TORONTO – Could Jozy Altidore be making his return to Major League Soccer?
That’s the rumor as of late, with reports linking Toronto FC, the Portland Timbers and the New York Red Bulls with the US national team forward who last played in MLS in 2008 with the Red Bulls.
TFC head coach Greg Vanney addressed the rumor by admitting that any potential deal is made more complicated by the likely Designated Player status and salary that Altidore would command. With Toronto FC already using the three allotted DP spots -- their maximum three slots are occupied by Gilberto, Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley -- a deal here would require some tinkering in the squad.
But, Vanney said, there are other reasons to be involved in these dealings.
“Any time a big-time player is coming back into the league, we want to be in the discussion,” Vanney explained. “There are a lot of mechanisms that have to go in place for a lot of those things to happen, but if there’s a discussion of a guy who understands the league, who has been successful in the league and can help a team, we want to be at least in the discussion about that. We’re not going to hide from that.
“Who knows where that ends up, but we’re going to be there if there’s a discussion to be had. That would be said of any player who comes back that can add to our roster and make us a better team.”
For Bradley, the prospect of Altidore joining the league is exciting, too, and one that would follow a recent trend of US national team players returning to MLS.
“There isn’t anybody who thinks more of Jozy as a player than me,” Bradley told the Toronto Sun. “He and I have played together on the national team for a long time. Wherever he ends up at the end of this transfer window, that club is going to be getting a complete striker. He’s somebody who has a desire and a determination to improve himself like no other.”
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At the moment, Toronto FC’s roster features a number of forwards, including two DPs in Defoe and Gilberto as well as Nigerian international Bright Dike, English forward Luke Moore, on-fire Canadian Under- 20 striker Jordan Hamilton, and league veterans Robbie Findley and Dominic Oduro.
Whether or not Altidore is involved in the picture, Vanney has some mixing and matching to do.
“We’ll have to figure out what the best pairing is,” Vanney said. “That’s what it’s going to come down to for me. It’s the best team that we can put on the field. Not necessarily the best 11 players, but the best team that we can get out there that is capable of winning games for us.”
Armen Bedakian covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.