SEATTLE — Jozy Altidore could have kept his comments vague when asked about how close he was to recovering from his recent thigh injury to play a part in Sunday’s MLS Cup final.
The U.S. Men’s National Team striker chose instead to be candid, and on Thursday he revealed that he is still working his way back with just three days to go before Sunday’s final.
“I haven’t played any soccer in a month. That’s where I’m at,” Altidore said on Thursday. “I’m trying to jog, trying to change pace. and trying to do those types of things, but like I said I have to let the muscle heal first or else you put yourself at risk.”
Altidore has been sidelined for more than a month with a quadriceps strain suffered in Toronto FC’s regular-season finale against the Columbus Crew.
TFC has managed well without Altidore, with Alejandro Pozuelo making a seamless transition to a false nine role, and spearheading the TFC attack to playoff wins against D.C. United, New York City FC and Atlanta United.
Altidore has two more days to try and take part in training with TFC, but as things stand, it seems highly unlikely Altidore has the necessary fitness level to start, and could find himself racing against time to even be able to contribute off the bench.
“”I still have to progress, and there’s still things like kicking the ball,” Altidore said. “It sounds silly, but there’s still things that I have to do. This type of injury is tricky. I’m trying my very best, doing everything I can. We’re all hoping — I’m hoping — that I can play some sort of part in the game.”
Altidore’s presence at the top of TFC’s attack would provide far different challenges for Seattle than Pozuelo would as the lead striker. Pozuelo’s movement and unpredictability has troubled opposing defenses in the false nine role, while Altidore would provide a stronger hold-up game for TFC attackers to play off of.
“Whether Jozy plays or not, we’ll be prepared,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmester said. “It’s the last game. This is it. It’s the last game of the year — I expect him to be involved in some way.”
Could Altidore be overstating his injury status in attempt to throw off Seattle? The USMNT striker insists his comments were a very real account of his current physical condition.
“I’m not telling you (any) false truths or anything like that,” Altidore said. “I’m actually being vey candid, and that’s where I am. I’m not happy about it, but it is what it is.”