The numbers suggest otherwise, but Toronto FC's offense has clearly been missing something through the first two games of the season. While the team has managed to score four goals in two matches, they have done so while only generating four-and-a-half shots on target per game.
Meanwhile, their possession, especially in the offensive third, has struggled as well. The club had 56 per cent pass accuracy in the final third against New York City FC, improving on a dismal 44 per cent from their opening match of the season.
While the solution to these issues is multi-faceted, while watching the games there is at least one obvious fix: a true number 9 up top. With Jozy Altidore likely to return this weekend, the club will have that option again and it could pay off in a big way against Sporting Kansas City.
Altidore missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury, one that has plagued him throughout his career. He missed two games, and played only 40 minutes total in two more in May and June as a result.
It's unlikely that Altidore will start against SKC, but off the bench he could bring the height and size that Toronto have been missing down the middle. As such, he will make room for everyone else, especially Sebastian Giovinco who has had trouble getting on the ball the first couple of games despite his 2 goals and 2 assists.
With the club playing a new three in the midfield system, they have struggled to transition the ball from the defense to the forwards. This has meant a lot of long balls, mostly through the air. Having a front line that averages under 6 feet, especially with a 5-foot-4 Giovinco in the middle has contributed to the club struggling offensively.
It will help on crossing as well, another aspect where the club has struggled with no height in the box. Toronto had a 36 per cent cross completion rate against New York City, but only had an 11 per cent rate in the first match. This is no surprise considering defenders have towered over Toronto's strike force in both matches.
Whether Altidore joins the Toronto FC roster or not for tomorrow's game, reports indicate that he will with the US men's national team for their upcoming pair of World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala. While risky, this could be a good opportunity for Altidore to ease back into game shape.
According to coach Greg Vanney, Altidore could have played last weekend but the club want to be cautious with their designated player. This is good policy, considering Altidore's injury issue and the fact that this early in the season the team can afford to miss him for a little bit.
Nonetheless, if he does see some time this weekend it will be a welcome addition to the squad. It might not be the final missing piece to Toronto FC's puzzle, but it gives them a good chance of getting a result against a strong opponent.