De Guzman signs with Toronto FC

Toronto FC has signed Canadian international Julian de Guzman as the club's first designated player.

Toronto FC has signed Canadian international Julian de Guzman as the club’s first designated player.

The MLS team announced the move Friday at a news conference at BMO Field.

"This is an exciting day for Toronto FC fans," said general manager Mo Johnston. "This deal to bring Julian back home was a long time coming, and we are absolutely delighted that we got it done and he's back playing in his hometown.

"For me, he is a tremendous young talent; he ticks all the boxes in what we were looking for in a DP and will help our team straight away."

De Guzman, a midfielder who spent the last four years with Deportivo la Coruna, had been out of contract since the end of the 2008-09 Spanish league season.

Financial details of the deal were not released, but the club confirmed that the 28-year-old native of Scarborough, Ont., has agreed to terms on a contract that ties him to the club through the 2012 Major League Soccer season.

"This is a dream come true for me, to be part of a professional team at this level in Toronto," said de Guzman, who will wear No. 6 for Toronto.  "I'm home again. Couldn't ask for anything better."

Fielded other offers

Johnston and de Guzman were in contract negotiations earlier this summer, but the midfielder turned down a lucrative offer to become the club's first designated player because he wanted to continue his career with a European club. De Guzman reportedly fielded offers from teams in England, Holland and Spain, but nothing came of it, paving the way for him to sign with Toronto.

Under MLS rules, teams are granted one designated player roster spot that they can use to sign a marquee star, with only $415,000 US of his contract counting against the $2.3 million salary cap.

The Los Angeles Galaxy famously made use of the DP rule to sign English superstar David Beckham in January 2007.

De Guzman has made over 40 appearances and scored four goals since making his debut for Canada’s national team as the 2002 Gold Cup.

The Canadian men's player of the year in 2008 started his club career with Germany's Hannover 96 in 2002 before moving to Spain three years later.

Toronto FC's interest shouldn't come as a surprise as de Guzman is considered among the best players in Canadian soccer and would be a prized acquisition for Canada's lone MLS team.

Toronto currently sits 11th overall in the MLS standings, three spots behind Real Salt Lake, which occupies the eighth and final playoff position. The Reds are involved in a seven-way dogfight for the final four post-season berths but, with just six games left in the season, time is running out.