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Opposition boos don't faze Toronto FC's Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) celebrates after scoring against the Philadelphia Union during second half MLS soccer action in Toronto on August 23, 2017. Opposition fans may want to reconsider their booing of Toronto FC's Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. As a deterrent, it is clearly not working. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
October 31, 2017 - 12:56 PM

HARRISON, N.J. - Opposition fans may want to reconsider their booing of Toronto FC's Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. As a deterrent, it is clearly not working.

Altidore and Bradley, continuing their penance for the failed U.S. World Cup qualifying campaign, were the target of boo-bids all night Monday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal at the New York Red Bulls. There had been more of the same in the regular-season finale in Atlanta.

Unfazed by the abuse, the Toronto stars did their talking on the field as TFC won 2-1.

Altidore, a thorn in both teams' sides, scored against Atlanta in a 2-2 tie — cupping his ear to hear what the fans had to say then — and set up the opening goal against the Red Bulls. Bradley, meanwhile, broke up one opposition attack after another.

"We knew it was coming," Toronto coach Greg Vanney said of the fan abuse at Red Bull Arena. "Fans can express themselves how they want.

"I think there's a certain number of fans who maybe have a real purpose for it. And then I think a lot of other people are doing it because it's the thing to do.

"So whatever motivates our guys, I'm perfectly comfortable with. These guys are out on a mission to make sure that they win the next game and give themselves a chance in the next series. One game at a time for us."

Should Toronto dispatch the Red Bulls, it will play on the road just once more in the playoffs — either at New York City FC or the Columbus Crew SC.

Soccer, around the globe, is no stranger to targeting opposition players, especially when they were once hometown heroes who left for a hated rival.

But heckling your own national team captain and striker, who have combined for 250 caps and 58 goals, seems particularly perverse. And both TFC players have New Jersey ties.

Altidore and Bradley started their MLS careers with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. Plus both were born in the Garden State — Bradley in Princeton and Altidore in Livingston.

The booing was louder in Atlanta, thanks to the MLS-record 71,874 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but the potty-mouthed Red Bulls crowd of 18,107 made up for its smaller size with some pointed chants loaded with F-bombs.

Altidore and Bradley know that opposition fans don't boo nobodies. But Altidore, for one, was unimpressed by what he heard Monday night.

"I thought it was a little bit classless, with a place I gave a lot to, and they gave a lot to me, had some good memories," Altidore was quoted on MLS.com. "But it is what it is. There’s no loyalty any more. I guess all bets are off."

The burly forward also disliked the crowd's vulgarity.

"Being disappointed with the World Cup, I get, I understand," Altidore said. "But the other stuff is a bit disappointing. I never was disrespectful towards these people. It's my first club, and I have so much admiration for the club."

Toronto fans will be showing their two stars plenty of love Sunday when the series swings back to BMO Field.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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