Toronto FC coach says goals will come for U.S. international Jozy Altidore | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Toronto FC coach says goals will come for U.S. international Jozy Altidore

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) leaves the pitch after losing 3-0 to the Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer sudden death playoff game Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Montreal. On a night when he won cheers from the crowd, praise from his coach and helped his team to a win, Toronto FC striker Altidore left BMO Field with a burr under his saddle. The normally mellow U.S. international was clearly irked at repeated questions about his lack of scoring this season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
May 09, 2016 - 1:37 PM

TORONTO - On a night when he won cheers from the crowd, praise from his coach and helped his team to a win, Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore left BMO Field with a burr under his saddle.

The normally mellow American was clearly irked at repeated questions about his lack of scoring this season. When the matter was raised a second time in his post-game scrum, there was steel in Altidore's voice.

"I think that's a bit much to say I'm not getting the goals," he said with an icy look at his questioner. "I think I did well last season. I had a slow start this season in terms of injury.

"And I'm here to win. It's one thing to come here and score goals and lose. Would you rather that? I didn't think so."

The scrum ended quickly. As Altidore made his way to the locker-room exit, he stopped to speak to the club's manager of media relations. The burly forward pointed back to the reporters, as if identifying the guilty party in a police lineup.

In seven games (five starts) this season including Saturday's 1-0 win over FC Dallas, Altidore has two assists but no goals. He had 13 goals in 25 games last season, averaging a league goal every 138 minutes.

It's a sensitive issue for a forward who had a rough ride in England where he scored two goals in 70 Premier League matches for Sunderland and Hull City.

But prior to England, he had 51 goals in all competitions in two seasons with Dutch team AZ Alkmaar. He was the first U.S. international to score in Spain's La Liga (for Villarreal in 2008). And he has 34 goals in 93 appearances for the U.S. national team.

The numbers don't do the 26-year-old forward justice this season, however. Altidore was initially kept out of the lineup to protect a minor hamstring and national team duties kept him away from the Toronto training field.

Then there's the matter of sharing the field with Sebastian Giovinco, the Italian star who stirs the TFC drink. The Toronto offence goes through Giovinco, whose 10 shots Saturday are one more than Altidore has had all season.

Giovinco, who led the MLS in scoring last season, has 28 goals and 20 assists in 42 career games with Toronto. Altidore has 13 goals and two assists in 32 games.

Manager Greg Vanney changed TFC's formation to a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond to accommodate Altidore and Giovinco up front. It remains a work in progress with Tsubasa Endoh, who plays at the tip of the diamond, finding himself competing for space with Altidore several times Saturday including the play that led to the Japanese rookie's goal from a Giovinco feed.

Toronto, which has the league's best defence at 0.78 goals-against per game, is tied for 16th in offence at 1.11 goals per game — a scoring record no doubt impacted by the lengthy road trip.

Vanney, for one, has no complaints about Altidore.

"I'm not (concerned), I'm disappointed for him," Vanney said Saturday. "Because like tonight he did 99 per cent of things that I thought he needed to do. And it just isn't falling for him right now. If he continues to play like that he'll end up the season between 15 and 20 goals."

Vanney, going out of his way to defend his striker, suggested that the team's marathon eight-game road trip had restricted time on the training field to practise finishing.

"I know it's going to come. If he keeps playing like that, I will be happy from here 'til the end of the season."

Altidore did plenty right in Toronto's home opener.

In the 14th minute, his shot off a poor Dallas clearance was blocked. In the 53rd, his sliding left-footed shot went wide. And in the 61st, after a good run and cutback, his right-footed shot was denied by a fine save from Jesse Gonzalez.

There was plenty more. The big striker outhustled a Dallas defender in the 16th minute to win a corner. A nifty flick-on to Giovinco almost led to a goal in the 20th minute but the Italian's attempt to chip the 'keeper was inches high.

There was a slick backheel in the 27th minute, followed quickly by two instances of outbattling Dallas defenders. And in the 63rd minute, he caused havoc in the Dallas penalty box.

His holdup play was excellent all night.

"I'm happy that some people see that I'm a little better of a footballer that people give me credit for in terms of all-round game," Altidore said. "Everybody always says that about me, with the national team also, but I have a good (scoring) record there and I have a decent record here as well.

"I just put my head down and keep working. And like I said, the most important thing is winning games here, not individual accolades."

Toronto (5-3-2) hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps (4-5-2) on Saturday.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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