The wait is over, Jozy Altidore has joined Toronto FC as a replacement for Jermain Defoe, who was sold to Sunderland two days ago. All that remains to be figured out is how much, for how long and what this means for the team's Designated Player landscape going forward.
With the club focusing on the draft at this moment, it is believed that an official release on both subjects will be made early Tomorrow. Altidore will be unveiled to the media shortly after, possibly on the same day. Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press said on twitter that the American will undergo a medical today. After more than a week of speculation, the final t is being dotted.
It has also been confirmed that Altidore was acquired through the MLS Allocation Draft, where Toronto sat sixth. Neither Portland Timbers nor New York Red Bulls made a move to augment themselves in the order. The five teams ahead of Toronto in the draft order Montreal Impact, San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo respectively all passed on their opportunity. According to Gareth Wheeler of TSN, the Red Bulls pressed hard to move up in the draft order. The league also wanted Altidore in New York, but for once refrained from intervening.
The 25-year-old will join the club with hefty expectations, and with a fan base divided on whether or not they believe he will be effective for Toronto. Some believe him to be grossly overrated and that his horrid form as of late indicates that he will not succeed in the league. Others are under the impression that because of his level of commitment he is already a better player than Defoe. In truth it will likely fall somewhere in the middle, he won't be as dominant as Defoe at his best, but he will almost definitely score goals at this level.
Why? Well one doesn't even have to compare Altidore's numbers to other leagues as he has already proven he can score in MLS. In 37 league games, essentially the equivalent of a full season, he scored 15 goals. For those counting, that would tie Dwayne De Rosario's single season club record set in 2009. For those still sceptical, he did that between the age of 16 and 18. So simply saying he will not work out based on stats is a ridiculous argument.
Not to mention the fact that prior to his horrid form with Sunderland in England, where he was never good, he scored 39 goals in 67 games in the Dutch League. Still not convinced? Remember a certain player named Danny Koevermans? Statistically speaking, Altidore scored once more than the Dutchman per six games in the Erendivisie. Like Altidore, Koeverman's had only scored once for his club side the season prior to coming to Toronto. If the Dutchman had kept up his scoring pace with Toronto for an entire season, he would have scored 22 goals.
Sure, the games still need to be played, but there is a valid argument to be made that Altidore is a far better player than Koevermans ever was. He is faster, younger and more athletic while providing the same finish and target man abilities that have always translated well in this league. He is also playing on a significantly better Toronto FC side than Koevermans ever was, if that helps. If memory serves well Toronto back then was the "worst team in the world".
There will certainly be a adjustment period for Altidore, he will almost certainly not score three goals in his first two games like Defoe did, nor be as dominant in the early stages of his time with this club. Most forget that even Clint Dempsey only scored one goal in a forgettable nine game debut MLS season. Michael Bradley, although less attacking minded, only scored twice in his first year.
Speaking of Bradley, there is ample evidence that he played a massive role in this acquisition. Altidore was very interested in playing the his US national teammate and expressed that behind the scenes. Some reports have indicated that he preferred returning to New York, but is certainly not disheartened with the fact that he has ended up in Toronto.
Shake your head at this signing if you will, it is your opinion, what is above is mine. But when he steps on the pitch understand that he does so with the intention of turning around his career. He might just turn around a franchise in the process.