Toronto FC officially parted ways with on-loan goalkeeper Julio Cesar on Friday, saying the Brazilian international had returned to Queens Park Rangers.
The 34-year-old Cesar joined Toronto in February and made seven league appearances with a 3-4-0 record and two shutouts. He earned MLS Save of the Week honours in Week 7.
The Cesar loan was always a marriage of convenience.
Cesar had fallen down the depth chart at QPR last season, which was operating under reduced circumstances in England's second-tier Championship. His weekly wages there were pegged at between 70,000 and 100,000 pounds (C$128,500 and $183,500).
'On behalf of everyone at Toronto FC, I'd like to send our sincere thanks to QPR for the opportunity to bring Julio to Toronto. We'd also like to thank Julio for everything he brought to our club. He made an immediate impact and all of us are better for it.' - Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko
He needed games to stay on track to start for Brazil and the World Cup. For manager Ryan Nelsen, who also played at QPR, and Toronto, it was a chance to get a seasoned world-class goalie at a reduced price.
Cesar also brought the allure of having of the Brazilian No. 1 at Toronto FC. And he served as unofficial tutor to Joe Bendik, who has regained his No. 1 status since Cesar's departure and current backup Chris Konopka.
Cesar's exit was not unexpected. While the loan was initially said to last through December, Nelsen said before the World Cup that it was unlikely Cesar would return because QPR wanted him back.
"On behalf of everyone at Toronto FC, I'd like to send our sincere thanks to QPR for the opportunity to bring Julio to Toronto," Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement Friday. "We'd also like to thank Julio for everything he brought to our club. He made an immediate impact and all of us are better for it."
In truth, Toronto probably did not need him back. Bendik, 25, has been excellent with a 4-1-5 record and two shutouts
Cesar could still be on the move. QPR has a No. 1 'keeper in England international Robert Green, who made 48 appearances last season as QPR won promotion to the Premier League. Green, who posted a club-record eight straight shutouts last October, signed a two-year contract extension earlier this month.
Retirement after the World Cup is not in the cards, Cesar said in May.
"I'm still under contract for the next two years."
The classy Brazilian said his stint at Toronto was a new life. As a thank you, the team had one of Cesar's favourite pictures, with the words New Life, framed as a gift. He accepted it with tears.
"The guys in that locker-room, the way that he embraced us and we embraced him was very special," said Bendik.
Speaking through an interpreter prior to leaving for the World Cup in his native Brazil, Cesar said his time in Toronto was well spent.
"I feel like I'm a better person being here after three months and experiencing what the club has had to offer me and getting me ready for the World Cup," he said.
The veteran Brazilian has already won five Italian titles, seven Italian cups, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. He was named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year twice and nominated for the Ballon d'Or award in 2009.
He was been a class act in Toronto, winning praise from coaches and teammates alike for his ability as a player and easy-going personality.
"It's just a pleasure to have a man like that on the team," Nelsen said in May.
Bendik, who started the season as a backup to the Brazilian despite signing a new, enriched deal after winning the No. 1 job last year, has credited Cesar for making him a better goalie and calls him a friend.