The Fury FC have made their biggest signing in their young history, signing current Canada national team captain M Julian De Guzman to a 1-year contract today.
De Guzman, who will wear #25 in Ottawa, signs after a period without a club after spending the 2013/14 season in Greece with Skoda Xanthi. His previous experiences with Hannover 96 in Bundesliga, Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga, and Toronto FC and FC Dallas in MLS is well-documented and needs little introduction to most Fury FC and CanMNT fans.
De Guzman’s name had been whispered among Canadian and Ottawa footy observers for the past two weeks, ever since Steve Sandor of the11.ca first reported that De Guzman was entertaining several NASL offers while undergoing a trial at Columbus Crew.
His signing marks a watershed moment for Ottawa footy in being the first widely recognized name among casual Canadian soccer fans to sign for the club, a name that even those who follow European soccer but do not follow North American club or international soccer can recognize relatively quickly. To more hardcore Canadian soccer fans, the matchup of JDG, aka Bobby, and the Fury FC is a connection made in heaven. As observers have put it, this signing certainly highlights the advantages that having more Canadian professional footy clubs brings to the Canadian national team, with one less member displaying his talents for Unattached FC.
The signing has been widely acclaimed throughout the soccer media, with articles on De Guzman and Fury FC being published today across all media platforms one can imagine, including the Globe, Sportsnet and the CONCACAF official website.
Beyond the obvious marketing appeal, what does De Guzman bring in terms of talent to the club? One could argue quite a bit, with De Guzman’s midfield play expected to bolster Marc Dos Santos’s possession-oriented approach. The club now has 6 talented CM’s for its 3 spots in the 4-3-3 formation.
The most popular train of thought is that, once De Guzman acclimatises himself within the team through the remainder of the preseason, he could be expected to be a near-certain contender to start in the RCM position, mainly populated by Tony Donatelli (whose status is the 1 player that has never been fully determined this offseason) and Nicki Paterson in 2014.
It must be noted that Paterson and Patryk Misik have both looked very good in the position in the preseason so far and will not give up their battle for a starting spot quite easily. Richie Ryan is a certain lock to start at DM, with Mauro Eustaquio expected to push him hard as he continues his development. The playmaker LCM position has been the domain of Sinisa Ubiparipovic, and the popular talisman will be expected to continue in his role in 2015 as well.
While most observers have De Guzman pencilled in at RCM, I would suggest one alternate approach. I’ve always had much fonder memories of De Guzman chasing down Zidane in a bloodhound role while playing for Depor than trying to orchestrate play in the midfield as a DP for TFC. Additionally, I have seen Richie with some silky passing in midfield, while sometimes being overrun in an opponent’s counterattack. With that in mind, I would suggest De Guzman for the Makelele/Gattuso role at DM, and Ryan in the old Donatelli role at RCM, which I believe is easily playable by a left-footed player.
With Ryan having nursed a knock and Eustaquio a minor injury the past 2 weeks, Phil Davies has been deputising as the starting DM during the last 2 preseason games. While Ryan looks set to return next week, the arrival of De Guzman means that Dos Santos now has a myriad of options at DM.
I can also imagine, with De Guzman’s introduction, Paterson being asked to push Ubi hard in the LCM role this year, perhaps as a box-to-box alternative to Ubi’s talisman role, while Misik must certainly get his minutes in perhaps RCM, with his preason performances having caught many eyes.
We will soon find out, with De Guzman linking up with the club after the current CanMNT camp in Florida, with the player most likely expected to join them in North Carolina, where the Fury will travel after their game against Syracuse University in Canton, NY tomorrow, to play their final preseason match away at Wake Forest University next Saturday, which will be followed by Ottawa’s season opener vs. Carolina the following weekend.
This has been one of the most enjoyable articles I have had the pleasure of writing while covering Ottawa Fury FC. It is certainly a watershed moment for the club. Welcome to Ottawa, Bobby! You can follow De Guzman on Instagram at @juliebobby.
OFFC Review: https://offcreview.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/fury-fc-signs-canmnt-captain-m-julian-de-guzman
You can follow Namu Yoon on Twitter at @BBSC_SeoulBro and @OFFCReview, and his Canadian Soccer News articles on Ottawa Fury FC at http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/index.php?/page/articles.html/_/ottcityfootie and https://offcreview.wordpress.com.