Jozy Altidore has so far only been listed as questionable for Toronto FC’s season opener, but there is a chance that he could miss more than just the first game of 2016.
Altidore’s availability for Toronto FC’s duel with the New York Red Bulls on March 6 has been up in the air since he sustained a hamstring injury in preseason training earlier this week. The severity of it is not deemed to be very serious, but the Canadian club is still not planning on taking any risks with the 26-year-old forward’s health and is planning to let him take all the time he needs to recover.
Altidore has a history of hamstring injuries, including one he suffered last year, and the last thing the club wants is to have this one linger over the course of the season.
“We’re not going to rush him back to try and get him back by any particular game or at any particular moment,” Toronto FC head coach Gregg Vanney told SBI when asked if Altidore could potentially miss more than one game. “We’ll make sure that whatever the process is, Jozy’s healthy and he’s ready to go and we’re only looking forward once we get going. That’s the intention with all this, so, for me personally, I don’t have a specific timeline on it.
“Everything is very mild about it by nature, but hamstrings are tedious and it’s not something you want to get on the wrong side of and keep having to deal with over and over. We’re going to be cautious, we’re going to make sure that we get him to the right place.”
While Altidore dropped 10 pounds this offseason in order to try and prevent this type of muscular injury, he pulled up lame towards the end of training on Tuesday in Orlando, Florida. Altidore had started and gone the distance in a preseason game against Orlando City just two days prior, and that short turnaround in between the afternoon match and morning practice seems to have played a part in him tweaking his hamstring.
“He played 90 minutes a little more than a full day prior to the session,” said Vanney. “It was really hot. He played 90 minutes, he did a good job. It was more just a preseason (situation) where you’re kind of living on the edge of trying to keep guys past their comfort zone so they can gain fitness and gain sharpness and prepare for the next game and all those kinds of things.
“For him it was just a matter of the recovery was a little bit short from the game. We went into the session, which was a very light session, and he just accelerated one time probably a little more than he needed to accelerate, but it was an opportunity to score a goal that he couldn’t let pass and it just caught him a little bit. Because of the short recovery, we got on the wrong side of that one just a touch, but to me it was more of a product of an unnatural situation, which is preseason.”
Altidore’s preseason may not be ending on a great note because of this injury, but he still made quite the impression on Toronto FC when he was on the field. The star striker had looked good since joining the club following a strong showing in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s annual winter camp, and Vanney has had nothing but positive things to say about Altidore.
“He’s moving nicely, he’s covering ground, he’s sprinting more, he’s doing all the things that we saw with the national team,” said Vanney. “He’s carried that over into us, and he’s been great and fantastic in every aspect in terms of the way he’s approaching everything. The one thing that caught him a little bit just the other day was probably a little bit of an overcommitment, and he really took off for that ball and that’s what ultimately led him to a situation where he’s a little questionable for this opener.
“But he’s been great, he’s been in form, he’s been holding up the ball very well and playing big. We’re pleased with everything that he’s been able to accomplish over the offseason, and the preparation and what he’s done with the national team. We just look forward to getting him healthy and keeping him going.”