Heber, Jozy Altidore both absent from starting XI for Toronto FC, NYCFC playoff game

Jozy Altidore – Toronto FC – disgruntled look

When the opening whistle blew for Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference Semifinal in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, some star attacking talent was absent from both Toronto FC and New York City FC.

TFC and US men’s national team striker Jozy Altidore did not make the 18-man roster, while Heber started on the bench for the Cityzens at Citi Field. The match was moved from Yankee Stadium due to conflicts resulting from the New York Yankees’ trip to the American League Championship Series.

Without Altidore, Toronto turned to fellow Designated Player Alejandro Pozuelo to lead the attack. That approach led to a 5-1 victory over D.C. United in Round One, as the Reds bagged four goals in extratime.

Altidore has been out with a quadriceps injury, while another injury concern has been alleviated some. Center back Omar Gonzalez (hamstring) is on the bench for Greg Vanney’s squad.

As for Heber, head coach Dome Torrent was optimistic at training this week that the Brazilian striker could feature at some point. Without him, the East’s No. 1 seed still has the likes of Maxi Moralez, Taty Castellanos and Alexandru Mitrita as danger-men in the final third.

NYCFC had a first-round bye for this single-elimination fixture, and last played Oct. 6 for Decision Day presented by AT&T. Should Heber be good to go, he’d bring impressive form (15 goals, four assists) from the 2019 season.

But the absences of Altidore and Gonzalez did not matter as Toronto beat NYCFC 2-1.