Jozy Altidore has been under the microscope ever since he first pulled on a Toronto FC uniform. It comes with the territory, designated players in Major League Soccer are always going to be under more scrutiny than their teammates. Their pay grade, especially Altidore's, demands that they are superstars and anything short of that is a disappointment.
For one reason or another, Altidore always seemed to be more criticised than others. When he was scoring, there were complaints about how little he was contributing in other ways. This year he has played a well-round game but has drawn criticism due to his lack of goals.
Overall, however, Altidore has done a pretty good job of backing up his paycheck on the field. Last season he had 13 goals, 10th in the league, in just 25 games. His goals per 90 minute last year was seventh when considering players who played more than 15 games. When healthy, Jozy Altidore has contributed.
However, "when healthy" is becoming an increasingly shrunken window when it comes to Altidore. Yesterday, the club confirmed that Altidore is expected to miss between six and eight weeks with a hamstring injury sustained Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
It's unfortunate, and nobody likes kicking someone while they are down, but this latest setback needs to come coupled with questions as to whether Altidore is still a good investment for Toronto FC. Could his $4.5 million salary be spent elsewhere to help this team?
Altidore has already missed the first the first couple weeks of the season due to an injury he sustained in preseason to the same hamstring. Last year, a hamstring injury saw him miss time as well. The year before, Altidore missed the majority of the 2014 World Cup as a result of yet another hamstring injury.
As aforementioned, Toronto FC has a lot of money, and an all-important designated player spot, invested in Altidore. They can't afford to have a player of that calibre miss significant time every season. They need that asset to be 100 per cent, which it seems Altidore has rarely been at during his time with Toronto FC.
On top of this, Altidore misses even more time due to the fact that he is an American international. Under normal circumstances, this is a positive, Toronto FC should want their best players to be recognisable figures on the international stage. However, coupled with absence due to injury it means Altidore will miss even more time than the regular player.
The club has tried a lot of things to keep Altidore healthy. During the offseason, he worked incredibly hard to lose weight and to come into the season in good shape. This is just one of the many treatment and prevention strategies that Toronto FC trainers have tried, to no avail.
This latest setback certainly isn't the end of Altidore's time with Toronto FC, but questions have to start being asked, and considered, about his future. His service for the club means he deserves at least until the end of the season to continue to prove his worth for the club. He fits in well, the players really like him and he is proud to pull on the Toronto FC shirt every match. He really does care, which is more than can be said about other figures in the club's stormy past.
But at the end of the day, sports is a business. Just like in any other business, damaged goods, unfortunately, hold less value. If injury concerns for Altidore persist, Toronto FC needs to take a hard look at whether or not Altidore is the best investment going forward.