Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Whither JdG2

Canada, in recent history, has had the misfortune of having some talented players choose to play for other countries. In some cases, the Canadian soccer situation and the CSA are partly to blame, but the real motive is pure opportunism and 'old country' navel gazing. Prominent examples include Owen Hargreaves throwing in his lot with England, and Daniel Fernandes electing to suit up for Portugal.

An interesting time is approaching in the career of Jonathan De Guzman, younger brother of Canada's best player, Julian De Guzman. He's spent 6 years in the youth and professional setup with Feyenoord (Rotterdam), and is emerging as a significant talent.

While it is hard for us to understand Canadian players choosing to play for another country, Jonathan has spent a good chunk of his formative years in the land of cheese and weed, and could legitimately claim to be as Dutch as Canadian.

The issue has come to a boiling point recently because of some recent comments that have appeared in the Dutch media. The problem is different reports have highlighted different quotes and slanted things in different ways.

One view offers some hope to Canadian fans:
„Maar wat ik ook besluit, hij zal altijd achter me blijven staan. Ik kan en wil er nu gewoon nog niets over zeggen. Ik wacht af. Waarop ik wacht? Vooral op mezelf. Natuurlijk is het niveau van Oranje veel hoger, maar spelen met mijn broer voor Canada is ook aantrekkelijk. De voor- en nadelen van mijn keuze moet ik nog tegen elkaar afwegen.”
Rough translation:
Whatever I decide, it will always stay with me. I can't and don't want to say anything about it right now. I'm waiting. What am I waiting for? Mostly for myself. Of course, the level of the Dutch is much higher, but playing with my brother for Canada is also attractive. I have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of my choice.
You could ask for better, but at least he's not closing any doors. Another article paints a less optimistic picture (for Canadian fans):

Jonathan de Guzman gaat snel de keuze maken tussen het Nederlands elftal en Canada. De Guzman heeft zelf aangegeven zijn keuze op korte termijn te maken.

Volgens De Telegraaf lijkt het grote talent van Feyenoord te gaan kiezen voor Nederland. De reden lijkt dat hij met Nederland internationaal beter voor de dag komt dan met Canada.
In het Engels:
Jonathan de Guzman will soon be making a choice between Holland and Canada. De Guzman has set himself a deadline for making a choice. According to De Telegraaf (a major Dutch daily) it appears that the Feyenoord star will choose Holland. The likely reason is, at the end of the day, prospects for a better international career than he could achieve with Canada.
Perhaps this article deserves less weight, as it reads like a summary of an opinion piece rather than a direct quote from the man, but it certainly doesn't give me any warm fuzzies.

Another article concurs
that Holland is the likely choice (kan je Nederlands lezen?), and suggests that he is fully integrated into Dutch culture, which could be a factor in his decision.

All the JdG2 buzz follows an impressive performance over the weekend for Feyenoord against Roda JC, home of another player of ambiguous national loyalties, Marcel de Jong. Jonathan's a player to watch and would be a strong addition to what is already the best midfield in CONCACAF.

Stay tuned.


Clint said...

Canada is a good team now...imagine how much better we would be with the ex-pat's playing for our MNT instead of other countries?

I wonder if JdG2 is waiting until 2010 qualifying begins to see how the current Canadian team will shake out out before making his decision?

And wouldn't he stand a better chance of cracking an international lineup in Canada than in Holland, which is blessed with talented footballers?

Just a couple thoughts.

jonathan said...

Certainly JdG2 would stand a better chance of a long international career with Canada. The Dutch tend to eat their young, by playing them early, and quickly spitting them out, so I don't doubt that he would see some time if he was so inclined.

But I would have made the same argument about Owen Hargreaves years ago and he's now made 39 appearances for England.

Canada would definitely be strengthened if all players who should be playing for Canada did play for us.