It’s been a difficult season for Jozy Altidore, who has spent more time sidelined due to injuries than on the field for Toronto FC.

The Reds have also endured a frustrating campaign as one of three Eastern Conference teams already eliminated from Audi MLS Cup Playoffs contention.

There’s not much left to play for in 2021, outside of the Canadian Championship and being a spoiler for other teams’ playoff hopes.

That’s especially the case when it comes to CF Montréal and Altidore continued to be a thorn in the side of their Canadian Classique foe, scoring the late equalizer in a 1-1 draw Saturday night at BMO Field.

Altidore’s free kick deep into second-half stoppage time, coupled with other results, have put CF Montréal below the playoff line with three games remaining.

And the US men’s national team legend relishes playing the villain – again. He's scored 13 times against CFM, the most of any opponent during a pro career that began in 2006 with the New York Red Bulls.

“Obviously whether it was Montréal, doesn't matter who it was, we were going to try to give our best, especially at home, but obviously it feels a bit sweeter when you slow Montréal down a bit,” Altidore said after the match. “That never gets old.”

It was Altidore’s third goal of the season after scoring twice last year while also battling injuries. But the 31-year-old forward said he’s playing without pain for the first time in a long time since foot surgery in mid-August.

“I just want to play. I missed the game. I'm just disappointed about how this year has gone, and you know, I'll be the first guy to tell you it's disappointing. But nobody is running away from anything,” Altidore said. “We take all the criticism on the chin and rightly so, but you know, there's more here. I'm a firm believer in that. People will come up with their pitchforks but that's part of the business. I just feel better, man. Like I told you, to run and move around without pain, it just feels amazing, because it's been a while. I'm just very, very happy and I just thank God for that.”

Toronto FC have three regular-season games remaining and a Canadian Championship semifinal against Pacific FC ahead. There’s plenty of chances for a refreshed Altidore to make an impact in 2021.

“Now we have to keep building up on that. I think his quality is undeniable. His quality is right there, and I think he can be the player that he was before,” TFC interim manager Javier Perez said. "Again, I think it's been a really difficult year for him, being out with a lot of rhythm that has been cut out of his training or his games. When I first was in charge, I thought he was going to come back. Then he got the injury, and he's been out for a long time.”