Toronto FC are reportedly considering shipping Jozy Altidore out. Any exit for the striker would be a ruthless decision, but it might also be the right one.
Jozy Altidore is one of the premier attacking player in Major League Soccer. He has been throughout his time at Toronto FC, where he has both dominated on an individual level and helped form one of the best attacking units in league history, his physical presence and hold-up play critical to the Reds’ overall approach.
His goalscoring record speaks for itself. He has 56 goals over his five years in Toronto, which is the second-highest in club history. Most impressively, they came over 8,045 minutes, yielding a goal every 143.66 minutes, a tremendous rate over such an extended period of time.
Even more impressively for a number nine, he has 19 assists in that time. It is a great illustration of how his overall impact on Toronto FC’s attacking play extends beyond just the goals that he scores.
But there is a problem. In fact, there are a couple of problems. First, and most recently, Altidore has publicly criticised the club’s handling recent injuries, including his own at the start of last season and Michael Bradley’s this offseason, the latter of which will see the midfielder miss a significant portion of the start of the season after he underwent surgery following an ultimately needless two-month delay. Per Herculez Gomez, Altidore’s outspoken and public criticism of Toronto FC has reportedly moved the club to seek some form of departure.
That some unnecessary, naive but ultimately insignificant public criticism should move Toronto FC to seek an exit is concerning. The Reds should not be so sensitive. I also have some doubts about the accuracy of the reporting. It would be surprising if Greg Vanney and Ali Curtis offloaded their second-best player because he said some critical things.
Nevertheless, there are some issues that do carry more credence regarding an Altidore exit. His wages are problematic. Per the MLS Player’s Association, Altidore earned $6,332,250.04 in 2019 and was the third-highest-paid player in all of MLS last season. He made just 18 starts. As Tom Bogert reports, another MLS general manager admitted that they would have traded Altidore already because of his wages.
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His injury record is something that is worth considering, too. While Altidore’s scoring rate is excellent when he is on the pitch, he simply is not on the pitch enough for his overall, flat-rate impact to be considered DP-level.
Over his five years with Toronto FC, Altidore has started only 54% of regular-season games, playing only 53% of the total number of minutes. He missed the entirety of the MLS Playoffs in 2019, only coming on in the second half of MLS Cup. Now, he did score Toronto’s only goal in MLS Cup, which brilliantly delineates the Altidore tension, but the Reds also overcame New York City FC, Atlanta United and D.C. United without their star striker.
Altidore is a brilliant player and should Toronto truly move on from him, they will have to go some to find a suitable replacement. But he is not Carlos Vela or Josef Martinez or even Sebastian Giovinco. He is not irreplaceable. And selling a very good striker who is earning $6 million per year and taking up a DP slot sure opens up some serious cash to find an improvement.
It would be ruthless. Some would even say it would be wrong. And they might be right. But if Toronto FC were to sell Altidore, it might also be a positive move, however difficult it would be to explain.