TORONTO – There was no double-decker bus parked outside when Toronto FC announced the acquisition of Jozy Altidore from Sunderland in exchange for Jermain Defoe.
Nor was there the same level of fanfare that greeted Defoe and Michael Bradley just one year prior. Instead, Toronto FC’s brass showed off the club’s newest Designated Player signing with a quiet air of confidence, a come-see-for-yourself attitude born of a desire, simply, to find results in the 2015 season.
TFC head coach Greg Vanney called the signing one that brings with it “certainty.” Certainty in Altidore’s understanding of the league, his connection with Bradley and the challenges that come with playing in Major League Soccer. Altidore’s time with the New York Red Bulls sees to that. And, with a wealth of experience in Europe now under his belt, Altidore returns to MLS with one clear goal in mind.
“I want to win,” Altidore said, a number of times, as he addressed reporters for the first time in the city. “I want to be in a place where we share the same values. The job here is to build a winner and to get better and better every year, to not be happy just to maintain. I wanted Toronto, because of how they want to run things and the way these people are driven in this organization suited me.
“The willingness to always want to improve, to not be satisfied, it’s not something you see in a lot of clubs in MLS,” he added.
Altidore’s time at Sunderland saw him struggle to score but he now joins Toronto FC hungry to prove himself at club level once more. He arrives to a very different Major League Soccer from the one he left in 2008. The league features 20 clubs and plenty of star names to compete against, including plenty of US national team teammates such as Clint Dempsey in Seattle and good friend, Bradley, in Toronto.
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“From the last time I’ve been here, the league has grown leaps and bounds,” Altidore said. “For me, the biggest thing wasn’t about coming back, it was about coming back to a place where I know they wanted to get better. I think what Toronto envisions, wanting to move forward with this franchise, fits me in a nutshell.”
And, like his new club teammate Bradley, Altidore says he’s here to prove himself and make a statement.
“I didn’t come here for a vacation,” Altidore said. “I came to help the fans get a winner because that’s what they’re dying for here. I’m desperate to come here and do well and help the team make the playoffs and from there, make something special.”