Toronto FC: Considering the relevance of Jozy Altidore’s criticism

Nov 3, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto FC head coach Javier Perez greets forward Jozy Altidore after substituting him against Pacific FC in the second half of the Canadian Championship semi-final at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 3, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto FC head coach Javier Perez greets forward Jozy Altidore after substituting him against Pacific FC in the second half of the Canadian Championship semi-final at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Jozy Altidore mentioned behind-the-scenes issues with Toronto FC during a media call on Tuesday, but was it necessary and/or relevant?

Toronto FC fans will always have fond memories of Jozy Altidore, by virtue of him scoring what was essentially the winning goal to clinch the club’s first ever MLS Cup. He is second on the all-time scoring charts and created a lot of memories during his seven years with the Reds.

However, it was tough to focus on this during a media call on Tuesday, when Altidore criticised how the club was run. It was not expected, on a day he was theoretically going to just talk about the good times in Toronto.

In this respect, Altidore did stress how special the city and the fans are. He said he will never forget his time in Southern Ontario and it will always be home.

With this in mind, it raises several questions about his comments regarding behind-the-scenes issues. Why not go into more detail? Why bring it up now? Why mention it at all? What is the relevance of it moving forward?

Let’s consider some of Altidore’s comments. As per Sportsnet, he started off by saying:

"“It’s been a weird couple of years, with Covid and everything that’s been going on. A lot of things behind the scenes made being around Toronto not as fun as it used to be, but these things happen in sports you know. You get to situations where things just over time change and that’s life.”"

In fairness, the opening salvo doesn’t sound too bad. After all, there are plenty of people who would agree with this in a general sense, considering how negatively COVID-19 impacted businesses all around the world.

However, Altidore was only just getting warmed up. He continued by saying:

"“You know I was very honest with you guys during my time in Toronto. There’s a lot of things that you guys don’t know about. Certain things that are kept hidden for certain people. In the end that’s not my job to uncover, so I’m not in any way bitter; I’m very happy about my time there.”"

This is where it starts to get a little dicey, just by virtue of the saying that perception is reality. However, it is important to remain objective and simply just ask questions and consider the possible angles.

In this respect, if Altidore is happy about his time in Toronto, why allude to issues behind the scenes? Is this not the definition of someone who is bitter?

On the flip side, perhaps this is more about looking out for people who did have to contend with problems in the working environment. Maybe the 32-year-old just wants a better setup for his former teammates.

Altidore then continued to press on his point about having no personal issues with the club, but essentially saying others might have. He said:

"“There will never be bad blood for me, but there is definitely a lot of things that have happened there that just aren’t talked about, or brought to the surface. I think that’s why it weighed on some guys who had been there for a long time.”"

It should be noted that Altidore did continually interject positive comments about the club throughout his media call. Once again though, it’s tough to focus on this when considering his criticisms.

Regardless, it is intriguing to consider which players the U.S. international is referring to. In terms of the current roster, Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio come to mind.

Starting with Bradley — assuming he is one of the guys Altidore is alluding to — you imagine it helps that his father is now in charge in Toronto. It is evident they have a close relationship.

As for Osorio, TFC exercised their contract option to bring him back for the coming season. He holds the club record for most appearances and they clearly think a lot of him.

However, it is conceivable that the midfielder is one of the players Altidore is referencing. If true — and we’re not stating it is — combine this with his desire to play in Europe at some point, and there’s every chance 2022 will be his last season with Toronto FC.

The last comments Altidore made about the issues behind the scenes were particularly intriguing. As per Sportsnet, he said:

"“There were some instances (in) 2020. There were just some moments where, you guys know me in Toronto how I am — I’m very honest with you — and there were some things that happened behind the scenes that you just can’t unsee. I don’t want to say forgive, but when certain ways — how you live, how you see life, how you see going to work, morals — when those things aren’t the same anymore within a working environment, I think it’s time to call it a day. I think that’s what happened in Toronto in some ways with different instances on a couple/few occasions. Like I said, it makes it tough to go out on the field and play; it makes it tough to go out on the field and fight, and do those things you want to do when you’re no longer aligned in those aspects. That was difficult because it was such a great ride there, but these things happen in life.”"

While being an extensive piece of text to read, it was important to include it all. Altidore comes across as someone who is walking a very fine line between telling the media exactly what happened behind the scenes (in his perception) and not divulging information which could get him or others into any kind of trouble.

Again, just on the basis of Altidore’s overall comments during his call with the Toronto media, it’s a challenging situation to get to the bottom of. How much of his criticism about TFC is relevant to the club specifically — or full stop — versus how much of it is a byproduct of the COVID-19 ramifications in general?

In terms of the former, we know Sebastian Giovinco has had his own issues with club. More specifically, when he left following the 2018 season and then recently, when there was some confusion/contradiction over whether it was the club or player who decided to move on in a different direction.

Turning to the latter, a lot of people have had problems which were more impacted by the mandates brought in due to COVID-19, rather than how a business was being run. Companies everywhere were compromised, essentially adapting and learning on the fly with no relevant prior experience to lean on.

Ultimately, there will understandably be a mixture of opinions based on what Altidore said on Tuesday and whether he should have mentioned the behind-the-scenes issues at all. Regardless, what’s important, is what this means for Toronto FC moving forward.

For example, if there have been problems with how the club has been run at times, they have hopefully learned from this. As mentioned earlier, it can only help that TFC now has a new head coach and sporting director to oversee things.

On the flip side, if these apparent issues were more a result of COVID-19, it would seem we are now over the worst of it and beginning to see the world return to normal. As such, it’s tough to envision a situation where the environment doesn’t improve.

Overall, we may never know for sure what was apparently happening behind the scenes at Toronto FC. One thing that is clear though, is that Altidore moving on was best for everyone concerned.

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What is your take on Altidore’s criticism of Toronto FC? Was it necessary? Are you concerned what he is alluding to will be a lingering issue moving forward? Let us know in the comments section below.