By KURTIS LARSON
TORONTO — Julian and Jonathan de Guzman are polarizing figures -– two of Canada’s most gifted players who continue to pull Canadian supporters in opposite directions.
Following CONCACAF’s second round of World Cup qualifying, Julian acknowledged that his brother, Jonathan, who is currently under contract with Spanish side Villarreal, was looking to take steps to become eligible for selection by head coach Stephen Hart and the Canadian national team.
All that changed following Canada’s goal-less draw against Honduras in Toronto on Tuesday night.
“I know that I could be a very big impact on the Canadian national team,” Jonathan told The Score at BMO Field. He went on to say he now hopes to earn a call from the full Dutch side.
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder currently holds a Dutch passport and competed for the Netherlands at the under-20 and under-23 levels.
“If (I) did play for the Canadian national team it would be a lot stronger than now,” he continued. “But then again, that’s the choice I’ve made … and I stand by that choice.”
In an effort to talk the younger de Guzman into joining his brother in the center of Canada’s midfield, Hart traveled to Spain in advance of the current round of CONCACAF qualifying to personally invite Jonathan into the side.
The Canadian Soccer Association confirmed earlier this year the ball was rolling to hopefully ensure Jonathan’s Canadian eligibility at some point during the 2014 qualifying cycle.
But as a result of his comments earlier this week, Canadian supporters are once again shaking their heads and wondering if Jonathan’s most recent comments will bring closure to what has been a four-year ordeal.
That is, until Julian told a small group of reporters he’s not buying his younger brother’s controversial words.
“I know him best and I want to say it’s a bluff,” Julian said following Thursday’s Toronto FC training session. “I still have hope that he will be part of the Canadian national team.
“He has yet to put on a Dutch jersey so I haven’t given up hope for him to finally join us. I hang with him now every day that he has been back (visiting Canada) and I still try to get in his head to put on the red jersey so we’ll see what happens.”
A source with knowledge of the situation told SBI the CSA will continue to pursue clearance for Jonathan to become eligible for selection. But with Villarreal relegated to the Spanish second division ahead of next season, Jonathan’s club concerns could take precedent for the Toronto-born midfielder, who continues to burn bridges every time he opens his mouth.
Canada is in a similar struggle to convince Blackburn midfielder Junior Hoilett to choose the Canadian national team over both the English and Jamaican national teams.
“He wants to make sure he’s settled in a (club) sense,” Julian said. “In terms of international (play) nothing has been confirmed. He hasn’t been called up to the Dutch national team … and I’m still doing my best to bring him to the Canadian team.”