TORONTO – Redemption is a temperamental thing.
Sometimes, it takes a while before the chance to earn it returns. At other times, the opportunity comes right away.
The latter was the case for Jozy Altidore on Wednesday night when he scored the first hat trick of his Toronto FC career in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second leg of the 2018 Canadian Championship.
Altidore's goals were the difference in the match and the series, with Toronto winning 7-4 on aggregate to lift a third straight Voyageurs Cup and their seventh all-time.
Just days earlier, in league play vs. New York City FC on Sunday, Altidore saw red, sent off after only 11 minutes, putting his side and their playoff aspirations in jeopardy. Despite a herculean effort, TFC fell 3-2.
But come the final, amends would be made.
Getting onto the end of a deft behind-the-back slipped ball from Marky Delgado, Altidore would open the scoring in the 39th minute, leaping the advertising boards to celebrate with the fans in BMO Field’s South End.
Four minutes after the restart, Altidore would add his second and Toronto's third of the night, redirecting a ball in from a Sebastian Giovinco cross. And in the 53rd minute, the trio would be completed with a textbook near-post header from a Giovinco corner kick, with Altidore counting off the goals with his fingers in celebration.
The halftime break was longer than the time it took for Altidore to score on a header, right foot, and left knee.
The performance was not unexpected. At BMO Field, Altidore has a track record of stepping up when the game is on the line, whether it be in the Canadian Championships, the MLS Cup Playoffs, or the Concacaf Champions League.
“The bigger the game, the bigger the Jozy,” said Greg Vanney post-match. “In every one of these finals, Jozy has stepped up and played a huge role in the outcome. Tonight, no different … He was fantastic, in his finishes, but also in his ability to hold up, link play and help us play in possession the way we played.
“Not surprised at all,” added Vanney. “That's just who he is; he wanted to make a statement tonight.”
Altidore, having let his play do the talking, was not available post-match, having left the celebrations prematurely “because he was not feeling great,” according to Vanney.
It was a night that exhibited “exactly what kind of character [Jozy] is,” explained Tosaint Ricketts, scorer of TFC's final goal.
“After the [NYCFC] game, he told us, 'I'm sorry guys, I'll make it up to you,'” relayed Ricketts, who added the fifth goal to seal the night. “He showed that tonight, came out with massive performance.”
Added Ashtone Morgan: “So happy the big man could get some goals. The attack was flawless today; bounce back from the weekend and continue on.”
Not only did Altidore's heroics help claim a trophy on the night, but it guaranteed TFC would have a shot at further redemption in the Champions League, where, having lost this year’s final on penalty kicks to Chivas Guadalajara, there is some unfinished business to attend to.
That opportunity, however, is of a different sort: It must wait.
“Not yet, it's a step towards that,” said Jonathan Osorio, who made his 200th appearance in all competitions for TFC on Wednesday night. “Redemption isn't until we get back to Concacaf, handle business there and get to the final. That's redemption.”