Jozy Altidore scores on his return to Toronto FC, BMO Field: "It’s a little bit of a fairytale"

It was a script that almost couldn't have been written more perfectly.

Finally back in Toronto and finally back in front of fans at BMO Field, Jozy Altidore made his triumphant return to Toronto FC by coming off the bench to score a goal.

It was his first appearance and first goal since a rift with then-head coach Chris Armas led to the veteran forward training alone nearly two months ago.

Altidore returned to full team training on Monday and was back on the scoresheet by the weekend in a 1-1 draw against Orlando City SC Saturday night. It was the first time Toronto FC played at BMO Field in front of fans since March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic escalated.

That Toronto FC didn’t celebrate all three points is the only thing that didn’t make it perfect.

“It’s a little bit of a fairytale for him to come back and the first game back home he scores that goal,” Toronto FC interim manager Javier Perez said after the match. “I wish we had that goal leading us into the three points, but I think for him it's a good starting point to retake his time with the team.”

Altidore called fans returning to BMO Field “amazing,” while the goal celebration in front of the South Stand signified “a big relief to be home.”

Altidore’s name was chanted throughout the night, with a loud ovation emerging when he came off the substitute’s bench just past the hour mark.

“For me, it just goes to show what's real is real man,” Altidore said. “You can't fool people, maybe for a couple days, but in the end, and especially in a blue-collar city like this, they know what the real is. At the end of the day, they know what I'm all about. They know what I'm here for, why I came here and I'm always gonna put the team first and play for that. They give us a lift like no other.”

As for his goal, a back-post header that put Toronto FC ahead in the 72nd minute, Altidore said it came right off the training ground and credited winger Yeferson Soteldo, who he called “a special player.”

“I kind of had a feeling it was coming far post, but the timing of the ball from Soteldo, I think makes the goal,” Altidore said. “If you see when he plays the ball to Justin \[Morrow] in full stride and full sprint, and all Justin has to do is play it across. These little plays you sense what a player is all about. I think that’s what makes the goal, is Soteldo’s patience there and to play the ball at the right time to Morrow to let him cross that ball.”

Altidore celebrated the goal with the fans and with Alejandro Pozuelo on his back.

"We know the important player that is Jozy for us. He helps a lot to the team," Pozuelo said. "You see when he comes to the pitch he gives to the team something extra. … He helps a lot to this team. We need him. We know he wants to play here, he loves the team, he loves Toronto. I have a good relationship with him. We are here together now, we can play together so we can enjoy."

Altidore said the focus now shifts to Wednesday when the crowd’s attendance (it was 7,000 Saturday night) will more than double when his former team, the New York Red Bulls, comes to BMO Field.

“The fact that we get 15,000 on Wednesday it's incredible,” Altidore said. “So we're excited for that. And hopefully they can help lift us to three points.”