Jozy Altidore was nearly unstoppable during the playoffs last season, but can he continue to perform at a similar level for Toronto FC in 2017?
Things couldn’t have started much worse for Jozy Altidore in 2016. Once again affected by ongoing injury issues, the criticism only intensified as he went scoreless through his first nine appearances of the season for Toronto FC.
Yes, forwards are meant to score goals, but in some respects, the criticism was unfair. While Altidore wasn’t putting any chances away himself, arguably the best target man in MLS was busy setting up his teammates.
Time and time again, the Livingston, New Jersey native used his strength to hold up the ball and bring the rest of the team into the action. Throw in his defensive work, movement and overall effort, and at least those who really mattered appreciated what he was doing.
Fortunately for Altidore and Toronto FC, things eventually turned around in respect of his own production – and in a big way. He caught fire, going on to score 10 goals and add three assists through his final 14 games of the regular season.
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However, even this was nothing compared to what the former New York Red Bull did during the playoffs. Even though TFC ultimately fell just short, his contribution of five goals and four assists in six postseason games was sensational.
Of course, you can bet the critics still won’t be satisfied. In that respect, does the second half of last season really represent a coming out party for Altidore?
Certainly the signs are positive for a player who showed enough potential to be drafted 17th overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. It also helps that he is playing on a team filled with talent, including a certain diminutive player who wears the number 10 shirt.
In truth, the only thing that can stop Altidore from continuing to dominate in MLS, is his aforementioned injury setbacks. More specifically, he has a history of battling with hamstring problems.
This led to the US International deciding to undertake a new training regime and diet ahead of the 2016 season. If nothing else, this shows he is determined to do everything possible to overcome the issue and become more effective.
In truth, Altidore has already proved he can be extremely productive when he is on the pitch. Consider that he also scored 13 goals in just 21 starts, during his debut season with Toronto FC in 2015.
Overall, the 27-year old can definitely continue to build on his success from last season, as he enters his prime. However, his biggest challenge to this won’t be anyone on the opposing teams – it will be his own durability.
What are you predicting for Altidore this coming season? Do you believe he will continue where he left off in 2016, or do fans need to temper their expectations? Share your thoughts in the comments section.