Julian de Guzman ready to face teammates when Canada plays Panama

de Guzman says familiarity with Perez, Rodriguez helpful

Julian de Guzman will see some familiar faces on the opposite bench tonight at BMO Field when Canada hosts Panama in a World Cup qualifier.

De Guzman’s FC Dallas teammates Blas Perez and Carlos Rodriguez will suit up for the Panama side as the two nations begin a home and home set of matches that concludes Tuesday.

“It’s an advantage for myself to be part of Dallas and have two guys from Panama involved,” de Guzman said before he left for Toronto earlier this week. “Hopefully we can use that.”

Panama currently leads their respective group with six points with Canada second with four points. Honduras has one point from a 0-0 draw at BMO Field in Toronto earlier this year and Cuba has no points.

De Guzman said Panama is a very strong team and it’s crucial to play well at home in Toronto against them.

“They are probably the favorites in our group,” de Guzman said. “It will be the toughest match we have ahead of us at home and on the road.”

De Guzman will make his 58th appearance for the Canadian National Team on Friday night. He has 53 starts and four goals for Canada.

De Guzman is in Toronto for the first time since being traded this summer to FC Dallas. The midfielder said he was looking forward to returning and had no concerns in the aftermath of his trade.

“It’s always good to play in your hometown whether it’s your club or your national team,” de Guzman said.

De Guzman said he’s not too concerned about the high amount of travel he’ll be doing with qualifying underway and the final months of the MLS season occurring.

He said he’s figured out a routine to make sure he stays fresh and fit.

“You find the time to recover in between matches and flights,” de Guzman said. “It’s a balance of playing with your club and your country and being able to be sharp at all moments.”