You can add forward Jozy Altidore to the growing list of U.S. men’s national team players returning from Europe to play in Major League Soccer.
On Jan. 16, it was announced that Altidore would move from Sunderland in the Premiere League to Toronto FC in MLS, while Jermain Defoe would make the jump back across the pond to Sunderland after a failed experiment for the Canadian side.
This is a massively good deal for both sides involved. Toronto gets a pairing that can make them a difficult team to deal with when they’re on and Altidore escapes a very difficult situation over at Sunderland.
First off, this deal makes a lot of sense for Toronto FC Last year they brought in Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe, hoping it would see them through to the playoffs in a relatively weak Eastern Conference; however, it didn’t go exactly to plan. Defoe put the ball in the back of the net 11 times, but Bradley only posted two goals and four assists. While Toronto posted the highest number of wins in its short history, they still fell seven points short of making the post season.
With the move to bring in Altidore and move on from Defoe, Toronto FC now pairs Bradely with his teammate on the men’s national team. That should, in theory, lead to a better chemistry immediately. Altidore has scored 25 goals in 76 appearances for the U.S. while Bradley had five assists for the national team last year. If those two can connect on a consistent basis, like how Toronto is hoping, it might just be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Of course, the move also favors Altidore in a big way. Before the move, Altidore was simply just dead weight on the end of the bench for Sunderland. After coming over from Dutch side AZ, Altidore struggled with Sunderland, only scoring two goals in 34 appearances, with the lowest point coming in April of last year when he was not included as a starter or substitute against Tottenham. This year, Altidore had appeared in only six games and tallied one lone goal.
With the situation looking dire over in England, Altidore needed a change to a new squad. So this move makes perfect sense for him. Now he’s in a better situation where there is no doubt that he’s one of the better players on the team and the pressure of English football is off of him. With that, I expect him to flourish in MLS.
Of course, there’s also the good chance that this becomes an epic failure. There were a lot of folks who thought the Bradley-Defoe combination would work, which turned out to be half correct and half incorrect. And Altidore’s statistics at Sunderland aren’t that impressive.
But it certainly is a shot worth taking for Toronto FC and a necessary move for Altidore for him to be in the best shape possible for the men’s national team. And if everything clicks like they’re hoping it does, the rest of the Eastern Conference might just be on notice.