Rudi Schuller: Quit playing games with Canadian hearts

The "will he or won't he" saga of Jonathan de Guzman's international future - and those like him - needs to end, for the sanity of Canadian fans everywhere.
Like a lyric taken straight out of a formulaic 90's boy band love song, Canadian fans have one simple message for potential national team players currently sitting on the fence about suiting up in the red and white: Quit playing games with our hearts.

The latest letdown comes courtesy of Jonathan de Guzman, the Scarborough, Ontario-born attacking midfielder who represented the Netherlands at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. De Guzman has spent the past several months teasing ever-hopeful Canadian fans with the prospect of donning the Maple Leaf alongside older brother Julian, only to have crushed those hopes earlier this week when he announced that, in fact, he would still be pursuing his Dutch dreams.

It may not have been the most surprising announcement - the sheer amount of paperwork and legal wrangling required to get the younger de Guzman eligible to represent his birth nation still stacked the odds against a brotherly reunion on the pitch - but both the timing and method of the 24-year-old's message left much to be desired.

Just like Junior Hoilett at last Sunday's Canada-USA friendly, de Guzman was in Toronto to visit family and decided to take in Canada's World Cup Qualifying match versus Honduras at BMO Field on Tuesday night.

It made sense - after all, Jonathan is on hiatus from the European season and Julian is still an integral part of the Canadian side - but Jonathan had to know that he would be recognized and asked about his international future.

And he was, on both counts.

To his credit, the younger de Guzman was straightforward and candid in his response, but a big "thanks but no thanks" by the talented midfielder delivered during a Canadian World Cup Qualifier just smacks of bad public relations.

To make matters worse, Jonathan was wearing Maple Leaf-adorned Canada apparel - a limited edition jacket released as part of the Canadian Soccer Association's 100th anniversary celebrations - at the time of his public re-committal to Holland.

Needless to say, the visual of the former Feyenoord and Mallorca star turning down his birth country - again - while sporting its colours has not been received too kindly in the Canadian soccer community, with countless angry messages and tweets being bandied about in the social media universe.

It's created a ridiculous spectacle over what should have been a simple issue settled months ago, and it's nearly overshadowed Canada's best start to the semifinal round of World Cup Qualification in a decade.

And, apparently, it's not over yet.


On Thursday morning at Toronto FC training, Julian was asked by a reporter about Jonathan's latest proclamation, to which the TFC midfielder chuckled while suggesting that de Guzman the younger might actually be bluffing.

Yes, bluffing.

If this is some sort of elaborate in-joke that only Jonathan finds funny, then it needs to stop immediately, because many fans have already declared their wishes that the younger de Guzman stay as far away from the Canadian side as he can, whether he still actually wants to be there or not.

Perhaps Julian and Jonathan need to talk to each other more so they can both relay the same message. Either way, this sort of "will he or won't he" drama detracts from what's really important: getting Canada back to a World Cup with one de Guzman, or two.

Rudi Schuller is the Chief Editor of Canada.