With the impending return of Jozy Altidore to Toronto FC's lineup, many questions surrounding the big designated striker remain. Can he return to his pre-injury form? How long will it take for him to adjust after being away for 2 months? Will his presence on the field affect the play of Sebastian Giovinco positively? How will coach Greg Vanney deploy his formations moving forward? All these and more remain top of mind for TFC's fans and management alike. One thing that we all know however is that Jozy's return couldn't have come any sooner.
Toronto FC Just Can't Score
In recent weeks, the Reds just haven't been able to put the ball into back of the net, something pretty crucial in this game of Ballfoot. The most glaring example of this was a certain loss in San Jose last week in which a 9-man Earthquakes squad pulled a fast one on Toronto. Under no circumstance should a team that has two players ejected from the field be able to take home 3 points from this team, and yet, they did anyway.
This was not to be blamed on the inexperience of young goalkeeper Alex Bono, nor was it the inspiring resolve of the Quakes, albeit it quite impressive by them. No, the real reason TFC lost was simply their finishing or rather lack thereof. TFC had a staggering 22 shots at goal that night, compared to San Jose's 8. Out of those 22, only 5 were on target. Look back a couple weeks earlier at the win against Chicago and we can see a similar pattern, with Toronto only having 6 of 22 shots on target. Toronto did win that night but only by a mere goal against a Fire team that has been near the bottom of the East for most of the season. This pattern of shooting a lot and scoring very sparsely needs to change fast if Toronto wishes to have a favourable position on the table heading into the final stretch of the season.
That's where Jozy comes in. The Haitian Sensation looked great prior to picking up a hamstring injury, grabbing two assists in eight appearances, and while not scoring, provided Toronto with a dangerous second option up top. With Jozy playing the classic target forward, he will be able to relieve Sebastian Giovinco much of the pressure from opposing defenders, allowing the Atomic Ant to revert back to his best position as a traditional number 10. Jozy also provides wingers like Tsubasa Endoh and the newly signed Tosaint "Canadian Oduro" Ricketts more freedom to spread the field and use their speed to their advantage.
Jozy's return also gives Greg Vanney more formation options, which he most certainly will explore. Vanney's constant tinkering with the starting eleven is the result of the numerous injuries that has seen much of the team's core absent. Losing the likes of Michael Bradley, Will Johnson and Clint Irwin has without a doubt had an impact on team chemistry and the constant changes to the starting lineup has most likely made things worse. Surely the return of Altidore will bring back some consistency to Toronto's attacking corps, and allow Vanney more breathing room when deciding the game-day eleven.
Whichever way you look at it, Josmer Altidore's return is one every TFC fan should be excited for. If Jozy can get match fit quick enough, TFC's offensive woes will likely disappear.