Jozy Altidore is clearly going through some problems for Toronto FC, and it should be seen as more than just a slump.
It’s been easy to overlook given how well Toronto FC has started the season, but the loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps brought it right up to the forefront. If there’s one player fans can point to as the worst on the team so far, it’s Jozy Altidore, and his performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps was reminiscent of his days as a Sunderland player.
Despite his role as a striker, he has zero goals on the season. As our own Anthony Gallo wrote, there are a few things he’s done so far that have influenced the game positively, but most fans aren’t pleased by what they’re seeing out of the American.
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) April 16, 2016
Altidore started the calendar year on the right track, and seemed poised to have one of the best seasons of his career. With a Copa America Centenario berth in the back of his mind, Jozy slimmed down and started the US National Team’s first two games against Iceland and Canada, scoring crucial goals in both matches.
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With a lot of important fixtures coming up for his national team, TFC fans were left to wonder if he would give as much effort to please Greg Vanney as he would Jurgen Klinsmann, but they were hopeful that he would play well enough at the club level to reinforce his position in the USMNT’s starting XI.
But at the start of the season, the injury bug caught up to Altidore again, and he was forced to miss time. When he came back, it was easy to pass off his struggles as not being 100%, and Vanney switching to a 4-3-3 in his absence. But even after he was given plenty of time to recover from his preseason injury, and once the team switched back to a more conducive 4-4-2, the goals still weren’t going in.
There are games in which Altidore has looked out of place and visibly frustrated. He had a chance to rectify all of that when he drew a penalty against the Whitecaps and took it, but it was saved, then just moments later he left with a hamstring injury. And with Toronto losing the game by one goal, fans are left to lament that wasted opportunity.
He may provide assists, draw penalties, and draw defenders away from Giovinco and Bradley due to his towering presence, but what his large frame also ensures is slower movement on the ball. It shouldn’t be a coincidence that Toronto started scoring last game once Altidore left and was replaced by the much smaller Mo Babouli. The three goals they scored against the Whitecaps was also their highest output of the season.
As it stands, our goal tally is among the worst in the league, and Giovinco has needed support ever since the start of the season. The defense has been able to help us through our offensive troubles so far, but once they had a bad game, the offense needed to step up. Giovinco’s individual brilliance nearly brought the team all the way back, but if he keeps going through the season with no support, his body will start to break down, and that’s the last thing we need to have happen.
It’s easy to think why Altidore desperately wanted to prove he’s worthy for the Copa America. He left injured during the first game of the 2014 World Cup, then left the 2015 Gold Cup midway through because of the same thing. He may have started the year on the right foot, but with 19 days left until the Copa, you can hardly justify his inclusion on the team over guys like Bobby Wood or Jordan Morris.
Right now, something is clearly wrong with Jozy Altidore. I don’t wish injury on anyone, but if this hamstring keeps him out for a long time, it could be a blessing in disguise for Toronto FC. Even if he is good to go by next game, he should come off the bench, and try to impact the game as a super sub. Because until Altidore or the coaching staff can fix what’s wrong with him, he’s lost his place in the starting XI.