CHICAGO – He won’t come out and say it, but Jozy Altidore might just be in the best form of his life.
The Toronto FC and US national team striker is fully fit, fully healthy and, perhaps most importantly, fully happy. He feels centered off the field, and he’s in the midst of a year-long tear on it. Since returning last July from a hamstring injury that kept him out of nine games in the middle of the 2016 season, Altidore has 24 goals and 12 assists in 39 regular-season and playoff appearances for TFC.
For the 2017 MLS All-Star, who scored two goals in three knockout round games to help the US to their recent Gold Cup title, the hot run is more about life off the field than any work being done on it.
“I get this question every year, I feel like,” he said Monday after being asked if he felt like he’s in the best form of his career. “I’m just happy. I’m enjoying my soccer, I’m enjoying my life off the field, and that’s the biggest thing for me. My life off the field is in order and I think for me, when I’m in a happy place there, I think the rest kind of takes care of itself.”
Altidore’s current run of form is only rivaled on the Reds by fellow All-Star and 2015 MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco, who has 24 goals and 17 assists in regular season and playoff action since Altidore returned from injury. It’s the striker’s most productive stretch since he tore up the Dutch league with 39 goals and eight assists in 67 Eredivisie matches with AZ Alkmaar from 2011-2013, and it’s a big reason why Toronto FC have been so excellent – they’re 20-5-12 in the regular season since he returned from that hamstring issue – over the last calendar year.
For the 27-year-old Altidore, the run has been a part of a period of significant growth. He noted that he moved to Toronto just after the birth of his child, and that the city is the first in North America that he’s lived in as an adult.
He’s changed since moving to Ontario in January 2015, and he and his club are reaping the rewards of his development this season.
“I’ve been blessed to play in an amazing city with some very good players,” Altidore said. “It hasn’t been easy, it’s definitely been tough at times, but I think we’ve fought through most of the difficult parts. Now we’re enjoying the benefits of what it’s like to play in a major city for a great ownership group that’s really behind the team.”