SEATTLE — Will he or won't he?
That's been the question asked of Jozy Altidore all playoffs as Toronto FC's star forward has been rehabbing a quad injury since Decision Day and hasn't been able to play a minute of these Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. Every day, Altidore is working to get back, but his status for MLS Cup on Sunday against the Seattle Sounders (3 pm ET | ABC, Univision, TUDN, TSN, TVAS) is still very much up in the air.
"I don't know," Altidore told reporters Thursday when asked if he'll be able to play. "I still have to progress, there's still things like kicking the ball — which sounds silly — that I have to do. This type of injury is tricky. I'm trying my very best, I'm doing everything I can. We're all hoping, I'm hoping, to play some part in the game."
Head coach Greg Vanney dove a bit deeper.
"We've extended the timeframe for as long as we possibly can, we've kept him in a safe controlled space this whole time and tried to ramp him up as we go," Vanney told MLSsoccer.com. "Now that we're here, we'll put him out to play soccer. Really it's a question of how he feels when he really starts playing. I don't have an answer to that, I don't know what that's going to entail, but he's done the work to get himself to that point. We'll see how he does in training tomorrow, and hopefully Saturday, then we'll make a decision then."
The USMNT striker continues to rehab but still has a ways to go and not a ton of time to keep healing.
"I haven't played any soccer in a month, so, that's where I'm at," Altidore said. "I'm trying to jog, I'm trying to change pace, do those type of things. I have to let the muscle heal first. I'm not telling you false truths or anything, I'm being very candid. I'm not happy about it, but it is what it is."
In Altidore's absence, natural attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo has stepped forward to play as a de facto false nine. It's not his typical position, but he has been productive nonetheless, with two goals and two assists over three playoff games. He doesn't mind the role, either.
"We know that Jozy hasn't been able to play in the playoffs, but he's an important player for Toronto FC," Pozuelo said through a translator. "I've been playing as a false nine, I kind of like that position because I can roam around and have the freedom to run in behind. But we know Jozy brings a lot of quality to the team, if he's not able to play on Sunday, I'll do my best to help the team."
TFC have good news by way of Omar Gonzalez, who also has yet to debut this postseason due to an injury, though was an unused substitute in each of the last two rounds. The defender says he's been in full training with the team for more than a week and is ready to go on Sunday if head coach Greg Vanney gives him the nod.
"I'm feeling good. ... Ultimately, it's Greg's decision who is going to step on the field," Gonzalez said. "I know we're all going to be ready. I'm ready, Laurent [Ciman] is ready. Ultimately it's up to Greg."