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Altidore provided new opportunity to score, drive culture of Toronto FC

Jozy Altidore TFC (USA TODAY Sports)

Photo by Dan Hamilton/ USA Today Sports


For forward Jozy Altidore, the offseason move to Toronto FC was all about chances, both literally and figuratively.

As a member of Sunderland, in-game chances were few and far between for the U.S. Men’s National Team forward. Playing in a team constantly facing a relegation scrap, the opportunity to score goals, quite frankly, wasn’t there, leading the forward to a paltry statline of just one goal in 42 appearances.

The inability to convert the limited opportunities that came his way saw the 25-year-old forward relegated to a highly limited role, as the forward’s games came few and far between as his run with the Premier League side came to a close.

Now a member of TFC, Altidore has been given a new chance, a new opportunity and a new start. Having frequently displayed his talents on the national team, head coach Greg Vanney is looking to replicate that form on the club level. That form, Vanney says, begins with providing Altidore with what he lacked so desperately at Sunderland: opportunity.

“If anything, I’m excited about it,” Altidore said to GOLTV Canada. “I think we’ve done a lot of work in the preseason and everybody’s itching to play. At the same time, we’ll still have some things to workout as the season goes on because it’s a new bunch of guys, but I think the talent is there. There’s a special feeling around the group so I think everybody’s looking forward to that.”

Vanney, quite frankly, is looking forward to utilizing Altidore in the season ahead. While the forward was left bereft of opportunities in England, Vanney says that Altidore will receive chances in bundles this year with TFC.

“For him, it’s no need to really press or feel like he needs to do anything more than he’s fully capable for of doing and for us,” Vanney told SBI. “It’s to just keep giving him opportunities and repetitions in and around the goal and helping him to understand, know and be confident that he will get chances based on how we want to play. All he has to do is show up in the right places at the right time and let his instinct take over because he’s a goalscorer.

“He’s done it plenty of times in his career, so there’s nothing new to it. He’s got a lot of guys who are good providers as well, and that’s part of being a goalscorer is who’s providing that final pass that’s coming, the type of final pass you can finish. He’s got plenty of guys who can do that for him and he’s a hard worker, so he’ll get plenty of opportunities.”

One of the guys tasked with being a provider to Altidore is his U.S. Men’s National Team running-mate, Michael Bradley. Coming off his first season with the club, Bradley has been chosen as the club’s captain, and is now tasked with helping Altidore acclimate to his new side.

That process has been made all the easier by the duo’s relationship, as the pairing of the two has proven fruitful numerous times throughout their international careers. That relationship, Vanney said, was one of the chief reasons the club went out to add the forward in the 2015 offseason.

“That was something that we knew was an added bonus,” Vanney said. “When you look for Designated Players, you want to be as certain as possible when you’re putting resources into those positions and we knew that one of the big reasons with Jozy was the quality of player he is, quality of person he is and that we know with certainty who he is and he’s going to fit in with our group.

“We know his relationship with Michael and a number of things that are already known and that, to me, is priceless.”

That “priceless” relationship is sure to bring certain expectations. Having never been to the MLS Playoffs, TFC are now looking at the USMNT duo to lead the charge into the postseason.

Altidore, for one, is embracing that pressure, citing the fact that he and Bradley have been dealing with those type of expectations since coming up through the ranks as budding prospects.

“The target has been on my back and Mikey’s back since we were 16 or 17 , so it’s nothing new,” Altidore said. “It’s exciting because nobody wants to play where there aren’t expectations. Everybody will be looking at us to see how we perform, so we’re looking forward to it.

In addition to the duo’s on-the-field relationship, Vanney says that the two’s off-the-field work ethic has already proven to be a key cog in an ongoing culture change in Toronto.

Vanney says that the pair, along with fellow DP Sebastian Giovinco, have brought an increased work-ethic and drive to the team, one that Vanney believes is integral in TFC’s build-up to the season.

“You can see off the field that the way the two of them work, in addition to the other guys that we added, they’re all hard workers and they’re all the right personalities that fit together and want to be successful as a group,” Vanney said. “It’s what drives the culture and when all of those guys and all of the veteran guys, when everybody is working, it’s very hard for anybody else that is new to the club to come in and go “I’m going to take the day off”, because nobody in our group takes the day off.

