Toronto FC will be getting some much needed reinforcements in time for their game against the Philadelphia Union. It will not be the new signings that many fans are hoping for but it will be almost the entire Gold Cup contingent coming back to town.
The Canadians are not returning the way that many of us would have liked them to after a flat showing and an early exit after the group stage but our loss as Canadian soccer fans could stand to be our gain as Toronto FC fans. With the way that the defence has been performing the past two weeks getting Ashtone Morgan back could prove to be a big boost for a group in need of any shred of help it can get.
While Morgan may find himself right back in the starting lineup on the weekend there is also a chance that the return of Jonathan Osorio provides a needed boost for the attack. His Gold Cup ended with clear frustration as he looked very unhappy with Benito Floro for taking him off late against Costa Rica when Canada was in need of a goal. Hopefully he can turn that frustration in to motivation and use it to fight his way to a spot in the starting lineup which has not been a given for Oso this season. The return of Quillan Roberts will not have much of an impact on the first team as he is likely destined to head back to TFC II with Chris Konopka and Joe Bendik holding down the spots in goal for the first team.
The biggest boost for Toronto FC may be a bit of a gift from Jurgen Klinsmann who decided to shake up his roster for the knockout rounds. His three changes included sending Jozy Altidore back to Toronto and replacing him with a former red in Alan Gordon.
The decision to drop Altidore from the Gold Cup squad comes after the forward struggled to make any real impact in the group stage. The Americans got the job done and finished in top spot but they did it with a largely ineffective Altidore leaving them to rely heavily on the scoring of Clint Dempsey.
In a Q&A with USSoccer.com the head coach explained his decision to drop Altidore from the roster saying, "We believe that Jozy's just not there yet. Jozy never really got into this tournament and never really picked up the rhythm. He's just simply not in the shape right now to help us. For Jozy it's just simply going back to Toronto, picking up his rhythm, getting in shape, working on his fitness and then he will start scoring goals again."
What is clear is that despite being back from injury for a few weeks now Altidore is still working his way back to 100% fitness. That appears to be the main reason that Klinsmann is sending him back to Toronto and turning to other options for the knockout rounds. Chances are that even without Jozy the American team will coast through to the finals like they almost always seem to do at this event.
Getting Altidore back will be a big boost for TFC as they once again have someone other than Sebastian Giovinco that provides a consistent scoring threat. Considering that the next leading scorer after the attacking DPs is Michael Bradley with two goals it is clear that the TFC attack is built around two players. With Jozy back it should take some pressure off of Giovinco to continue carrying the scoring load all by himself.
Like with Osorio it will be interesting to see just how Altidore responds to his Gold Cup and the fact that he is coming back to Toronto much sooner than he would have liked. He has been on decent form this season and hopefully this will only help to motivate him to prove that Klinsmann made the wrong choice by dropping him off the roster. Hopefully the minutes he logged with the USMNT will have him closer to full fitness and ready to hit the ground running back in Toronto.
It also means that the only player still away on international duty is Michael Bradley. He will likely continue to play just about every minute for the US at the Gold Cup meaning he will miss the next few TFC games but that was to be expected considering he might just be the most important American player these days.
On the whole, Toronto FC struggled to deal with the Gold Cup absences giving up 4 goals in each of their last two games and only managing to pick up a single point thanks to an incredible effort from Giovinco against NYCFC. Having struggled through the two games TFC will be glad to have the bulk of their roster back in place heading in to an important stretch of games where they look to lock down a playoff spot in an Eastern Conference that is getting more congested each week.