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TFC to repatriate de Guzman Add to ...

Canada's top soccer player, Julian de Guzman, is coming home.

While Toronto FC has refused to confirm details of signing de Guzman, a source close to the player says a deal had been reached with the Major League Soccer club and will be announced at a media conference this week.

The Toronto-born, 28-year-old midfielder - voted the Canadian Soccer Association's 2008 male player of the year - has been without a home since his contract with Spanish La Liga club Deportivo de La Coruna expired after last season.

De Guzman could add spark to struggling TFC (8-9-7, fifth in the Eastern Conference), which needs a strong finish in its final six games to have any chance of qualifying for the MLS playoffs.

And while Toronto looks to bolster its on-field content for that crucial stretch, it lost one familiar face from the lineup.

Veteran striker Danny Dichio will announce his retirement today at a morning news conference at BMO Field.

Dichio, a cult hero with TFC supporters since scoring the franchise's first goal in 2007, has been hampered by injuries. The 34-year-old Englishman, who has scored 14 goals in 59 MLS games, is expected to immediately join the team's coaching staff.

De Guzman has represented Canada more than 40 times on the international stage and was voted Deportivo's most valuable player in 2007. He was also chosen the top player in the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament that same year.

Speculation began to mount de Guzman was in discussions with Toronto shortly after this year's Gold Cup.

The source indicated initial talks with the club had fallen through but discussions resumed in the past week. The two sides reportedly came to an agreement yesterday, pending approval from the league office, which will likely pave the way for the defensive midfielder becoming the team's first designated player.

MLS's designated-player rule, also known as the Beckham Rule, allows the league to sign players who fall outside a club's salary cap.

At 15, de Guzman left his Toronto home to develop his soccer skills in Europe, eventually surfacing in 1997 with the reserve team of French first-division side Olympique de Marseilles. He then joined German second-division team Saarbrucken, before making his Bundesliga debut with Hannover 96 in 2002.

With his transfer to Deportivo in 2005, he became the first Canadian-born player to play in Spain's top league.

De Guzman is the older brother of Toronto-born, Dutch national team prospect Jonathan de Guzman, 21, who plays with Netherlands first-division side Feyenoord Rotterdam.

 

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