Toronto FC: The impact of Jozy Altidore

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 22: Jozy Altidore
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 22: Jozy Altidore /

Jozy Altidore has been an absolute treasure for Toronto FC, forming a lethal partnership with Sebastian Giovinco in attack these past two seasons.

Ever since arriving from Sunderland in 2015, Altidore has put his playing career back together by establishing himself as a prominent striker in the MLS. The 28-year-old has scored 38 goals in just three seasons with Toronto FC.

Altidore has been cashing in on Toronto’s dominant play in 2017, amassing 15 goals and six assists during the regular season. Finishing is a critical part of his game and he knows it, averaging close to three shots per game.

The former product of Athletic Bilbao also distributes the ball with ease. He averages two key passes per game, along with a 71.7 percent passing success rate. He has notched 15 assists (including the playoffs) over the past two seasons.

Even though some might be doubtful of Altidore’s play defensively, his recent form in Toronto’s own end suggests he is trying to improve. In the playoff tie with the New York Red Bulls, the 28-year-old was very effective in using his body to win possession back. He also did a brilliant job clearing away the endless amount of Red Bull crosses.

Altidore was a masterpiece in the playoffs last season. His five goals and four assists in just six contests suggest so. TFC’s MLS Final appearance likely doesn’t happen without his presence.

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What will catch the Reds and Altidore is his discipline.

Altidore’s numbers haven’t been so hot as of late, especially in the two playoff matches. Jozy hasn’t notched a goal or assist in two contests, which seems strange for a player of his caliber. His attempts at goal and his all around play show he’s trying, but the frustration is definitely there.

It looks as if Altidore let his emotions get to him, with United States teammate in Sacha Kljestan.

It all started with a shove from Kljestan in the 36th minute that Altidore humorously exaggerated. Unless Kljestan has supernatural strength within the tips of his fingers, then 2006 17th overall draft pick shouldn’t have even hit the turf.

Fans and players alike could only feel embarrassment for Altidore. It was obvious he was trying to get the New York skipper booked, but Toronto FC could’ve put New York to rest in many different — and better — ways.

Then the tensions escalated in the tunnels during halftime:

Obviously, there isn’t much of a verdict on how the altercation started based off the video. Head coach Greg Vanney believes Altidore was ambushed, according to ESPN FC:

"“We’ve lost [Altidore] as of now,” Vanney said. “There’s video footage I think of what happened in the tunnel. From my estimation and from what I’ve heard, Jozy basically got ambushed in the tunnel and we’ll see where that goes."

Regardless of what happened, Altidore and Kljestan were both shown a red before they even hit the pitch, meaning the TFC striker will miss the first leg against the Columbus Crew.

The first leg is away Mapfre Stadium in Ohio. Altidore’s absence only makes the crucial away goal even harder to achieve.

The squad still isn’t back to full health, which could be even worse for the Reds. Victor Vazquez might not be at 100 percent yet, and Drew Moor got taken off in the second leg with the potential re-aggravation of his injury.

Vanney might have to switch up the formation for the first leg. The value of the 3-5-2 TFC runs diminishes rather quickly, once he isn’t in the XI.

With Giovinco also set to miss the first leg after picking up two yellow cards in the previous round, Vanney could put Vazquez up top with Tosaint Ricketts and start Jonathan Osorio in the midfield. Or, we might just see the Reds alter the formation entirely.

The effect that Altidore has on Toronto FC is usually positive. Yet, his poor decision might come back to haunt the Reds in the end.

Next: TFC survive the surge of the Red Bulls

Is the loss of Altidore really that big of a deal for Toronto FC heading into Columbus? What was your take on the incident? Let us know in the comments below.