“It helps us to really drive the culture that we’re seeing and those two guys are very important in that.”


  1. We’ll see. This has to be the last stop on the excuse train. I for one am not a believer in Jozy as anything but a hard working player with a wide body and average talent. He scores the ones any professional forward would be expected to score and that’s about it. He does have an huge fan base that will cut him unlimited slack when things aren’t going well.

    As I said, we’ll see. No more excuses though. Put up or shut up

  2. Jozy had one goal in 42 appearances. did half of you guys read that? “tearing it up”? Oh please. Even if he quadruples his output he’ll still suck by any measure. I’ll say it again – Jozy will be a busy this year. No way he get even 12 goals.

    • 1 goal in 40 league apps, 3 goals in 48 total apps (he scored against chelsea for his league goal and against MK dons and Stoke City–a EPL team.) at least use correct stats to bash a player…..

    • He scored 9 goals in 22 games as a 17 year old in this league, and he’s a much better player now. If he stays healthy, he’s a lock to score more than 12.

      • Davis, that’s your stat. Don’t be so arrogant as to think you quick search of Wikipedia is correct. I’m using the stat provided by SBI. Which is always correct.

        Joanie, the league was much different back then. Jozy is better now then he was then? Debatable. He use to play with instinct. He thinks too much now which slows him down. More importantly, the league has improved by leaps and bounds – much more than Jozy has.

  3. So when Toronto doesn’t make the playoffs and Altidore and Bradley stink it up again (don’t use the foot injury argument, he led the World Cup in distance ran) then do we finally get to stick a fork in them at the national team level. I think they are most to blame for holding the U.S. back internationally the last six years.

    • Big Red,

      Yes it should have been EJ and Sacha leading the US these last six years. Or Benny Feilhaber and Conor Casey.or Mo Edu and CJ Sapong or Dax McCarty and Will Bruin or Jose Torres and Teal Bunbury.

      But it wasn’t. Funny how that works out isn’t it?.


    • I agree with you. I do not think Bradley or Altidore are that special but apparently JK does so as long as they are healthy, we will be stuck with them. We really do need to move on though. Throw Dempsey in that group… hes getting up there now

      • “We really do need to move on though. ”


        I need to make more money. I really do. But until I can get someone to pay me more I need to keep wokring my present job.

        When you have better players than Mikey and Jozy available, you just let us all know.

  4. TFC is one of the teams to beat this year, wouldn’t be surprised to see them win 18 games and probably average 25k for home games.

      • Your reaction is what is “predictable”.

        Giovinco should matter more to TFC than Jozy because he is a creative playmaker and a good scorer in his own right.

        He is the man most likely, along with Mikey to make Jozy’s year more successful.

        Those three should, based on their resumes, form a useful attacking spine for TFC.

    • While I agree Defoe is the better striker and goal scorer, Jozy brings you elements Defoe doesn’t. Defoe really just wants to get in behind defenders and make runs. Jozy wants make him self available to combine and bring others into the attack.

      • Altidore is a good striker, good not great. Good at holding the ball up and bringing in other players, but hes simply not a true #9. He just lacks that little bit of quality and instinct that are needed to compete at the highest level. I also think he lacks pace and always seems to be straining really hard when approaching top speed…there is something really unnatural about his game that I can’t quite put my finger on…he is only 25 though and has time on his side.

      • he is only 25 though and has time on his side

        I cringe every time I see this excuse. Unfortunately, we’re running out of years for this to be applicable. The time is now.

      • I agree. Something about the way he runs is goofy/awkward as opposed to goofy/awesome. Ronaldinho, for instance, is goofy/awesome!

      • Joe,

        “he is only 25 though and has time on his side.”

        No he doesn’t. At 25 his game is mostly set, unless he wants to make a positional change.

        For whatever reason all the skill and power and so on that he displayed in Holland was not on display in England.

        All that stuff is still there and can be brought out again but physically, athletically he is not likely to get better; only worse. What should get better is he can get smarter and learn how to make better use of what he has remaining.

        And overall, that could make him a much better player than he has ever been. But he doesn’t have any time to waste.

        Benny Feilhaber, a journeyman, lived off of one great golazo in the 2007 Gold Cup Final vs Mexico for years.
        In the same way, but on the negative side, Jozy’s awful tenure at Sunderland will follow him around for a while. Jozy will need to work long and hard to get the stench off of him.

