TORONTO – A massive question looms.
With Toronto FC set to begin their Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs quest on Saturday (6 pm ET | TUDN in US; TSN4, TVAS2 in Canada), with the visit of D.C. United to BMO Field, one key uncertainty has dominated the conversation.
“I’m going to try,” said Altidore after training on Friday. “I feel better, so we’ll just have to see.”
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Altidore, who trained separately the day before, was back out with the group, a mark of progress.
Jozy Altidore update on his quad strain after training: “This club has given me everything & I want to give it back. If it was up to me I would start the game but the body is the body & I have to let myself heal. If they need me I want to be able to help anyway I can.” #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/6gs5EANNrn— Kristian Jack (@KristianJack) October 18, 2019
“Good,” responded Greg Vanney, giving his daily update. “He was on the field, did some work on the side, some work with the ball, some running. We’ll see.
“Every day is a ‘how does he respond to the day’s work?’” summed up the coach. “We’ll do another fitness test with him tomorrow, see where he’s at. It’s questionable, but we’ll play it by ear.”
It was confirmed that it was indeed a quad strain that hampered the striker.
Altidore’s session consisted of “things he would encounter in a game, not a ton of playing,” according to Vanney. “As we try to progress him, we’ll keep him in as safe an environment as possible and not overextend him, but have him ready for what we feel we might need him for.”
If it were in the players’s hands?
“I start the game, if it was up to me,” smiled Altidore. “No problem.”
But it is not.
“It’s a collaborative process between the doctors, between the player, the training staff, myself. Everybody is involved,” explained Vanney. “These are always tough because the games are so important, but there are some fundamental principles on whether we would put a guy on the field or not.”
Altidore’s input is clear.
“I’ve been here a long time now. The coaches know me, they know I will play with whatever,” he said. “As a player, when you come across certain moments in your career, you want to give back everything. The club has given me everything. If I can run, if I can be out there, I want to help.”
On Thursday, Michael Bradley laid out there ways Toronto could approach the situation.
“Jozy can play,” he said, “Jozy can not play and you can put somebody on for him in, more-or-less have it be a straight swap; and Jozy can not play and you can find a different way or two to finagle things.
“We have enough experience with all three of those scenarios, we’ve worked through all three of them,” continued Bradley. “And now over the next day or two, we’ll figure out exactly how he is feeling, whether he is good to start, to come off the bench, and then figure out from there what the best way to go about things is. We’ll be ready regardless.”