3) A case of ‘What if’ in the CONCACAF Champions League
The CONCACAF Champions League is the holy grail for MLS, with none of their clubs having won it since it was introduced in 2008. (In fact, going back to its origins as the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup in 1962, only D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy have ever won any of the tournament’s formats.)
Four times MLS teams have made it to the Champions League final, including Real Salt Lake (2011), CF Montreal (2015) and Los Angeles FC (2020). The other club to make the final was Toronto FC, in 2018.
Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio would finish the tournament as joint top scorers, with four goals each. However, Altidore was just behind them with three of his own.
In one respect, this is deservedly a highlight of the former New York Red Bulls’ time in Toronto, as his outstanding performances played a key role in the run to the final. However, there is also a sense of ‘What if’.
Consider that Altidore suffered an injury early on in the second leg of the semi final against Club América. Although TFC would still advance to the final, the injury was a prelude to how matters would play out versus Chivas Guadalajara.
After losing the first leg of the final 2-1, Toronto FC fell 3-1 behind on aggregate in the 19th minute of the second leg. However, spurred on by Altidore — who scored once — TFC came back to force a penalty shootout, which they lost 4-2.
The ‘What if’ comes in the reality that as well as Altidore played, he was struggling with an injury which eventually forced him off late on. He subsequently underwent surgery to remove bone fragments from his foot.
Admittedly, critics may see this as a reach, but it does make you wonder about how much a fully fit Altidore could have changed the eventual outcome. Regardless, he still had an impressive tournament and proved he could compete with and thrive against the best there was to offer.