UPDATE, 1:45 pm ET MONDAY: Jozy Altidore rained on his coach and team's optimism about his prospects for participation in MLS Cup when he addressed reporters at BMO Training Ground on Monday.
“It’s been a while, at this point it will take a little bit of a miracle to be out there on Sunday, but that’s where I am," said Altidore. "I’ve just got to keep trying to get myself there.”
“It’s just time. Time is not on your side.”
TORONTO – Will he be ready in time?
The striker was injured in TFC’s Decision Day presented by AT&T victory over Columbus Crew SC on October 6 and has missed all three playoff matches thus far. With 2019 MLS Cup set for next Nov. 10 (3 pm ET | ABC, Univision, TUDN, TVAS, TSN), "Jozy Watch" continues.
On Saturday, he was again training separately from the main group.
“We hope, within the next few days,” said Greg Vanney of the timeline for Altidore to rejoin the rest of the squad. “We’ve got eight more days to get him going. The more fitness and high-speed running that we can get him, the more prepared he’ll be. We can push back striking for a few more days.”
“Really it’s about his physical fitness, his health, and his ability to sprint,” Vanney continued. “As a forward you’ve got to be able to make that game-changing moment. The better fitness we can give him, the more minutes he’ll be capable of playing. That’s what we’re focusing on right now. We hope by middle of the week – Tuesday, Wednesday – he will be back fully.”
Altidore did not travel to Atlanta with the team for the Eastern Conference Final, instead joining them later as he got another MRI.
“The MRI is one indicator, the second is how he’s feeling. When you put that together he just wasn’t quite there yet. We felt like we might win the game, so waited for this one,” quipped Vanney in hindsight. “I would like to say that was true, but that’s not necessarily true.”
With Altidore constantly a few days away, was that refrain gamesmanship or optimism?
“It was always going to be a stretch,” admitted Vanney, detailing that the issue was not necessarily more problematic than first thought and inserting some medical terminology to the process: the edema, in this case blood in the area, obscured the severity of the injury. “The edema was relatively significant. When it went away, it wasn’t an insignificant quad strain.”
“We also need reliability,” Vanney added. “We can’t put a guy out on the field and then have to sub him. Every sub, every move so far in this postseason has been so important to the result of the game.”
The countdown is on.
“We’ve been able to win as much time as we could – we’re in the final now,” leveled Vanney. “I feel like he’ll be ready to go.”