Jozy Altidore worked hard to get this offseason. He spent extra time in US Men's National Team camp and had a goal in wins over Iceland and Canada. By all accounts he was more fit, thinner and quicker than the season before.
But it appears injuries have once again caught up with the Toronto striker. After a friendly loss to Orlando City SC, it was reported that Altidore had tightness in his hamstring. Now it appears that Hamstring injury put his appearance in the March 6 season opener against the New York Red Bulls in serious doubt.
The injury could also see him miss the club's March 13 game against New York City FC, and potential upcoming US men's national team World Cup qualifiers as well. The US play a double header against Guatemala on March 26 and 29.
Hamstring injuries have been a reoccurring issue for the American striker. Last year he was limited to 25 games with Toronto FC as a result, and missed the knockout round of the Gold Cup due to lack of fitness. He also missed most of the 2014 World Cup with a similar injury.
As much as Toronto FC will want their star striker back, it is important that the don't rush him back. Altidore admitted to coming back early from injury last season and ultimately did not look ready when he returned. If the club want to avoid this happening again he needs to be given proper rest.
With Altidore out, Toronto have a few options that they can turn to up front. Herculez Gomez is the favourite considering his experience. He started TFC's most recent preseason game against the Montreal Impact. Jordan Hamilton is another option, as he has four goals to tie Sebastian Giovinco as the club's leading preseason scorer.
While the club does finally still have some striker depth to cover, the consistency with which Altidore has been injured is concerning. Toronto FC can not afford to pay a player $4,750,000 to play just 25 games a season, even if that player is able to produce 13 goals.
The injury story is one that Altidore would have been hoping to put behind him in 2016. As of right now, however, it is a major story to watch this the season just around the corner.