Julian De Guzman is now a member of the Ottawa Fury. This came within a week of him personally saying there were a few teams in the NASL that gave him solid offers. Given that this news was revealed in Edmonton and current Eddies coach Colin Miller has a relationship with the Canadian international, it was speculated that he could be signing with FC Edmonton. I would even say San Antonio was high on the list given their history of free agent signings. Seeing Ottawa sign the former MLS designated player most certainly raised a few eyebrows and probably has some in the nation’s capital thinking the Fury are playoff bound.
For the casual FC Edmonton fan, this may be seen as a missed opportunity. My reaction is that of elation, knowing the Eddies are staying true to their vision. The 2015 season looks like a big year for this team and they have put together their best squad ever. For the first time, the roster has some consistency from one season to the next and a bench full of players capable of starting for most teams at this level. While signing De Guzman would do a lot to put the national eye on the Eddies, it would only add to a crowded midfield that may turn out to be one of the best in the league. Colin Miller has also been huge on fitness and getting the players to buy into the system. Adding a player late in training camp would go against this mentality and De Guzman would be playing catch up well into the season.
De Guzman signing with Ottawa is a fantastic move for the Fury though. They are able to bring in a high caliber, experienced player who can help develop young Canadians like Drew Beckie, Phillipe Davies, Carl Haworth, Mauro Eustaquio, Marcel de Bellis and Patryk Misik. On and off the pitch, it’s a fantastic signing for a team still trying to build its identity.
Having a current member of the Canadian national team sign for a rival actually helps FC Edmonton too. It’s going to force Benito Floro and his staff to watch more NASL games to keep tabs on De Guzman. With the Voyageurs Cup games and league play, no one is going to play the Fury more than FC Edmonton. It’s a chance for the Canadian players in Edmonton to impress the Canadian brass. Golden Glove winner John Smits is worthy of a call up with no definite long term plan after Borjan at keeper. Maybe it’s time to give Mallan Roberts a look now that he owns a Canadian Passport. He’s playing at a higher level than a number of recent call ups and it would be wise to cap him soon as he’s only going to get better and is on Sierra Leone’s radar. It’s also important for Hanson Boakai, who was named to the men’s team only to sit on the bench against Columbia. The offense he can provide late in a game is something that has been lacking in this program for years.
Many Canadian soccer fans know about the ‘hidden gems’ that play for Edmonton. It’s starting to feel like the Canadian Soccer Association has snubbed FC Edmonton players too many times for the men’s team. Maybe it’s just been a lack of exposure, but that should no longer be the case. Hopefully the gems here in Edmonton are no longer hidden.