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TFC to swap Dichio for DeGuzman?
by Ridge Mahoney, September 9th, 2009 6:45AM
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[MLS] A lackluster 1-0 loss to Colorado last weekend gave credence to the belief that Toronto FC can't play a pat hand and reach the MLS playoffs this season for the first time. Changes are in the works. The Toronto Globe and Mail is reporting that stalled negotiations with midfielder Julian De Guzman, who is out of contract and has yet to find a new club, have been revived and a deal could be announced sometime this week. He would take the roster spot of striker Danny Dichio, who has been bothered by injuries the past two seasons and is making his retirement from the club official at a press conference Wednesday.

DeGuzman, 28, has been looking for a new club since his contract with Deportivo La Coruna of Spain expired over the summer. Toronto FC has proposed making him a Designated Player, and such a signing would need MLS Board of Governors approval to become official. Like Canadian teammate Dwayne De Rosario, he is a local product from Scarborough, Ontario, but unlike DeRo, he has played in Europe for the past decade for French club Marseille, Saarbrucken and Hannover in Germany and Deportivo.

Because he is out of contract, De Guzman is not subject to the FIFA-imposed international transfer window for the USA and Canada that closed Aug. 15. MLS teams can sign and trade players up until the league's roster freeze date, which is next Wednesday. He is also not encumbered by the European window and can return if no deal is struck with TFC and MLS.

TFC could sign De Guzman to a contract by which he would finish out the current MLS season as a non-DP player and elevate him to DP status next year. As a new signing, he can be paid out of allocation money, of which TFC still has approximately $400,000, according to a source. Allocation money also has a shelf life and thus teams cannot hoard those funds indefinitely. As a DP, a limited portion of a player's salary - in 2009 the limit is $415,000 - counts against the salary cap, with the team instead of MLS paying the balance.

However, De Guzman and TFC seemed on the brink of a deal in July with no resolution. Might instead he prefer to sign a short-term contract - as was also discussed at that time -- to fill the few months remaining until the European transfer window re-opens in January, and thus keep his long-term options open?

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