On Friday, he mused: “Hopefully the game goes right way, I can start or come off the bench, and have an effect on the game.”
Altidore's influence could be felt before he touched the pitch.
“It was electric. All of a sudden the crowd starts roaring: 'What's going on?'” recalled goalkeeper Alex Bono. “I see Jozy running towards the bench, getting ready to come on. I remember thinking, 'Wait until you hear the ovation he gets coming in.'”
“It was special,” added Bono. “It's great to have him back.”
The reception was “fantastic,” according to the striker.
“Everybody knows how much I love being here, playing for these fans, this city. To have that reciprocated is a great feeling. I just want to keeping giving more to them.”
He could be seen intimating that this, is indeed, his house.
“I intend it to be for a long time,” smiled Altidore post-match, admitting he couldn't have scripted his return from injury any better.
Toronto fell behind early to a Carles Gil penalty kick, only for Akinola to level shortly thereafter. Jordan Hamilton controversially put TFC in the lead before halftime, but a deflected effort from Gil after the restart had the match deadlocked.
“Anytime Jozy is on the field, everybody feels like a win is that much more possible,” said TFC head coach Greg Vanney. “His soccer intelligence, his running, his movement, his technical ability, but also just his personality.”
“When he is running like he was tonight, working to get behind, and competing physically, it brings everybody else to another level,” continued Vanney. “When he came on the field, the stadium came alive. He brought more life to our group.”
Added Michael Bradley: “His ability to change games, to find goals, make big plays, and do it all in the biggest moments.... Every person who comes into stadium knows what he can do.”
That includes TFC themselves.
“If we could put ourselves in a good position, the opportunity to bring him in a game like that was a good thing for us,” explained Bradley. “He came on and made a great play.”
With his first goal of the season, Altidore has clawed into Bradley's lead as top scorer, after a brace against Philadelphia.
“I'm jealous, he's up on me right now,” laughed Altidore at training last week. “I give him a hard time: 'That's going to change man, I'm coming for you. That's my title.'”
Back from offseason foot surgery to remove bone fragments from a broken ankle and re-signed to a long-term contract, Altidore promised regular service would resume.
“I've had some injuries, but I've had [them] because I want to win. If I have to put my body on the line, break an ankle, but we win the cup. That's what we live for: to win trophies, to have those memories. That's what I'm all about and it doesn't change,” said Altidore. “It's even more so now because I want to win some more.”
Toronto, a blue-collar town at heart, has always had a soft-spot for those who are willing to lay their body on the line for their team.
“This is home for me,” added Altidore. “I'm already looking beyond: what I can do now to make it so I never leave. I want to go out and score goals, make it so when this contract is up, I'm signing another one and this is where I retire. That's the motivation.”