TORONTO—Jozy Altidore made his first 2016 appearance in front of the Toronto media on Wednesday afternoon, exhibiting a new look.
Leaner, fitter, Altidore credits tweaks in his routine for the svelte form, an effort to alleviate nagging muscle strains.
“It was always the plan,” Altidore said. “I was going to do it halfway through the year; it's hard to change things during [so I] waited until the year ended [to] try something different. The muscle injuries I've had have been far too many. I've missed too many big moments. I wasn't happy.”
That plan: “to be leaner, a bit lighter.” Because, he added, “any little edge you can get at this level is helpful.”
The biggest factor was a change in diet, though Altidore also added some new exercises to his portfolio.
“You can try different things [to stretch the muscles]: Yoga, exercises to keep yourself as lengthy, as mobile as possible. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck as well, unfortunately.”
Altidore also took some time away from the pitch in the off-season, spending it with his family – a significant part of the reason he returned to MLS.
Subtle shifts, and no doubt vital ones, as Altidore has looked lively for the US national team, scoring against both Iceland and Canada in recent friendlies.
“I feel better, much better,” Altidore said. “Hopefully I can keep it up! We're all human, we're going to cheat every now and again.”
It was a hamstring strain, suffered in New England in May, that hampered Altidore's season last year. The injury came less than two months after the start of the Gold Cup and prevented him from being in form. His subpar play eventually led to an early exit from the Gold Cup prior to the knockout rounds.
Any extra spring in his step bodes well for TFC and will help Altidore achieve that which he desires in the upcoming season, improving upon the 13 goals he scored in 2015.
“I want to be in front of the goal as much as I can,” explained Altidore. “Last year, Seba [Giovinco] and I worked well, in terms of combining for goals. I don't know many other partnerships that scored as many goals as we did. The goal is to repeat that... and of course, if we can, be better.”