Canada's Julian de Guzman (pictured) in World Cup Qualifying action against host El Salvador on November 17, 2015, in San Salvador. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Canada’s Julian de Guzman has experienced his share of disappointments and thrills over the course of a 14-year international career.
One of the stumbling blocks for his Les Rouges’ side has been achieving consistent success on the road.
Now, though, the 34-year-old midfielder is starting to sense that’s about to change. A 0-0 draw at El Salvador in World Cup Qualifying on Tuesday was a step in an optimistic direction.
“We’re making it tougher and it’s something we have to continue to improve on,” de Guzman said afterwards at the Estadio Cuscatlan, where he became Canada’s most-capped player, making his 85th appearance. “It’s going to be harder now when you go to Mexico and Honduras.”
Before facing El Salvador, the Canadians were winless in their previous four WCQs in Central America (0W-1D-3L), scoring only three goals and conceding 14 during that stretch. The lone draw came at Belize, 1-1, during the previous round of qualifying in September.
Although a win wasn’t the final result, the point will go a long way in Canada’s quest to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
“This game was pretty clear that it was all about suffering,” expressed de Guzman, who was named MVP of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup. “The guys did that. They had a lot of heart. If it wasn’t anything else, the result could have been a lot different.”
The introduction of new and younger players to squad – those not carrying the burden of past performances – has impacted the squad positively, according to de Guzman.
“The guys learned a lot in a game like this, playing in El Salvador was never going to be easy for us,” the Ottawa Fury standout noted. “A lot of these guys, this is new for them. They’ve never experienced anything like this before. I know it’s definitely an eye-opener and I can see them expecting more like this heading into places like Mexico and Honduras.”
Getting a win in either of those two nations will show that Canada has turned more than corner. Maybe some heads will turn in attention as well.
“As long as we continue to improve together, we’ll become a harder team to beat,” finished de Guzman.