mo Johnston brought De Rosario home to Toronto.

Regardless of the potential of Julius James, who went to Houston along with allocation money, bringing in De Rosario, 30, a two-time MLS Cup MVP and a bonafide star, was a fantastic bit of business.

And it shouldn't be overlooked that Johnston was able to make this move without giving up any of TFC's three first-round draft picks in this year's SuperDraft.

After stockpiling assets for years, Johnston still has a full deck of cards to play with, having more allocation money and the all-important designated player spot at his disposal.

Not bad for the maligned general manager. Mo has to be applauded for keeping his eye on the prize.

Make no mistake, more moves are on the way. De Rosario's contract doesn't come at a cheap price, with sources saying his new deal will pay him close to $400,000 US. More salary likely will have to be shed from the squad to continue the rebuilding process. But the fact that some of TFC's current players have taken a pay cut to improve the side speaks volumes to the direction the team is going.

De Rosario's credentials have been well-documented, both in MLS and as a Canadian international. His offensive flair and possession brand of soccer immediately makes this team better.

There's also a symbolic side to the move. Bringing top-class Canadian players to Toronto was one of the purposes of TFC in the first place.

D-Ro brings a sense of realness that Toronto is a legitimate destination for our country's best professionals.

This may be the catalyst for other Canadian internationals -- in MLS or overseas -- to seriously start looking at TFC as a more lucrative and viable option.

That brings us to the designated player spot, TFC's next highly anticipated move.

Rumours have been swirling about Portuguese striker Nuno Gomes as a possible target. Alessandro Del Piero's name never seems to go away. Realistically, neither aging striker looks like an option at this point.

Instead, why not stick with the Canadiana?

Sources say another Canadian international, Julian de Guzman, has been Mo's long-time target and the club is holding hope that something can be done to bring another Scarborough native home.

De Guzman, 27, is out of his contract at the end of the season and can begin negotiations with other clubs in the New Year. He repeatedly has reiterated his preference to stay in La Liga with Deportivo de La Coruna. But de Guzman's injury-riddled start to the season may have made the crafty midfielder more expendable, considering contract talks are at a standstill.

Aside from TFC, there's been other interest in de Guzman across Europe, including the English Premiership. But de Guzman needs to ask himself, at this point of his career: What is the right move?

If de Guzman believes he's better off being a major player on one of England's or Europe's middle of the pack clubs, then so be it. On the flip side, returning home to become one of the faces of Canadian soccer may be a profitable and worthwhile venture.

De Guzman and De Rosario have instant marketing potential and also can have a long-term impact on the legacy of soccer in this country. Leading the way as a star player with a Canadian club in an ever-improving brand of MLS soccer is an option now more than ever.

Aside from the off-field possibilities, the on-field lineup options are even more intriguing.

DYNAMIC DUO

Ideally, de Guzman and Amado Guevera would run the show from the middle of the pitch. That would allow Carl Robinson to move back to central defence; a problem spot for TFC.

Paired with a proper sweeper, someone who's an experienced ball-winner and has the ability to keep the side organized at the back, Robinson could be extremely effective.

And a midfield featuring De Rosario, de Guzman, Guevara, and Rohan Ricketts from left to right would be among the most talented, if not the most talented in MLS.

Step 1 is done with D-Ro. Let the day dreaming begin with Step 2.


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