      • I can’t stand Defoe, honestly. He’s a zero on the defensive end of the ball, and he’s an utterly selfish, shoot-on-sight poacher who gets his but will not pass or combine to save his own life. I always hated playing with guys like that and while they’re occasionally useful when you’re controlling the ball and just can’t get the ball in, for the most part you’re playing with 10 when they’re out there. I understand why he was in and out of the starting lineup for all his various stops and why he never truly stuck with the England squad either. They’re luxury spot guys.

        Yes, yes, I know, he’s “quality”. I’d rather have Altidore. He’s a full-time hoss you can ride, and he’s quietly improved his work ethic across the board. If there’s a lot of holes in Altidore’s game when he’s on and feeling confident, I haven’t seen them…and neither has Klinsmann, who continues to ride him because he’s by a bunch the US’s most-complete striker at the moment. Biggest knock – by a bunch – that you can make on Altidore is, when he struggles, he droops and drops off, just doesn’t have that chip on his shoulder you can’t knock off with a hammer like Dempsey does. When Clint struggles, he gets angry. Altidore…droops, like I said.

      • A selfish poaching striker that scores goals. We haven’t had one of those in…… Ever. If Klinsmann could pick between Defoe and Altidore and so would every coach in the world. And do you really want to talk about riding the bench? Please.

      • I agree with you entirely. Defoe is a very good scorer, but he can be easily marked out of the game entirely by a competent defense, and then you have nothing. Jozy lacks his technical ability and touch, but he can find other ways to make a nuisance of himself and he defends much better.. I’d take Jozy anyday.

      • Defoe scores more goals than Jozy and at a regular pace and everywhere he goes even at TFC.

        He’s all about scoring goals and that is it and you know that if you pick him.

        He and Jozy are very different players. Pick the one that best suits your team. .

        I don’t worry about what a player CAN”T do. I try to think about what he CAN do.

        Teams that hire Defoe, they need goals. It’s that simple.

      • your comments on this thread have been spot on until this one…… had you watched the games Jozy played for Sunderland you would know that Giac rarely played when Jozy did and vice versa. a couple times Giac was subbed in for Jozy and Borini would move into the center. just because both players are on the roster doesn’t mean they play on the field at the same time a lot…..

        carry on tho…

      • and the few times they did play at the same time they linked up well. Jozy likes mids that move off of him when he has the ball which only Giac and Borini did generally. in Giac’s first season he was rarely used and only gained minutes as Jozy was losing minutes and connor was taking his place.

    • Del, FWIW Jozy scored in their preseason game (vs costa rica u23…) off a Gio cross. i think the hope is that Gio will make them better but the “them” includes jozy so it all works out.

  5. Do we feel sorry for TFC and root for them to make the playoffs ? Or just be mean about it and relish the tradition year after year ?

    • I genuinely do feel sorry for their fans. Appears they have fantastic support, but I feel no sympathy for a club that has got it wrong so many times in so many capacities.

      With that said, my biased opinion is they’re heading the right direction. Mainly because I want to see Altidore and Bradley do well.

      • Say what you want about their club form and European experience, but both of these guys were top-five players for the USMNT the last cycle, and the team really missed Altidore when he wasn’t there and Bradley’s foot injury was pretty glaring when you saw his lead-footed touch in the World Cup…he just wasn’t himself, understandable when the guy couldn’t feel his foot.

        Unless they just totally tank it, it’s hard to not see them tearing it up with TFC. That franchise – and frankly, the league – could well use it. Toronto’s too important a market and fanbase to see them do their annual march to futility.

      • I wonder if having Bradley on the team will help Altidore. Not just as someone who can feed the ball and help control the midfield, but the psyche of Altidore. Bradley is a friend, but I can see him pushing Altidore with the right amount of support and fire. Bradley is a leader, and perhaps a friend like Bradley is just the person to push Altidore to be his best week in and week out. It would be great to see Altidore in AZ Alkmaar form!

      • Jozy doesn’t need any friends.

        He needs service from an attacking scheme like he had at AZ.

        If Mikey really wants to be Jozy’s “friend” that is what he will do for him.

      • O.S.- If you look at their recent seasons they gained point each season finishing 8 points out of the playoffs this year. so sure they have historically never made the playoffs but recently they’ve been making good strides towards that goal.

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